Many things have been said in the numerous Tech Blogs about this year’s recent Consumer Electronics Show. But among all the headlines, the phrase “The Year of VR” has caught my eye the most. For years, consumer Virtual Reality has just been a curiosity with the faint promise of being available for the masses one day soon. With the recent opening of pre-orders for what is considered the genesis of this movement, the Oculus Rift, as well as the strong showing of competing VR hardware at CES like the HTC Vive, maybe this is the year computing changes again.
My first personal experience with modern VR came last year while I was still working as a Geek Squad Agent at the Apple Valley, MN Best Buy. Our Samsung Experience Shop lead Victor called me over so he could show me the new demo he was setting up for the Samsung Gear VR. I had read many articles and watched lots of videos about the continuing development of consumer VR, including Samsung’s version, but actually experiencing it in-person was game changing for me. I experienced a Jurassic World demo where a dinosaur walked up to me in a forest. I sat in a virtual movie theater, which with the click of a button changed to the surface of the moon while I watched a trailer. It was great, and it got me even more excited for the upcoming mainstream sets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.
There has been a lot of recent controversy and debate over whether 2016 really will be the year of VR. While the PC hardware requirements for the Oculus Rift have been public knowledge for months, the recent reveal of the consumer model’s price has resulted in a large outcry and some condemnation from fans. At $599, the Rift is expensive, though when compared to many high-end gaming monitors that are marketed to the same demographic as likely Oculus users, it starts to look like a bargain. My main concern is regarding the hardware required to even run the Oculus, and likely other similar VR sets like the upcoming HTC Vive, whose pre-order date is this coming February 29th. That’s right, this is also a Leap Year people.
I definitely consider myself a PC enthusiast, and I have spent thousands of dollars over the years on high-end PC parts to build my own systems. In spite of that, my current gaming system is right on the line of meeting the requirements for the Oculus. Running modern AAA titles at a solid 60FPS at 1080p while at high or maxed out settings is what I expect. Trying to run the same games in VR would frankly not be anywhere near the graphical fidelity I am accustomed to, and I personally don’t think it would make for an enjoyable experience considering the required investment.
I will continue to watch the development of VR and PC hardware with great interest, but I think I’ll be sitting this first generation of consumer VR out to wait for the prices to come down, and for PC graphics hardware to catch up to where I don’t have to spend $1000 on a Titan X to enjoy a quality VR experience. Maybe 2017 will be The Year of VR for me.
What’s your opinion on the current state of VR? Do you plan on taking the plunge this year? Post your comments below, or make a post on our Computers and Tablets Board.