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Best VR Headsets

Best Smart Glasses

To determine the best smart glasses, we looked at connectivity, media creation, controls, and battery life. Those are some of the most important features that you’ll frequently encounter when shopping for a pair of smart glasses or sunglasses. We looked at a range of styles designed for active sports users, and indoor use.

Based on all of the above, we’ve selected the Bose Frames as our top pick. While they lack media creation, these Bluetooth smart sunglasses come with high-quality open ear speakers that are built into the frames for a low profile look. You’ll enjoy listening to music or receiving calls without earbuds, and the confidence that your music or conversation won’t disturb passers-by.

Top 7 Smart Glasses Compared

 #1  Bose Frames Audio Sunglasses

Award: Top Pick

WHY WE LIKE IT: A stylish pair of UVA/UVB ray-blocking sleek sunglasses with built-in audio technology from a leader in audio playback for fashion forward users who want tech accessories that marry form and function. Open-ear speakers are designed so only the wearer can hear audio, connects via Bluetooth, and relies on a proprietary app to control while on the go.

Pros
  • Blocks 99% of UVA/UVB rays
  • Connects via Bluetooth
  • Open ear design to hear music/calls and everything around you
Cons
  • No camera
  • Short battery life
  • Must upgrade separately for polarized lenses

Bose is a leader in sound quality, and for good reason. They consistently create speakers and audio playback devices that let you listen to everything from music to movies to phone calls with rich, true, crystal clear sound. Enjoy up to three and a half hours of streaming music playback. And if you’re into augmented reality, you’ll like that these glasses are Bose AR-enabled, simply update the software to access this feature.

So, it’s unsurprising that their Bose Frames are our top pick. These UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses are designed to be stylish and functional. They feature an open ear design with the speakers discretely built-in to the arms of the glasses. While you hear your music or call, you can still hear the world around you — but they won’t hear what you’re listening to. While these frames may not have voice commands, they’ll be hooked up to your phone for ease of functionality.

So, it’s unsurprising that their Bose Frames are our top pick. These UVA/UVB blocking sunglasses are designed to be stylish and functional. They feature an open ear design with the speakers discretely built-in to the arms of the glasses. While you hear your music or call, you can still hear the world around you — but they won’t hear what you’re listening to. Smart glasses aren’t as immersive as the best VR headsets, but they can help you get more done. Compare these frames to the Vuzix Blade smart glasses to determine which option is best for you.

 #2  TechKen Sunglasses Headset Headphone Bluetooth Wireless Music Sunglasses

Award: Honorable Mention/Most Connectivity Options

WHY WE LIKE IT: A streamlined pair of smart sunglasses designed for the active crowd with a wide range of connected device compatibility via Bluetooth. Polarized lenses provide sun protection while built-in earbuds and controls provide a secure fit, quality sound, and the hands-free functionality you crave.

Pros
  • Polarized lenses protect from UV rays
  • Wide range of device support across platforms
  • Secure fit designed for high impact activities
Cons
  • Micro USB charger can sometimes malfunction
  • Earbuds fall out easily during activity
  • Bluetooth connectivity can be inconsistent

If you live an active lifestyle, you know how important it is to have accessories that can stand up to being jarred. The TechKen Bluetooth smart sunglasses feature a rugged design that’s ideal for users on the go. Whether you’re biking, hiking, or camping, you can get sun protection and quality sound in one product. These sunglasses have polarized lenses to protect you from harmful UV rays. You’ll also enjoy a long battery life that can range between seven to nine hours depending on your usage.

Connect to a wide range of devices across Samsung, Apple, Android, and Microsoft via Bluetooth. I’m not sure if they connect to the best drones though. These sunglasses come with a built-in set of earbuds for a secure fit. The added play/stop and volume controls let you listen to music, manage the volume, and answer and end calls without having to fumble with your phone. The foldable sunglasses slip easily into your pocket or in a bag pouch and are charged via USB. With these AR glasses, you’ll feel like you’re taking a step into the future.

 #3  Miota Mini Video Glasses

Award: Best Simple Video Glasses

WHY WE LIKE IT: A classic pair of frames with a built-in HD 1080P camera for those who want to record POV video at 30 FPS and take pictures. Shoot continuously for up to 80 minutes and save footage directly to a 32GB micro SD card that fits in the built-in drive.

Pros
  • Shoots POV video and pictures in HD 1080P
  • Native micro SD card slot
  • 65-degree camera viewing angle
Cons
  • Limited instruction manual
  • Lacks WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity
  • May stop working with devices when manually connected

These Miota Mini Video Glasses are perfect for the person on the go who wants to create live footage of everything they see. While they don’t feature wireless connectivity, there’s a lot to love with these straightforward glasses. Easily shoot video and pictures with the built-in HD camera with a 65-degree viewing angle. Display qualities of 1080P, video output in AVI, and frames per second rate of 30 make this a solid choice.

