The Virtual Reality Thread

cluelessnube Posts: 520 Enthusiast

It seems I've been hearing that virtual reality is the next big thing for about 15 years. :-)

I just read about Apple's new M1 chip which is supposedly much faster.

This got me wondering why I would need to go faster. I don't currently see a reason to shell out $1000 - $2000 for a new Mac.

Is there virtual reality software out there that might change my mind?

Virtual reality in general, what is your knowledge and experience? Please discuss.


  • Triem23
    Triem23 Posts: 20,073 Ambassador

    VR has been "5 years away" since the late 1980's. In my humble opinion the stumbling block remains the goggles. As long as people have to strap a big shoebox to their face VR will lag.

    That said, in the last few years thin and light LCD displays have been developed that are just starting to come to market. Consider this Kickstarter:

    The trick to these glasses is the LCD screen on the inner surface they can be controlled to darken in sunglasses mode, and, when they become "reading glasses" a tiny camera is feeding its image to the LCD screens. Basically, tiny TVs

    Also these guys.

    That's been the missing link for 30 years. Now the VR glasses can be made at about the size as a pair of shades. Small, light glasses that fit in a pocket, not a shoebox. With this new tech hitting the market VR and AR should FINALLY be poised to move into the mainstream.

    Maybe. Other issues with VR involve the same issues that have kept 3D cinema/TV from taking over. Stereoscopic imaging and VR both display images with parallax, but, since the point of focus is the glasses, not true 3D depth, there's a significant portion of the population (about 25%) that just gets headaches and eyestrain from the glasses. There's also that portion of the population with vision in only one eye - about 10% of US population only has monocular vision.

    But, yeah, I think VR/AR should greatly expand in the next decade. Right now the new thin glasses are $500. In five years they'll be $100-$200. That's the tipping point - thin, light and affordable.

    Onto the M1:

    Apple's claims are semi dubious. The M1 was designed for the iPad and Apple decided to stick it in the Mac. Thing is, when tested for raw power, the M1's graphics processing is about equal to the Nvidia 1060. That's Nvidia's second slowest GPU of 2017. The M1 tests poorly on any kind of gaming comparison compared to AMD, Intel and Nvidia. Gaming comparisons are important for the Hitfilm user as Hitfilm is OpenGL (a gaming technology) based, and the types of displays needed for VR are also basically game based.

    For most video tasks the M1 just isn't any good. It can perform quite well if the software is specifically optimized for the M1, but, as it's a completely different architecture than the Intel and AMD chips that's not trivial. For FXhome an M1 version of Hitfilm is a completely new version, separate from the current Intel/AMD version. The users on the forum running Hitfilm on M1 Macs have all complained about it being slow. Guess one shouldn't always believe the press releases. While I'm sure FXhome is working on an M1 version of Hitfilm, who knows when it will be ready? Again an M1 version of Hitfilm is a totally separate beast from the Intel version, and you Mac guys hold onto your hardware for so long it's likely that the Intel Mac will still be in the majority for another five years. After all you're holding on to a ten year old Mac.

    I'm sure Adobe is making progress here, but, as of March 2021 the M1 versions of the Adobe software was missing features that didn't run on the M1 yet, like Content Aware Fill, scaling, heal brush, patch tool, RAW support... A lack of RAW support in Photoshop is a MASSIVE problem! Adobe itself says the M1 apps run slower than the Intel versions. Huge amounts of plug ins won't run on M1. If I were an Apple/Adobe user I'd be pretty ticked off by this and glad I live in California, where, by law I can return a computer for 30 days... Cuz I'd be going right back to an Intel Mac.

    Of course I'm PC because I don't like paying an extra thousand dollars for a machine with a slower CPU, less powerful GPU, 1/4 the RAM and 1/8 the storage - not an exaggeration - that's exactly what I priced out when buying my most recent laptop last year.

    Also as of March 2021 the M1 Mac had issues with multiple screens, didn't work with eGPUs, had known printer issues...

    Maybe in a year or two enough apps will be ported to the M1 and Apple's promised M1x will be out, but, in 2021 I'd advise staying the heck away from the M1 for any serious work. It's just not there yet.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Posts: 520 Enthusiast

    Thanks for your in depth analysis Triem, informative as usual.

    Based on casual research, it looks like VR requires a top of the line Mac. Not that interested here. It looks like the Mac just isn't a very good platform for VR generally.

    One of the things that made me post is Apple's breathless sales promo for M1 got me wondering how many people really need a super fast Mac, even if M1 lived up to the hype. You know, I've been very happy using Hitfilm 4 Express on a ten year old Mac. What would I do with an M1 Mac? What would most people do? OMG! Download your email in one second instead of three seconds!!!! Point being, it seems it's going to be ever harder for Apple (or any manufacturer) to sell machines with the "it's so fast" pitch. To me, it seems they've run out of ideas and are trying to hang on to 1995.

    What might change this is some super cool must have new software which requires the faster speeds. That got me thinking about VR, but it doesn't sound like this is going to be widely appealing for years yet to come. I'll most likely be dead before it ever happens.

    Everything you said about M1 aligns with my instincts about Apple. I'm still on Macs because I'm too lazy to switch, and Windows really doesn't sound very inviting honestly. But my faith in Apple has been declining for years, so if you say they're lying, I'm not that shocked, sounds reasonable to me.

    I still have an academic interest in VR, so if anybody would like to share their experiences, please do.

  • TheBenNorris
    TheBenNorris Posts: 2,033 Staff

    I use VR regularly, and have used pretty much every major manufacturer's headset. Modern headsets such as the Quest 2 are for sure the least obstructive, and (depending on the game) I get next to no motion sickness or headaches. It's certainly come a long way in the recent years, and it's definitely becoming more mainstream thanks to cheaper options being available.

    That said, I couldn't possibly use VR for anything other than games. I couldn't use it for virtual working or anything like that, as I fail to see how it could really improve productivity vs just buying another monitor.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Posts: 520 Enthusiast

    Thanks for posting Ben. For the benefit of other readers, here's a link to the headset you mentioned.

    PRICE: $300 - $400

    Here's the suggested hardware requirements:


    INTEL I5-4590 / AMD RYZEN 5 1500X or greater


    8GB+ RAM


    Windows 10


    1X USB port

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Posts: 520 Enthusiast

    CluelessNube question: This plugs in to a PC, so no smartphone is needed, yes?

    Where might one explore content available for this unit?

  • TheBenNorris
    TheBenNorris Posts: 2,033 Staff

    @cluelessnube the Quest 2 is a standalone headset, it does not require another machine.

  • cluelessnube
    cluelessnube Posts: 520 Enthusiast

    No need for PC or smartphone? You upload content directly in to headset?

    Their site lists Windows requirements. What am I missing?

    Obviously I know pretty much nothing about VR.