AMD Radeon RX 480: US$200 VR-Ready GPU

[ Engadget ] Devindra Hardawar:

As for VR, the RX 480 delivered a solid experience without much slowdown. It didn’t matter if I was dogfighting in Eve: Valkyrie, exploring alien worlds in Farlands or platforming in Lucky’s Tale. I kept a particular eye out for stuttering or anything that could lead to motion sickness but couldn’t detect any major issues. AMD wasn’t lying: This is a VR-ready card.

The Radeon RX 480 comes in two VRAM configurations: 4GB ($200) and 8GB ($239). Hardawar reviewed the 8GB version and recommends investing the extra $39 for a smoother VR experience. Note: The 8GB version uses faster RAM.

HTC’s VR minimum hardware recommendations are as follows:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2

Oculus Rift:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.3

Here’s a YouTube video by DigitalFoundry comparing the GeForce GTX 970 vs. the Radeon RX 480:

As you can see the Radeon RX 480 outperforms the GeForce GTX 970, which is impressive considering the street price of the GTX 970 with 4GB is about $300.

Rio 2016 Summer Olympics: NBC to Present 85 Hours of VR Content on Samsung Devices

[ Variety ] Todd Spangler:

NBC is leaning into virtual reality — the hot tech flavor of the moment — with plans to pump out some 85 hours of VR programming for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

The VR content, the first time Olympics coverage will be presented in virtual-reality experiences, will be available exclusively on Samsung devices. And sorry, tech-forward cord-cutters: NBC will make the Olympics in VR available only to pay-TV subscribers of participating cable and satellite operators.

I’m a VR newb. I took my oldest and hopped on over to a local Best Buy to play around with the latest gadgets: noise-cancellation wireless over-ear headphones, smartphones, laptops, AIOs, 4K TVs, refrigerators, washing machines & dryers, etc. We agreed Beats sucks and Bose rocks, and that 4K content looks weird. The Avengers was on and Captain America looked downright silly, because his costume was so obviously a costume. Too much detail can be a bad thing when it comes to watching movies. We also agreed our Sony Trinitron HD CRT TV made watching movies enjoyable because the experience was like watching movies.

Another thing we agreed on was the Samsung Galaxy-based Gear VR system: it was really cool. Gear VR is not expensive: just US$100. If you already have the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone — like the Note 5, S6 and S7 — Gear VR is a no-brainer if you want to play around with VR without spending a lot of money. At one point in the demo, I was flying through space. I looked down, and for a split second thought I would fall. Yeah, told you I was a VR newb.

I like that NBC and Samsung want to pull in folks who are interested in VR with the 2016 Olympics, but it also limits the availability of VR to only the latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone users with cable and satellite. (Although I think cord-cutters with services like Sling TV might be able to get credentialed at some cable and satellite websites.) I’m going to guess there will be a lot of bootlegged porting of NBC’s Olympic VR content to other VR systems.

Apple Patents Technology To Disable iPhone Cameras At Concerts

[ Stereogum ] Collin Robinson:

So that might be OK… assuming the technology is only used at concerts and doesn’t extend to, like, disabling phone cameras during instances of police brutality and/or sociopolitical/religious unrest.

Apple works with a lot of music companies and I’m certain some of those companies have complained loudly that concert goers have been bootlegging or live streaming concerts. I don’t know how rampant this is, but I’m sure music companies want to stop it and want Apple’s help. I wouldn’t mind a geo-fenced camera disable feature on my iPhone when it comes to concerts. I haven’t gone to a concert in many years, but I’ve seen concert videos with hundreds of phone screens. What a terrible way to experience a concert.

Google Chrome VR Shell

[ Road To VR ] Ben Lang:

Chrome Dev (one extra step back in development from Beta) now contains a ‘VR Shell’ setting which Google’s Chromium Evangelist François Beaufort says “enable[s] a browser shell for VR” which “allows users to browse the web while using Cardboard or Daydream-ready viewers.” Both options are available in the browser’s Flags page, accessed by entering chrome://flags in the URL bar.

Very early stages for browsing the web in VR. For VR internet browsing to catch on the web will need to morph, from the current 2D concept of pages to something like a 3D concept of spaces. AR — augmented reality where relevant information is placed over images and videos — will probably become an important way we browse the internet in VR.