Mainstream VR HMDs Are Coming, With A Range Of Specs And Features

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rtrski

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Your table bottom row seems to be flipping the $$ of the Vive and the Rift by including a price with/without touch for the Vive.
 

scolaner

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Whoops. Fixed. Thx!
 

shane_50

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Looks like xr silicon valley companies are coming to life. Ces 2017 should be an interesting show for the xr industry a very exciting time ahead.
 

eklipz330

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this may actually be bad if not executed correctly. cheap entry may sell units, but a substandard experience will not help the industry grow. experience on VR cannot be compromised
 
Mainstream VR HMDs Are Coming
Remember when the Oculus Rift was intended to be "mainstream", back before Facebook bought them out and doubled the price of everything? They likely came to the realization that they grossly overpaid for the company, and decided to grab as much cash as possible from early-adopters before dozens of other companies start releasing competing headsets.



Maybe, but given the current VR headset's markups, there's a lot of room for companies to reduce the cost of their HMDs without cutting into the quality of the product. And sure, I imagine there will be some headsets that aren't particularly good, but we already have those in the mobile VR space, in which pretty much all headsets fall into the "budget" category, and provide substandard experiences. Chances are, most "mainstream" headsets will be better than those.

And of course, these upcoming headsets have an advantage in that they can look at people's experiences with the first-generation of consumer headsets from HTC, Oculus, and Sony, and build upon what works, and what doesn't with those products. For example, you'll notice that a couple of the pictured headsets feature PSVR-style headbands, which could easily help to better distribute their weight off the wearer's face, potentially making them more comfortable than the Rift or Vive. Even the existing headsets don't offer an "ideal" VR experience, and make compromises in various ways. If anything, more competition should push the existing headset manufacturers to improve their headsets and potentially reduce their prices.

PC-tethered HMDs are like desktop PCs--not portable, but powerful--whereas untethered, mobile HMDs will be like laptops--eminently portable, indispensable to many, and typically less powerful than their desktop-bound counterparts.
I'd say comparing untethered HMDs to tablets and smartphones would be more accurate, since some high-end gaming laptops can be similar in power to upper-mid-range desktops. And of course, many of those are even "VR capable", especially if we go by the lower Windows 10 VR requirements, so you technically could tether a headset to a laptop to maintain a reasonable degree of both portability and power. If you're packing all the computational components into the headset itself, you're going to be much more limited in terms of processing power.

And of course, being "tethered" to an external machine won't necessarily mean you'll always be attached with a wire. Wireless, low-latency transmission is bound to start appearing in some headsets within the next couple years or so, even if its not ready quite yet. And there could certainly be overlap between tethered and untethered HMDs, with standalone devices offering the option to link them to an external PC or console to enable higher-detailed experiences.
 

Morfaine

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You can't do good hand motion control without external tracking. If MS aren't investing in external tracking then motion control will be at best 3DOF.
 

TonyVT

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I think that MS wants to keep prices low... big problem for adoption of VR is high prices... and with this non-great headset, they'll obtain that adoption
 

jaber2

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Its like Apple and Samsung are the main players and all others are trying to get theirs into the mix, if you want the real thing you've got to go with those two, meaning Oculus Rift and HTC Vive
 

c4s2k3

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I like gaming and I'm really not excited about any of them. I expect I won't until there is compelling content. By 'compelling' I mean content that would make me want to spend the $$ on the hardware. It's simply not there yet and I'm not sure it will ever be. Aside from the obvious in-game locomotion issue no one has truly cracked yet, I don't see VR as a viable use case for a wide range of game genres. I like racing games and this is a pretty good fit for that (or any type of immersive vehicle sim) but in my opinion, gaming use cases fall off dramatically if you stray from that.

There is potential for other applications outside of pure games for entertainment, for example I could see VR combined with better hand-tracking (much like some are doing by adding Leap sensor) used to drive a procedural trainer or something like that, but this seems like a very small niche.
 

brian532

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Microsoft was clear: You can’t have too much input diversity. Even so, you have to be sure that all of those input methods are standardized and consistent for all developers and users, which is why Microsoft has spent so much time nailing these down.

Of course there can be too much input diversity. That is why microsoft came up with direct X in the first place. Why should all the VR leaders have to comply with a MS spec? The last thing we need is 3 different hardware manufactures all requiring a different software implementation to run them.

which is why Microsoft has spent so much time nailing these down.

