The VR world is getting a little bigger every day, it seems.
While the big names in VR are winding up to collect your money, there are several other companies out there aiming to get users into VR through a slightly different set of lenses. Once such company is 3Glasses, a Chinese company aiming at a low price point to get users who are ready to make the full dive into VR right now. Their most recent project is the D2 Vanguard Edition headset, and we've been playing with it for a couple of days now. Here's what we've learned so far.
Like all PC-based VR headsets, 3Glasses is a display and a pair of lenses that you strap to your head, with motion sensors that track your movement and apply it in real time to the environment you're currently viewing. The headset itself is fairly stylish, at least as VR headsets go. It comes in a either black with silver accents or the white with silver accents we've been using, and the 3Glasses logo on the front shines bright any time you pick it up to jump into VR. The padding around the eye socket is just wide enough for your average pair of glasses, but there's no real way to adjust this part of the setup. It either fits your head or it doesn't, but the design is clearly made to be as universal as possible.
Weighing in at 246g, this Vanguard Edition is heavy enough that it'd be uncomfortable to use without the optional top strap. When in use, that top strap offers some extra padding and just enough support to make everything comfortable enough to enjoy for an hour or two of gaming or just spinning around in your chair looking at the included videos from 3Glasses. Since the cable for 3Glasses isn't super long, you're unlikely to stand up and move around with the headset on, but as long as your PC setup allows for 10ft of clearance from the HDMI port to move around a little most users won't find the experience particularly restricting.
The only real drawback to 3Glasses right now is software.
The lenses in 3Glasses offer 110-degree Field of Vision (FOV), which is fairly standard right now. A pair of sliders on the bottom of the headset ensure you're going to be able to adjust the lenses to match your needs, instead of using a fixed system.The included 2K resolution display means you get roughly 1080p per eye, which isn't quite as dense as the retail versions of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. You're definitely going to notice the pixels if you stop and stare at a still image, but with video and gameplay it's significantly less noticeable.
Where most of your gaming and navigation is going to happen with a keyboard and mouse or controller, 3Glasses also includes a touch sensitive panel on the right hand side of the headset with a power and menu button. The headset itself doesn't have any internal menus to navigate, but if you're using software that is taking full advantage of the 3Glasses APIs you'll find you can quickly navigate things like menus, which comes in handy when you can't actually see your keyboard.
The only real drawback to 3Glasses right now is software. We're using a build that isn't quite ready for retail, and it shows. The setup process failed twice, and was significantly more complicated than it should be. Head tracking often resulted in unnecessary motion blur, which means it's overcompensating as you move. That's a huge deal breaker for folks who already struggle with motion sickness in VR, and it's something 3Glasses is going to need to fix before these headsets are sold to consumers. There's also a significant lack of support for existing VR software. 3Glasses offers a small library of games and videos to check out, but you're not going to be climbing into your Fer De Lance in Elite: Dangerous just yet. Some of this is to be expected, given the current rush to support Steam VR and Oculus Rift, but it's a challenge 3Glasses will need to overcome in order to attract buyers come launch time.
If they can sort out their software, 3Glasses is going to have one big thing going for them — the price. At $399 this is a compelling VR setup for folks who aren't tied to any particular brand, and the company plans to start shipping "early 2016" according to their documentation. We're still quite a ways away from putting a "best" crown on any VR system just yet, but 3Glasses is offering a competitively priced setup with promise, which at the very least means we're going to be keeping an eye on it as the software continues to develop.