Here at VRnet.io, a Ukraine based VR company specialising in converting 3D models to VR property showrooms / visualizations for the property industry, we are constantly testing virtual reality (VR) headsets to see which are the best VR headsets to recommend to our clients looking to explore the exciting world of VR for property development, architecture, interior design and property sales. VR property showrooms are a great way to show clients and customers how the property will look and feel in the real world, instead of relying on hard to read plans and 3D renders.
2016/2017 has seen some amazing VR products hit the shelves, so what are the pros and cons of each setup? Which is the best VR headset for the property industry? Let’s take a look….
If you are studio based and want the very best VR experience to view your property models and designs, as you work, and to show clients or potential customers, then the high end VR headsets come highly recommended. With the best graphics, cutting edge sensor technology and intuitive controllers, the level of immersion offered cannot be understated, it makes the VR experience feel natural, with every movement you make in the real world mirrored perfectly in the virtual world. Look under a table, look over the edge of the balcony… The results are stunning and will help inspire your designs and will blow clients and customers away with the realistic property VR showrooms.
Manufacturer – HTC
Price – $599
Requirements – High end PC
The HTC Vive is our top pick when it comes to high end VR headsets for use in the property industry. It is the most immersive VR headset, to date. The image is good, with a resolution of 2160 x 1200, a 110 degree viewing angle, running at an impressive 90hz. This really helps to avoid motion sickness, an issue that becomes more apparent as you drop down the price range. The VR headset itself is comfortable, blocks light well and sits firmly around the eyes.
The Vive’s two hand controllers are exceptional. They feel comfortable in the hand and quickly become part of your VR “body”, allowing you to do a multitude of tasks in VR that feel natural, allowing for a more immersive experience.
The HTC Vive’s trump card though are it’s tracking sensors. Room scale sensors, combined with a vast array of head tracking sensors on the VR headset allow you to bend down, move forward/backwards, left and right and look around in full 360 space. The room scale sensors are a little tricky to set up and are best utilised in a room with a good amount of empty space (we recommend a minimum empty space of 2m x 2m, 3m x 3m is comfortable and 5m x 5m is the room scale limit).
Of course, the best tech will always come at a cost. The headset and accessories come in at $599 and will require a HTC Vive ready PC to run the headset (Min. $1000). Being tethered to a PC is also problematic, the system cannot easily be moved from room to room or used on the move.
The HTC Vive is our top recommendation for VR in property industry. A truly stunning VR system that represents the very best VR experience on the market.
Manufacturer – Oculus
Price – $350
Requirements – High end PC
Just a few months ago, Oculus Rift was trailing the HTC Vive in several key features, but they are starting to catch up with the introduction of the oculus touch controllers and room sensors, allowing for a fully immersive experience almost rivalling the Vive.
Image wise, the specs are equal to the Vive with a resolution of 2160 x 1200, a 110 degree viewing angle, running at 90hz. The immersion is great and almost on par with the Vive. The headset is good, though we found the Vive to be more comfortable and easier to wear for long durations.
The new touch controllers help you accomplish tasks in VR that were a real struggle with the gaming controller. They feel even more a part of your body than the HTC Vive’s, which further improves the immersion.
The new camera sensors (combined with the headset sensors) also works in a similar way to the Vive (though not quite as accurate), allowing your movements to be synced to your actions in VR. The system is quicker to setup than the Vive and works well, though has a slightly smaller tracking area (we recommend an empty area of around 2m x 2m to 3m x 3m).
At $350 the price is lower than the HTC Vive but It also requires a powerful, tethered PC to run the show and brings with it similar headaches when trying to move the setup from room to room.
This is another great VR system that really showcases how far virtual reality has come in just a few short years. Oculus are currently slightly behind HTC on ideas and execution, but the rift is still a very good option.
[Edit – The Oculus rift and two touch controls are currently available for the bargain price of $350. At this price, the Oculus Rift moves into the top spot for tethered VR]
Mobile (mid range)
If you need a more mobile solution, then the Gear VR and Google Daydream are very good mid range solutions. Graphics are almost as good as the high end VR headsets and use mobile devices to power the headset, rather than tethered PCs. Though the immersion of the VR property tour is not as realistic as the high end headsets, the experience is still very lifelike and will leave clients and customers impressed. The ability to take the VR headset on the road, to customer homes, offices, exhibitions etc is a real plus point and you can be setup and running in a matter of seconds.
Samsung Gear VR
Manufacturer – Samsung
Price – $129 (with controller)
Requirements – Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge+, Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, or Galaxy S8/S8+ (recommended)
The Samsung Gear VR is the current king of mobile VR and is likely to be most people’s first look at virtual reality. It combines a good feature set with a low price and easy entry point (if you have a phone that can power it).
