Does the resurgence of virtual reality lie with the next generation of headsets?
AHH, THE JILTED LOVER of the computing world. The buzz word that was on every journalist’s lips. Was VR just another gimmick? Or was it misrepresented? Ahead of its time? It’s difficult to say for sure, as sales have been reasonable, with both Oculus and HTC profiting from the VR experience, but little has come out of 2017 with regard to the new way of consuming media.
There have been price drops, for sure, with both platforms being reduced by a total of $200. And there’s plenty of content, too, from an army of indie developers, and other games being made VR-compatible (there are 266 games and experiences currently listed in Steam’s Virtual Reality category).
But the headsets still have problems. The 2160x1200 (1080x1200 per eye) resolution, so close to your eyes, still features that visible screen door or grid effect, and the refresh rate is still locked to a nauseating 90Hz. Ideally, we need to see a pixel density two to three times greater than what we have today before VR becomes more akin to gaming on even a 1080p screen. However, with Oculus announcing it won’t be releasing a Rift 2 any time soon, and with HTC’s latest Vive Focus concentrating on mobile, it’s unlikely we’ll see these changes make their way into the consumer ecosphere in the near future.
All that aside, early last year, Samsung’s screen manufacturing division showcased a new display designed specifically for VR headsets. Cramming an incredible 2024x2200 resolution into a 3.5-inch form factor, it added over 86 percent more pixels into the same space. That’s a pixel density of 858, versus the 460 of the original.
Perhaps 2018 will be the year when we finally see someone outside of the HTC and Oculus community bring a headset to market that actually makes sense for the graphically aware consumer. Or, better yet, see Microsoft’s AR HoloLens project reach a more affordable level than the $3,000 price tag it’s currently associated with.
Although exceptionally interesting, AR is just too pricey right now to justify.