Virtual Reality is fast becoming our reality. Even if you're not a Pokemon Go addict it's looking like exciting times ahead in the tech world.

Virtual reality is here (though, granted, without the Power Glove). With announcements at E3, the world’s largest gaming expo, that titles like Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Final Fantasy XV are getting VR support, there’s only a bit of time left to get acquainted with the basics of the technology.

Not into games? Don't worry, there are all sorts of visually stunning and interactive content to get anyone excited about the coming age of virtual reality – even if all you want to do is sit back in your digital living room and watch some YouTube.

Virtual reality is here (though, granted, without the Power Glove). With announcements at E3, the world’s largest gaming expo, that titles like Fallout 4, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Final Fantasy XV are getting VR support, there’s only a bit of time left to get acquainted with the basics of the technology.

Not into games? Don't worry, there are all sorts of visually stunning and interactive content to get anyone excited about the coming age of virtual reality – even if all you want to do is sit back in your digital living room and watch some YouTube.

The whole virtual world is already in your pocket

Though there are options for PC-linked headsets on the market (see below), they come with price tags that might overwhelm someone who isn’t clear on what the hubbub surrounding VR is about. If you’re unsure whether you want to commit to an expensive piece of hardware, give the tech itself a try with these options for converting your mobile into a VR headset:

Google Cardboard

Google recently started shipping prefab versions of its Google Cardboard viewer, but the more DIY-loving folks out there might consider gathering the supplies to build their own cardboard mount using the company’s free specs. After assembly (or purchase) just slip in any iPhone or Android 4.1+ phone into the holder and voila: a virtual reality for just a few dollars.

Both the Google Play and Mac App stores offer Cardboard-compatible apps for purchase, and Google offers its own free one for users of the headset to give their affordable VR a try. You’ll be glad you saved money by building your own headset when you get to spend that cash on games like the first-person arcade shooter throwback End Space VR. It definitely beats being slumped over your phone!

Gear VR

In partnership with Oculus, Samsung developed the Gear VR, a headset that works using an Android-ready version of Oculus’ VR software. The headset, a comfortable and sturdy housing for compatible Galaxy phones, has touchpad controls and supplementary processing power that guarantees the sort of stable, fast performance that’s difficult to get out of VR like Google’s, which relies on the phone’s processors alone.

Use Gear VR to binge-watch Netflix, explore breathtaking 360-degree videos from the New York Times, play mobile favourites like Temple Run or look around a Brontosaurus’ hideout on an immersive tour of Jurassic World that’s as heart-stopping as any IMAX movie (I can’t be the only grown adult who gasped at that Pterodactyl). For under $200, Gear VR is a solid option for those looking to try a fully functional VR headset without breaking the bank. The catch here is it only works with select Samsung phones.

If it’s time to go big

If you’ve already given one of these two systems a try or are just itching to get your hands on a new release, consider the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift or gaming giant Valve’s HTC Vive system.

The Oculus Rift functions similarly to Samsung’s Gear VR but offers a substantially larger selection of games and forthcoming motion controllers that leave no doubt about its complex functionality.

The HTC Vive, with its multiple sensors, boasts the ability to allow the user to get up and walk around the area they’re in – known as “room-scale VR” – which is exactly the sort of thing that’ll help you forget you’re not really in a holodeck (or will at the very least have you knocking into bookshelves for a while).

These two systems are the current top of the VR world giving amazing immersive experiences but those experiences come with a cost. The VR units themselves are upwards of $700 and unless you already have one you will need to spend another $1500 for a powerful PC to run them. For that money, you get smooth immersive graphics, full head tracking and in some cases the ability to touch and interact with the world.

If you are thinking of buying you need to consider that even when you spend this kind of money these are still first generation consumer devices. The Rift & Vive still suffer from the “screen door” effect, essentially because the screen is only 4cms from your face you can see the pixels taking away from some of the realism. And while there are plenty of games already available, content creators are still working out how best to use VR.

What should we expect next?

Sony’s PlayStation VR headset, meant to cost less than either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, is launching this October and will work with the PlayStation 4 console that plenty of gamers already have in their houses. Microsoft recently revealed that they will be releasing their own high-fidelity VR console, “Project Scorpio,” in 2017 which is rumoured to work with the Oculus Rift.

