This blog has gone over the fact that virtual reality appears to be stalling. The Oculus Rift didn’t make VR mainstream, and neither did the HTC Vive. Have you heard anybody talking about Sony’s PlayStation VR in a while? The only VR device that has gone partially mainstream is Samsung’s mobile headset, the Gear VR, and that’s because Samsung has been giving it away for free with sales of its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note smartphones.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced a new VR platform. Actually, it’s a mixed reality platform. And according to Gizmodo, it’s something that doesn’t completely suck.
“After finally trying out the most complete Microsoft mixed reality experience we’re likely to get this year, it looks like Microsoft might have built something that actually won’t suck.”
The article adds that Microsoft’s virtual reality experience goes way beyond gaming. Headsets by Acer, Dell, and Samsung will be available within the next three weeks in order to take advantage of Microsoft’s new platform. Microsoft is hoping that new headsets will eventually replace monitors.
In my opinion, what has really held virtual reality back is the low resolution of several devices. A Quad-HD screen is great for a smartphone or even a laptop. But when that screen is put before your eyes, it’s not enough to overcome a screen door effect where the viewer can differentiate individual pixels.
It appears that at least one of the headsets will deal with the screen door effect. The Samsung Odyssey looks a lot like the Gear VR on steroids. Each eye views a 1440 x 1600 pixel resolution OLED screen, which will make things more immersive than ever. It also has built in headphones. The device costs $500, but early reviews say the price is worth it.
“Samsung HMD Odyssey offers an eye-popping joyride into the world of virtual reality as seen through Windows 10, and while its cost falls just this side of ‘maybe I shouldn’t,’ the built-in audio completes the system in a way the other Windows MR devices don’t,” says Michelle Fitzsimmons of TechRadar.
Engadget says that Samsung’s new Odyssey headset proves that image quality is worth the extra price. As they mention, one also gets a 110 degree field-of-view (FOV) with the headset, which is the highest that’s currently being offered on a headset. It also comes with two motion controllers that can track your position in the virtual world without having to worry about setting up base stations to track your moves so you don’t fly into your bookshelf.
It will be interesting to see how “accurate” Samsung’s positional tracking is. Furthermore, it will be even more interesting to see if Samsung and Microsoft can finally bring virtual reality into the mainstream. After using many virtual reality headsets over the past three years, I certainly see the advantages of virtual reality and really hope both major companies finally bring in consumers.