VR, short for virtual reality, is a term you ought to be very familiar with at the moment. This is because you are going to hear it thrown around more often than it has in the last couple of years.
To some, 2016 is the year that virtual reality finally makes the big break it has always needed. With the increasing availability of virtual reality units from various companies, with every passing day, it looks like that is coming to pass. Chinese device maker Huawei is the latest in an increasing number of companies releasing virtual reality sets hoping to cash in on the increased interest in the devices and 360 degree video content in general (the 360 video of the opening sequence of Game of Thrones is already the most watched 360 degree video on Facebook according to the company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg).
At an event in Shanghai, China to introduce the company’s latest smartphones, the P9 and P9 Plus, to the Chinese market, the company took the opportunity to introduce Huawei VR.
The virtual reality headset from Huawei will function more like another VR headset we have already seen: the Samsung Gear VR which is made in conjunction with Facebook-owned Oculus.
Like the Gear VR, Huawei VR will rely on a mobile device, specifically Huawei’s own smartphones and not just any other smartphones.
The Huawei Mate 8 is the only older device the Huawei VR will be compatible with right out of the box. Other than it, users will need to have either of Huawei’s new smartphones, P9 and P9 Plus. Samsung’s Gear VR also only works with select premium Samsung smartphones and not just about any other smartphone. That’s what the likes of Google Cardboard are for. Unlike the Samsung smartphones that are compatible with Gear VR which pack Quad HD displays for better image clarity, all of Huawei’s devices compatible with the Huawei VR only have full HD displays.
Huawei VR uses USB Type-C to connect with Huawei devices and not the microUSB that others like LG’s 360 VR and Samsung’s Gear VR use, a first.
Huawei claims that the Huawei VR has 3D sound, another first for a VR headset.
Huawei VR will come with at least 4,000 videos and 40 games pre-loaded. There are also some 350 panoramic images and over 150 panoramic tours to get users started on the immersion.
Pricing and availability information of the Huawei VR headset was not immediately disclosed. We expect to hear more about it in coming days and probably see it launched in other markets outside China, Huawei’s home turf.
Huawei joins a growing list of other smartphone makers also making their own virtual reality gear. HTC has released to the market the impressive and very desirable high-end Vive. Samsung dominates the market with the Gear VR it has been giving away for free to almost everyone who pre-ordered the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. LG entered the VR space with its own thin LG 360 VR.