Watching 360 degree videos on the HTC Vive can be a wonderfully interesting experience, and one that is certainly recommended. There was a time when there weren’t that many 360 degree videos available, but times have changed.
What’s changed is that now there are a lot of 360 degree cameras on the market. There’s the Gear 360, that you can carry around anywhere, and small enough to – almost – fit into the palm of your hand. Cameras like the Gear 360 allow people around the world to effortlessly make 360 degree videos… of anything they choose. And they do – there’s a whole new culture of amateur movie-making beginning to evolve around 360 degree videos.
So you’ll find lots of videos of different kinds on YouTube. There are videos of wonderful panoramas, of nature, of historical sites, of people jumping off aircraft (with parachutes), of people bungee jumping (without parachutes, and sometimes they regret it, but not on video).
And they’re all on YouTube
Actually, they’re on a lot of places beside YouTube, but YouTube is a great source. So if you have a lovely 3D headset like the HTC Vive, you can watch these videos as they should be watched, in wonderful stereoscopic high resolution. The HTC Vive brings Virtual Reality videos as close to reality as they’re likely to get.
Using Vive Video
The simplest – though not necessarily the best – way to watch 360 degree videos is through Vive Video. This is a dedicated video player that HTC has come up with, and while it may have been created by one company, it has been designed to work across multiple VR headsets, which means that the Oculus Rift can also support it. And HTC distributes it for free. You can find it on Viveport, but it can also be downloaded on Steam.
One nice thing about Vive Video is that, in keeping with HTC’s policy, it has been entirely designed around letting you use HTC motion controllers inside the video. It goes without saying that it can be used with a keyboard or mouse, but the motion controllers really allow for a very relaxed and intuitive experience.
Vive Video can only play files that are located on your computer
If you want to watch videos directly off YouTube, you’ll need a paid app. We’ll talk about that later. For now, just download the videos you want to watch from YouTube using any one of a number of apps that are available. Then find the video in Vive Video, and click on the file. The file will begin to play, but not in 360 degrees.
To do that, you’ll need to, using the ‘eye’ icon that you’ll find in the controls bar (take a look at the image above), select the Viewing Mode. You’ll have to select whether the video is Mono or Stereo, depending on whether it’s a normal 360 degree video or a stereoscopic (a true 3D) one. Once you click on your choice, other options will appear, in which you have to select ‘360’. That’s it, you’re set and you’re good to go. This is a good way to watch 360 degree videos on the Vive – it’s free, and it’s by HTC themselves.
However, if you don’t find this intuitive enough, there are paid apps on the market as well.
Virtual Desktop – Streaming 360 degree VR video directly from YouTube
Virtual Desktop is a good app, if you’re interested in a smooth, streamlined app that will play your 3D videos effortlessly, directly from a YouTube URL. Yes, all you have to do is paste in the URL, and Virtual Desktop will start streaming the video, with most of the video options already set.
Gear VR is arguably the best mobile VR headset out on the market. The necessity of having a controller in order to fully enjoy virtual reality was obvious from the get-go, and soon after the launch of Gear VR, Samsung released a controller to go with it, so now you can purchase Gear VR and controller bundle.
While the release of Gear VR designated controller initially was a big step forward, users realized that, for many applications, the use of a gamepad would be more suitable. Luckily, Gear VR supports several Bluetooth 3.0 gamepads. VRborg presents you some of the best Bluetooth controllers for Samsung Gear VR.
SteelSeries Stratus XL
The SteelSeries Stratus XL has received an official recommendation from Oculus. The build quality is exceptional, and the gamepad is compatible with both Windows and Android operating systems. It has two AA batteries which store enough power for around 40 hours of gameplay.
The gamepad feels sturdy, yet very comfortable. Buttons seem very responsive and the analogue sticks are easy to manoeuvre. SteelSeries Stratus XL performance and build quality puts it up to par with Xbox or DualShock 4 controllers. It will endure if you sometimes accidentally drop it, due to the rugged plastic it’s made of.
Xbox Wireless Controller is truly a great gamepad, and if you happen to already own one, you don’t have to worry about spending more money on a different gamepad for your Gear VR. Since the controller is Bluetooth compatible. All you need to do is read the Xbox Support Article on how to connect your Xbox Wireless Controller to your Android device.
If you don’t own Xbox,but still want to get only the Xbox Wireless Controller, you can find both new and used ones, if you are looking to get a discount. If you are more of a PlayStationtype of person, the same goes for DualShock 4.