This is nice of microsoft to self appoint themselves the standards maker. Why not just comply with the standard valve has produced? I guess MS is so big they can just take over and make the leaders adopt their standards.
 

Sakkura

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That's complete and utter nonsense. Facebook has since decided to spend another 500 million dollars on content. Just take a look at how much software they've been including with first the Rift and then the Touch - even if they were making a profit on the hardware, the included stuff more than swallows that. No, Facebook very clearly are not in this for short-term profit.

What made the price go up was that they decided to go for a higher quality device. Whether that was due to the competition from the HTC Vive or their own belief that the baseline required for acceptable VR was higher than originally anticipated, I don't know. But the hardware on offer is legitimately expensive. The margins are definitely far slimmer than on similarly priced phones.
 

wifiburger

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lol fumiest article ever, mainstream and vr in the same phrase,
yeah ok never going to happen, they can give them for free and nobody will care !

and if you do happen to get one for free all these companies will bleed so much money and sweat trying to make money
 

bit_user

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Why do you even write these posts? Just save your time. You're not adding anything to the conversation.

We know what you think about VR. No need to keep repeating it.
 


Oculus obviously has a huge markup on their hardware, as does HTC with the Vive, though at least in that case they weren't previously making claims otherwise. Sure, maybe they threw in a gamepad that no-one buying a VR headset actually needed, along with a couple games most purchasers of the headset probably wouldn't have otherwise bought, but those were little more than cheap additions to attempt to justify the inflated cost, and were undoubtedly licensed in bulk at a low cost to them. I highly doubt that the manufacture of the product itself, even including the unnecessary pack-in items, costs them more than around $400 per unit to produce. Likewise, the Touch controllers they just released in no way cost them anywhere remotely close to $200 to manufacture, and could have easily been sold for closer to $100.

And sure, maybe the product does offer a somewhat higher level of quality than originally planned, but Sony's PSVR headset also offers a high level of quality, and it's possible to pick up a complete PSVR system, including the headset, camera, motion controllers, and even the PS4 console to run it on for less than an Oculus Rift with Touch controllers. You can't tell me an Oculus Rift setup costs more to manufacture than a complete PSVR setup and a Playstation 4 combined. Yes, Move controllers are a bit outdated at this point compared to the Rift or Vive controllers, but that clearly doesn't account for a $300+ difference. And the PSVR has been generally agreed to be the most comfortable and easily adjustable of the current consumer headsets. Of course, it's not available for use with PCs for now, but that's not stopping any of these other upcoming headsets from offering a PC-compatible VR package of comparable quality at a similar price.

Facebook's planned investment in VR content does not necessarily equate to content exclusively for the Rift either. The vast majority of that content will undoubtedly be made available for other headsets, consoles, and mobile VR as well. They understand that there's money to be made in VR, whether its on their headset or others, and their investment in VR content does not necessarily depend on the long-term success of the Oculus Rift. And that's not to say Oculus will fail, just that their headset will soon be one of many, and they're trying to cash in on early-adopters while they still can, before competition forces them to price their hardware at lower margins closer to what the hardware is actually worth.

I wouldn't mind the Oculus Rift's pricing quite as much if they hadn't previously convinced most that their headset would be priced somewhere below $400, without giving any suggestion that it would cost more until shortly before the official pricing was announced. When a lot of people were displeased at them for selling out to Facebook, Lackey claimed it would allow for a lower price and a timely release without product shortages, none of which turned out to be true. The Oculus Rift came out at least a year or more later than most expected, hundreds of dollars more expensive than most expected, and without the manufacturing capacity to get the units out to people in a timely manner. And of course, it's still all tied to one of the world's largest advertising companies, who will no doubt be looking for ways to track and monetize everyone's VR experiences in the coming years.

Plus, this is all first-gen hardware in a relatively new field (as far as consumer devices go), that will likely become more or less obsolete within a few years. $800 can be a bit hard to swallow when it's clear that devices featuring higher resolution, eye-tracking with foveated rendering, hand/body tracking, better comfort, and wireless connectivity are likely to start appearing within the next couple years. And really, there still isn't even that great of a selection of software for the devices yet. Most VR games released so far amount to little more than tech-demos or budget mini-games, with the occasional bigger title getting some amount of VR support tacked on. I'm sure there will be a better selection of software soon enough, but there will also be a better selection of VR headsets as well.
 
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