8 New Virtual Reality Headsets Coming Soon
We tried virtual reality for the first time last year and needless to say, we can’t get over just how amazing the whole experience was. We picked up an Oculus for a family Christmas present and it wasn’t cheap. The question is, should we buy an HTC Vive for personal use, one of the Chinese knock-offs, or just wait until some cooler virtual reality headsets come out? The virtual reality headset market is currently dominated by:
- Facebook-owned Oculus VR,
- Sony’s PlayStation VR,
- HTC’s Vive,
- Samsung’s Gear VR
- and Google’s Daydream,
As it turns out, there are other options for consumers coming soon. The recent CES 2017 convention in Las Vegas featured an array of new headsets and goggles that will be available at retail outlets later this year.
Research firm CCS Insight forecasts VR headset sales will grow from 12 million in 2017 to 20 million in 2018. IDC is even more bullish about VR hardware, predicting VR headsets will explore from 10 million units sold in 2016 to 61 million by 2020. There’s enough room in this market for everyone. Here are 8 new companies entering the virtual reality headset space.
Zeiss VR One Plus, $130
This mobile device is a bit more forward-thinking than other lower-priced offerings from Google and Samsung in that its glass lenses are beyond the capabilities of high-end phones like Pixel XL, Samsung S7 Edge and iPhone 7 Plus. Once new phone screens can support higher resolution VR content, owners will be ahead of the game. This one’s actually available for purchase on Amazon now.
Update 07/23/2018: Zeiss debuted their newest product at CES 2018, ZEISS VR ONE Connect, which is intended to bridge the gap between PC-connected VR gaming and mobile VR gaming. For the first time, users can play games on SteamVR using their mobile phones.
Razer’s a private tech company with a valuation of $1.5 billion. The company has expanded beyond its core gaming audience in recent years to explore both music and virtual reality. Razer has two lower-priced high-end PC VR headsets available for developers and consumers alike. The new offering, the Hacker Development Kit 2.0, brings the hardware up to the current standards of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive for the price of a PlayStation VR. Both OSVR headsets (HDK 1.4 retails for $300) work across an entire ecosystem of hardware being developed by dozens of companies.
And they also play an assortment of the same software from Vive and Rift.
Fove 0, Fove, $600
San Francisco startup Fove has taken in $11 million so far to develop their virtual reality headsets. Fove differentiates itself from the competition by being the first to integrate eye tracking into its headset. Eye tracking is one technology that is expected to become a staple across VR in the coming years as it opens up new capabilities for exploring virtual worlds and even playing video games. At CES, Fove had a shooter game, Project Falcon, that uses your eyes to aim, as well as Lumen, an application that allows you to grow a forest by simply looking in a direction. Eye tracking also opens up foveated rendering, which allows VR content to be fully-realized where your eyes are looking, rather than in full 360 all of the time.
The $600 black headset shipped in January as a special limited edition offering to consumers who pre-ordered through Kickstarter. The final retail version will be a white headset that will be available later this year.
Lenovo showed a non-working prototype of its unnamed Windows Holographic headset, which is slated to ship some time this year for “close to $300.” It’s part of a wave of new headsets from traditional consumer electronics companies running on Microsoft’s VR and AR Windows Holographic platform.
The Lenovo headset is smaller and lighter than the Rift and Vive, and will feature higher resolution OLED screens. The headset will also employ inside-out, six degrees-of-freedom tracking, which means no external camera is necessary. This device, which looks similar to Sony’s PlayStation VR, will work with third-party controllers.
Update 07/23/2018: Lenovo announced the Mirage Solo at CES 2018 and that it’s set to ship for mid-2018.
Pico is entering the consumer VR market with the Pico Neo CV, although the company hasn’t revealed a price or launch date yet. After introducing the Pico Neo DK last year aimed at the enterprise market, the Pico Neo CV made its debut at CES 2017.
This untethered virtual reality headsets won’t need a smartphone or PC to work. Instead, it’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and running on the Snapdragon VR SDK, which will put the VR experiences somewhere between the high-end PC VR content and the low-end mobile VR offerings. The headset features built-in head-tracking, an integrated Hi-Fi speaker and dual 1.5K VR displays.
Update 08/02/2018: Pico Interactive recently took in $24.7 million to focus on offering self-contained standalone VR headset hardware options capable of competing with larger firms. This brings the company’s total funding to $24.7 million thus far.
Like Lenovo, Acer and HP, Dell has a wired Windows Holographic VR headset shipping this year. A white non-working prototype was on display at CES. And while no exact release date or price was revealed, Microsoft had previously stated that these third-party headsets would start at $300 and work on integrated laptops that cost about $500.
While this tethered headset is in the immediate future, Dell Chief Technology Officer Liam Quinn told UploadVR at CES 2017 that this Windows Holographic headset will offer a “premium experience.” He also said Dell is exploring a tetherless VR headset beyond the Microsoft-focused device.
Update 07/23/2018: Dell joined the lineup of Windows Mixed Reality Headsets that were released earlier this year.
The tethered device is part of a line-up of headsets that Microsoft previously stated would begin at $300 and run on less-powerful and more affordable PCs than the Vive or Rift.
Sixa Rivvr, $210
With the number of PC headsets entering the market, Sixa is taking a different approach with its Rivvr. The $210 head-mounted device cuts the cord of any existing tethered headset by using Wi-Fi. (There’s also a $200 version that clips to your belt.) Unlike the TPCast that HTC is developing to make its Vive wireless, Sixa is supporting multiple headsets.
Anyone who’s plugged into a PC headset knows that those cords can become an issue, especially in a small space. The mobile headsets, while not as powerful, offer that complete freedom. So if you can afford the high entry price of today’s VR headsets, what’s an extra $210 for that freedom. This add-on is available for pre-order now.
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