Father’s Day Gift Ideas: Virtual Reality (VR) Edition. From headsets to 360 Spherical Cameras, VRonEdge.com is your only source for this season’s top gadgets for any VR dad.
Virtual Reality is the hot topic in the tech industry. With the high-profile releases of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and the pending launch of PlayStation VR, Virtual Reality is sure to be on any father’s list of most wanted gadgets this season. There’s one problem, VR hasn’t gone mainstream and chances are most shoppers won’t know where to start. That’s where I come in. Keep on reading and we’ll get through this together.
First things first, if you have the time read my post Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Guide for the Non-Techie. It’s rather long, but don’t worry it’s not required reading. We’ll cover everything you need to know right here. The only critical concept you’ll need to understand is that Virtual Reality headsets come in two form factors, mobile viewer and PC/console assisted. The former uses a smartphone, and the latter demands a PC or Playstation 4. That’s it.
From here we’ll need to define the VR level of the lucky father you’re shopping for.
- New to VR? Start with the VR Headset section
- Already has a Virtual Reality headset? Skip to the VR accessories section
- Interested in creating VR content? Jump to the VR Cameras section
Or you can just browse all he way through and check everything out.
I’ll break everything down by price to help guide you to exactly what you’re looking for. There isn’t much of fuzzy area with Virtual Reality gear, either you’ll spend A LOT or not much. As such I’ll do my best to list by wallet friendly, next step up and expensive.
Virtual Reality Headsets:
Wallet-Friendly: Under $50
All smartphone powered. If dad has a recent phone, one of the below will likely work just fine. Read this handy post where I cover the major features to keep in mind when searching for a Google Cardboard-based viewer.
Notes: This headset is one of the only kits on Amazon.com that had a 4+ rating with several hundred reviews. Other headsets are 3.5 and under and tend to have some major issues. This product is popular, and accordingly there’s plenty of helpful questions and answers on the product page. If you want to make sure your phone will fit/work, the chances are someone asked, and a customer that’s using it with your phone will have answered. The issues I observed and that people reported aren’t unique to this product but are universal problems with the Google Cardboard experience.
EightOnes’ newest version added a capacitive touch button, simplified assembly, and support for up to 6inch screens.
Available on Amazon.com:
Notes: This viewer has excellent reviews and fits all major phones up to 6inch screens (including the iPhone). 4Dimensions took great care to in the design to provide a relaxed fit offering a substantial upgrade from the cardboard-based headsets.
Next Level: Under $100
Samsung Gear VR Powered by Oculus
Description: Samsung teamed up with Oculus, the leading VR headset innovator, to create this amazing viewer – when you mix one of the world’s largest consumer tech companies with the world’s most innovative VR headset maker, well you have magic. This is the gold standard for mobile viewer VR. If you have a compatible Samsung device, buy this ASAP.
Available on Amazon.com:
Notes: Doesn’t have all the bells and whistles as the Samsung Gear VR, but offers some upgrades like magnets that hold the cover on for easy removal and operation while the phone is charging. It also boasts adjustable lenses.
Description: It falls a little short of being a Samsung Gear VR, but it offers a very comparable experience. The design of this product makes it stand out. It’s made of a flexible foam that helps with drops and is very comfortable.
Big Budget: all Pre-Orders
For the deets on these high-end Virtual Reality headsets, I’ve compiled the big 3’s (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR) specs in a side-by-side comparison. You’ll need a compatible PC or Playstation for each of these options. Some recent desktop PCs might simply require a graphics card (GPU) upgrade if that’s the case, here’s a list of compatible VR graphics cards. If you’re interested in the top VR-ready PCs from major manufacturers comment and I’ll get you my list.
HTC Vive: Available Now
Notes: HTC’s full featured VR headset is the complete VR experience. Like the others in this category, you’ll need a compatible PC. It’s packed with the latest generation sensors that provide a truly immersive and room-scale experience.
Notes: Some would argue that Oculus is the best experience, they are largely correct in most respects; however, don’t bee fooled by the lower price point. It isn’t a truly room-scale experience, meaning you’ll have limited movement when compared to the Vive. Furthermore, Oculus only includes an Xbox One controller, while the Vive includes two SteamVR Controllers that were built from the ground up for VR.
