Now we come to the off-brand VR headsets. I’m not going to cover every single VR headset in this section because, frankly, there are too damn many. When this whole shebang started it was just Oculus in the ring. Now we’ve got a full-fledged battle royale, with dozens of me-too contenders.
But one of the interesting ones is StarVR. Developed by Starbreeze (the team behind Payday 2), StarVR was announced this past June, just prior to E3.
What makes StarVR unique is a focus on field of view. Both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive hit a “good enough” FOV of 110 degrees, while Gear VR tops out at 96 degrees. By contrast, the human eye has a 180 degree field of view when facing forward, and accounting for eye rotation that number jumps to as high as 270 degrees.
Using the Rift or Vive is a bit like looking through a periscope, in that your vision is limited to a swathe immediately in front. This isn’t a huge deal, as that’s typically the most important part of your vision. But it’s noticeable!
StarVR boasts a whopping 210 degree field-of-view—almost twice the Rift or Vive—and a resolution of 5120x1440. The result is that, when facing forward, you’re completely immersed in the scene. At E3 I went hands-on with a Walking Dead-styled demo Overkill built, which put me in a wheelchair as someone pushed me through an abandoned, zombie-filled warehouse. Widening the FOV makes a noticeable difference.
But there are some issues. Pushing that many pixels requires a lot of power—far more than the GTX 970 recommended by Oculus. We’ve barely started seeing single graphics cards that can effectively hit 4K resolution while gaming, let alone 5K resolution. You’d need one hell of a rig to use StarVR.
It’s also bulky, heavy, and hot. The heat the huge displays generate is transferred straight into your head, which also can cause everything to fog up. It’s a fantastic idea, but StarVR needs a lot of refinement before it could hit market.
”So…when and where can I buy one?” You can’t. StarVR is only a concept right now—similar to the Rift the past three years. You might catch it at tradeshows, so there’s an opportunity for you to try out the hardware. But I’d say it’s at least a year, maybe two, before StarVR hits market. If ever.
Next page: Razer’s OSVR.