19 April 2019

2019 VR Guide

Which headset to choose for your needs

Yaroslav Kaplan
More than a year has passed since our last article came out with a review of VR equipment. Although some of the headsets described in it are still widely represented on the market, the entire industry has made a mighty leap forward.

In this article, we will talk about where the industry is headed today, what is trendy, and which modern VR headset is the best fit for you.
It would be best to start our review with all of the VR headsets on the tech landscape, that are already available on the market or announced for release in 2019. Below you can find all of the most prominent manufacturers and their current products. We know very little about some models that have not yet been released, therefore this article will be updated as they appear on the market.
Все VR шлемы 2019 года

TRENDS

Where the VR industry is headed in 2019
1
Mobile VR is dying
A cardboard with a smartphone inside for a very basic VR experience is no longer of interest to anyone. Slightly more advanced Daydream and Gear VR systems with simple controllers are also gradually going down into the history books, since they require an expensive smartphone and therefore lose the price war to the Oculus Go standalone headset for $ 199.
2
Standalone VR is on the rise
Last year we saw the release of devices that do not require either a smartphone or a computer for immersion in VR. Also, in spring 2019, the most expected Oculus Quest headset with 6 degrees of freedom (DoF) at the announced price of $ 399 will be released on the market. This has caused other manufacturers to speed up the upgrade of their 3 DoF devices. This year we will see Vive Focus Plus, Lenovo Mirage Solo and Pico Neo with full 6 DoF controllers.
3
The second generation of desktop VR
Back at CES 2018 HTC introduced a new headset, Vive Pro, which set a new standard for image quality on the market. In order to keep up, Oculus released an updated Rift S, and on the Windows MR platform, Samsung Odyssey+ and HP Reverb appeared.
4
The development of inside-out tracking
The classic technology of positional tracking uses external sensors thus complicating a setup. Last year, 6 Windows MR models appeared with inside-out tracking technology, where cameras built into the headset scan the surrounding space. In 2019, this technology was picked up by the Oculus Rift S and the HTC Cosmos.
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Ok, now that we’ve figured out the hierarchy of VR headsets and trends in the market, it’s time to move on to an analysis of the models which are worth paying attention to in 2019.

STANDALONE VR

Headsets with built-in processors that do not require PC connectivity
Oculus Go
Oculus Go with 3 DoF controller.
Resolution 2560*1440. Field of view 110°. Price $199
Oculus Go appeared on the market in May 2018 as a lesser model in the Oculus lineup. With a price of just $ 199 per model with 32GB of internal memory, Go still remains an attractive solution for exploring VR.
The disadvantages of the device include a not so powerful processor and only 3 degrees of freedom. This means that with this headset you will be able to look around, but not move around the room.
The Oculus Go competitor is the Chinese Pico G2 4K headset with a top resolution of 3840×2160 pixels, however, it is available only for corporate orders.

Suitable for: home use, 360° videos, simple games, and experiences.
HTC Vive Focus Plus
HTC Vive Focus Plus with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2х1440*1600. Field of view 110°. Price $800
HTC Vive Focus Plus is an upgrade from last year’s Vive Focus. Previously, the headset was intended solely for the corporate segment, now the company is also relying on entertainment content. It is also assumed that with the development of 5G, users will be able to play "heavy" games by air. Focus Plus will be sold in 25 countries, not just in China, as it was with the first model.
The headset finally got full 6 DoF controllers and new lenses.
However, with an initial price of $ 800 it will be quite difficult for it to compete with Oculus Quest ($ 399) in the consumer market and Pico Neo ($ 750) in the corporate one.

Suitable for: exhibitions and presentations with a demonstration of the average complexity of content and games.

Oculus Quest
Oculus Quest with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2х1440*1600. Field of view 110°. Price $399
The Oculus Quest, formerly known as Santa Cruz, was officially launched at the annual Facebook conference in early May. It will occupy a logical niche in the Oculus line between Go and Rift S. Connection to a PC is not required, and positional tracking is possible due to 4 built-in cameras. If you do not take into account the Chinese Shadow VR, Oculus Quest will be the first standalone device on the market with 6 degrees of freedom. This means that you can walk around the room without any wires. Oculus is working on cross-platform synchronization, but it is already known that not all "heavy" games under the Rift S will be launched on Quest. Developers will have to "degrade" them for lower processor performance in the latter.

Suitable for: work and home use, universal wireless solution at affordable price.

DESKTOP VR

Headsets requiring PC connectivity in order to demonstrate complex content
HTC Vive Cosmos
HTC Vive Cosmos with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution, field of view and priced TBA.
HTC Vive Cosmos was first introduced at CES 2019, and so far, not much is known about it. Most likely, the headset will be able to connect not just to PCs, but also to smartphones, which makes it a kind of hybrid Mobile/Desktop VR. Cosmos will be equipped with four cameras for positioning in space and tracking two controllers with 6 DoF. The design allows you to fold the visor up without taking the headset off your head, which is quite convenient. HTC promises to provide Cosmos with the "best screen in history." Well, we will look forward to the announcement of the tech specs and price of the new device.

