From Samsung To Razer To Oculus, Our Experience With The Latest In Virtual Reality

Razer's Open Source VR (OSVR) headset is still a way off from the retail market, but the prototype we tried showed a lot of promise.

Razer’s Open Source VR (OSVR) headset is still a way off from the retail market, but the prototype we tried showed a lot of promise.

Virtual reality has been a holy grail of sorts for tech developers for several decades, but previous generations’ attempts were too clunky, heavy, and unconvincing. The dream hasn’t died, and judging by what we saw at International CES this week, the field is ready to explode (in a good way).

A year ago, the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset came out of (virtually) nowhere to win the Best Of award at CES. A few months later, Facebook bought the company for $2 billion.

Recently, Oculus tech was integrated into a Samsung VR device, the Samsung Gear VR, which was the first of three headsets we tried out during our trek around the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Folks trying out the demo of the Samsung Gear VR at International CES.

Folks trying out the demo of the Samsung Gear VR at International CES.

The Gear VR has actually been on the market for a short time, but only through the Samsung website. Additionally, while it only costs $199, it requires a Samsung Note 4 smartphone, so if you don’t have that device, you just have a headset you can strap on for the purpose of bumping into stuff.

But is it any good? Thanks for asking.

The short answer is yes. In our tests, it reacted well to our eye movements — which can be used to move cursors around the screen — and our head movements.

The most enjoyable experience for the Gear for us involved watching a series of pre-recorded videos that allow you to look around the scene in a full 360 degrees with a turn of your head. One particular piece — aerial footage from a flight over and around Hong Kong — actually made our knees a bit weak when we dared to look down and see nothing between the ground and us.

Gaming on the Gear VR was more hit or miss. Some games are playable with just your eyes or by moving your head around, but others required a separate controller. Problem is, you can’t see the controller (or your hands) so you have little to no idea what you’re doing unless you’ve mastered the layout of the controller.

osvr This particular issue is one that gaming hardware company Razer is attempting to address in its design for its Open Source VR headset.

Even though the device is still in the prototype stage, Razer decided to show how far it has developed the tech, and we’re glad it didn’t shy away from showing an in-development product.

The OSVR can actually see your hands when they are within view of your eyes, and without the use of any hardware in addition to the headset.

That said, it didn’t always do a perfect job of being able to distinguish between right and left hand, especially when moving your head quickly, which is likely to happen in a gaming situation where you can be beset on all sides by foes. Razer techs we spoke to believe this is a software issue that will be fixed as development continues.

The most exciting aspect of the OSVR is right there in its name. It’s open-source in both its software and hardware, meaning developers will be able to tweak and customize based on what Razer has provided for them.

For example, even though Razer makes headphones, the company currently doesn’t think it will integrate headphones into the initial OSVR, mostly because gamers can get very particular about their headphones so they can continue to wear their earpieces of choice. However, a developer could take the basic design of the OSVR and tweak it to integrate headphones or include a headphone jack.

Razer says it hopes to have developers kits of the OSVR available this summer for around $200. A commercial release of the product will ultimately depend on how quickly developers can provide enough content to make it worth the purchase.

The demo prototype of the Razer OSVR had some technical issues when we were at the booth, but Razer engineers were on hand to get it working.

The demo prototype of the Razer OSVR had some technical issues when we were at the booth, but Razer engineers were on hand to get it working.

And that brings us to the latest project from Oculus…


Unlike the Samsung Gear VR and Razer OSVR, where we sat in comfy chairs and couches to enjoy the experience, the Oculus Crescent Bay prototype demo takes place in a padded chamber, standing up.

As someone who once got motion sick while watching the Christopher Guest mockumentary “Best in Show,” this was especially intimidating.


It took a little maneuvering and adjusting to get the prototype headset over our eyeglasses, but it wasn’t uncomfortable. On the floor is a small pad and you’re instructed to practice feeling the edge with your toes. You’re not to move past the pad. A positional camera mounted on the wall tracks where you move, while the headset registers the movements of your head, creating a truly immersive experience. You can actually walk around these environments.

The resolution of the headset is very good, and the detail of the rendered environments is impressive, as is the sound. Bullets whiz by your head. You can dodge them, and duck. Objects have detail and texture, and you can move in and study them as if they were really there.

The demo included several different types of environments, ranging from slightly scary (a T-rex charging toward you down a long hallway) to humorous (an alien who seemed displeased with us, and a PIxar-esque robot battle that included a giant rubber duck) to downright trippy (standing at the edge of a steep drop off that genuinely made our knees weak, as heights are not our jam.)

The verdict? We didn’t get motion sick, even those of us who get sick from 100% of first-person shooter games and can’t even play Portal for more than 10 seconds without becoming violently, violently ill. (Not an exaggeration.)

The Crescent Bay prototype felt natural and real, and yet not. Like a dream.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

Are Any Of The New 4K TVs Worth Blowing Your Paycheck On?

samsungsupercurve Make no bones about it — 4K TVs are going to become the standard for new televisions very quickly. But is there enough content to justify making the leap now?

That’s the question we asked ourselves as we walked the seemingly endless floors of the Las Vegas Convention Center this morning, going from tricked-out 4K display to tricked-out 4K display. Sure, they mostly look lovely and would make your neighbors jealous, but there are a lot of lingering questions.