Notes: Playstation has something special with this headset. It isn’t the most flashy when it comes to specs and features, although it’s a tick behind the Rift and Vive, It’s by far the most affordable full-featured VR experience. For $750 you can have the headset and a PS4. Not only is that hundreds lower than the rest, but you also get the PS4 platform – Blu-ray player, entertainment apps, etc… The same retailers selling the pre-orders also have decent bundles for the PS4 consoles.
Virtual Reality Accessories:
- Under $50
Under $100There’s a lack of accessories between $100 to $50, but plenty in the next section
- Big Budget
Wallet-Friendly: Under $50
Notes: VRCover.com offers stylish products that protects the foam liner in head mounted displays (aka Virtual Reality Headsets) from dirt and sweat. They’re (mostly) machine washable and come in a variety of materials including leather and cotton. Currently, the website only features products for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Samsung Gear VR – they also cover some of the dev kits.
Notes: These aren’t particular to VR, but pair well with the Playstation VR and HTC Vive. You’ll want Bluetooth connectivity to keep wires at a minimum and ear buds that do not go over the headset. Check out my must have VR accessories post for more information regarding Bluetooth headphones and PSVR.
Notes: A USB device that tracks hand movements. It’s not just for VR, but their newest software release, Orion, was developed expressly for VR users. This neat product achieves hand tracking without gloves or other devices.
Notes:Reads the electrical activity of your muscles and the motion of your arm to let you wirelessly control technology with hand gestures and motion. This neat product is an input device for a ton of gadgets, not just VR. This gift will impress.
Notes: Another intuitive input device. This odd looking disk leverages your feet as a VR input device. It solves one major issue, space. Use your feet to move within VR while seated.
FeelReal: Helmet and Mask
Notes: FeelReal.com has developed a way to explore virtual worlds using smells and simulated effects of wind, heat, water mist, and vibration. This might be a little excessive, but still pretty neat. They claim it’s compatible with all the major headsets, and the helmet itself is a mobile VR viewer.
Notes: Don’t dismiss this as a gimmick. Users workout longer and more frequently all while playing VR games. This gadget is legit, and as research continues the efficiency of working out in VR will become more well known. Don’t waste your money on a home gym, seriously.
Notes: The Virtuix Omni is for the ultra gamer. An active virtual reality motion platform where our actions in the virtual world are controlled by first-person navigation like walking or running, You get a fair amount of advanced hardware for the price, but it’s not for everyone. If you have some extra cash to spend and you have space, why not?
Virtual Reality Cameras (Spherical aka 360 video cameras):
Wallet Friendly: Under $400
Price: $346.95 or $199.44
Notes: The Theta M15 is the first generation 360 video camera from Ricoh . It has limited video length and quality, but a lower price tag. The newest generation Theta S offers HD recording and has a live streaming capability. Both are excellent cameras for amateur videos and provide the ability to share on Facebook and YouTube.
Notes: 360fly is a nice camera. The quality is about the same as the Ricoh Theta but it’s waterproof up to 120 feet, has some onboard sensors like an accelerometer, and 32 gigs of storage. If you are an active amateur videographer, this would be the better bet.
Price: $499.00 (unofficial), $350.00 (semi-official)
Notes: Samsung hasn’t officially launched the Gear 360 in the US, but there appears to be a reseller on Amazon.com offering the Korean “international” version for an inflated price of $499.00. The UK launch happened on May 10th, and we’re likely to get word of an official US launch any day now. If you can’t wait, pick it up from the reseller. Otherwise, you should be able to pre-order the 360 at the speculated price of $350. This camera is feature rich and offers just about everything you need sans live streaming – which could be added later via a software update. Check out my thoughts on the Samsung Gear 360 here.
Next Level: Under $2000
Orah 4i: Pre-order
Price: $1,995 (pre-order)
Notes: The price is perfect for the “prosumer” niche. The Orah 4i brings 4k 360 videos to the masses, very impressive. Head over to my post that outlines the details including the software this camera was essentially tailor made for.
Notes: Capable of capturing 100% of the spherical range in photo and video, without any blind spots.
Sphericam 2: Pre-order
Notes: Sphericam 2 is a fully spherical, 360º video camera that records in 4K. This camera squeezes in 6 cameras to a small design with very powerful 360 video recording.
Notes: At $60k there’s not much to say other than you better be buying this for a professional.
If you read this far you are awesome. Also, let me know what you plan on picking up or if you came accross some additional Virtual Reality Father’s Day gift ideas.
Happy Father’s Day Dads!