MOGA Pro Power Controller is a Bluetooth gamepad created with intent to eliminate the need to rely on the games with on-screen controls when you want to play on your Android device.
The controller has an ergonomic feel to it and the well-known ideal button configuration layout. For some reason however, this newer version doesn’t have a rubber coating its predecessors had, so instead of a grippy feel in hand, MOGA PRO Power Controller feels a bit slippery, but is still a great choice. Be sure to use it in the “B-mode” since many users reported issues while playing in “A-mode”.
Another officially endorsed product by Oculus. As it is an official Samsung controller it comes in a nice package, but it is questionable if this alone justifies the price of over $80.
In all honesty, it is really well made, but it is not the easiest controller to use in VR. This is mostly due to flat control sticks, and this makes using it not as natural as other aforementioned gamepads.
There is no denying that the VR craze is starting to take of, so why not jump on the bandwagon and kickstart your journey to the still fresh waters of Virtual Reality? Along with the PlayStation VR, Oculus as the torchbearer, Vive has started the revolution the effects of which are still to be felt.
Vive has upped the ante with the ability to truly step inside the games using motion trackers, since reaching inside the application and interacting with the object was something that the users yearned for years.
So, you have decided to buy your Vive set, set up your station, and you are anxious to dive into the vast sea of opportunities. Where do you start you might wonder?
Well, look no further, since we have it all laid out for you.
1. The Lab
They say that the best things in life are free, so we start our list with the breakthrough game that was showcased at the Vive launch, courtesy of Valve. It is perfect for starting your experience since it showcases the possibilities of Vive quite nicely. It features eight total room-scale experiences from using archery to castle defending. Since it is made by Valve it is spiced with some humour and references to the Portal franchise.
A definite starting point for any Vive user!
2. Google Earth VR
Truly an application that shows the potential that the VR can bring. Originally, the users could only visit certain sites, such as Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, Alps and such, in recent updates the number of location has increased together with freedom of movement. Now, you can visit your childhood vacation spots, revisit old memories, and explore than as you are truly there.
The best part is the feeling of flying while you hover over the Earth in search of random locations of visit. Makes you feel like a superhero, doesn’t it?
3. Tilt Brush
Now, this might very well be an undiscovered diamond, it is widely acclaimed as one of the best VR applications to date, this seemingly VR upgraded version of MS Paint is much more powerful, and more importantly, much more entertaining. Now quite a game, since the range of possible uses for this application is truly staggering, but also a quite entertaining in its own right. If you have ever wanted to unchain your inner Picasso, now is the time, and the whole world is your canvas! Tilt Brush gives you the possibility to make 3D drawings, effectively making sculptures and not drawings! You can inspect them from all directions and marvel at your creation.
With the huge variety of brushes available, the possibilities are truly endless, take your time and paint yourself an entire scene if you would like.
theBlu might very well be one of the most beautiful experiences created for your amazement. As the name implies, the scenery is the vast ocean, as vast as your imagination, while with the help of your trusty VR set you dive into the abyss. There are three experiences to try: Whale Encounter, Reef Migration and Luminous Abyss, every one of which brings its own unique flavour to the table.
Whale Encounter is, just as the name implies, an opportunity to truly marvel at one of the biggest creatures that has ever inhabited this blue planet. You start at the edge of an underwater shipwreck, praying that is doesn’t fall of the underwater cliff while suddenly, the blue whale swims past you, the details of which are truly magnificent and amazing.
Reef Migration transports you at the edge of an underwater reef while being surrounded firstly by jellyfish and then by other sea inhabitants. You may try to touch them with your controllers, but they quickly move away, as they would in real life. Such details truly increase the immersion.
The most awe inspiring of them all might be the Luminous Abyss. If you have ever wondered what lurks beneath the ocean’s surface where even light doesn’t reach, you might find out….at Your own peril.
5. Rec Room
Immersing yourself all alone in VR might become a little boring after a while. Luckily here is a true gem of a game, and totally free at that. Rec Room is the closest thing to uninhibited social interactions since you were a child that you will get. A true VR social experience where you can participate in games with other players is so entertaining that you might find yourself spending hours at a time.
When you put on a headset you are immediately transports to something that might remind you of your local YMCA in it’s best days. You see avatars of people all around you with fists bumping, interacting with in game objects and widely grinning which gives it its fun and social character. The Rec Room falls into the category of mini game adventures some of which include paintball, 3D Charades, disc golf, and the Rec Room Quests which you can complete with a friend. Paintball is amongst the most entertaining, it is competitive but light-hearted enough so that it leaves you with a smile on your face.