When the glasses are fully charged, you can automatically save up to 80 minutes of footage directly to the mini SD card thanks to the built-in card reader. These glasses support mini SD cards of up to 32 gigabytes. Even though these glasses must be manually paired to a device through USB, it works with Apple, Windows, and Android-based devices. If you’re looking for a good starter pair of AR smart glasses, you might want to start here.

 #4  OhO sunshine Waterproof 1080p Video Sunglasses

Award: Best Value

WHY WE LIKE IT: IP66 waterproof functionality combines with 1080P and 30FPS full HD recording and 32GB storage to create the perfect smart sunglasses for an adventure. Polarized lenses, a maximum recording time of 60 minutes, and one-touch controls make these perfect for people on the go.

Pros
  • IP66 waterproof (best for rugged use)
  • HD camera shoots in 1080P and 30FPS
  • One-touch camera controls
Cons
  • No smartphone app
  • Can have manual connectivity issues with devices
  • Doesn’t support Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections

Maybe you’re into extreme sports or feel like you live in the water. If this is you, you know that tech and water tend not to mix unless they’re rated as waterproof. These OhO sunshine Waterproof Video Sunglasses have an IP66 rating so they’re safe to take into the water. Enjoy up to 60 minutes of video recording when fully charged.

The built-in HD camera shoots video in MOV format and 1080P at 30FPS. The sunglasses can store up to 32GBof footage which can be later downloaded onto Windows and Mac platforms. One-button controls make it easy to start and stop recording or take pictures and vibrations let you know when recording has begun. These glasses are available on Amazon if you’re looking to purchase them.

 #5  Newwings Bluetooth Full HD 1080P Video Sunglasses

Award: Best Low-Profile Camera

WHY WE LIKE IT: Bluetooth connectivity and a full HD 1080P camera combine in a low-profile design that’s perfect for sporty and active users. Micro SD card support, up to 90 minutes of recording time, polarized lenses, and music playback and call controls round out the top features.

Pros
  • Long battery life (90 minutes)
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • 32GB micro SD card supported
Cons
  • Requires multiple steps to use camera
  • Earbuds stick out from sunglass frame
  • No native app to control Bluetooth or audio playback

There’s no reason that you should have to pay a lot to get a functional pair of smart sunglasses that’s packed with features. The Newwings Bluetooth Sunglasses offer Bluetooth connectivity that works with Apple and Android devices. This gives you the ability to control music playback or answer calls by using the built-in controls on the sunglasses. These shades come with an HD camera that’s designed to take pictures and shoot videos in 1080P.

Save images and video directly to a micro SD card with a maximum capacity of 32 gigabytes. Record continuously for up to 90 minutes when fully charged. Polarized lenses give you the UV protection you need for outdoor use.

 #6  Avviso Technologies Live Streaming Glasses

Award: Best for Live Streaming

WHY WE LIKE IT: Influencers and real-time reviewers will enjoy the live streaming functionality via a proprietary app, extended battery life of up to 150 minutes (depending on activity) and a choice between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity make this pair of glasses a smart buy. Shoot footage in 1080P, with an 80-degree viewing angle at 30 FPS.

Pros
  • Best battery (150 minutes)
  • 2-year warranty
  • 80-degree camera viewing angle
Cons
  • Device connectivity can be inconsistent
  • Proprietary app has limited functionality
  • Glasses may not fit those with wider faces

Some people can’t get enough of documenting their lives in real-time and sharing it with the world. If this sounds like you, then these Avviso Technologies Live Streaming Glasses are the perfect solution. Connect to your preferred device either via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and live stream up to one hour of footage. These glasses come with two additional battery packs, giving you a maximum usage of 150 minutes if you aren’t live streaming.

Live stream up to 30 meters from your Wi-Fi source and control the output through the proprietary app. Additional features include an 80-degree camera viewing angle, and save footage on the included 32-gigabyte mini SD card. You’ll love the low profile look of these glasses as the camera and microphone are not visible. And lastly, it includes a 2-year warranty.

 #7  Spectacles 2 (Nico) Smart Glasses

Award: Best for Travel

WHY WE LIKE IT: The social media obsessed set will love that these Spectacles 2 glasses from Snap Inc (the parent company of Snapchat) allow them to seamlessly publish recorded content straight to their Snapchat accounts. Water resistant construction, Bluetooth pairing, charging on the go with the including charging case, and one-button controls make this an easy to use pair of smart glasses.

Pros
  • Wireless charging case
  • Native social media support
  • 2 HD cameras for enhanced angles
Cons
  • Bluetooth pairing can be inconsistent
  • Sharing content outside of Snapchat can be difficult
  • Glasses can be heavy for extended wear

If you live by the mantra “pics or it didn’t happen”, Snapchat’s foray into the smart glasses category is the perfect solution. These smart glasses features two HD cameras at opposite ends of the front of the frame to create multiple angles and allow for 3D video creation. With the one-touch controls you can choose between shooting short 10-second videos, longer videos, or taking still photography. The included charging case means you’re less likely to run out of battery life when you’re on the go. Recharge your Spectacles up to four times before you need to recharge the case.

