back to article We fought through the crowds to try Oculus's new VR goggles so you don't have to bother (and frankly, you shouldn't)

It's the annual Games Developer Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, where the great and the good from the games industry converge to show off their new products. And we have arrived with basically the same question as last year: are virtual reality headsets ready yet? The big news this year is a new high-end headset from …

  1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Been waiting...

    For the last 25 odd years for VR to become an everyday thing and like nuclear fusion it'll happen... Just not as quickly as everyone keeps hoping.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Re: Been waiting...

      I would say it is slightly different this time. This time it is just cost keeping it at bay, not technology. The screen resolution and speed does exist, but is eye watering. The speed and processing power exists but is heartbreaking.

      You would be spending 4-8k on the headset and 5-10k on the PC lol. But back in the day, even the best PC and hardware were comparable to the Virtualboy. We do now have the tech and the speed and fidelity. Just not the reasonable costs. (Where as home fusion, AI and many other things might be pie in the sky and just not practical ever)

      1. Mongrel

        Re: Been waiting...

        "I would say it is slightly different this time. This time it is just cost keeping it at bay, not technology. The screen resolution and speed does exist, but is eye watering. The speed and processing power exists but is heartbreaking."

        It's partly this, the cheap stuff isn't good and puts people off or they're put off at the price tag of a good setup but it's also user experience. Most people can't use them for any length of time, weight of the headset and nausea (motion sickness) are often cited and for the home market there doesn't seem to be a 'killer app', Beat Saber is probably the closest

      2. Combustable Lemon

        Re: Been waiting...

        I picked up a rift when the price dropped to around the 400 mark (easy for me as I already have a relatively high-end gaming PC) and I really enjoy using it, as do the family. The main issues I have with it are having to move my PC downstairs, clear room for it and setting the sensors up. The other problem remains the lack of content, there are some games I’ve really enjoyed (Superhot VR, Beat Saber, Pavlov VR, Arizona Sunshine, RoboRecall, I Expect You to Die) but they all suffer with various issues. I think VR still has a long way to go with myriad problems but I’m not entirely sure that cost is the primary one, I think if it delivered better in these other aspects the value proposition would be better. I've also used a PSVR and VIVE, for the price the PSVR is excellent as the experience is basically the same and Sony are doing an excellent job of ensuring there are quality titles for it.

        1. Steve K Silver badge

          Re: Been waiting...

          UltraWings is fun too - like an updated PilotWings64!!

      3. Mage Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Been waiting...

        The technology isn't here either if you want natural field of vision, tracking of eye focus as well as eye movement (lets the SW make what is looked at on Z-Axis sharper and things closer or further away blurred, also you need adaptive optics so at to make seem the image is that distance away.

        Enough GPU & CPU to have no lag.

        Only the centre of field of view needs full resolution, but edges of view need faster response to head & eye movement and higher refresh as we are more sensitive to flicker and movement in peripheral vision.

        Then for really good VR, you need more than the pair of projected images. You need data gloves with force feedback as a minimum and body movement sensors also with force feedback.

        Only deluxe models would have a full suit with actuators and a liquid filled sensory deprivation tank along with acceleration simulation.

        1. Conyn Curmudgeon

          Re: Been waiting...

          KNOCK KNOCK NEO

        2. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Been waiting...

          So no goo? For this year's 'fully immersive' holiday experience?

          I get the feeling that a full on VR is going to need a full-on AI to run it as well as a whole range of better physiological interfaces.

      4. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Been waiting...

        @technicalBen - upvote but with caveats...

        Yes, a 'go-for-broke' $4k headset could have eye tracking, wider field of view, better screen resolution and refresh rate. But it would still be tethered to the PC. Unless you have a fast enough wireless connection that can seamlessly send control / tracking information to the PC and real-time HD or UHD video the other way, because a processor fast enough to do all that while located on the headset (ie a totally independent unit) without melting your head doesn't exist yet. And in any case a completely standalone rig requires power, which requires more weight in batteries on a headset that already is quite heavy. Of course if you have an untethered rig with processing done remotely, you still need a battery on the headset to power the screen, audio and network.

        My experience with motorbike helmets is that something can fit quite snugly on the head and, if the weight balance is right, not feel too heavy. But even then it feels heavy when you need to turn your head, even with an ultra-light helmet (about 1.3 kg, although even lighter super-professional ones are available)

        For now a super-fast tethered rig might be the way to go, it might just need some fancy ergonomic tethering mechanism to make it work well

        1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

          Re: Been waiting...