And while playing games and socializing is extremely fun, if you are not in the mood, there is also a possibility to start a private room in the Lounge Bar. It lets you spend time with your loved ones in a place where you feel like they are actually near you, truly an amazing experience!
6. Raw Data
Now that you have tried out all the beginner courses and you aim for the bread and butter of VR. Of course, I’m talking about the feeling of first person combat that will transform your classic 2D experience into a true fighting arena, where the Vive’s room-scale tracking possibilities come to its full potential. It is definitely not a starting experience, but once you get the hand of it, you will marvel at the level of detail and polish in this game, which makes it one of the most beautiful and well thought out experiences on Vive to date.
Throwing you head-first into a hostile world of enemy humanoid robots, once you master the controls you will not want to stop playing it. With responsive gunplay and an ever-growing collection of content, it is an unmissable experience for any VR shooter enthusiast.
7. Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul
After you play this game, you will undoubtedly say to your self, the future of horror experiences is not the TV or the cinema, it is the VR, and Paranormal Activity: The Lost Soul is the best example of it.
While the Paranormal Activity has carved its name in the cinemas, where it has swept the box offices and terrified the audiences, nothing comes close to the feeling of haunting in first person. After a brief tutorial, you are left completely by yourself (or, are you?) in a beautiful-yet-frightening house without even a HUD to help you if you’re lost. This only increases the feeling of helplessness and tension.
The experience is definitely not for the faint of heart. Merely watching YouTube playthroughs will not prepare you for the scares that await. They are generated randomly, not to mention that videos cannot grasp even an iota of the feeling when you put on your headset.
If you are a fan of horrors, this is a game you must not avoid, with its dark setting, escape audio, and loud and sudden audio and visual effects that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand out from the sheer terror that awaits you.
8. Arizona Sunshine
If the feeling of helplessness is not something you particularly enjoy, and you would much rather just blast away all the buggers coming your way, Arizona Sunshine is the game for you. Although the Vive is still a quite new platform with its huge content and vast in game areas to explore it gives us a breeze of triple A games lurking around the corner. Not only does it have a single player and multiplayer mode, it also packs in a robust campaign mode that you can play alone or with a friend.
Arizona Sunshine truly gives the player a lot for his buck, with it’s endless hordes of zombies that you will stop in any way possible from trying to chew your face. Who knows, maybe this experience might come in handy, in the case that there is a zombie apocalypse lurking behind corner.
VR offers not only visual, but auditory experiences as well, all blended together with the 3D experience which gives it a certain blend of properties unlike any other. Why not start with Audioshield and see (and hear) for yourself? As we have covered it in one of our articles, Audioshield is a new way to experience your music.
In the game you are given two controllers, one blue and one red, and with it you try to catch balls of light of corresponding colour coming at you at the beat of the music.
Not only does it give you an enjoyable experience, but quite a little workout as well.
10. Job Simulator
Putting on your VR headgear, the last place you would like to find yourself would be the office that you have just left, but his game puts a nice little spin on the whole experience. The year is 2050, the robots have taken over all the jobs, and all that is left for the humans is a nice little simulator to experience all that nice drudgery of a 9-5 job. Unfortunately, someone has messed with the records and the simulation isn’t quite accurate, who would know that having a job was that fun and entertaining?
The visual and auditory stimulations together with the physical feeling of doing something familiar truly tricks our bodies into thinking that we are in the year 2050. From the clerks’ desks and cubicles in the boring office, all the way to such exotic places as behind a grill or a counter, the game truly makes the interactions so lifelike and entertaining. By applying generous dose of humour, all those dreadful menial tasks that make the world go round have transformed into a somewhat magical experience.
11. Rick and Morty – Virtual Rick-ality
The studio behind the Job simulator brings us another gem, which undoubtedly succeeds into bringing a smile to the face or a chuckle to anyone familiar with the universe of Rick and Morty. By capturing the charm of our favourite series and bringing it into VR , it truly is an example of a licensed game done right.
The similarities of both games are evident, since both require the use of items at your disposal to solve certain puzzles, although with a twist of familiar sarcasm. Players will find themselves into a Virtual Rick-ality, as one of the Morty clones in charge things small and large, from fixing Rick’s car to repelling alien invasion that want to conquer the Earth. It is a must experience for anyone who is a fan of the TV series.
