Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ricoh TM-1 monopod for 360 cameras

Ricoh is releasing a monopod with special features for 360 cameras such as the Ricoh Theta (reviewed here).

New Samsung Gear VR (2016 edition) enables USB drive access even on older phones

One of the key benefits of the new 2016 Samsung Gear VR is that it has a USB OTG port that can be used for both charging and for data. The previous Gear VR also had a USB port but it could only be used for charging, not data, when the Gear VR is active.

Insta360 Nano adds self-timer and other features in major firmware update

The Insta360 Nano (reviewed here), a 360-degree camera for the iPhone, got a major update to its firmware and its app, adding many capabilities that have been requested by its users:
- self-timer
- exposure compensation
- filters
- white balance control
- a beautifying filter

Friday, August 26, 2016

Camorama is a hemispherical 360 camera

​Camorama is a hemispherical 360 camera currently being crowdfunded on Kickstarter.  It looks very similar to the Sunchip XDV360, although I'm not sure if they are indeed identical.

DEALS: GTX 1060 3GB is the most affordable VR-Ready graphics card and it's in stock for $199.99

These are the lowest-cost VR-ready graphics cards ever: the EVGA and Zotac versions of the GTX 1060 3GB are in stock on Amazon for $199.99!

The GTX 1060 3GB has around 5 to 10% less performance than the GTX 1060 6GB but costs about 20% less.  NVidia also claims that the GTX 1060 3GB is 10% faster than the AMD RX 480.

eyeForce VR: a headset with 210-degree field of view

EyeForce is a crowdfunding project for an active VR headset based on the OSVR (Open Source VR) platform with an all-encompassing 210-degree view.

DEALS: 20% off these Playstation VR launch games

Amazon Prime members can get 20% off these Playstation VR launch games!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Insta360 Nano Tripod Adapter, Underwater Housing, and Other Accessories

Insta360 has now revealed its tripod adapter for the Insta360 Nano (reviewed here).  They have also shown other accessories that enable the Nano to be attached on cars, bikes, helmets, surfboards, skateboards, and even an underwater housing.

It's easier to be VR Ready than you might think

In the recent survey for the VRDC Innovator Report, developers cited the cost of VR as one of the biggest hurdles for mass adoption.  Indeed, if we go by Oculus' and HTC's recommended specs, most computers currently don't qualify as VR-ready.  Moreover, until recently, PCs that are VR-Ready generally cost at least $1,000 or more.  This has created a perception that VR-Ready is prohibitively expensive.
 However, user reports show that you can be VR-Ready with a slower CPU, as long as you have a decent graphics card.

Aerial 360 video with Samsung Gear 360 and inexpensive drone

​Aerial 360 videos can offer breathtaking views, but popular drones such as DJI and Yuneec can be expensive.  Reader Martin Smith shows that you don't need an expensive drone to capture aerial 360 videos. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 is like Twitch but in VR

On, you can watch other people play games such as Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and DOTA 2, all in VR. (not gives you a VR view of games, even if some of the games themselves are not in VR.

Sliver is free, and is currently available for Android and iOS, in Google Cardboard format and 360 window format.  It will soon be available for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Playstation VR. 

Here is the official website.

This is the Developers' Most Preferred AR / VR Platform

The Virtual Reality Developers Conference (VRDC) released their VR/AR Innovation Report, which includes the results of their survey among more than 500 industry professionals.  Among other things, developers were surveyed about which VR platform they were developing for.

TECHNIQUE: Insta360 Nano DIY Tabletop Tripod / Stand

The Insta360 Nano (reviewed here) is a 360-degree camera for the iPhone.  It has good image quality for a casual 360 camera.  However, one of its disadvantages is that it has no 1/4-20 tripod socket.  Insta360 has promised a tripod adapter which has been shown in some demos, but the adapter is not yet available.  In the meantime, I made my own tabletop tripod / stand for the Nano.

DEALS: GTX 1060 and RX 480 in stock at B&H

The VR-Ready GTX 1060 6GB and RX 480 8GB are in stock at B&H, at close to MSRP:

1) EVGA GTX 1060 SC 6GB for $277.50

2) Gigabyte GTX 1060 Windforce OC for $269.95.  The G1 edition is also available for $289.99.
3) XFX RX 480 8GB for $282.50

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

DEALS: Samsung Gear 360 for $279.99 brand new!!!

This is an incredible deal for the Samsung Gear 360 (reviewed here): just $279.99 for a brand new Samsung Gear 360.  It's available at T-Mobile.  Just use the coupon code "TMO20" to get 20% off ($70.00 discount).