          Yeah nearly all of these complaints are technologies we do now have. I agree it is not for everyone! And is like model aircraft. I love flying those but know some people have no interest in the hand eye co-ordination. Similar with vr is as said, the limit in visual and spacial modes and if there is any desire for the content or any content worth usuing it for.

          But fov and eye tracking and even to some extent light focal length (IIRC NVidia have a cinema experience and cost prototype that allows for natural focus of each pixel/object) abd wireless are possible. But very very expensive.

          A but like the folding or flexible displays. The tech has been ariund for nearly a decade. But only now is reliability and cost reaching a releaseable product.

          VR will now be on a steady and sure footing and market. Just the same as most niches. It will be small and specialised only!

      5. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Been waiting...

        "This time it is just cost keeping it at bay, not technology."

        I disagree. Price is a huge issue, but so is the tech -- it needs to be a lot smaller and lighter than is currently possible.

      6. JoMe

        Re: Been waiting...

        "You would be spending 4-8k on the headset and 5-10k on the PC lol"

        See this aggravates me to no end. NO, you do not need to spend even 1k on a system that is well capable of VR. You can get the headset, fully capable pc, screen, etc - all under 1350. 1500 if you want a reasonable screen too.

        I built my VR rig over three years back with off-the shelf kit . Built a PC for under 700 that is still running current VR games at full resolution. The key is how you spend that cash, not how much.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Been waiting...

          That was not what he said. What was said was to get the features that are complained about in peoples reviews of the current VR experiences the headset could be made that meets these requirements but would cost 4-8k. But then you would need a computer in the 5-10k range to power it. Its nothing about what you can get with whats available in the consumer market now. Its about what it would be for something that meets the requirements of a wide field of view, very hi res display on the headset, wireless, eye tracking etc.

    2. Wade Burchette

      Re: Been waiting...

      I was giving a free VR headset with a Samsung phone. I tried, but very quickly became bored of it. It was neat for a time. But it did not take long before I did not care. Then I found out the Final Four was going to be in VR! (For those who are not in the US, the Final Four is the college basketball championship games.) And, what joy, my team was in the championship game! So I brought out those VR goggles again. And it worked, and worked well. It was like I was sitting courtside. But it just wasn't enough. I again quickly became bored of it. I finished watching most of the game the traditional way. I haven't touched the VR glasses since.

      VR is a gimmick. In my opinion, it will never catch on. It is not like the Star Trek holodeck. You will always need glasses, you will always need to strap something on. That will make it too cumbersome. What might work is a VR arcade machine. For instance, a racing game where you sit in a machine that has sensors to detect your body movement and controls on the machine in the same place as inside the VR experience. In other words, you just strap on the goggles and you appear inside a race car, you see where you arm moves and when you touch something in the game there is something within the machine to correspond, like the steering wheel or gear shift.

      1. defiler Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Been waiting...

        If you can't have fun strapping something on, are you even trying?

      2. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Re: Been waiting...

        A lot of vr racers are very happy. They already have steering wheels and pedals, so when they put the headset on, they are within that environment, the wheel is in front of them and they can reach out and grab it.

        1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: Been waiting...

          I tried that... Uncanny Valley territory..

          when I drive aggressively I use more than just my hands so not being able to feel the engine through the pedals feels wrong, not feeling the brakes bite, the sensation of the road surface beneath my feet (and arse) was disjointed.

          Also the clutch gave no indication of bite point at all as well as I really could have done with the gearstick being moved since I kept missing the damn thing owing to it being about 3inches away from where the headset said it was.

          All in all a very dislocated experience and I felt quite sick afterwards (for the record I've played with rally cars, been on the back of motorcycles doing triple figures and set fire to the brakes on a vauxhal nova from driving it with enthusiasm). The lack of feedback is just too distracting.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: Been waiting...

            Do you not have the same when playing driving games in 2D, from the driver's seat camera?

            Though I can see how it could be an increased sense - like with the uncanny valley as faces get more and more human - but with 2D, you get even less feedback/realism

    3. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Been waiting...

      You've got it all wrong. YOU dont wear the goggles! Give them to a friend and then all of you sit there and watch them as they are attacked by zombies or blasted out of airplanes/spacecraft etc etc. It took me two hours to recover when my daughter flew over the Colosseum as part of her history research.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Been waiting...

