Is the Oculus Virtual Reality Headset Worth the High Price? Maybe Not

riftBy James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

Although I’m still not convinced that virtual reality is anything but the 21st century equivalent of 3D, it’s all the rage right now and Oculus Rift is well positioned to be the 800 lb. gorilla. But one tech site thinks that the much cheaper Samsung Gear VR is the way to go. And it’s probably far more privacy sensitive as well.

The Rift has better games, uses the same tech and UI as the Gear VR (to the point that they are both branded as “Powered by Oculus”), and it requires significantly fewer cords. Yet these advantages come with the drawback that you’re confined to one spot—one chair—for your entire experience. It’s an entertaining experience, but hardly as awe-inspiring. – Alex Cranz, Gizmodo

The $99 Samsung Gear VR
The $99 Samsung Gear VR

Arguing that the Samsung Gear VR doesn’t require a substantial investment in both the headset and a certified computer to drive it, Gizmodo’s Alex Cranz makes the case that the $99 Samsung Gear VR is the best virtual reality headset going.

Why? Well price is one thing. Instead of plunking down at least $1000 just to get into the virtual reality game, and get stuck with no movement, the GearVR is powered by a Samsung Android phone (Galaxy S6 or better) and even if you have to buy the phone to dive into the VR game, it’s still half the price of the Oculus Rift or even the higher priced HTC Vive.

It’s 85-percent of the same experience for 50-percent of the price.

The other argument is that you get most of the Oculus experience since the Gear VR has Oculus driving it. Sure, you end up with lesser graphics and you don’t get that 3D sound experience, nor do you have a ton of games, but it’s easy to use and you’re diving into the virtual reality experience within minutes.

“What content exists is so damn simple to navigate,” Cranz says. “Pop the phone into the headset, follow the instructions, and go.” There’s also an issue of having to adjust your eyesight and many complain of headaches. But that’s likely true with all VR headsets.

Of course, if you’re going to get into Virtual Reality filmmaking, a Gear VR headset won’t do you much good, other than to check the final product through YouTube. In that case, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and pay for the Rift. I submit though, that there’s another reason to bypass the Rift.

Privacy. According Ars Technica, Oculus Rift privacy policy shows that its parent company, Facebook, plans to data mine user movements by making the device in an always-connected configuration. With it, Facebook will be able ascertain a users location information, which will be based on your IP address being broadcast to them over the Internet.

Facebook will argue that it’s to make the user experience better by using anonymous data points to fine tune the Oculus experience. Yeah, uh huh. Sure. I can see that. But a good hacker can crack that nut, and Facebook isn’t exactly known for being the gold standard in security.  On top of that, Facebook also reserves the right to share that data with other companies, although now it’s only with those owned by the social media giant.

“I believe Americans have a fundamental right to privacy, and that right includes an individual’s access to information about what data are being collected about them, how the data are being treated, and with whom the data are being shared.” – Senator Al Franken, public statement.

It would be OK if users could opt out of the data mining scheme, but there’s no guarantee that users will be able to. Users are also required to be connected to the Internet and logged in to even use it. This feature wasn’t mentioned in any of the hype during the pre-order campaign, and it’s causing privacy advocates, and Congress in Washington to demand answers as to why.

Now to be fair, the Samsung Gear VR also has a similar privacy policy, as does Netflix, PlayStation, XBox Live, and other online entertainment services. But the difference is that you’re not paying a ton of money for it. So I call it the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Remember privacy? Good times.

 

About doddle 16509 Articles
Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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