When fully charged, you can take and sync up to 70 videos. Syncing footage with Snapchat is easy, and you can even save them directly to your phone’s camera roll once the glasses are paired via Bluetooth. Water resistance means you can shoot videos in shallow water.

How We Decided

If you think of Google Glass when you hear the phrase “smart glasses” it’s easy to be confused by many of the more popular models that now occupy this category. When we began researching the best smart glasses, we focused on a few key features that are most important for the average consumer: connectivity, media creation, built-in controls, and battery life.

There are a range of options for connecting smart glasses. The most common options include via USB, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. The USB connection can be ideal especially if you’re trying to upload media content that you created through your glasses. Some glasses support micro SD cards. If you buy a pair with this feature it’s more likely that the only way you can upload the content to your computer or tablet will be through a USB connection. However, there are some models — including ones featured in our list — that have proprietary apps that allow you to wirelessly share content. The version you choose is going to be dependent upon your needs and comfort level with this type of technology.

A major feature of smart glasses is that they often have built-in cameras for shooting videos and taking pictures. All of the glasses on our list that have cameras come with a built-in microphone and shoot content in 1080P with a frame rate of 30 frames per second. Some models allow you to save this footage to a micro SD card but often the card doesn’t come included with your glasses. In some cases, as with the Avviso Technologies Live Streaming Glasses, you can live stream footage thanks to the Bluetooth connection.

Another question we addressed is how you can control your glasses, and potentially other functions through your connected smart device. All of the smart glasses on our list feature actual button controls. However, some glasses have a one-touch system, whereas others have multiple buttons to control music playback, volume, and call answering. Two of the smart glasses on our list, the Bose Frames and the Avviso Technologies Live Streaming Glasses, also come with a proprietary app that is designed to support Bluetooth connections and playback controls.

And finally, we looked at battery life. While smart glasses tend to have much shorter battery capacity than other smart technologies on the market, at a minimum you should be able to find a pair of glasses that can provide up to one hour of runtime when fully charged. Through our research, the best battery life came from the Miota Bluetooth Headphones Glasses with a maximum runtime of three hours thanks to the two additional battery packs that are included.

Smart Glasses Buying Guide

The Most Important Features to Consider

  1. Connectivity
    One of the biggest benefits of opting for a pair of smart glasses is that they allow you to perform a range of tasks hands-free, as long as there’s a stable connection between the glasses and whichever device you choose. Some smart glasses can be paired via Bluetooth while others might rely on WiFi. Others can only be connected to a device manually via USB typically.
  2. Media Creation and Playback
    One of the most popular features with smart glasses and sunglasses is taking pictures and shooting video. Typically, you’ll find that most glasses with this feature will shoot media in 1080P, and for video will have a frame rate of 30FPS. The video format can vary between AVI and MOV.
  3. Battery Life
    Depending on how frequently you plan on using your smart glasses and the type of features you want to use, battery life is going to be an important consideration. While in general, battery life isn’t as long as other smart devices, at a minimum most smart glasses and sunglasses will offer at least one hour of runtime under heavy use — such as shooting video.
  4. Comfort
    Just like with regular glasses, you wouldn’t buy a pair of frames for prescription lenses if they pinched your nose, were heavy or were just generally uncomfortable. So, the same should hold for a pair of smart glasses. While these glasses are typically designed to be light, with feather-weight non-prescription lenses that won’t impede your vision, you still want to make sure that the arms of the glasses, as well as the nose bridge, is comfortable.
  5. Applications
    Smart glasses are part of the wearable technology category. So, it’s important to check what applications are available, and if the pair you purchase can be integrated into smart assistant technology. Typically, smart glasses will offer these core applications: GPS, calculator, clock, calendar, activity tracker, Wi-Fi connectivity, and music. Premium features that aren’t always standard include smart assistant integration into platforms like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant, music playback, and picture and video support.
  6. Controls
    Since smart glasses are designed to be hands-free, the question becomes “how do you control your glasses”? Premium devices will usually offer voice controls that are often easily streamlined into an existing smart assistant like Alexa or Siri. But even budget options allow for gestures or built-in button controls.
  7. Lenses
    Smart glasses can be purchased either with clear or tinted lenses — depending on your needs. Outdoor enthusiasts who love to take pictures, listen to music or shoot videos while playing sports should opt for smart sunglasses. Meanwhile, clear lenses are ideal for indoor use, or the occasional outdoor recording. However, if you opt for a pair of smart sunglasses, always check to make sure that they’re designed to block UV rays. Preferably, opt for a pair of polarized lenses.
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Best VR Headsets

Oculus Rift VR Simulator Great For Adult Games

Oculus Rift Porn VR Simulator Coming Soon

Virtual Reality is the next big thing in gaming and the Oculus Rift VR Simulator headset is one of the first devices that provides users such an experience. It is already established as one of the best vr headsets. Now the porn industry might be jumping on the bandwagon, with Jeroen Van den Bosh and his startup studio claiming to be be building “the world’s first erotic virtual reality adventure game” for the device. The game is called “Wicked Paradise,” with Van den Bosh stating that he believes he has identified an “unfulfilled need” within the gaming world. His past development credits include Backbreaker‘s mobile version, and he hopes to use the power of the Oculus Rift to him build a realistic erotic game, mentioning that past attempts were “ridiculously bad” with “rusty robots with faulty servos.” If you’re looking to bring this VR experience to your PC, take a look at the best computer for VR.