        You just have to catch them when they are making a complete prat of themselves falling all over the sitting room.

    4. Lomax
      Headmaster

      Hot fusion

      Then again, head-worn VR headsets may end up being rendered obsolete by some other technology before their promises have been delivered. As much of a fusion fan that I am (the hot variety, not the Youtube variety), I cannot avoid noticing how cheap solar has become (in addition to actually working, PV has a very definite cost advantage) and how far battery tech has advanced. It may well be that by the time that ITER sees first light we've all already switched to a cleaner, safer and cheaper means of producing electricity. As for VR, perhaps we will see some kind of implant - retinal or (less likely) neural - or wirelessly powered OLED contact lenses which use nanotech trickery to place the image at an acceptable distance, or... who knows. One thing is for sure; head-worn VR is pretty clunky tech - and I speak as a Rift owner.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Hot fusion

        "in addition to actually working"

        Even at night? Would love to see how it's possible given the state of battery and other energy storage technologies.

        "to a cleaner, safer and cheaper means of producing electricity"

        Even in terms of land use? Ivanpah's a pretty big beast yet it can't even handle 1/20 the needs of nearby Los Angeles Country. Call me when a place like New York City can power itself from completely green techs even in the middle of summer without killing the environment in the process.

  2. Jim84

    Stereoscopic Vs Pseudo Holographic

    Are today’s stereoscopic LCD and OLED displays even up to the task? You’re still looking at a “pop up book” stereoscopic 3D. If you have a lightfieks display these a pseudo holographic image can be created, removing a source of eye strain.

    Will there ever be wireless feathering to a PC that is fast enough for high end VR?

  3. DrXym Silver badge

    The really odd part

    What really surprises me is why Oculus are actually releasing TWO headsets - Oculus Quest is a portable headset with a mobile CPU and mobile games, and Oculus S that attaches to a PC. They cost $400 each. They might share some games, but not all of them and I doubt many people will want to buy both headsets.

    Aside from confusing everyone no end, it just fragments and splits an already small market. Why not just a single headset that can be plugged into a PC, or unplugged for mobile gaming? It could have a connector outlet for that purpose. Even better yet if Oculus sold a wireless transmitter accessory for the PC so it could be used untethered. Now THAT might indicate some joined up thinking. For the time being it seems like Oculus is trying to converge a little but just can't quite manage it. Maybe next time around.

  4. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I am waiting for the first lawsuits brought about because of VR caused injuries, after all expecting people to put on a helmet so they can't see and then move around in a virtual space is bound to mean they fall, trip etc. Before you know it there will be ads for VR injury lawyers.

    "Have you injured yourself while playing a VR game? Our no win no fee lawyers will get you the money you deserve"

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      There is a reason they say to have a clear space, and part of the setup is setting up a boundary, that you are able to see inside the headset when you get close to it. That way you don't just run into a wall or anything else.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Even then the law suits *will* come

  5. Tony Paulazzo

    It doesn't feel like evolution or a side grade, it feels like they shoved it out on the back of brendan iribe jumping ship; a Lenovo frame? one (lower refresh rate) LCD screen, so no physical IPD - I don't know from LCD vs OLED, seems to be arguments favouring both options, loss of the awesome headphones... but it feels more like a cost cutting exercise.

    They should've (like DrXym states), just released the Quest (two OLED screens, physical IPD and etc), and a detachable cable for adding it to a PC. It would've made them the darlings of the VR community.

    Oh, and the software for both is completely separate unless the game devs themselves let you buy once and use on both.

  6. Cuddles Silver badge

    Missing the point

    What an odd article. Not a single point raised about either the headset or VR in general seems to be correct or even really relevant. To start with, inside-out tracking isn't actually better. Sure, it makes it a little more convenient to set up, but it also means the cameras can't actually see a lot of things, especially movement close to your body or behind your back. Even showpiece games used to show off the new headset demonstrate the problems, with things like pretending to take an arrow out of a quiver on your back not working properly because no camera has a view of your arm in that position. Making the headset more self-contained might make some people more inclined to buy it, but it also makes it unquestionably technically inferior.

    As for needing an expensive PC, that's just a blatant lie. My 5 year old, mid-range PC is above the minimum specs, and I'm not sure it's even possible to buy a new PC that isn't good enough, as long as it has a discrete GPU.