Suitable for: home games and VR entertainment centers, thanks to easy connectivity and use

HP Reverb
HP Reverb with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2х2160*2160. Field of view 114°. Price $599 (+VR-ready PC)
HP Reverb is the second generation of VR headsets from this manufacturer. If the first model was not particularly different from its counterparts in the Windows MR platform, then Reverb clearly relied on image quality. The screen resolution in 4K is one of the best on the market and loses only to highly specialized Pimax devices, which will be discussed below. Traditionally, Windows MR uses an inside-out tracking system; accordingly, no external sensors need to be installed.
The disadvantages include only two cameras for orientation in space, which can lead to loss of tracking controllers, for example, if you put your hands above your head.

Suitable for: Demonstrations of complex renders, for example in architecture or medicine, as well as games.
Samsung Odyssey+
Samsung Odyssey+ with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2x1440*1600. Field of view 110°. Price $499 (+VR-ready PC)
Samsung Odyssey+, like HP Reverb, is an update on last year’s model (without the plus sign). The physical resolution of the screen has not changed, but Samsung claims that it has made an improvement in the image programmatically.
The advantages and disadvantages are similar to Reverb — tracking from the inside, but the possibility of losing controllers if they are out of the sight of the two cameras.
In general, the headset is a strong middle player in its segment and includes frequent discounts on Amazon of $ 100 and more make it an attractive choice for purchase in 2019.

Suitable for: work and entertainment, a universal solution.

Oculus Rift S
Oculus Rift S with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2560*1440. Field of view 110°. Price $399 (+VR-ready PC)
Oculus Rift S is an updated version of one of the most popular models on the market from a recognized industry leader (Oculus is a part of Facebook). Revolutionary changes have occurred. The main difference from the old Rift is the rejection of external sensors in favor of the inside-out tracking system, thanks to two built-in cameras.
Improvements include new lenses, an increased screen resolution, and a nimbus-type mounting system on the head — all this should make the experience of using the headset even more comfortable.
The disadvantage is the lack of physical adjustments of the distance between the lenses (there is only software) and the reduced refresh rate of the screen at 80 Hz (as opposed to 90Hz in the old Rift).

Suitable for: work and entertainment, a universal solution at a reasonable price to retain leadership positions.
Valve Index
Valve Index with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2x1440*1600. Field of view 130°. Price $499 (+VR-ready PC)
Valve Index is a proprietary company that previously helped HTC to launch its Vive and also owns the world’s largest app store Steam. They announced the highest on the market screen refresh rate at 120Hz and software enhanced image.
Branded controllers are able to recognize each finger, as well as the compression of the palm, which will allow you to take and release objects in VR. The headset is compatible with external sensors and controllers from Vive. But if you don’t have those, the complete set will cost $ 999.

Suitable for: complex games at home and VR entertainment centers
HTC Vive Pro Eye
HTC Vive Pro (Eye). Resolution 2x1440*1600.
Field of view 110°. Price $799 (+VR-ready PC)
HTC Vive Pro Eye was unveiled at CES 2019 with Cosmos. The headset differs from last year’s model with built-in eye tracking. First of all, developers need this function in order to understand where the user is looking and improve the interface of their products. This technology also allows optimizing the processor load, since you can only render the zone where the player’s gaze is directed, and not the entire scene.
Otherwise, it is the same Vive Pro, a complete set of which will cost you $ 1500, which is quite a lot, given the value formation of competitors.

Suitable for: developers and enthusiasts. It would not make sense for gaming clubs and VR attractions with complex content to upgrade with the Vive Pro.
Pimax 5K Plus
Pimax 5K Plus with two 6 DoF controllers. Resolution
2x2560*1440. Field of view 200°. Price $699 (+VR-ready PC)
Pimax 5K Plus has the widest viewing angle on the market: 200°, which is almost twice the industry standard. This means that you practically will not see black stripes on the sides while wearing the headset. Such a picture width is really impressive (the author tested the pre-production model personally). However, you have to sacrifice ergonomics for this — the headset looks rather cumbersome on the head.
Interestingly, the Chinese company Pimax raised money for the production of its products on Kickstarter (just like the first headset from Oculus long before Facebook acquired it) and therefore has an army of fans around the world. The headset is compatible with controllers and external sensors from HTC, which will help to save, considering the total price tag of $ 1,658 for a native kit.

Suitable for: enthusiasts and artists who want to see the virtual world almost as widely as the real one.
System requirements for VR ready PC:
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070, AMD Radeon Vega 56 video card
  • Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 processor
  • 8GB RAM and more
  • USB 3.0
  • Windows 10

CONCLUSIONS

1
If you are a regular home user who wants to watch 360° videos and play simple games, Oculus Go will fit your needs for $ 199.
2
For more advanced experiences and free movement around the room without wires, Oculus Quest is a good fit for $ 399.
3
Among classic Desktop VR for universal use, you should pay attention to the Samsung Odyssey+ ($ 340), Oculus Rift S ($ 399) and HP Reverb ($ 599).
4
Avid gamers and VR clubs can’t do without powerful VR-ready computers. Last year’s HTC Vive Pro will be the best fit for $ 799−1499 or the Valve Index for $ 499−999.
5
If you are an advanced VR enthusiast or developer, and without budget constraints, you’ll love the HTC Vive Pro Eye with eye position tracking and the Pimax 5K + with a viewing angle of 200°.
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Tags: Google Cardboard, Daydream, Gear VR, Samsung Odyssey+, HTC Vive Pro Eye, HTC Focus Plus, HTC Cosmos, Oculus Rift S, Oculus Go, Oculus Quest, Lenovo Mirage Solo, HP Reverb, Pimax 5K, Valve Index
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