What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

Highlights of the story

Virtual reality headsets range from inexpensive Cardboards to expensive PlayStations

Here are your options if you want to dip your toes in or really swim with the big fish VR

Thinking about treating your family to a bit of virtual reality this holiday? Do not know where to start? Don’t worry.

From Google’s inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony’s new PlayStation VR, this guide will help you figure out what’s right for your family’s preferences, needs, and budget. Here are your options if you want to dip your toes in the water, wade knee-deep, or really swim with the big VR fish.

Remember that virtual reality is a rapidly changing technology, so always check companies’ websites, professional reviews on sites like CNET, and user reviews before you take the step. Leap.

Virtual reality viewers are inexpensive handheld devices that provide a three-dimensional view and a feeling of being somewhere else. The viewer’s lens works by extending the depth of a still or animated image, but doesn’t allow you to interact with your environment. To use them, download any app labeled “VR” in iTunes or Google Play, launch the app, and insert your smartphone into the viewer. Most viewers use the button on your phone or another basic input device to control the action.

main function

• Inexpensive

• Compatible with most smartphones and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR” (except View-Master, which uses specially designed apps)

• More like a 3D movie than real VR

• Best for educational content and games

• The selection of high quality applications is currently quite limited. Try the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Story and these recommendations.

Products in this category

• Google Cardboard ($14.99)

Literally made of cardboard, this self-assembled handheld is a fun, novel way to experience virtual reality. Use with any iOS or Android VR smartphone and app. Google offers a lot of different viewers, including the Google Tech C-1 Virtual Reality Viewer that looks exactly like the Google Tech VR headset ($14.99).

• SmartTheater Virtual Reality Headset ($19.99)

It’s a comfortable viewing device with an adjustable lens, a head strap, and an easy-to-use trigger input. Comes with a cardboard hand held motion controller which adds some extra power to the game. Works with most smartphones and any iOS or Android VR app.

• View-Master Virtual Reality ($29.99)

More geared towards learning than gaming, View-Master is available in a range of packages that let you explore dinosaurs, space, wildlife, etc. Each pack includes an insertable scroll (your phone’s) you provide horsepower). Works with most smartphones and specially designed View-Master iOS or Android apps.

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Increasing the price and features are VR headsets. They are similar to viewers in that you download a VR app from the app store and insert your phone into it. The headset works with the same apps as the viewer (except Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream Viewbut gives you a richer experience.

The advantages of headphones are that they are more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, have a better fit (prevent light leaks), better lenses, and often have a headphone port. That’s why some people like to use them to watch videos. They don’t create holographic video, but they do provide a personal cinema-style experience. They also often have a built-in game controller on the headset or work with a handheld controller, giving you more options in the app than a simple viewing device.

main function

• Priority over viewers

• Compatible with most smartphones (except Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View) and iOS or Android apps labeled “VR”

• More reliable, your current experience, but your ability to interact with the environment is limited

• Good for games, educational content and movies

• The selection of high quality applications is currently quite limited. Try the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Story and these recommendations.

• Headphones have a minimum age requirement set by the manufacturer; Check age before you buy.

Products in this category

• Merge VR glasses ($79)

This large purple headset is made of flexible foam and features dual-input buttons and audio ports for easy game control. Works with most VR apps on iOS and Android.

• Google Daydream View ($79; shipping November 2016)

Made of fabric, this lightweight plush headset is specially designed for Google’s brand new Daydream VR platform. The platform includes Daydream-compatible phones (such as the company’s Pixel phones), apps, and controllers. Daydream View comes with a controller, and the company says there will be 50 apps at launch, including games, educational content, and streaming services.

• Samsung Gear VR ($99)

Designed specifically for Samsung phones, the Gear VR includes an input pad on the side of the headset and works with a bluetooth controller, both of which let you navigate the game with ease. Works with Gear VR-compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

• Kix VR Virtual Reality Headset ($49.99)

Individually adjustable lenses, a snug fit, and a smartphone tray that you can customize to fit your phone make the Kix a good choice for quality VR on any smartphone which smart. Works with most VR apps on iOS and Android.

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Currently, the only VR console offered by Sony. The company’s holiday-appropriate PlayStation VR headset works with the PlayStation 4. If you don’t already have a PS4, you can buy the PlayStation 4 Slim or PlayStation 4 Pro (also brand new for the holidays) and PSVR. The console-powered plus-horsepower headset delivers an immersive, interactive VR experience.

main function

• Expensive

• Limited to Sony PlayStation

• Fully immersive and interactive; the possibility of motion sickness

• Games tend to be mature but rich, including Batman Arkham VR, 100ft Robot Golf, Final Fantasy XV VR, Battlezone and Resident Evil 7.

• Sony’s recommended minimum age is 12.

Products in this category

• PlayStation VR Launch Pack ($499.99)

Includes everything you need to turn your PS4 into a VR machine, including a headset, camera, two motion controllers, games, and cables.

• PlayStation 4 Slim ($299.99); PSVR sold separately

A newly redesigned, slimmer version of the PS4, this one features improved graphics, brighter controllers, and runs quieter.

• PlayStation 4 Pro ($399.99); PSVR sold separately

Better graphics, faster action and optimized to work better with specific “Advanced Pro” games

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You may have heard of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. These are powerful VR headsets that offer a fully immersive experience; some call it “Holodeck” in reference to the alternate reality from Star Trek. Both require a powerful, high-end PC (which costs up to $500).

main function

• Super expensive

• Requires compatible games (eg Everest VR is exclusive to Vive) and high-powered computers

• Fully interact with your environment

• Games tend to be mature, including The Assembly and Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

• Best for families with teenagers; The minimum age for an Oculus Rift producer is 13; Valve insists Vive is “not for kids”.

Products in this category

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  • • HTC Vive ($799)

    Delivering a “room-scale experience”. If your kids play on the Steam game network, they’ve certainly seen ads for the HTC Vive, as it’s made by the same company, Valve, that owns Steam. Steam is offering a number of Vive-only games designed to take advantage of the headset’s unique capabilities.

    • Oculus Rift ($599)

    Comes with everything to make VR a reality – except the computer: headset, sensors, remote, cables, Xbox controller and games.

    https://www.cnn.com/2016/11/14/health/virtual-reality-gear-kids-holidays/index.html What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

    Russell Falcon

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