He also mentioned that the sex scenes in the game “Mass Effect” were more erotic than explicit adult video games because the characters were relatable and gamers actually cared about them. “I believe that virtual reality is the perfect medium for an erotic video game because you can make the player feel really connected to your computer characters,” he said in an interview with Road to VR. At first, “Wicked Paradise” will be a male heterosexual fantasy game, but Van den Bosch did say he wanted to release other games that all genders and those of all sexualities would enjoy. If you liked this review, you’ll also want to read our review of the PVR iris.

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Best VR Headsets

Which is More Durable: Oculus Rift vs. Samsung Gear VR vs. Virtual Boy (video)

The VR headset world is feeling a little crowded these days – there are only several consumer-oriented options, but they are jostling for the same position in the market and on the shelf at home. They all want to be the best VR headsets on the market. At a few hundred dollars for the average headset, there can be only one. If you’re looking for a VR experience on PC, take a look at the best computer for VR too. If you’re interested in some of the uses of the Oculus, you should also read how the Oculus Rift VR simulator is great for adult games.

So Oculus Rift is teaming up with Microsoft, Sony is making Morpheus very PlayStation oriented, Samsung is making the Gear VR friendly for developers and professionals…you get the idea. Everyone is trying to find that one thing that will make people choose their VR headset. Battle Damage, however, is interested in another factor: How well do these headsets stand up against some good old-fashioned destruction? For a more traditional gaming headset, you should also read our review of the Turtle Beach COD black ops Earforce Tango 5.1 Dolby headset. 

Check out the video for the results as they experiment with the Oculus Rift DK2, the Samsung Gear VR, and – for the sake of it – the Nintendo Virtual Boy. This time around, the first test is pretty simple: The team simply drops the headsets onto a metal surface from holding-height. And speaking of teams, take a look at this video review on LA Galaxy launch their own VR app.

Spoilers: The Rift did the worst out of the three when it comes to simple falls that could happen in any living room. The Gear VR did better, and the Virtual Boy was quite intact (apparently 1990s technology has extra impact resistance). But keep in mind this was an early 2014 version of the Oculus Rift, not the finalized headset heading to consumers in 2016, which uses a different, lighter framework and may also be able to withstand a common drop.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Battle Damage if you didn’t see some more excruciating destruction, which is why high drops and baseball bats are also used. Under these powerful conditions, no one survives in workable condition, including (thankfully) the Virtual Boy. In nothing else, it’s cathartic to see these devices get smashed, so watch the video and see what’s up.

Categories
Best VR Headsets

HTC Vive VR Headset Review

If you’re like me, you’ve been following every update and nugget of information about the HTC Vive VR headset since news of it first broke just a few short years ago. If you want a pair of buds instead of over-ear, take a look at MadCatz Throat Communicator review. With a promise to change the way we think about how we interact with the virtual world forever, the excitement around the Vive and the Oculus Rift has been building to a fever pitch, and now with both released, it’s finally time to see if the reality of virtual reality is everything we hoped it would be. If you don’t quite need virtual reality, you should also read our review of the Turtle Beach COD black ops Earforce Tango 5.1 Dolby headset. If you prefer VR in the gaming sphere, take a look at the best computer for VR. While you’re thinking about VR you should learn about which is more durable: Oculus Rift vs. Samsung Gear vs. Virtual Boy (video). If you think you’re going to go with the Oculus, you should see how the Oculus Rift VR simulator is great for adult games.

Read on in my review of the HTV Vive VR headset to find out whether this is the Second Coming of gaming or just another in a long line of good ideas gone extinct before they ever got off the ground. Your gaming moves will be so on point, that you’ll need the Elatgo game capture HD review. For another cool gaming accessory, head over to our Logitech G27 racing wheel: too cool for the XBox 360 review too. If you want to take virtual reality outside of the gaming sphere, check out our review of the PVR Iris too.

Overview

Price: $799 direct from HTC
Available: June 2016

What We Liked

  • The best virtual reality experience you can have today
  • Immersive and deeply satisfying
  • Has huge potential for changing gaming in the future

What We Didn’t

  • Difficult to setup for novice users
  • High price point for non-enthusiasts
  • “Screen door” effect is still present in display

HTC Vive VR Headset Specs

 HTC-Vive-VR-Review1
Display TypeOLED
ResolutionTwo 1080 x 1200 screens (2160x1080 combined)
Refresh Rate90Hz
Field of View110°
Controllers2 Steam VR Controllers
Room Scale?green-check-mark
Tracking Area (Max)15 x 15 feet
SoftwareSteamVR
Connections1 HMDI 2.0, 1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0
Minimum RequirementsIntel Core i5-4590 processor
4GB of RAM
Nvidia GTX 970 GPU (or AMD R9 280)
Price$799
Buy Now

Author’s Note

To start things off, I thought I’d begin with sharing some of the history of my experience with VR up until now, and why I’ve believed so strongly in the technology despite the many stumbling blocks it hit before finally getting to a consumer-grade release. If you want to bring VR into your home, take a look at the best computer for VR.