DEALS: Gigabyte GTX 1060 6GB OC in stock for $259.99; 3GB for $199.99

The VR-Ready Gigabyte GTX 1060 6GB OC is in stock at Newegg, both in the Windforce version (shown above) and the Mini version (shown below), at prices close to MSRP.
Due to demand, the GTX 1060 is usually either sold out or is selling at very high premiums (around $300+ versus the $250 MSRP).  However, they're currently in stock at Newegg, at prices close to MSRP.  The Mini version is $259.99 plus $4.99 shipping.  The WindForce version is $269.99 plus $4.99 shipping.

Newegg also has 3GB versions of the GTX 1060 in stock, including the Zotac Mini for $199.99 plus $4.99 shipping.

REVIEW: Samsung Gear VR 2016 - the best version of the Gear VR to date

This is a review of the 2016 version of the Samsung Gear VR, the fourth version of Samsung's popular VR headset.  In this review, I compare it to the 2nd version (Innovator Edition for S6) and 3rd version (Consumer Edition). 

Fantastic Contraption price reduced; level editor to be available

Fantastic Contraption is one of the launch games for the HTC Vive (reviewed here) but it's no longer included in the free game bundle.  Fortunately, the price has dropped from $40 to $30.

There's also a new level editor that will be added to the game.  Here's a preview:

Fantastic Contraption will also be available for the Oculus Rift in late 2016 (presumably after Oculus Touch becomes available).

Smashing the Battle for Oculus Rift and Gear VR: Arcade Hack and Slash

Smashing the Battle is an arcade hack and slash action game for the Gear VR and Oculus Rift.  It is a VR port of the eponymous game for PS4 and Steam, and features anime style graphics.

Monday, August 22, 2016

New $200 GTX 1060 3GB budget VR-Ready graphics card now in stock

The EVGA GTX 1060 SC deal that I posted is now gone (within a couple of hours of posting it) but you can get the Zotac GTX 1060 for just $199.99, currently in stock at Amazon.  The catch is that it's only the 3GB version (instead of 6GB).  It's a new version of the popular GTX 1060 aimed directly at the AMD RX 480 4GB.  Besides the smaller RAM, it has fewer CUDA cores (1152 vs. 1280) and texture units (72 vs. 80). The performance is not as good as that of the 6GB according to at least one reviewer, but it's still rated VR-Ready according to NVidia. NVidia claims that the GTX 1060 3GB is 10% faster than the RX 480 8GB.

DEALS: VR-ready EVGA GTX 1060 SC in stock at Amazon for $259.99!

The NVidia GTX 1060 is one of the new generation of lower-cost VR-ready graphics cards.  It's what I used to make a $540 VR-ready PC (which does work well with my HTC Vive).  Due to demand, the GTX 1060 is usually around $300 or more, despite its $250 MSRP.  However, Amazon has the EVGA GTX 1060 SC edition in stock for $259.99 with free shipping!  This will not last at this price.

Liiv360 is a hemispherical 360 camera that appears to be the Sunchip XDV360

​B&H Photo will have a new hemispherical 360 camera called the Liiv360.  Other than the preorder price of $220.50, there are no details yet on B&H's page but from its appearance, it looks like the Sunchip XDV360.  Here are the claimed specs for the Sunchip:
•one lens (hemishperical) 360 x 220 field of view
•12mp Sony sensor
•video resolution: 2448x2448 @ 30fps; 1080p @ 60fps; 720p @120fps.
•uses removable Micro SD memory
•can be controlled via a smartphone (iOS or Android)

We'll have to wait and see the specs for the Liiv360.

Mamut Skull protectors for HTC Vive controllers now available for preorder

The Mamut Skull is a protector for the HTC Vive controller and it's now available again for preorder.

NS VR Gimbal is designed for VR / 360 video image stabilization

NS Gimbal is a gimbal specifically designed to provide an unobstructed view for 360 videos, and can even support and stabilize a 360-camera rig.

TECHNIQUE: How to record a mixed reality video with the HTC Vive without a capture card

As I posted previously, a spectator mode will be added to other games on the HTC Vive (reviewed here).  Here is how you can use the spectator mode to make a mixed reality video.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Wands for Gear VR: virtual reality online wizard combat

One of the most exciting releases for the Samsung Gear VR (reviewed here) is Wands, an online wizard combat game.

Mamut HTC Vive controller protectors will be produced; preorders available soon

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the Mamut Skull, a crowdfunding project for protectors for the HTC Vive controllers.  Although it seems like a great idea, the Kickstarter campaign was not successful, raising only a fraction of the modest goal.  In my opinion, it was due to the lack of publicity.  I myself found the project with only 18 days left, and I hadn't seen it mentioned in any other blog or news site.

In any case, the good news is that the creators found an alternative source of funds and will be producing the Mamut Skull!  It will be available for preorder soon.  I'll post the preorder link when it becomes available.

UPDATE: Mamut Skull now available for preorder.