You might notice that, with the release of both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, we’ve gone VR crazy this month. But we’ve still included a smattering of the world’s best tech from further afield
For the last few years, Oculus Rift has been all anyone can talk about in the VR space, with consumers and Kickstarters alike waiting with bated breath to get their hands on it. Having finally arrived late last month, the much-hyped VR headset does not disappoint. With excellent head tracking and a great build quality, it certainly feels like a device plucked from the pages of science fiction and its got a great selection of games available already. However, it does have one major shortcoming. The Rift offers only limited motion tracking, meaning you’re looking at a pretty much static VR experience; this is fine for certain experiences but will quickly become nausea-inducing for anything too action packed.
Although pricier than the Rift at £689, the HTC Vive is also far more ambitious. Using laser-based motion tracking to allow users to physically explore the virtual world they are plunged into, its room-scale VR creates an immersive experience unlike any other. The Vive does have a couple of drawbacks over its competitor however: not only does its less polished design mean users will be forced to contend with a snare of cables trailing across the floor but it also doesn’t yet have access to quite as many triple A, full-length games as the Rift. However, given it’s plugged right into the SteamVR store, we’re sure there will plenty of top titles to get your teeth into soon.
Apple iPhone SE
For some time now, the maxim of most smartphone manufacturers has been that bigger is better but it seems Apple is looking to buck the trend with the release of the iPhone SE. Small in stature but not in presence, the SE packs in all the power of the iPhone 6s into a teensy four-inch iPhone 5 housing. Whilst it’s lacking a few of the features of its larger cousin – 3D Touch is conspicuous in its absence – the smaller screen results in a cracking battery life, creeping up to nigh on two days of reasonable use. Moreover, it comes in at nearly £200 less than Apple’s current flagship at just £359; something of a bargain for a mighty powerful smartphone.
DJI Phantom 4
DJI has always had a rep for producing some of the best consumer drones on the market and the Phantom 4 is no exception. It shoots sumptuous 4K, 30 frames-per-second video with a steadiness that would put even the most experienced human cameraman to shame, all the while streaming 720p HD footage back to a tethered smartphone. Perhaps its most striking feature though is its collision avoidance technology. Given the Phantom 4 costs a cool £1299, drone enthusiasts will be glad to hear that it can automatically recognise and avoid obstacles in its flight path – although this is far from foolproof. Still, for any startup looking to create its own aerial footage, the Phantom 4 is definitely the place to start.
Samsung Gear 360
Samsung managed to pip many other manufacturers to the post when it released its mobile-driven virtual reality device the Gear VR last November. This has helped cement its reputation in the VR space, something the tech giant is undoubtedly looking to capitalise on with the Gear 360, its new 360-degree camera. Using a dual camera setup, each with an 195-degree field of view, the Gear 360 can stitch together the output into spherical 30-megapixel photos and 3840 x 1920 video. Whilst not able to produce the same kind of results as commercial rigs like the Jaunt ONE or Lytro Immerge, at least you won’t need to conduct a minor bank job before purchasing the Gear 360 – it’s European pre-order price is a consumer-friendly €350.