Working in the tech industry, you make a lot of friends who also work in tech. Lucky for me, one of my friends from high school happened to follow a similar path as I did, only veering slightly to work at the forefront of VR development not long after John Carmack first announced the Oculus Rift at E3 in 2012. As such, I’ve had the opportunity to try almost all the headsets that have been released to developers since the beginning, including both the Oculus DK1 and DK2, as well as the developer kit Vive (unnamed) and the Vive Pre. I was there for the earliest versions of the Oculus and its nauseating movement issues, blinding “screen-door” effect, and the constant de-sync of the Vive headset from its corresponding light towers. I’ve seen these headsets stripped down to their most essential parts, and put together with all the sheen and shine of a flawless design laid on top. I’ve fervently followed every software and hardware update, eagerly anticipating the moment when both headsets were released to the masses as the dawning of a new era for human-computer interaction. (I also owned a Nintendo Virtual Boy back in the 90’s, so I really know how far down the rabbit hole this technology goes). And if you love racing games, you will love the Thrustmaster Ferrari 458 Italia racing wheel that’ll make you feel like a real F1 driver.

In so many words, what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to VR: I’ve been there nearly every step of the way, and it’s been a privilege to have a front row seat to watch all the ways the technology has been refined and improved over just the past two years.

With that preamble out of the way, read on for our long-awaited review of the HTC Vive virtual reality headset.

Design

HTC Vive VR Design
Not exactly all that stylish – but it’s hard to look cool in VR anyway

When you first lay your eyes on the Vive, it’s clear that what you’re looking at isn’t any sort of technology you’ve seen before. Outside of the Oculus, there aren’t any external reference points to say the Vive looks “better” than this, or “worse” than that. It’s a paradigm shift in and of itself, and likely the high mark by which all VR headsets that come after it will be compared.

Unlike the Oculus with its flush, smooth surfaces, the black-on-black Vive headset is dotted with small divots, one for every sensor on the unit. The controllers have the same series of divots, along with a trigger, touchpad, and two grip buttons on the side. The controllers felt perfectly natural and comfortable in the hand, the result of two years of tuning and re-tuning as HTC whittled down the feel of the Vive’s main interface devices. Pending a few strap adjustments, the Vive slid on my head without a problem, and overall it felt pretty light considering the amount hardware packed inside.

When you’re wearing it, the Vive doesn’t necessarily look all that attractive – but that’s okay. You aren’t going to be wearing this VR headset while you’re walking around in the world, and as my roommates were happy to remind me while I danced my way to a high score in Audioshield: “You already look goofy when you’re flailing around at nothing in the air, a streamlined headset design isn’t going to help much”.

Hardware

HTC Vive VR Review
$799 seems steep, until you open up the box and see everything that comes with it

The current retail price for the HTC Vive is $799, which may sound like a lot at first, but starts to make a bit more sense once you get a rundown of the specs and all the included peripherals that come in the complete package.

Read More: MSI GT80S Titan Gaming Laptop Review

When you open the box, you’ll find the Vive VR headset itself, equipped with two 1080 x 1200 screens, for a total resolution of 2160 x 1200. Next to that are the two Lighthouses that the Vive uses to track your movements, the two Vive controllers, as well as a pair of surprisingly decent in-ear headphones and all the corresponding chargers, plugs, and mounting kits.

To run the Vive, you’ll need a Windows PC with at least an Intel Core i5-4590 processor, 4GB of RAM, and a Nvidia GTX 970 GPU (or AMD R9 equivalent). On these specs alone, you should expect to spend at least another $700, which means at the bare minimum, the cost of entry into the world of virtual reality could set you back upwards of $1500.

Setup

Unlike the Oculus which only requires a webcam propped up on your monitor and an Xbox controller to get up and running, the setup for the Vive is comparatively more involved. In order to track both the VR headset and the Vive controllers in a seamless, realtime simulation, HTC includes two “Lighthouses”, which constantly scan the room using infrared lasers to ping any devices moving around in it.

The towers can either be placed on a lamp pole, bookshelf, a lighting rig, or mounted directly on the wall depending on which works best for your particular play space layout. Personally I installed my Vive in a space with no furniture to place the Lighthouses on (an unused sun room), which meant breaking out the power drill in order to get the mounting plates secured. After the towers were in place, it was time to download the Vive headset’s software.

HTC Vive VR Headset
Getting the towers installed isn’t as hard as it sounds on paper, but be sure to follow the instructions carefully for the best result.

Once installed, the software will automatically run you through the process of getting your virtual realty headset/controller drivers activated, thanks to the help of a cute mascot and brief set of animated GIFs. Once your PC recognizes all the components and they’re synced up, it’s time to decide how you plan on using your Vive in the virtual world.

