ANTVR Virtual Reality Headset
It should come as no surprise that the tech-titans of China would get involved in the biggest entertainment upheaval since wonderbras. Now hardware development outfit ANTVR from Beijing are bringing us a very interesting set of devices called the ANTVR-Kit, billed as an ‘All-in-one Universal Virtual Reality Kit’. It consists of a VR headset and a controller built into a gun housing.
How does it compare?
The obvious questions are whether or not it can compete on the same field as the Oculus Rift and Sony’s Morpheus headset. The short answer to that question is ‘Yes’. It’s packing a Full-HD screen offering 100o field of view, 1000Hz orientation tracking in both the headset and controller, Wireless operation (optional), a positional tracking sensor and support for all major gaming platforms. That last one is a bit of a coup.. Overall, the the product design is well underway and seems to be a pretty mature technology already (despite breaking news here recently) but it needs some work before it can be considered a contender for the best VR headset. It’s got a lot of potential and competition is good for consumers – so we will be following ANTVR’s progress very carefully.
Why cover this product when you don’t cover X [generic VR-badged product]?
There are a lot of head-mounted displays out there. Most of them are complete rubbish and little more than novelty items. If something actually looks like it is giving proper VR a go (i.e. presence-inducing VR) then it deserves our time. ANTVR are giving it a bloody good go and so they are deservedly in our line-up of reviews. We don’t expect many manufacturers to come up with serious attempts to be game-changers (there are 3 at time of writing), so the fact it is here means it’s got potential and we want to keep an eye on it. Of course, products are nothing without consumers and their Kickstarter campaign needs backers, so get yourself over there and help the future happen.
What’s holding it back from being in the ring with the big boys?
As a nice man once said: “It’s good, but it’s not right”. So what’s wrong?
High-persistence screen It seems harsh to say ‘high-persistence’, but realistically anything above the rate of 2-3ms causes a higher rate of motion sickness. I don’t wish that on anybody, so we’ll just have to draw the line at 3ms and say everyone on the wrong side of it is a high-persistence vomit visor. (Ed: Now THAT’S harsh!)
Positional tracking The one-step walk function is interesting, but it’s clearly going to take a lot of getting used to and keeping track of your legs is going to be difficult when you’re dodging bullets, axes, spells and god knows what else (possibly all at once). Once we get our hands on a set we’ll try it out.. you never know.
The transformer-controller Opinion is divided on the way the gun handle detaches to transform into a double-handed console-style controller. One on side, it’s a piece of design genius. On the other, it’s a process you probably won’t be doing mid-game (standing up, at least). It’s important to bear in mind that they are still actively developing the whole system. The transformation process and the controller itself may improve vastly in the consumer-ready version.
A high-level of skepticism Reddit is full of debate over whether some of what ANTVR is saying is accurate, or (as some would have it) just wild embellishment. Some of the criticism points out that the FoV is measured diagonally on the ANTVR set, whereas the proper measurement should be horizontal (as it is on the Oculus). The main thrust of the arguments seem to be related to ANTVR basically saying it has an equivalent or better system than the Oculus; even implying that is has all the features and none of the problems. This is clearly a suspicious standpoint and worthy of scrutiny, but that’s certainly not ANTVR’s main sales pitch, so we’re open-minded, of course, but hope that they pull it out of the bag and deliver a top-notch VR experience. Fan the flames for yourself over on Reddit.
At VR Gaming, we’re very pleased to see such a polished effort at providing an all-in-one VR hardware solution. Obviously we’re going to wait until the retail units are out to compare ANTVR with Oculus and Sony, and there is a lot more to new toys than just technical specifications and the more developers there are producing HMDs like this, the better it will be for us consumers.