The Alternative Realities of Our Time

As virtual reality technology continues to expand, many people find themselves interested and even inspired by the possibilities of VR. But, as with any new technology, many people also wonder, “Are virtual goggles worth it?

People are right to question whether this industry is genuinely consumer ready, especially when considering the significant up-front costs of high-end VR gear. It can be daunting to invest in new technology when its future is uncertain. Despite customer concerns, virtual goggles are better now than they ever have been. But does that mean that they’re any good?

Below we’ll answer your questions about the emerging world of virtual reality goggles and explore whether this new tech is worth the investment. In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • The positive aspects of both high and low-end VR headsets
  • The negative aspects of VR headsets
  • Why high-end virtual goggles are so much more expensive than low-end devices.
  • If VR goggles are any good or if they need more time to develop

What’s Good About VR Goggles?

mentioned above, VR goggles are better now than they ever have been. Part of this is due to improvements in the technology used to create virtual experiences. But, part of this is attributable to an increased interest in virtual reality. But, as it stands right now, what are the best aspects of VR goggles?

High-End Goggles

Generally speaking, high-end VR headsets will provide users with the best overall virtual experience. Goggles in this category you find tethered devices that require either a powerful PC or a gaming console to function. Some models include the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Vive Pro, and the Sony PlayStation VR.

All three of the products mentioned above offer exceptional virtual experiences to users. These headsets provide excellent motion tracking, high-resolution screens, and impressive graphics capabilities. Additionally, because these goggles feature well thought out designs, they are often the most comfortable to wear.

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Affordable Goggles

On the opposite end of the spectrum from high-end VR goggles is the vast array of affordable goggles on the market today. Virtual glasses in this category are widely available at several different price points. These affordable VR devices work in conjunction with a modern smartphone and a variety of app-based programs.

Because these headsets feature relatively low prices, they are a high entry point for those who are interested in virtual reality. Plus, many people already have a smartphone that will work with this type of goggle.

The best feature of these types of headsets is the affordable entry price. But, it’s important to note that options in this category are quite varied. Some models are straightforward in design which is excellent for those who are less technologically inclined. Plus, because these models get power from smartphones, they are not tethered to a stationary device.

What’s Bad About VR Goggles?

For those excited about recent advances in VR technology, it may seem that there are no downsides. But, just like any new technological advancement, VR goggles face their own set of unique challenges. Below, we’ll explore the various disadvantages that come with investing in VR.

High-End Goggles

As we mentioned above, high-end goggles like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony PSVR offer VR users the best overall virtual experience. To create a superb experience, high-end VR headsets work hard to completely immerse people in the virtual world they are interacting with. While this facet sounds impressive, it also comes with risks.

Because high-end headsets completely block users’ field of vision, it is incredibly common for VR users to bump into or knock over objects in the real world while immersed in a virtual experience. Also, because high-end headsets are tethered to a powerful machine, many users have found themselves tripping over and getting tangled in their cords.

Affordable Goggles

Despite being a mobile counterpart to the more expensive tethered devices, affordable VR goggles still face many downsides. In addition to the risks inherent with obscuring your vision, mobile devices have a few other disadvantages that make them less desirable than higher-end versions.

Because mobile VR headsets are dependent on the power of your phone to create a virtual experience, these devices face pretty significant challenges in creating an immersive experience. Plus, not all affordable goggles will work with all types of smartphone.

As a final note, these headsets are not as well designed as their high-end counterparts. Affordable VR headsets are often less comfortable than their high-end competitors. Some models do not even feature straps for wearing the goggles.

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Challenges With Both Types

Regardless of which type of VR experience you are using, there are a handful of problems that affect both styles. Some of these challenges include:

  • Eye Fatigue
  • Nausea or Motion Sickness
  • Potential for Seizures
  • Harm Risk to Others Around the User

Many of these challenges have simple solutions. For example, you can prevent eye fatigue by taking frequent breaks. But some of these, like the potential for seizures and risk to others around the user, are more difficult to prevent or solve. Also, as of right now, there is no 100% way to avoid the “motion” sickness associated with virtual reality experiences.

Why are VR Goggle Prices so Varied?

If you’ve looked at the price difference between high-end VR goggles and their affordable cousins, you may be wondering what could cause such significant variation. Having covered the ups and downs of both high-end and affordable headsets, we’ll now explain a bit more about the price differences.

Virtual Immersion

In general, the more expensive a VR headset is, the more immersive the experience is. In the world of virtual goggles, the user’s sense of immersion is highly dependent upon the number of degrees of freedom (DOF) that their headset employs. But what exactly are degrees of freedom and what impact do they have on the VR experience?

A Brief Overview of Degrees of Freedom

Degrees of freedom refer to different ways that a solid object can move through a three-dimensional space. The six different degrees of freedom form two groups called either rotational or translational movement.

Rotational movements are pitch, yaw, and roll. These movements describe how an object moves around the three-dimensional axes. In the case of VR headsets, this type of movement describes how your head moves around.

You can think of translational movements as directional. VR goggles that use 6DOF technology can track your changes forward, backward, or side to side in addition to the rotational movements described above.

Expensive, high-end VR headset take advantage of 6DOF technology and indeed draw the user into the computer-generated world around them. Additionally, these headsets are designed for user comfort and feature higher quality materials.

In contrast, mobile headsets generally use 3DOF technology and are much more limited in design. However, it’s important to note that the range of quality in “affordable” headsets varies much more than in the high-end market. This variation comes from the vast array of designs and features that are available in mobile devices.  

The Verdict: Are Virtual Goggles Any Good?

For the most part, VR goggles are pretty good. However, as mentioned above, the quality of experience is highly dependent upon the product you are using.  

Tethered Headsets

As top-of-the-line products, the tethered headsets on the market today will provide users with an impressive virtual reality experience. These goggles are a gateway to a computer-generated world that is believable and for the most part enjoyable. However, these headsets are quite expensive and require potent computers or gaming consoles to use.

If you are looking for an immersive experience, these virtual goggles are the best choice. But the barrier to entry for this type of headset is quite high. In addition to a substantial price tag, this type of headset requires a  powerful computer. Gaming computers of this sort are costly.

Additionally, because these headsets create such an impressive virtual world around the user, this type of headset can lead to some unfortunate accidents. But, so long as you follow the indicated safety precautions and take regular breaks, these VR goggles are genuinely outstanding pieces of technology.

Mobile Headsets

In contrast to the expensive tethered headsets described above, mobile headsets represent an affordable means to experience the basics of VR. While these goggles will not transport you to a whole new world, they will allow you to experience electronic media in a whole new way.

The main feature of mobile headsets that makes them “good” is their low barrier to entry. Because you can pick up one of these headsets for $20 or less, it makes them great for simple VR experiences.

On the other hand, if you are looking for something that takes you out of your current environment and into a digital world, this type of goggle won’t cut it.

All in all, to get the best of VR you will have to invest a decent chunk of change. However, due to recent advances in virtual reality tech, it is finally safe to say that VR goggles are indeed “good.”

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Last update on 2023-02-08 at 09:50 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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