With the Samsung S8 stepping into life last month, I researched on the various available features of the phone and discovered it could also be used to experience virtual reality. In the early days of its birth in 2017, the phone was actually sold as a combo pack with a VR set, back in overseas. A lot was spoken about VR and also the fascinating world of 360 degree and 3D video experience, which pulled my interest to research on the subject further.
After reading several reviews about mobile VR and finding that Samsung gear (costing around 10K) topped the list followed by Google daydream and many other brands, I decided to experience the VR set in a retail store and off I went to visit Samsung centers and to my surprise, the stock were actually pulled off as it appeared that the devices were not quite in demand and had failed to find a market in India, unlike overseas.
I proceeded to try my luck at the Reliance digital and Croma stores and found the same state of affairs. However, Croma had housed an altogether new setup for VR demo and pulled me towards the playstation arena. They informed me that VR was best experienced on these complex device named PSVR (playstation virtual reality) rather than mobile phones and it had taken virtual reality to the next premium level and yes, the cost of the device spoke for itself (around 35K). The salesman mounted the device to my face and took me through a demo of a car game. As the screen lit itself, I was utterly shocked to see the world around me disappearing and I was placed in a different world altogether sitting inside a car holding the steering and as the game begin, it was literally me driving the car and added to it the game was in 3D and the effects were top notch. I quickly wanted to share the excitement with my wife too and passed on the device to her. After a quick few minutes, she quickly asked the device to be removed as she felt dizzy. She looked at my eager eyes and said ‘it’s not my cup of tea, please’. Bidding the salesman bye, we left the store as I had to do a thorough research on the product before investing in it, as it did cost a good deal of money as the PSVR needed a playstation to function so it was just not the device.
Researching the subject, I noticed that there were three main players in the VR market – HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PSVR. The Oculus and Vive being the best, works only with powerful PCs, had quite complex setup and needed larger space to experience VR and were damn expensive too. PSVR on the other hand, being less complex comparatively to these two had outsold them both in terms of price and complexity. I have not taken the demo of the other two (not available in India, needs to be imported) and it is hard to tell what exactly the experience felt in the other two but I was quite fascinated with the quality of the VR experience by Sony. I was never into PS games but am an ardent fan of 3D movies and wanted to buy this device for watching 3D movies. We never got the opportunity to upgrade our LCD TV to 3D TV as the one purchased before the advent of 3D TVs, had not completed its journey of utility yet.
After consoling the heart that it is time to hit the bank account by a costly wish of mine, I found a new home for the PS4 and PSVR units. My wife was all stares and annoyed with my decision and I had to explain her the savings in the form of : A) the opportunity cost of a 3D movie ticket at an IMAX, B) travel cost to the multiplex, C) cost on snacks D) convenience of watching at home and importantly E) the cost of buying a 3D TV (tech almost dead tho) and F) 3D bluray player. The capital expense will certainly recoup over a period, I assured her. I realized even we adults do become kids at times owing to technology craze :-).
The PS4 came with a game named ‘Call of Duty – WW2’ a popular game series. The game is setup in the world war phase and has beautiful graphics and is quite engaging. I finally set up the PSVR and checked the demo VR games which were jaw dropping putting us right into the games. There is also a section in youtube which plays 360 degree clips which makes one virtually present right in those videos. There is a short clip of the movie IT and Annabelle and the clips are indeed scary running right in front of eyes.
Came the time for which I had purchased the system for and I finally played the bluray 3D movie ‘Gravity’ that I had picked up (supposed to be one of the best 3D movies) and the experience was indeed stunning and felt watching the movie on an IMAX screen. The 3D experience was of great quality and depth and there are scenes in the movie where the debris in the space comes right into the face and the VR handled it pretty well.
We soon realized that my diecast car collection would pause for sometime, replacing it to bluray disc collection. I did purchase Guardians of Galaxy and Pacific Rim from Amazon online as they were running huge discounts recently. ‘Avatar’ and ‘Life of Pi’ are for sure on the ‘to buy’ list.
Being a recent fan of wonder woman, I did pick this disc at face value with no discount running presently and wanted to own this on bluray for sure and it came in today morning. I am giving her time to rest until tomorrow morning.
While the VR does give an out of the world experience and a visual treat to the eyes; it does come with its own drawback which includes nausea, dizziness (for few), addiction to VR, confinement, odd looking when worn, fatigue to the eyes and viewer should be mindful of the things around. It is a strict ‘NO’ for kids and people with motion sickness.
My wife clicked the snap without my knowledge to show me later of how closely I resembled an alien in the Hollywood science fiction movies, well she is completely right, it does look odd mounting the device.
Too much is to bad, so one need to ensure they use it wisely and not get addicted to it. I will certainly limit it to watching 3D movies and not for gaming as they could strain the eyes and well; I do have my pen and blog for addiction, instead.