Virtual reality technology is no longer something you can experience only in cinemas and specialized gaming arcades. You can enjoy it at home and there are plenty of options to choose from, in terms of hardware. But before you rush to buy a discounted VR headset on Amazon, please take the time to read this article first.
In press photos and videos, you may have seen people wearing futuristic looking headsets and moving around, hands extended, seemingly engaged in activities you cannot see or comprehend. This type of promotional presentation of virtual reality goggles and headsets is a bit misleading. Just like in films, where you cannot see all the props and the work behind the scenes, VR promotional ads do not show the complete set of equipment and software you actually need to experience virtual reality technology.
This guide aims to help you make the best choice, depending on your wishes and your budget.
PC-Tethered or Mobile Virtual Reality Technology Experience?
Currently, there are two ways of enjoying the virtual reality experience: using a PC-tethered headset or a mobile headset. The differences between the two are significant in terms of costs, level of realism and immersion and convenience.
Here are the ways in which you can experience VR in each of these ways:
1. PC-Based Virtual Reality Experience
Computer-based virtual reality experiences are focused mainly on gaming, but also on watching films. This is the most immersive and realistic type of virtual reality technology, because the headset makes use of the computing power of the PC and is able to run highly complex and detailed games and reproduce 3D images with great accuracy. For this reason, they are also more expensive (around $400-$600).
What You Need:
- PC-tethered headset
- Desktop or laptop computers which are VR-ready (each headset producer offers the recommended specifications for the computer compatible with their devices)
- VR games or movies
- Optional: gaming console
How to Get Started
First of all, you need to install the game on the PC or gaming console. The next step is to connect the headset to the computer. PC-tethered headsets usually use a HDMI port and several USB ports, as well an audio out port.
Next, you need to adjust the headset to fit your head perfectly. A well-adjusted headset covers your eyes and ears completely, blocking out any outside sounds or ray of light.
Once you have finished setting up the hardware according to the user’s manual, you can load a VR movie DVD or look for VR movies online and start enjoying the experience. Aside from looking for VR movies on Youtube, you can also check out a few other platforms and apps such as Disney Movies VR, Netflix VR app, Jaunt and Inception VR.
When it comes to playing games, things get a little more complicated. If you are using a gaming console for an action game, you need free space around you. The recommended area for a fully immersive gameplay is 15 x 15 feet.
However, if you are playing a PC-based game, you can sit comfortably in an armchair and get immersed in the experience. For purchasing VR games you can check Oculus, Playstation store, Viveport, or various other reputable online stores, such as Amazon.
2. Mobile Virtual Reality Technology
The most affordable and frequently used virtual reality technology experience is the one using a smartphone and an affordable headset (such as and , which are up to $100). Mobile VR experience is less immersive than the PC-based one, but it is also more convenient. You can lie down in bed, or sit on the sofa in the living room and enjoy the experience.
What You Need:
- A smartphone with a screen of minimum 5-inch diameter for a wide peripheral view
- Mobile VR goggles
- VR apps or games
How to Get Started
First of all, you need to install virtual reality apps on your smartphone. Most of them are games, but there are also educational apps, and apps which allow you to explore ancient historical sites reconstructed in 3D virtual reality, or museums. Various apps, such as Google Cardboard, allows you to turn your own photos and movies made with the phone camera into a 3D virtual experience.
Next, you need to place the smartphone inside the goggles. It must be a perfect fit – no wiggling, no inch of space between the frame and the smartphone. Once you have a perfect fit, adjust the goggles to your head and get immersed in the experience.
There are a few general cautions to keep in mind when using virtual reality technology. First of all, you should not prolong the experience for a long period of time, as you can start feeling sick and disoriented. Some users even experience vertigo. For mobile virtual reality goggle users – please remember that your smartphone may overheat after some time. Since it is strapped close to your face, whenever you feel heat emanating from your phone you should take it off immediately. Also, VR apps and movies will drain your phone battery quite fast, so you should start with a fully charged battery.
That being said, enjoy virtual reality technology!