You have two options for how you want to use your Vive once the software is running and Lighthouses are in place: what’s known as “room scale”, or “standing room only”. The first option is what sets the Vive apart from the Oculus, allowing users to create a predefined play at least 5ft x 6.5ft (width by length) for them to move around in while they use the virtual reality (vr) headset. At max your room can be 15ft x 15ft before the Lighthouses can’t talk to each other anymore, though some users claim they’ve been able to stretch this even further by using the included cable sync option instead.

Read More: VR 360° Video Sharing on the Way

If you go with the room-scale experience, you’ll need to establish your play space by tracing it out with your controller. By slowly running the controller at arm-height around the edges of the area you want to use, the Vive sets a boundary that tells any games you boot up how much space you have to work with in the real world, and translates it into your corresponding virtual playpen.

“Standing/sitting room only” on the other hand is exactly what it sounds like, limiting your play space to just 2ft around your body in any given direction. This experience is more limited than full room-scale, but still functional, although users should know there are a select number of games (Space Pirate Simulator and Fantastic Contraption, to name a few) that will only work if you have a room-scale play space available.

Software

Upon launching Steam VR on your PC, the headset will activate on its own, while both controllers need to be activated individually. Steam will take you through a short demo, which includes how to orient yourself in the virtual world, how to use the controllers, and how to move around using the “teleport” system. Teleports are used in favor of smooth tracking, because if your brain feels like you’re going somewhere but your legs aren’t moving, it’s only a matter of minutes before you get nauseous and lose your lunch.

Once you make it through the tutorial, a large “Vive” logo will greet you from what looks like a far away horizon, while the words “THIS IS REAL” are stretched across the mountaintops behind you. Look up and you’ll see the Earth and the moon in orbit with one another, blazing in the night sky with stars dotted all around. For anyone who hasn’t been here before, I can only imagine what the sensation of stepping in for the first time must be like. I have had a “first time” with VR before, but unfortunately mine was on the now ancient-by-comparison Oculus DK1, which didn’t have any of the polish or precision that’s present in the current version of the Vive.

Read More: Steam Controller and Steam Link Receives First Discount

By pressing the menu button, you’ll bring up the Vive’s dashboard, which is the main tool you’ll use both in and out of games to navigate between the different applications. The Vive dashboard isn’t much more than a glorified version of Steam’s already-successful platform Big Screen, but the fact that it’s hovering in front of you in a 100% virtual space helps it maintain some of that initial “wow” factor. By using the one of the controllers as an impromptu laser pointer, you can navigate through your Steam library of games, the Vive settings menu, or even your own desktop.

Our testing with the Steam dashboard almost went off without a hitch, although there were still a few occasions where the software would freeze up, or games would refuse to launch without a full restart. These bugs started as a small annoyance, but could quickly grow into full-on frustration if they happened too many times during a compacted gaming session. Luckily Valve is constantly updating and patching their VR software, so it probably won’t be long before these minor bugs are eventually ironed out.

Display

HTC Vive VR Display
At 2160 x 1200 resolution, the display’s “screen door” is still visible, but not nearly as bad as it used to be.

The first thing you’ll notice upon entering the virtual world or booting up a game is that even though the effect of being surrounded feels very immersive, there’s still a nagging sensation of being divided from it, thanks to what’s known as the “screen door” effect.

This is caused by the lower 1080 x 1200 resolution of the Samsung LCD screens that the Vive uses to display its images, and your eyes being so close to the screen it’s easy to pick out one individual pixel from another. This means that all the images turn out a little blurrier than you’d hope, and are clearly running at a lower resolution than our eyes normally use to decode visual information. Another competitor, StarVR, claims their displays will sport full 4K (which supposedly fixes the issue), but for now this is what we have to work with.

I can’t say that I ever got completely “lost” in any of the VR games I tried because of the screen door, but if the game was right and everything was working the way it should, all my complaints about lower resolutions would quickly melt away as reality faded and the true fun began.

Games

HTC Vive VR Review
The Vive’s current library is a good start, but not enough to sell a system…yet

In our press packet we received a code for 30 different games, a sort of introductory crash-course in all the different types of experiences the Vive has to offer.

While some games were full-fledged, hours-long adventures that took you twisting and turning through virtual worlds the likes of which have never been seen before (looking at you, Call of Starseed), others didn’t amount to much more than glorified tech demos meant to show off what the Vive was capable of.

Although the tech demos weren’t as immediately impressive as the regular games, it was still astounding to see what developers were doing at the intersection where entertainment, technology, and art collide. Standing-room only experiences like La Peri take you on a journey through an old French theater, and even if I couldn’t really tell you what the story was about, it was still a beautiful, jaw-dropping thing to behold as a cacophony of light unfolded in front of my eyes.

