With this comparison of the best virtual reality devices we are going to try to find the best alternative for our equipment (and our pockets).
With the final presentation of the Playstation VR, it has been completed the initial alignment of the first generation of virtual reality devices; It is certain that in the next few weeks new devices will be presented, but these are the ones that have the most ballots to win our portfolio.
Interestingly, although it may seem that all virtual reality devices are the same, the variety is so great that it can be confusing; There is still no true standard, a guide that tells us how a device with these characteristics should be, and for that reason the purchase is much more complicated.
Comparison of virtual reality devices
For this comparison, with which we hope to solve some doubts, we are going to talk about three devices: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Playstation VR (PSVR onwards), because each one represents the best virtual reality experience that we can enjoy in the coming months, although each one does it in his own way.
We leave devices that belong to specific niches, such as adapters that need to be connected to a smartphone to function such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and more special devices such as AMD with an integrated computer, as they are clearly not for everyone. Without further ado, let's move on to the important points.
The screen is perhaps the most vital part of a virtual reality device; not only must it have a good resolution that offers us a clear image and that does not break the immersionIt must also be designed to avoid dizziness and strange sensations when we have been with the device for several minutes.
Actually, although we say screen, these devices have two screens, one for each eye.
When it comes to resolution, the Vive and Rift are way ahead, with a total resolution of 2160 x 1200 pixelsThat is, 1080 x 1200 pixels on each of the two screens.
For his part the PSVR stays at a total resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, 960 x 1080 for each eye. Clearly inferior, but it is a limitation that Sony has had no choice but to implement, as we will explain later.
Field of vision
The field of view, or FOV, is the measure that tells us how much of the virtual world we are going to see, and it is measured in degrees.
The human being has a field of vision of almost 180 degrees, so the closer the number is, the less we will have to move our eyes and the experience will be more realistic. At the same time, achieving a balance between FOV and the other characteristics is vital to avoid performance losses.
Both the Vive and the Rift coincide again, with a 110 degree FOV; meanwhile the FOV of the PSVR is a little lower, 100 degrees.
Refresh rate is the number of times the image changes over a second, and is measured in Hz.
Any current modern monitor has a frequency of at least 60 Hz (more in the case of more expensive monitors and for gamers), but that is not ideal for virtual reality, which needs more fluidity to avoid headaches and discomfort.
So the Vive and the Rift have a refresh rate of 90 Hz, but interestingly at this point the PSVR wins, with a refresh rate of 120 Hz.
How can the system follow our movements? This may be more important than it seems, since normally we will have to install a tracking system in the room where we use the device.
The Vive has a Lighthouse system, two small cubes that are located on both sides of the screen and that track the position of the device using laser sensors. The use of two devices ensures that there is no interference with other devices such as the remote controls and also allows 360 degree tracking, depending on how they are placed. The system covers an area of 4.6 x 4.6 meters.
The Rift by its parts to infrared rays to detect the position of the device. The box includes by default only one device of its Constellation system, in the form of a lamp, but that is because the Rift by default does not have a virtual reality control and there is no risk of interference. The system covers an area of 1.5 x 3.35 meters.
Finally, the PSVR uses the Playstation Camera, an accessory for Playstation 4 that is capable of tracking the LEDs of the device and the controls.
Of course, each device has accelerometers and gyroscopes to determine the movement of our head.
El Vive in this case wins by a landslide, because is the only one sold with a remote control designed for virtual reality, that allow us to move the arms and hands of our virtual character.
Instead the Rift has chosen a simpler solution, include an Xbox One controller Although it is good, it can break our immersion. Oculus has already announced the development of Oculus Touch a virtual reality controller that we will have to buy separately.
At least it is more than Sony, which does not include any type of control with the PSVR. The good thing is that the Playstation 4 already comes with a normal controller, and we can buy Move controls separately compatible with the Playstation Camera.
The Rift and Vive have similar requirements, an Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card or an AMD R9 290 and an Intel Corei5-4590. They can be high, but it is necessary to achieve frame rates high enough not to get dizzy; this is the consequence of a high resolution and refresh rate.
For his part, the PSVR only has one requirement, a Playstation 4. So the resolution is lower, to allow the console hardware to achieve the required frame rate.
HTC Vive is built on the SteamVR platform, and therefore all games for Windows, OS X and Linux running on Steam can gain compatibility with the Vive.
For its part, the Rift is only compatible with Windows at the moment, although it is planned to add compatibility with OS X and Linux.
The PSVR, as its name suggests, is exclusive to Playstation 4 and is in its own market.
At the moment of truth, everything will depend on the direction in which the market will move. Both HTC and Oculus have promised an open platformSo there should be no problem for a game to support both devices, but that remains to be seen.
Probably not until a few months after its launch, we will not see if these promises are fulfilled.
Each device has its own additions, which do not change the experience much but are appreciated.
The most interesting addition to the HTC Vive is integrated into the device itself: a front camera, which allows us to see what is in front of us when we have the device on and we leave the designated space. In addition, it also includes two games: Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption.
The Rift for its part includes a small remote control with trackpad included that we can use to control the interface and to turn the volume up and down. It also brings two games: EVE: Valkyrie and Luckys Tale.
Lastly, the PSVR does not include games, that is known, but it does include a very interesting device, called Social Screen, which will allow use a screen or television at the same time as the virtual reality device, so that other people can see what we are seeing and play with us.
The HTC Vive is the one with the most expensive base price, 799 dollars (987.33 sent to Spain), but at the same time it is also the only one that brings everything you need to enjoy a complete experience of virtual reality, remote control and accessories included.
The Oculus Rift is planted in second position, for 599 dollars (741 sent to Europe), but does not include the virtual reality control.
Finally, the Playstation VR seems to be the cheapest, 399.95, but in reality almost nobody pays that price, because the device does not include everything we need to make it work. We will have to buy the Playstation Camera separately (49.99), and the Move controls (29.99 each).
Although they seem very similar, in reality each of the three devices that we have presented thave their own strengths and weaknesses; It could also be said that each one appeals to a somewhat different type of user, although video games remain a centerpiece of the experience.
What is really interesting is that the Vive, the Rift and the PSVR belong to the first generation of commercial virtual reality devices, which have given the starting signal so that after them others will arrive, maybe better, cheaper and more complete. A few busy years await us in the market, and we cannot wait to live them.