We’ve gotten past the point in the 4K TV discussion of whether or not they can make these fancy sets for a somewhat reasonable price. Yes, they will cost you significantly more than most 1080p TVs, but they are also nowhere near as overpriced as they were when they first rolled out. And the price tags will only continue to become more consumer-friendly as adoption grows.

But what good is a TV with four times the resolution of 1080p if most of what you have to watch isn’t 4K?

The different manufacturers are answering this question in their own ways. Some, like LG and Samsung, are really pushing the fact more content companies — Netflix, DirecTV, Amazon, Dish, among others — are going to be providing more 4K video in the coming year.


While Sony is also highlighting these outside sources, it’s also touting the upscaling abilities of its newest 4K sets. The Sony theory seems to be that you should buy a 4K set now because it thinks it can make your current video look even better without you having to search out native 4K content.

At International CES, Sony is trying to demonstrate that the new upscaling tech in its Bravia sets can make your current content look almost like 4K.

At International CES, Sony is trying to demonstrate that the new upscaling tech in its Bravia sets can make your current content look almost like 4K.

The upscaling that we saw was pretty impressive, showing a dramatic increase in detail between the source footage and the upscaled end-result. We have no idea if any behind-the-scenes doctoring was going on, but if the results are indeed accurate, it may be enough to win over some consumers on the bubble of adopting 4K.


Most of the 4K screens on display here at International CES are showing hi-res photos or video made specifically to be shown on these fancy TVs. While this looks gorgeous and makes for good photos to share on Twitter, it doesn’t really help an observer judge whether or not 4K is useful in an at-home setting.



Samsung did use footage from the recent Ridley Scott epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, to demonstrate the difference between a “conventional TV” and UHD:




In general, we found the skin tones more natural, finer details, less motion blur and a decidedly richer contrast to images. Again, there’s no way to tell without testing for ourselves whether any footage was manipulated to make it look better or worse.



A number of manufacturers — most notably Samsung — are releasing more curved 4K screens in the coming year.

“We believe in the curve,” Samsung declared at its opening press conference, but after a few years of looking at these bent screens, we still don’t see the appeal.

Manufacturers and supporters of curved TVs claim that they are more immersive, but for screens smaller than 70″, that wraparound feeling doesn’t translate unless you’re up close and very personal. Of course, with 4K TVs you can get your face up near the glass without it becoming a pixelated mess, so the curve may be good for those who love to sit very close to the screen or to use as a massive monitor.

We suggest that anyone interested in buying a curved screen TV go out and get an eyes-on experience with the set before making a decision. You may like it, you may not. At least that way you’d be sure.



While we’re waiting for all the pay-TV providers and streaming services to make 4K content widely available, Sony’s solution is for consumers to just make their own 4K videos.

Sony offers the ability shoot 4K video on some of its Xperia phones, along with a new line of Handycams and Action Cams.

Sony offers the ability shoot 4K video on some of its Xperia phones, along with a new line of Handycams and Action Cams.

Sony now has 4K shooting capability on everything from its Xperia line of smartphones to its new Handycam and GoPro-competing Action Cam. So the company is hoping that people will want to see their home movies and selfie videos in all their 4K glory — on Sony sets of course.



Yup, you heard correctly: 8K. That’s double the number of pixels of 4K, meaning eight times the resolution of your 1080p set.

No one is selling these beasts yet, though a couple of manufacturers are showing off prototypes.

Here are a couple of conference-goers being mesmerized by LG’s 98″ 8K prototype:


And here’s a slightly smaller, but still massive, 8K monster from Sharp:


What’s 8K look like? The effect is hyperreal, almost dizzying. It felt like a scene in a movie where someone is in a virtual reality simulation and things aren’t quite right. In short: The world is not ready for 8K.

by Chris Morran via Consumerist

10 citas célebres del Dalai Lama #infografia #infographic #citas #quotes


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Yelp Says That The FTC Investigation Of Yelp Is Complete

The Federal Trade Commission has received a lot of complaints about Yelp––more than 2,000 from 2008 through last spring. These led to what Yelp calls “a deep inquiry into our business practices” by the FTC, which has lasted almost a year. Today, Yelp announced that the feds have closed their investigation, and won’t be taking any action against Yelp regarding its business practices.

The company did recently pay a $450,000 civil penalty after a separate FTC investigation into its data collection practices regarding minors, but that’s separate from the repeated allegations that businesses and advertisers have made about the site’s review filtering and sorting methods.

The FTC hasn’t released any information about the end of this investigation, and declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal about it. Yelp says that the feds have spent the last year investigating the company. One component of the business that the agency investigated were the recommendation software that determines which reviews site users see and see first. Another item of interest was whether site employees have the ability to directly manipulate reviews according to the size of a business’s ad buy. Investigators apparently found nothing amiss, and closed the investigation.

A frequent criticism of the company has been that it solicits restaurants and other small, local businesses to sell ads, then threatens to hide positive customer reviews when those businesses decline to buy ads. While none of the accusers have been able to produce solid evidence of one of these advertising shakedowns, last year a federal judge ruled that Yelp isn’t legally obligated to present reviews in any order, and could give preferential ranking to advertisers if it wanted to. The company insists that it doesn’t, of course, but the end of a previous FTC investigation didn’t stop accusations from business owners.

FTC Closes Investigation of Yelp, Takes No Action [Yelp Official Blog]

by Laura Northrup via Consumerist