The problem here, however, is that even with Call of Starseed leading the way toward AAA-titles, the Vive (and Oculus) still lack any real “system sellers” that impress both inside the VR space and out. If you look at screenshots of Starseed on their own, they look like a tired, dated adventure game with decade-old graphics. Once you’re ported into the VR space, however, everything feels brand new. This disconnect between what a game looks like and what it feels like is the biggest reason why no major studios have decided to devote the resources necessary to make a true AAA title in VR yet. This means that at least for the foreseeable future, indie developers will be left picking up the slack, and graphical quality will stay stagnant until a company like Activision, EA, or Ubisoft decides to pony up for a proper investment.

Performance

But all those high fidelity polygons won’t mean much if the hardware backing them up can’t perform up to spec. During my testing, I tried to trip up the Vive’s tracking algorithm every which way I could think of: spinning around quickly, ducking into corners, waving my hands as fast as possible, and testing the outer limits of the infrared sensors by dashing back and forth around the play boundary at random.

As far as I could gather, many of the glitches that did appear during these tests came down to software bugs, rather than problems with the hardware itself. Whenever one of my hands would de-sync in Vanishing Realms or my vision would go black during a round of Cloudlands VR Minigolf, as soon as I opened up the main Vive menu all those problems disappeared. The controllers were visible to the towers and I could navigate the Steam dashboard freely, but once I booted back into a game it usually wouldn’t be more than 10 minutes before the immersion was ruined due to another bug.

The core problem then seems to be that without massive studios backing any titles (with their huge teams of QA testers and coders), it’s hard to iron all the kinks out when you’re an indie developer and half your budget goes to just trying to keep the lights on. The Vive worked nearly perfect when I was using Valves’ in-house VR Lab application, but all the indie games I tried will still need a lot more fine tuning before they offer that same kind of seamless performance you’d expect from a major developer.

Wrap Up

So, after years of waiting, home-based VR is finally here. Is it everything we could have hoped for, and so much more? Eh…kinda.

For now, there simply aren’t enough games or applications that can be called a true “system seller” like you’d expect with a similar Xbox or Playstation console release. There’s nothing that grabs your attention for more than an hour at a time, and as someone who’s been looking forward to the technology for so long, it really does pain me to write that. As I mentioned already, this isn’t so much the fault of the hardware itself as it is the game development community, but if the Vive (or Oculus) don’t partner with one of the big studios soon, the Vive could quickly fall off into the “fringe” area of gaming where no one really cares except the most hardcore, dedicated fans among us.

Outside of VR Lab, the games we have now aren’t much more than glitchy, low-polygon tech demos with a lot of “wow” factor upfront and not much (or any) real substance to back them up. And before all the “wut about Elite Dangerous” comments flood in, I still include that game (as pretty as it may be), in the same category. After the novelty of what you’re seeing in front of you wears off, you’re not left with much else, which is hugely disappointing given the potential of what this platform might be capable of in the coming years.

Lacking software options aside, even though I experienced glitches while I was in-game…it was the fact that I continued to look for them long after I took the headset off that really sold me on what VR can do. Hours past actually playing any games, I kept waiting for part of my vision to go black when I turned around quickly, or my hands to start floating away when I reached down for my phone. After just a day spent in VR, my mind had already started looking for those glitches to show up in the real world, because the memories they left with me were strong enough to carry over from the virtual world like there was no difference between the two.

There’s an ethereal, intangible effect that VR has on you, one which lingers long after the headset is off and you’re back to your real life responsibilities. The technology still has a ways to go before it’s user-friendly enough for the average gamer to set up, and it definitely needs to add some AAA titles to its rosters before you have an excuse to buy one for yourself – but give it another year or so, and it’s possible the Vive could turn out to be the revolution in gaming and digital interaction that the industry has been waiting for since the release of Pong.

Read Next: Best Gaming Laptop 2018

Categories
Best VR Headsets

Vuze XR Dual VR Camera Review

If you have been thinking about shooting video for VR, you probably already know that most VR cameras are only capable of shooting either full 360 video or 180 video. VR 180 is the higher resolution. Interestingly, the Vuze XR Dual VR Camera can do both. If you like gaming, you’ll also want to know which is more durable: Oculus Rift vs. Samsung Gear VR vs. Virtual Boy (Video). This gives VR content creators the choice to shoot in either resolution, with one device. Is it one of the best 3D cameras? That’s for shooting VR, but, if you want the best way to view VR content, read about best VR headsets. If you want another way to make your gaming experience immersive, you’ll also be interested in reading our review of the Playstation Move racing wheel.

I recently spent some time with this camera to find out whether it is worth the price. It definitely offers creators more options from one camera, but is that a good thing? Read on to find out. If you prefer to watch VR instead of shoot it, take a look at this HTC Vive VR headset review.

Is The Vuze XR Dual VR Camera A Winner?

Amazon

The difference between 360 and 180 is that 360 gives you 360 degrees so that the viewer can see everything. Just like in real life. This makes it more immersive. 180 captures 180 degrees. This is not as immersive, but the image is a higher resolution since it is less area for the pixels to fill. Now that we have that explanation out of the way, let’s see what this camera is all about.