12. Netflix VR
Playing games or having fun in applications isn’t the only thing you could be doing when you put on your Vive headset. As is covered more thoroughly in one of our previous post on VR on Netflix, why not watch your favourite movie as well? If you ever find yourself wanting to relive the cinematic VR experience from the comfort of your home, you simply must set up your Netflix and enjoy the show.
13. Project CARs
If you have ever wanted to experience the adrenaline rush of a race car driver speeding on the famous race tracks across the world, look no further. This game is especially fun if you’re equipped with a steering wheel and a peddle, which brings a whole another level of immersion into the game.
Choose amongst a huge variety of cars available in the game and experience this vastly popular racing simulator in another light. Feel the adrenaline rushing throughout your body as you check the rear view mirrors while stepping on the peddle leaving your competitors in the dust.
As you have seen, the Vive offers a huge variety of experiences. It will be hard to choose one as your favourite. From the classical shooters given its new form, to the stunning visuals transporting you into the depths of the unknown to the whole new set of experiences made by combing all of our senses, VR is still a field of hugely untapped potential. Fortunately, there are new applications coming out every day, which give an array of possibilities and experiences that will keep your eyes glued to the set.
There is no denying that the VR revolution is right across the corner, so you may have found yourself wanting to join the community of VR enthusiasts and discover all the possibilities it can offer.
However, the steep price of high-end headsets may discourage you. Worry not, since Google Cardboard is a perfect entry into the realm of Virtual Reality available to anyone. Google, in its effort to spread the word of VR to as large of an audience as possible, made a product that can be used for a wide variety of uses. Cardboard is a low-cost virtual reality headset suitable for new users.
So, if you have found yourself with a cardboard in hand, look no further, for this is your Google Cardboard starter pack. After you unbox your Cardboard, the first thing you should do is download the app for Android and iOS.
The official Cardboard app is the first step on your journey and it offers a wide variety of apps and stunning demos readily available. These will serve as the perfect introduction into the possibilities VR can offer.
After the first rush of emotions that will swallow you into the VR realm, step further a bit and immerse yourself into the experiences it can offer.
Google’s Expeditions is a perfect proof that VR is here to stay and will change our lives in unimaginable ways. This future is closer than we might think. The premise is simple, you put on your Cardboard and the teacher showcases the points of interest which may range from the Earth’s natural beauties to the celestial bodies such as Mars and Jupiter which may spark that fire of curiosity for the deep space.
It is a short step from revolutionizing the entire field of education, bringing images to life before your eyes and making the points more concrete as you learn your areas of interest.
Although not VR per se, the 360 youtube application is revolutionizing the way we watch videos. It is a small step behind true VR experience. From VR music videos and virtual tours, to animated short movies, you will find yourself spending time on it as much as you were an YouTube. If you enjoy videos in your day-to-day life, check out our best VR video players.
3. Jaunt VR
If you would like a step up from YouTube 360, Jaunt is the way to go. The company offers immersive videos, which are being added regularly, ranging from short movies transporting you down the rabbit hole of VR, to the feature length series, many of which are triple A quality. Also, the platform offers behind-the-scenes VR experiences from the set of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, or if you’re a football fan one at Manchester City football club.
4. Minos Starfighter VR
For those yearning for some action packed experience, the best place to start would be this first-person space shooter. Minos Starfighter VR puts you behind the controls of a spaceship speeding in the vacuum of space, blasting your way across the galaxy. The visuals are truly stunning, and showcase what is possible on a cheap VR headset. By playing this game, you will find yourself immersed in the experience dodging and moving as you command your ship across the space.
If exploring the depths of space is something you enjoyed, why not step into the other unknown? Yes, as the name implies, InMind takes you into the journey of your brain. You have the power to move inside the mentally diseased patient and find neurons firing misdirection, exploring the mind along the way.
6. Google Cardboard Camera
Google doesn’t want you to just consume content with your headset, it wants to give you the power to create them. The Cardboard camera lets you take 360-degree, virtual reality photos and view them through the Cardboard. To make a photo, just download the app to your phone, open it, pick a point of interest and slowly twirl around in 360 degrees and let the app do the rest. It even works with Google Street View VR, so you can even add 3D locations as well.
7. Proton Pulse
If playing games is your forte, why not try this little gem of a game? Proton Pulse is a truly fascinating VR game with beautiful visuals and fast paced gameplay that offers amusement for hours on end. There are over a 50 levels which you can enjoy. The goal of this brick-breaking arcade is to bounce various objects back to where they came from. A simple premise, but done in VR. It’s a load of fun and enjoyment with high approval ranking given by the players.