Phone-based VR isn’t being left behind – these expensive headsets are not the end of affordable virtual reality. Later this year as part of their mysterious upcoming OS “N,” Google is going to be releasing Daydream, the next generation of Cardboard that will reduce the latency affecting the current platform’s performance and provide a standard for Android VR ready phones.

The virtual reality future is here now, and with a barrier for entry that’s only some cardboard and the phone at your fingertips, what’s stopping you from jumping in?

Let us know what you’re excited about the most in the comments below.

Cheers,

Lee – amaysim’s IT Director.

Though there are options for PC-linked headsets on the market (see below), they come with price tags that might overwhelm someone who isn’t clear on what the hubbub surrounding VR is about. If you’re unsure whether you want to commit to an expensive piece of hardware, give the tech itself a try with these options for converting your mobile into a VR headset:

Google Cardboard

Google recently started shipping prefab versions of its Google Cardboard viewer, but the more DIY-loving folks out there might consider gathering the supplies to build their own cardboard mount using the company’s free specs. After assembly (or purchase) just slip in any iPhone or Android 4.1+ phone into the holder and voila: a virtual reality for just a few dollars.

Both the Google Play and Mac App stores offer Cardboard-compatible apps for purchase, and Google offers its own free one for users of the headset to give their affordable VR a try. You’ll be glad you saved money by building your own headset when you get to spend that cash on games like the first-person arcade shooter throwback End Space VR. It definitely beats being slumped over your phone!

Gear VR

In partnership with Oculus, Samsung developed the Gear VR, a headset that works using an Android-ready version of Oculus’ VR software. The headset, a comfortable and sturdy housing for compatible Galaxy phones, has touchpad controls and supplementary processing power that guarantees the sort of stable, fast performance that’s difficult to get out of VR like Google’s, which relies on the phone’s processors alone.

Use Gear VR to binge-watch Netflix, explore breathtaking 360-degree videos from the New York Times, play mobile favourites like Temple Run or look around a Brontosaurus’ hideout on an immersive tour of Jurassic World that’s as heart-stopping as any IMAX movie (I can’t be the only grown adult who gasped at that Pterodactyl). For under $200, Gear VR is a solid option for those looking to try a fully functional VR headset without breaking the bank. The catch here is it only works with select Samsung phones.

If it’s time to go big

If you’ve already given one of these two systems a try or are just itching to get your hands on a new release, consider the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift or gaming giant Valve’s HTC Vive system.

The Oculus Rift functions similarly to Samsung’s Gear VR but offers a substantially larger selection of games and forthcoming motion controllers that leave no doubt about its complex functionality.

The HTC Vive, with its multiple sensors, boasts the ability to allow the user to get up and walk around the area they’re in – known as “room-scale VR” – which is exactly the sort of thing that’ll help you forget you’re not really in a holodeck (or will at the very least have you knocking into bookshelves for a while).

These two systems are the current top of the VR world giving amazing immersive experiences but those experiences come with a cost. The VR units themselves are upwards of $700 and unless you already have one you will need to spend another $1500 for a powerful PC to run them. For that money, you get smooth immersive graphics, full head tracking and in some cases the ability to touch and interact with the world.

If you are thinking of buying you need to consider that even when you spend this kind of money these are still first generation consumer devices. The Rift & Vive still suffer from the “screen door” effect, essentially because the screen is only 4cms from your face you can see the pixels taking away from some of the realism. And while there are plenty of games already available, content creators are still working out how best to use VR.

What should we expect next?

Sony’s PlayStation VR headset, meant to cost less than either the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, is launching this October and will work with the PlayStation 4 console that plenty of gamers already have in their houses. Microsoft recently revealed that they will be releasing their own high-fidelity VR console, “Project Scorpio,” in 2017 which is rumoured to work with the Oculus Rift.

Phone-based VR isn’t being left behind – these expensive headsets are not the end of affordable virtual reality. Later this year as part of their mysterious upcoming OS “N,” Google is going to be releasing Daydream, the next generation of Cardboard that will reduce the latency affecting the current platform’s performance and provide a standard for Android VR ready phones.

The virtual reality future is here now, and with a barrier for entry that’s only some cardboard and the phone at your fingertips, what’s stopping you from jumping in?

Let us know what you’re excited about the most in the comments below.

Cheers,

Lee – amaysim’s IT Director.

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