    But the really weird things is all the excuses being made for VR - the article says over and over that the problem is that this new headset just isn't quite good enough and if only they'd crammed a little bit more tech in it suddenly the floodgates would open and VR would take over the world. Which is just total bollocks. VR doesn't have a problem of not being quite there yet, it has the problem that it's simply not appropriate most of the time and more people won't actually care about it no matter how good the tech becomes. And this has been pointed out over and over again since Oculus first hit the scene. VR headsets are just monitors stuck really close to your eyes. For some games, and a few other niche uses, that's pretty cool and a bit better than a regular monitor. For others, it ranges from completely pointless to actively detrimental. The same is true for motion controls, which are often talked about at the same time as VR but are actually a completely separate thing - in some cases motion controls can allow neat new mechanics, in others they're much worse than existing control schemes.

    Expecting VR to take over the world is like expecting joysticks to take over the world. It's not a replacement for existing things, it's just a new peripheral that's great for some things and terrible for others. Joysticks were great for things like flight sims but terrible for trying to edit a spreadsheet. VR headsets are also great for flight sims, but also terrible for things like editing spreadsheets. VR can never take over because it can only ever exist in addition to other input and output devices, it can't replace them. No amount of improved tech, higher resolution, better tracking or lower weight can change that.

    1. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Missing the point

      This is a weird one. You are angrily complaining about a different article to the one you've replied to.

      Inside-out tracking is better. For the reasons put in the article. Your counter-argument appears to be: well, you can't pull arrows from a quiver on your back. Which sounds like a pretty poor argument when placed against: well, you have to buy and install multiple sensors permanently in the room you want to play games.

      You do need a decent PC for it to work, in addition to the actual product itself. And that is expensive. Plus, minimum specs are minimum specs. You can try to make it work but good luck. Again, your argument appears to be "well it's not *that* expensive." But you're wrong because it basically doubles the cost of getting the system up and running unless you already have a PC.

      The article doesn't say, as you claim, that with a few tweaks that "suddenly the floodgates would open." You are making strawman arguments. And what you put forward as your criticism - headsets being monitors close to your eyes - is literally in the article.

      And... no, what's the point? Go be your wrong self someplace else.

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Missing the point

        I thought is was refreshing for once to see a product simply panned instead of damned with faint praise, or its faults ignored. This doesn't happen often enough in the tech biz (or most others) - the Reg is better than most, but few really let 'em have it when they stink. Kudos.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Missing the point

      "VR doesn't have a problem of not being quite there yet, it has the problem that it's simply not appropriate most of the time and more people won't actually care about it no matter how good the tech becomes."

      Yes, this is what I see as the core problem for VR adoption outside of serious gaming and industrial use. There's no use case compelling enough. That may change, of course, but I don't see anything on the horizon.

  7. ProjectBlu

    Replacement motion trackers

    VR hardware Reviews always talk about key features, but they almost always skip a buying concern that is ALL over the support forums! Oculus Rift is the only VR option that has decent hand controllers that don't break too often, with replacements available and for less than half the price of A whole new goggle set! That is a huge selling point for Rift and the reason I drooll over the Vive Pro but would -never- buy one. Vive controllers have a switch that breaks way too fast, and you have to buy controllers in pairs for a fortune. WMR vendors won't sell you replacement controllers AT ALL! One breaks or you bought goggles without controllers? Then most games are unplayable unless you throw away your goggles and buy a whole new set! It's like having to buy a new car every time you need tires. THAT is a major reason why Rift is so popular despite lower spec's and higher prices. Who wants to spend $400+ and if you smack a real wall while playing you'd have to toss your whole rig? A d yet, nobody mentions that massive reason to pick rift in these reviews...

    1. Boothy

      Re: Replacement motion trackers

      Quote: "Vive controllers have a switch that breaks way too fast, and you have to buy controllers in pairs for a fortune."

      Erm, no you don't, at least not in the UK. You can buy them direct from the official Vive web site individually (obviously you could buy two if you wanted, but the default amount is 1, I just checked).

      They are also available from other retailers, such as Scan, Very etc. Again as single units, not pairs.

      A single controller is £119.99 direct from Vive, so whilst not cheap, is about ~1 fifth of the price of buying a full Vive kit (£499). And even then, if you were buying two controllers, that's still less than half the price of buying a new full kit.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's face it--true VR is a Unicorn.

