VR's big week: the 7 stories that showed the future of virtual reality

Headset-based entertainment dominated last week's major events: here's everything you need to know

HTC Vive SteamVR headset

We all know about the Oculus Rift, but just because that upstart resuscitated interest in virtual reality, gained cred via Kickstarter, and now has the immense funding of Facebook, it doesn't mean it's the only player in the VR market.

Far from it in fact – and last week cemented that realisation in a matter of days. Mobile World Conference raged in Barcelona while the Game Developers Conference started up in San Francisco, but they were united in one respect: all anyone could talk about was VR, and that's thanks to a slew of announcements and demos.

Whether it's Valve teaming up with HTC for the most impressive headset to date, Samsung's bigger commitment to phone-based VR, or major moves being made on the software side, it's clear that a lot of big tech players see the massive upside in getting in on this sensation.

Here are the seven stories from last week that showed just how amazing VR is about to get.

The HTC Vive is next-level VR

It's huge, huge news that the Steam gaming service is getting into the market with SteamVR, although we were surprised to see that Valve's first partner in that area is HTC, which showed off its Vive headset alongside the HTC One M9.

Also surprising: it's utterly, fantastically amazing. Be sure to read (and watch) our hands-on review for our initial take on the still-early hardware, but the stunning imagery paired with the ability to walk around your environment – thanks to laser trackers that pinpoint the position of your headset and the two motion controllers – makes everything much more immersive.

To quote our own Tom Parsons, who had the pleasure of playing Vive at MWC, "I've been completely blown away by it."

Project Morpheus is much improved

Sony Project Morpheus

Because it works with a PlayStation 4 – and more than 20 million of those have been sold in less than a year and a half – Sony's Project Morpheus has one of the best chances of mainstream success amongst the current crop of headsets.

Last week, Sony committed to releasing the device in the first half of 2016, and revealed a set of improvements to the tech.

With a speedy 120Hz refresh rate, the headset is less likely to cause motion sickness, plus the 100-degree field of vision on the newly upgraded 5.7in OLED display (running at 1920x1080) ought to deliver amazing visuals.

Additionally, the headset design was reworked to be smaller and more comfortable, and it has 50% more LEDs for the PlayStation Camera to track, which means more accurate gaming.

Gear VR gets some new brains

Samsung GearVR

Samsung's Gear VR didn't have the most convincing start, thanks to the lack of premium apps and the "hey, no promises" Innovator Edition tag, but the biggest limitation came with the fact that it was only designed to work with a single phone: the Galaxy Note 4.

But with the announcement of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge last week came word that Samsung will give its smartphone-based platform another shot with a new edition of the Gear VR designed to work with both phones.

It's a little smaller in size, but the phones have slightly crisper screens than the Note 4, and collectively are certain to sell a lot more units. So the potential user pool is about to massively expand.


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