VR for a Virtual Holiday

By: William Sikkens
Host, User Friendly 2.0 Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

The holidays this year do and will look different for many of us.  With COVID-19 we will be having a lot more virtual visits with family and friends.  It’s a good year for Virtual Reality (VR) to come into its own.   With the new video game consoles being hard to find this season it’s also a great holiday gift idea.

There are several new offerings this year and the prices have come down.  Our team has reviewed 3 models.

The newest entry into the market is the Oculus Quest 2.  Oculus has made VR headsets for a while and their latest upgrade offers a completely self contained unit.   While it is still capable of connecting to a computer, that isn’t required.  There are two models at $299 and $399 with the higher end offering a lot more internal memory.  Think of this as a hard drive in the headset.  More memory means you can store more games and applications.  The one downside is that you have to have a Facebook account in order to use the headset.

If you have a PlayStation 4 you might check into the Sony PlayStation VR headset.  With a suggested retail price of $299 this headset is also affordable.  You will need a PlayStation and you are locked into Sony’s library.  It’s easy to use, but it does require a cable.   Will this headset work with the new PlayStation 5?  Sortof.  More on that below.

If you would like another option, the HTC Vive Cosmos may be a good choice.   This headset offers a number of features but still requires a cable.  It works with a Windows 10 PC that is capable of VR.  It will cost you a little more with a retail price of just under $800.


Virtual Reality has existed longer than you might think.  First introduced in 1957 by Morton Heilig, his system, the Sensorama, is one of the earliest VR systems.  Nintendo made an attempt at this in a device called “VR Boy” in the 1980’s.  With only one color and a very awkward method of using the device (it sat on a table and you couldn’t wear it), it was found to be a bust.

The increase in computing power has brought us our modern headsets.  To work properly and give you a 180 degree perspective you need a computer capable of 3D graphics and fast enough to render them in real time.   Until very recently this required a very high end computer and a cable tether to make the device work.  What’s high end for VR?  Figure spending at least $1500.  You will need a high end processor, good video card and a lot of memory.  These systems are usually tagged “VR Ready”.

There were some other options that use your smartphone as a screen.  These work but lack the full VR perspective.

For the PlayStation 4 VR headset.  Officially it will work with the PS5 (the new version).  Some other parts, including the camera, don’t work with the PS5.  There will most likely be a need to replace some of the accessories for full compatibility with the PS5.

If you want to check out a movie  that describes where VR is headed, I recommend “Ready Player 1”.  We don’t have the full body suits…. yet.

William (Bill) Sikkens has been an on-air technology expert since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand.  Article edited by Gretchen Winkler, who along with Jeremy Winkler are the co-hosts of User Friendly 2.0 here on The Answer Saturday’s at 5:00 p.m.

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