8. Hidden Temple
Hidden Temple is one of the best games which you can enjoy on Google Cardboard. The premise of exploring ancient temples and solving puzzles is intriguing and when you put on your set, you will find yourself strolling down the stone corridors wondering what secrets it contains. Hidden treasures and jewels await for those curious enough to explore.
9. Star Wars VR
A must experience for any true Star Wars fan. This application puts you in the role of a Resistance agent on Jakku, a desert environment from The Force Awakens. This app is always growing, new feature are added every day in expectation of the newest movie in the Star Wars franchise. I will speak no further and let you experience the feeling for yourself. It is extremely well done and, most importantly, fun little game.
Google Cardboard is the perfect entry into the world of VR. While it is quite cheaper than the high end VR headsets, the possibilities it can offer are quite satisfying and will catch any newcomer by surprise, with an entire spectrum of possibilities wide-open, something that was never dreamed of before.
What’s that VR craze you hear about you might wonder? Well, there is no way of knowing other than experiencing for yourself, all the videos in the world cannot describe the sensation when you first step into the land of Virtual Reality.
But, what headset to buy? Since all three of them, PSVR, Oculus and Vive will put a dent in your wallet, you might want to consider a think before buying either of them.Here are three reasons broken down, why you should invest in PSVR other than Oculus.
1. PSVR is cheaper than Oculus
This is hitting the nail right on its head. Virtual reality is taking off, there is no denying it, It will be the next big revolution on par with the smartphones, but it is still in its first years. It’s still learning to walk, and because of it, it is still not readily available for the average consumer.
The price you pay for Oculus is 499$ compared to 449$ you pay for PSVR, which might not seem that big of a difference, but when you take into account the fact that the Oculus requires a gaming platform in a price range of minimum of 1200$, you start to see it differently.
If you already own a PS4, than the decision is a no-brainer. Just go and buy PSVR right now and satisfy your curiosity. Send me an email thanking me later. Do not postpone the joy of immersion into Virtual Reality any longer. Even if you don’t own it the console will cost you around 300$, which is still quite cheaper than the entire gaming rig required for Oculus.
Also, since the technology is in the process of development, there will come even better headsets and you might shed a tear when remembering how much you paid for your Oculus.
The overall experience doesn’t differ as much. True, Oculus Touch has upgraded the whole experience, but there are plenty of games which utilize the performance of PSVR to such an extent you won’t even be bothered.
2. PSVR is more comfortable
Just look at these two photos and decide for yourself which one looks like it has been brought from the future and which one looks like it’s being made in someone’s garage. Jokes aside, PSVR not only has aesthetics on its side, but also ergonomics. While the Oculus uses velcro and ski-goggle bands to stay in place, which is a constant struggle in terms of comfort, PSVR uses a crown that wraps all the way around your head like a band. It doesn’t have any rough parts that can catch your hair like Oculus does. It has a nice little button which loosens the crown so you can adjust it to your preference and another one used for adjusting the distance of the screen from your face, useful if you’re wearing glasses.
The PSVR truly looks and feels like a next generation of hardware compared to the Oculus with its nicer and cleaner design.
3. PSVR boasts sharper display and optics
By looking at the stats, like resolution and display, you might expect that the Oculus will blow PSVR right out of the water, but that is truly not the case. While Rift has a pair of 1080×1200 resolution displays, Sony looks worse with 960×1080 per eye. You might think that the objects would look nicer and more detailed when viewed on Rift, but in reality, the display resolution of PSVR is actually much denser than what you experience with Oculus Rift.
Easy way to spot this is Screen Door Effect, a grid of tiny black lines which divide the display which is more prominent on Oculus. While you do get to see a little bit less details on PSVR, the fact that it is offset by little to no Screen Door makes watching the same object much nicer.
The overall clarity is on PSVR’s side, especially in the field of movie watching high-def video and reading text. Reasons are due to better optical technology, on Vive and Rift a lot of resolution is lost in conversion between the display and your eyes. This makes it difficult to discern fine objects, such as letters, which often looks unpleasantly fuzzy.
Watching movies on PSVR, on the other hand, is an experience which will make you forget about flat screen 4k TV’s with its 100 degrees field of view and a picture projected on a huge canvas in VR.
Overall, the entire experience is pure awesomeness, which is readily available at an affordable price. After experiencing what the VR is, going back to PC gaming will be a long shot. Never again will you be watching movies on a typically flat screen TV when you have an opportunity to dive into the VR where you become a part of the story.
There are simply no words that can describe the experience of VR, you simply must choose to go down the rabbit hole and never look back!
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