The image specs vary depending on the phone you use, but most “Gear ready” Samsung phones will offer a resolution of 2560×1440, a 100 degree viewing angle, running at 60hz. The resolution is higher than even the tethered systems, which is noticeable when reading text in the Oculus app, but the lower latency (hz) does affect the motion sickness effect. The headset feels high quality, for the price level, with a comfortable strap, a head strap and padding. There is some light bleed and the VR headset does steam up in the first 5-10 minutes of use.
The new controller is a welcome addition and works very well. Though not as accurate and natural feeling as the higher end controllers, it does well tracking your movements and takes a lot of the frustration out of navigating within VR. Unfortunately, it uses separate batteries, so you need to make sure they have enough power for whatever you are doing that day. The Google daydream controllers (below) have a rechargeable, built in battery… Far more sensible.
At this lower level, the drop in sensor tracking quality is the real difference. The Gear VR does an admirable job of head tracking using a sensor inside the headset, but you will not be able to bend down, lean in etc, like you can in the tethered vr headsets. This takes away from the immersive experience and the Gear VR, like all the headsets in this bracket and below, are at their best in games/apps where you are looking around, but not physically moving.
At $130, including controller, the Gear VR represents amazing value and an easy entry point into the mid range VR experience. The setup is fully mobile, so taking it from room to room or on the road is simple and it works will when you are low on space. You will require a modern Samsung mobile phone – Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S6/S6 Edge/S6 Edge+, Galaxy S7/S7 Edge, or Galaxy S8/S8+
A great middle ground VR experience. A cheap VR headset with a lot of high end features. Though it may not match the immersion levels of the tethered systems, the Gear VR provides one of the best mobile VR headsets to date.
Google Daydream View
Manufacturer – Google
Price – $79 (with controller)
Requirements – Daydream ready phone
The Daydream View is Google’s first full venture into VR, using a new platform built around their Android system. It is the only current contender for the Gear VR’s mobile VR crown. With a low price point and nicely designed headset and controller, it is one to watch.
As with the Gear VR, the image specs vary depending on the phone you use, the current highest resolution is 2560×1440 (Pixel XL), a 100 degree viewing angle (Pixel XL), running at 60hz. This compares favourably to the Gear VR, but has similar issues with motion sickness (though far better than the lower range headsets we will discuss below). The headset looks and feels great and is very light, the strap occasionally slips a bit, but light leakage is an improvement on the Gear VR and brightness seems better.
The daydream controller is great. Similar in size and function to the Gear VR controller and works well in tracking hand movements and actions. We found that the tracking sometimes drifted to one side, at times, requiring the controller to be re-centered. Unlike the Gear VR, the Daydream controller has a built in, rechargeable battery that connects to the USC-C lead that comes with your phone.
Sensors and head tracking work in a similar way, and to a similar level, as the Gear VR. The immersion is not as good as the tethered VR systems, but the head tracking works well and immersion levels are a few steps up from the lower quality headsets discussed below.
At $79, including controller, the Daydream View is a bargain. The headset is stylish and lightweight, the Android based OS is beautiful and easy to use and the controller is great.
Another great option for the middle ground mobile VR experience. Very similar in features and quality to the Gear VR and will doubtless get more popular with the backing of Google. If you have a Daydream ready phone or are looking to jump in at this price bracket, this is our recommended VR headset
Mobile (low range)
There are dozens, perhaps 100s of headsets that do little more than hold your phone and allow you to click a magnetic button. Interestingly, these are the only VR headsets that work with an iPhone, so you are very limited until Apple venture into the VR world. It is hard to recommend these lower end VR headsets for use in the property industry, with two exceptions… 1) You only use iPhone 2) You want to give your clients and customers a cheap headset as part of a sales pitch (some headsets can even be branded).
There is very little to separate these headsets, we have picked our favourite.
View-Master DLX VR
Manufacturer – Mattel
Price – $22
Requirements – Android phone (4.1+) or iPhone (iOS8+)
The view-master is a good quality, ultra low budget mobile VR headset. Like all headsets in this range, it really is no thrills, but build quality is good and feels solid.
As with the above mobile VR headsets, the image specs depend on the mobile device you put into the VR headset. It is recommended to use a phone with a resolution of at least 1920×1080 and with a CPU capable of powering the graphics at 60hz, anything lower and you are going to experience serious motion sickness. The headset feels better quality than the price would suggest and is comfortable to wear for shorter durations. The only control on the headset is a magnetic button that allows you to click buttons inside VR.
There are no tracking sensors on this VR headset, so it is reliant on the phone’s gyroscope to track movement. This works ok, but is not great and adds to the motion sickness and provides less immersion.
At $22, it is a very cheap entry point to VR and is the best value budget headset that can accept most modern phones.
It is what it is, a very cheap headset that provides a basic VR experience. If you have not used any of the above headsets, then this will still give you an interesting taste of the power of VR, but motion sickness and less immersion make this hard to recommend unless you have an iPhone or don’t have a modern Android phone.