    Thanks to science fiction, the expectations of VR are too high to physically achieve (now and probably ever barring some paradigm shifter). Bulky things that weigh down your face will never be comfortable for most. No, it needs to be no bigger than a pair of glasses, but there's no way to condense that much computing power into something that tiny, which necessitates something else that rides along with you: which alters your center of gravity again plus the necessary evil of heat. Then there's being able to track the rest of you without needing a bodysuit or those ugly wires everywhere. About the closest way to make VR possible is to directly interface the brain and hijack the motor functions and so on so that you can feel like you're moving when you're not physically moving. Going that direction's bound to open a Pandora's Box of moral quandries.

    1. TheGreatCabbage

      Re: Let's face it--true VR is a Unicorn.

      I'm not sure anyone was expecting "true" VR, but VR is already the best option for flight simulator users - quite a large demographic - and it will only get better.

      The main issues are resolution and field of view, which PiMax seems to have made great strides with, and comfort. Just a well designed headset strap is enough to make a large difference to the latter issue, but a little less weight on the front will be possible with newer technology.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let's face it--true VR is a Unicorn.

        But it'll still be Uncanny Valley without the rest of the senses involved: especially touch, which we tend to rely pretty much by instinct (see reflexes). Plus there's the matter of the processing lag, which looks to be a sand hill (as in every time you climb, no matter how fast, the sand loosens and dumps you back down) in terms of making it possible: as soon as you reduce the lag, we'll demand more resolution which raises the computational demand further, raising the processing lag again.

        1. MrMerrymaker

          Re: Let's face it--true VR is a Unicorn.

          You sound like a man who doesn't read.

          Books only require sight... And you can be transported, without worrying about what you can't smell or touch!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Let's face it--true VR is a Unicorn.

            And you look like someone who hasn't had his or her heart race at a strange sound or tripped and fallen because a low branch or whatever hit you just right below the kneecap or jumped at something touching your shoulder. Or never had the first warning of something being a smell. This is Actual Reality, and for Virtual Reality to really compete at immersion and so on, it needs to stimulate ALL the senses, as like I said many of them are geared into our subconscious.

  9. Nick Hoath
    Gimp

    Saw this coming

    The moment Oculus was taken over by Facebook, I could see this coming.

    However, there are other options. I've now received my Pimax 5k+, which works brilliantly. I also previously received a Fove, which shows how good eye tracking can be. Given that the Pimax is modular and will get eye and hand tracking modules, Oculus will be left in the dust.

  10. Stripes the Dalmatian

    Perhaps I'm being naive...

    ...but, once you are involved in doing something, is VR really more immersive than just using an ordinary screen?

    Maybe immersiveness is more to do with what psychologists call flow experience.

    To maintain that state, you need to see past the technology you are using. My impression of VR is that it's nowhere near fluid and transparent enough to avoid drawing attention itself and 'breaking the spell' by introducing distractions.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps I'm being naive...

      It really is.

      Full honesty here, I'm waiting until the right headset is released before I make the purchase myself (Rift S is NOT it, waiting on the Valve headset, maybe that will be, maybe the Pilax 5K+ once everything that goes with it is ready)

      My work does have a number of headsets of different types and despite being a different dept, I've gotten to have a go on each, and I've experienced pretty much all the rest at various events.

      And yes, it really is a game changer in terms of immersion.

      Let's imagine a stupidly simple environment.

      An empty room with a small ball on the floor in front of a sofa.

      Standard computer game type environment:

      You spawn in, you can move a control stick or WASD to move around. Maybe you can crouch or jump by pressing a button.

      Moving a second stock/mouse shifts the view around in the monitor - a stationary window into the world

      You look at the ball and press a button to trigger a grab animation to pick up the ball.

      You can throw it by aiming at a location and pressing another button.

      In VR:

      You put on the headset and you are in the room.

      You can walk around the room. When you walk, you do so in the game. The room is all around you and you can look up, down, all around at it.

      You can lie down on the floor and look under the sofa, by lying down on the floor and looking. You move your arms around and your virtual ones move with them.

      To pick up the ball, you bend down, put out your hand and grab it (granted, this is currently by holding a button to hold it, but that will change with Knuckles controllers with full finger tracking that you can let go of and grab as a real object), using the same physical motions you've been issuing since you were a baby.

      You can turn your hand over and around to look at the ball from all angles.

      To throw it, you pull your hand back and throw it with the same action you would really do (with the button caveat as mentioned before) in real life.

      VR gives a sense of presence unlike anything possible with a 2D display.

