Cheap VR is on the way

by Haadi Bakar
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There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding Virtual Reality (VR) right now, but for most people, the technology is still too expensive and difficult to set up at home.

It can cost over B$2,000 to set up a high-end VR computer. That includes installing a VR-capable graphics card and a VR headset like the Oculus Rift.

VR on Sony’s gaming console is also pretty costly. You’ll need a PS4 Pro, Sony’s VR headset, a pair of PlayStation Move Controllers and a motion camera. The entire package can set you back over B$1,000.

But Microsoft last week announced that cheap VR headsets are on the way, with PC makers such as Acer, Lenovo, Dell and HP on board making US$300 headsets compatible with Windows 10, hoping to make the technology more accessible to the average consumer.

One of the affordable headsets announced recently was from Acer. This bright-coloured headset doesn’t require an elabarote set up as it works right out of the box, as long as your PC has the recommended minimum system requirements: a dual-core Intel Core i5 with hyperthreading, Intel HD Graphics 620, 8GB of RAM, 100GB SSD, Bluetooth 4.0 and HDMI 2.0 or DisplayPort 1.3.

Unlike the expensive VR gear such as HTC’s Vive, which has you set up motion sensors or markers around the room , Acer’s VR headset has built-in cameras that look out and do all the positioning and tracking for you, much like Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Aside from VR games running on Windows 10, Acer’s headset can also be used with various VR apps made for the new Windows “mixed reality” platform, or even use Windows 10 in a virtual environment.

One cool feature of this headset is that the visor can be flipped up at 90 degrees, so you don’t have to remove the entire headset when you want to take extended breaks from VR.

Of course, at that price range, expect the product or VR experience to be of mid-range quality. You’ll still need very deep pockets to get the best VR experience overall.

In keeping the price down, Acer’s headset uses LCD screens instead of OLED, so there is going to be some motion blur when making quick head turns. High-end VR headsets mainly use the more superior OLED which offers smoother transition for the viewer.

And much of the headset is plastic instead of high quality materials used in the more expensive VR gear. But it’s still a good looking headset, and it’s also much lighter than the current crop of VR headsets.

Acer’s VR headset will be available sometime at the end of the year.

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