What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want
What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

From Google’s inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer to Sony’s new PlayStation VR, this guide will help you understand what makes sense for your family’s interests, needs and budget. Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in the water, wade to the knees or really swim with the big VR fish.

Keep in mind that virtual reality is a rapidly evolving technology, so always check out corporate websites, professional reviews on sites like CNET, and user reviews before you take the leap.
What parents should know about the VR gear kids want
What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

Virtual reality viewers are inexpensive portable devices that offer three-dimensional views and the feeling of being in a different place. Viewers’ lenses work by increasing the depth of static images or animations but do not allow you to interact with your surroundings. To use them, download any application called “VR” in iTunes or Google Play, launch the application and insert your smartphone into the viewer. Most viewers use your phone’s button or some other basic input to control the action.

Main characteristics

• Cheap

• Compatible with most iOS and Android smartphones and applications labeled “VR” (except View-Master, which uses specially designed applications)

• More like a 3D movie than real VR

• Ideal for educational content and games

• The selection of high quality applications is currently quite limited. Try the New York Times VR virtual reality stories and these recommendations.

Products in this category

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want
• Google Cardboard ($ 14.99)
Literally made of cardboard, this portable device that you assemble yourself is a fun and original way to discover virtual reality. Use with any iOS or Android smartphone and VR apps. Google offers many different viewers, including the Google Tech C-1 Glass VR Viewer ($ 14.99).
• SmartTheater virtual reality headset ($ 19.99)

It is a comfortable viewer with adjustable lenses, a headband and an easy to use trigger input. Comes with a portable cardboard motion controller that adds a little punch to games. Works with most smartphones and all iOS or Android VR applications.

• View-Master virtual reality ($ 29.99)

Designed for learning rather than playing, the View-Master is available in a range of packages that allow you to explore dinosaurs, space, wildlife and more. Each pack includes insertable image coils (your phone provides power). Works with most smartphones and specially designed View-Master iOS or Android applications.

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VR headsets: Ideal for older children and tweens

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

The price and functionality increases with VR headsets. They are similar to viewers in that you download VR apps from the App Store and insert your phone there. Headsets work with the same apps as viewers (except Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View, but give you a more immersive experience.

The advantages of headphones are that they are more comfortable to wear for longer, they fit better (preventing light leakage), they have better lenses and they often have headphone ports. This is why some people like to use them to watch videos. They don’t render videos in three dimensions, but they do offer a personal cinema-like experience. They also usually have game controllers built into the headset itself or work with portable controllers, giving you more options in apps than you would have with a simple viewer.

Main characteristics

• More expensive than viewers

• Compatible with most smartphones (except Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View) and iOS or Android applications labeled “VR”

• More credible experience, you are there, but limited ability to interact with your environment

• Great for games, educational content, and watching movies

• The selection of high quality applications is currently quite limited. Try the New York Times VR virtual reality stories and these recommendations.

• Helmets have minimum age requirements set by the manufacturers; check age before buying.

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

Products in this category

• Merge VR glasses ($ 79)

This large purple headset is made of flexible foam and has audio ports and two input buttons for easy game control. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

• Google Daydream View ($ 79; shipping in November 2016)
Made of fabric, this lightweight plush helmet is specially designed for the all-new Google Daydream VR platform. The platform includes Daydream-enabled phones (such as the corporate Pixel phone), apps, and controllers. Daydream View comes with a controller and the company says there will be 50 apps at launch, including games, educational content and streaming services.
• Samsung Gear VR ($ 99)

Designed exclusively for Samsung phones, the Gear VR includes an input pad on the side of the headset and works with Bluetooth controllers, which allow you to easily navigate games. Works with Gear VR compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

• VR Kix virtual reality headset ($ 49.99)

Individually adjustable lenses, a fitted cut and a smartphone tray that you can customize for your phone make the Kix a good option for quality VR on any smartphone. Works with most iOS and Android VR apps.

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Consoles: ideal for ages 12 and up

What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

Currently, the only VR game console is offered by Sony. The company’s PlayStation VR headset just in time for the holidays works with the PlayStation 4. If you don’t already have a PS4, you can buy the PlayStation 4 Slim or a PlayStation 4 Pro (also brand-new for the holidays) and the PSVR. The headphones and the power provided by the console provide an immersive and interactive VR experience.

Main characteristics

• Expensive

• Limited to Sony PlayStation

• Completely immersive and interactive; motion sickness potential

• Games tend to be mature but plentiful, including Batman Arkham VR, 100ft Robot Golf, Final Fantasy XV VR, Battlezone and Resident Evil 7.

• The minimum age recommended by Sony is 12 years.
What parents should know about the VR gear kids want

Products in this category

• PlayStation VR Starter Pack ($ 499.99)

Includes everything you need to turn your PS4 into a VR machine, including headphones, camera, two motion controllers, game, and cables.

• PlayStation 4 Slim ($ 299.99); PSVR sold separately

A newly redesigned and thinner version of the PS4, this one has improved graphics, a bright controller and works quieter.

• PlayStation 4 Pro ($ 399.99); PSVR sold separately

Better graphics, faster action and optimized to work better with specific “Pro-Enhanced” games

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Super powerful headphones: Ideal for teens

You may have heard of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. These are ultra-powerful VR headsets that provide a completely immersive experience; some call it “the Holodeck” in reference to the alternative reality of Star Trek. Both require powerful, high-end PCs (which cost up to $ 500).

Main characteristics

• Super expensive

• Requires compatible games (for example, Everest VR is a Vive exclusive) and powerful computers

• Total interactivity with your environment

• Games tend to be mature, including The Assembly and Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

• Ideal for families with adolescents; The minimum age of the manufacturer of Oculus Rift is 13 years; Valve says the Vive is “not for kids”.

Products in this category

Offers a “room-wide experience”. If your kids are playing on the Steam gaming network, they’ve certainly seen advertisements for the HTC Vive as it is made by the same company, Valve, which owns Steam. Steam offers Vive games only designed to take advantage of the unique capabilities of these headsets.

Comes with everything to make virtual reality – except the computer: a headset, a sensor, a remote control, cables, an Xbox controller and a game.

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