    2. kierenmccarthy

      Re: Perhaps I'm being naive...

      Yes, I agree with you (and psychologists). That's why the eye-tracking is so important - it does make everything seem more real and intuitive.

      I also went and spoke to the people leading this field - Tobii - at GDC. They were very tight-lipped, wouldn't say who they were working with, or not working with. And this year their big push is for developers - they want people to think about what they can do with eye-tracking within games so there are some good games that show it off when the new Vive Pro comes out.

      Plus, of course, good games with eye tracking will push other headset manufacturers to want to include their tech...

    3. Rob Fisher

      Re: Perhaps I'm being naive...

      At its best it is quite astonishingly immersive. You get a sense of scale you can't get on a screen. Objects do look like they really exist in space, despite the limitations of current displays.

      One of my most surprising experiences was trying a WWII fighter in DCS World for the first time. The cramped, enclosed cockpit and the sense of there being very little between you and 2000 feet of fresh air then ground (not to mention bullets) is very palpable.

      I get this article, but for its niches VR is great.

    4. Esme

      Re: Perhaps I'm being naive...

      Very much agreed, Stripes. When playing first person games, i tend to get very imemrsed in them, provided nothing jars. Cartoony graphics are fine (for me), so long as they are visually coherent; when playing Minecraft with a simple flat 19in monitor, I'm "there" in the game, yet one flight sim I used to play went from cartoony graphics (because that's all that PCs could handle when the game was created) to more realistic looking graphics, and yet I found the new version much less immersive. I don't know what specifically caused the lack of immersion with the new improved graphics, but I stopped playing the game a few months later. I suspect it might be a version of the uncanny valley effect (looks kinda realistic but not quite good enough and so it jars).

      Minecraft used to offer a red/green stereoscopic view of the game, which I liked but had to give up on because I kept getting vertigo near large drops. Using the red/green depth perception was, of course, greatly enhanced but colours looked washed out, and in some cases a tad odd, which slightly reduced the immersiveness for me. Depth of vision isn't the be all and end all of immersiveness, and neither are ultra-realistic graphics.

  11. ThomH Silver badge

    I used to do this for a living

    Three years ago in my lounge you'd have found a Vive plus the tracking stations plus the ~$4,000 PC to power it, all courtesy of my employer.

    You probably wouldn't have found me or my wife using them, since we both had a go once or twice and then left it all to collect dust: VR is isolating, uncomfortable and all-too-often nausea inducing, and any content that might make up for that eluded us. Tilt Brush was briefly engaging, but the novelty wears off quickly. On the plus side, as it seemed to be primarily the motion disconnect that caused sickness, that was the title either of us could endure the longest. With Google Maps at the other end of the scale — truly the worst piece of VR software we tried, completely ill-suited to the medium.

    Maybe they can fix the comfort but I don't see the isolation or the nausea going away. Since the primary development goals of the companies seems to be better displays, I'm not even sure they're trying.

    If you are a gamer with a strong stomach who usually plays locally alone, a headset might be a fun purchase. For the rest of us, probably not.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: I used to do this for a living

      They've come a long way in figuring out just what induces nausea, and what doesn't, and avoid that as much as possible.

      There was a lot of experimentation I the early days, and they just didn't get it right.

      My first ever vr experience was a occulus dev-kit running a banana boat /pirate ship (swinging theme park ride) simulation.

      Impressive, but the input from my eyes in no way matched up with the experience the reset of my body was having.

      That made me feel sick after a few swings.

      Two tables away was another headset. Same model, but the simulation was of an outdoors space you could walk around using a controller.

      Much better, but still didn't line up.

      Later demos with roomspace, where it's ME moving within the environment instead of the environment moving around me? No nausea at all.

      My sister still feels ill using them (her work uses vr too, but for different things) but I suspect there, it's that the headset isn't set up for her properly, IPD etc

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: I used to do this for a living

        It likely varies per person. Lots of people experience nausea trying to play first-person video games on regular computer screens, probably for much the same reason.

        (I myself experience vestibular migraines if I play for too long when I'm too tired. Fun stuff. One silver lining to the cloud of having to take Metoprolol is that it mitigates the effects. They're no longer debilitating, merely uncomfortable.)

        And this isn't even full immersion stuff, just staring at a screen. The disconnect between body and vision is at least part of what causes car sickness and the like. I can see how full immersion would intensify the effect.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: I used to do this for a living

          "The disconnect between body and vision is at least part of what causes car sickness and the like."