Pros:

  • Offers both 180 and 360 modes
  • Nice price
  • Great video quality

Cons:

  • Needs more manual control
  • No screen

Vuze XR Dual VR Camera Build Quality And Design

Build quality is pretty decent. It feels tough. They did not use cheap materials. The design is pretty interesting since 360 and 180 use a different number of lenses that are each positioned differently. This camera can switch between these lens configurations by simply pushing a button. I like the way it feels in the hand.

360/180 Video Quality

In 360 mode gave me some very nice videos with impressive colors and detail when outside. I found that taking 360 videos inside was challenging because the light was not as bright. But that’s a common complaint about most 360 cameras right now. It shoots at a resolution of 5760 X 2280 or 5.7K

In 180 mode, you get the same 5.7K in half the area, the image is much more details and crisp. This camera shines in 180 mode.

Performance

180 mode is the clear winner, but the Vuze XR Dual VR Camera is a great investment for anyone who wants to shoot VR video. Even if you are just looking for a 180 camera, buy this one so that you have the option to do 360 as well. You won’t regret it. That way you won’t have to buy a new camera later.

Bottom Line

It is not a great performer in low light, but otherwise, this is a solid investment and a great camera for VR creators. You really do get the best of both worlds with this one.

Related Posts:

Minox PX3D First Camera To Shoot For True 3D

Poppy 3D Camera Review

Categories
Best VR Headsets

PVR IRIS Is The World’s First VR Headset For Porn

Well, you knew that the day would come. It had to happen eventually. With the introduction and subsequent popularity of VR, a VR headset for porn had to arrive at some point. And here it is. We aren’t sure if it is one of the best vr headsets, but it may be the best for the use intended.

The Next Generation of Self-Pleasure

Hailed as the next generation of VR adult entertainment, the PVR IRIS is here to fulfill all of your fantasies and make them as real as possible. So if virtual porn is your game of choice, get ready for one heck of an upgrade.

Read: HTC Vive VR Headset

PVR IRIS is a stand-alone VR device, and more importantly, the only one that is specialized in VR porn. It will play the highest quality VR naughty videos (6K H.265), while keeping things affordable.

The PVR IRIS has one purpose and one purpose alone: VR Porn. Not shooters, or rpgs, or building things out of blocks, no Mario eating mushrooms. It is all about porn. IRIS wants to change the way you um, “play with yourself” by creating the most immersive experience you can get.

It was built from the ground up to make your pleasure as simple as possible so that all you have to do is put on the headset and step into another world.

Some features include a weight under 300 grams, no need for a phone or any other devices, Fresnel optical system for anti-dizzyness, a 2560 x 1440 3px resolution, up to 6k H265 video decoding capability, 3-hour battery life, and more.

After reading those specs, it is easy to see how PVR IRIS can be immersive enough to let you lose yourself in your fantasies.

PVR IRIS Is The World's First VR Headset For Porn
Your key to more immersive pleasure.

Easy To Use and Fast To Set Up

Even the OS is custom-made for adult entertainment. You won’t have to download other apps to play. Basically, you just choose your fantasy and in under a minute, you are in that world. Just put the headset on, browse the library of videos, select one, plug in a compatible sexual device if you want and get down to business.

The whole process could not be any easier. This may become your new favorite entertainment device.

Categories
Best VR Headsets

LA Galaxy Launch Their Own VR App

There is no question that US soccer (aka Football) has hit its inflection point. Case in point: 24.3 million people in the US watched the 2010 World Cup Final between Spain and the Netherlands. However, driving fans into a soccer stadium is a completely separate task. And the LA Galaxy isn’t wasting time when it comes to indoctrinating their fans.

I joined them last Saturday at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA to experience their new VR offering. Yes, you read that right: the LA Galaxy, in addition to offering fans the ability to move their seats during the game via Pogoseat, now have Virtual Reality in their stable of tricks.

Produced entirely by a some what fledging shop based out of the UK, called Laduma, LA Galaxy fans will soon be able to view their favorite players, view the stadium and even experience what it’s like to stand directly behind the goal during a game of the LA Galaxy.

To garner such an experience all you need is a phone and a VR headset of sorts (take your pick – Samsung Gear VR, etc) to experience the 3D VR content that they’ve produced in house. In fact, if you’re in the position of the aforementioned, or a variation there of, all you need to do is download the dedicated LA Galaxy VR app, though it’s not clear when the latter will be available in the App store (as of 8/30/2016 12:09pm PST the app is not in the App Store).

So what makes the LA Galaxy VR app unique?  Beyond enjoying time with some of the clubs most well known players, such as Nigel de Jong, Ashley Cole, Gyasi Zardes, Jelle Van Damme, Steven Gerrard and Robbie Keane, you’ll be able to garner an almost first hand experience of what the club’s home stadium, the StubHub Center, looks like at field level, in the locker room and beyond.

While I’ve had the luxury of using the HTC Vive for the better part of two weeks, the content that the LA Galaxy has created is compelling.  Best of all it’s free to fans and provides them with unprecedented behind the scenes access that was once only available to staff, coaches and players.

That all being said, expect more content to continue to roll out from the LA Galaxy.