          This!. As a corroborating example, I've never got seasick in a boat, even in quite rough waters, but in car trips I was a walking vomarcoiris fountain till the age of ten or so, when I noticed that not reading while the car was moving made the problem vanish. I still suffer this issue occasionally, when I reckon that the boredom is worse than the sickness.

          Funny thing: the more interesting my readings are, the higher my probability of getting sick.

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: I used to do this for a living

            I found that it was the mustyness of old books that got me, but only while in a moving vehicle. Newer books or electronic devices? no problem.

  12. JohnFen Silver badge

    Not seeing the mass-market appeal

    "Few outside hardcore gamers are that excited to try it again."

    I have a hard time believing that VR goggles will ever have a great deal of appeal outside of hardcore gamers and certain specific industrial use cases. I suppose, if the price point were a lot lower and the gear a lot less intrusive, it might be able to crack into the market between casual gamers and true hardcore gamers, but still...

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Not seeing the mass-market appeal

      I am inclined to agree, but I think that AR goggles could be considerably easier and more useful. For a trivial example, we all remember the Pokemon Go craze of a few years back. That was just AR on s 2D device and it clearly captured the imagination of ordinary punters. I'm sure there are loads of useful applications of AR outside gaming, too.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Not seeing the mass-market appeal

      I think it will gain mass market appeal eventually, but it will need the right product which hasn't come yet, and a killer app/game to go along with it. There are still a few more wrongs to go before we get to right.

  13. Dz1

    HP Reverb blows this away

    The HP Reverb retails a bit more than this but is so much better. Much higher resolution and a higher field of view. Oculus should be embarrassed coming out with such an underwhelming headset.

  14. J27 Bronze badge

    It's nice to see a preview of these where the author isn't jumping aboard the hype train. I'll believe VR is here when my non-techie friends start asking me about VR headsets.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This person thinks differently to me! ALT RIGHT TROLL!

    Jesus christ, grow up.

  16. Dave0063

    I am sure everyone has their own opinion, so here is mine. My CV1 is good enough, not great, not as good as I would like it to be, but good enough. The issue I have is there is no great games for it and I don't see that changing any time soon. I still use my Rift for the same games I bought it for years ago. Look at the top 20 games sold last year [2018] how many had a VR interface.

    In the article the author suggested that if VR was better the big gaming studios will start producing games for it... bullocks. The big game studios are not interested in making VR games hell they are not even interested in wasting time making a VR interface because there is no money in it for them. Gaming studios want to make games for mass market people that can barely afford their XBox/PS4, let alone drop a months salary on a peripheral.

    It would be a better strategy to send your crack programmers to the gaming studios and offer to 'for free' write a VR interface for the games they produce.

  17. RedCardinal

    VR = blind alley

    Like 3d movies.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution...

    Google cardboard was an eye opener, if you'd got a mobile phone the additional cost was trivial and the experience novel and well worth a try. Oculus Rift was much better but needing a good PC and with the disadvantage of being tethered to the PC, too expensive for the mass market. Oculus Go was a decent compromise, cheaper than Google Cardboard plus mobile phone, more convenient that slotting the mobile into the cardboard, not tethered to a PC. No it's not the full-fat VR the 8 hours a day game players would like to see but for occasional dip into VR at £200 its a worthwhile taster experience for occasional use. I'll not buy the Quest because I'm not a gamer and it offers me little benefit, I use Go for things like 360 videos. Yes I'd like something higher spec, I'd like a Ferrari too but my budget only runs to a second-hand Skoda and it gets me to work just as effectively. Next year's options will be better and in ten years there'll be devices that tick every keen gamers 2019 wish-list - but by then the enthusiasts will be wanting a lot more.

  19. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    I can't handle 3D TV

    My Dad bought a 3D TV, I put the glasses on and within 2 mins I had to head to the backdoor for fresh air I felt so sick and disorientated. I don't think I'll ever try VR if I can't cope with some basic 3D TV.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: I can't handle 3D TV

      You might actually find VR easier to cope with. For example, with a 3D TV, if your eyes are not level, the two images won't line up and you cannot properly resolve the image. With a VR headset however, that angle is accounted for by shifting the cameras in the 3D space, so it will always line up.

      See if you can get someone with a VR set to let you have a go. It may be no better, but you never know until you give it a try.

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