Virtual Reality 101: the Gravity Sketch guide to VR computers and the best VR headsets on the market
Already bought yourself a VR headset in the Black Friday sales? Planning on buying one as a “Happy Christmas to me” gift?
We know it can be pretty confusing when a new tech product bursts onto the scene and there are suddenly lots of options to choose from. Especially when it’s a product like a VR headset, which you probably haven’t owned or even used before. Fear not — the Gravity Sketch team is here to help.
In this post, we’ll walk you through the recommendations for:
- What kind of PC you should have
- The best VR headset for your needs
- Which VR software you should install
Once you read this, we are sure you’ll be a VR Pro and you can get started on your incredible Gravity Sketch experience in no time.
The best PC for Virtual Reality experiences
Let’s start with the boring stuff… what Computer do I need to optimise my VR experience?
Unless you purchase an Oculus Quest, you will need a PC to run VR, but not every ordinary PC will do. To really make the most out of your VR experience, you’ll need a PC with a powerful Graphics Processing Unit (GPU).
Wondering why this is important? This is so you have a smooth experience while in VR. It means being able to move your head around and create complex sketches without experiencing any lagging. You want to avoid lagging while in VR, as it might make you dizzy, so definitely get a good GPU!
Check out our summary of the minimum and recommended computer requirements for Gravity Sketch VR:
The best VR headsets on the market
Ok, let’s move onto the fun part — how do I know which headset I should buy?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of VR headsets, it is helpful to understand more about how they work. VR headsets are essentially a couple of screens and lenses that trick your brain into believing you are in a real 3D environment.
There are also a bunch of sensors that tell the computer where your head is in space, so that the image on the screen changes in real-time. This allows you to view 3D objects in “real” 3D, simply by moving yourself or the 3D object around you, like you would with a physical object.
When it comes to VR headsets, there are now lots of options on the market. We have three pieces of advice to help you choose the best headset for your needs.
First, select a headset with “6 degrees of freedom” tracking — this means the headset can track your head looking in different directions, and also track its position in space, which will give you a true spatial experience.
Second, choose the headset that best fits your needs. For example do you:
- Like working from the comfort of your own desk? If so, you will want a headset with inside-out tracking. This means the sensors are inside the headset, as opposed to having external sensors that you need to place in specific locations around a room.
- Think being mobile is important? Currently, the Quest is the only wireless headset on the market that allows you to run a software as powerful as Gravity Sketch.
- Want to work in a large room and move around a big sketch? Take care! This is a common perception about how best to use VR, but we find most of our users quickly move back to using their headset at their desk, or to a seated, more comfortable position. However, you can choose a headset with a larger room-scale if you wish.
Third, pick the headset that has the most comfortable controllers, feels better on your head, and has the resolution you prefer. If you wear glasses, take them with you when testing out the headsets!
Of course, all these decisions are personal and dependent on what you do and how you like to work. There will always be a trade-off, no matter which headset you select. We have asked our community and the consensus appears to be that you should prioritise comfortable controllers, headset weight, and resolution, in that order.
Wow, that’s a lot of information to take in…
We know it can be a bit confusing choosing your headset! So here is a helpful table of the most common headset ratings, addressing the criteria mentioned above.
These ratings have been suggested by our community, with a focus on using VR headsets for personal productivity, and only cover headsets compatible with Gravity Sketch.
What about the VR headsets you haven’t mentioned — can I use those for Gravity Sketch?
Remember you need a headset with six degrees of freedom tracking to have the optimal VR experience. This means you won’t be able to use Gravity Sketch with an Oculus Go or Google Cardboard headset, for example.
Other hardware to consider for your VR design experience
Not ready to give up your 2D sketching habits quite yet? We know it can be difficult to jump straight into VR 3D sketching and we understand how much time you have probably spent honing your skills on pen and paper.
Luckily, we created Gravity Sketch Surface mode to allow you to seamlessly transition from your well-established 2D workspace into a 3D spatial workflow, preserving your initial strokes and the wonderful imperfections and looseness of the 2D sketching phase.
You can link up your VR headset, PC, and Wacom tablet to quickly sketch out an idea, pop on your headset, and manipulate your sketch in 3D. Alternatively, start your project in VR and use Surface mode to add details and review your design.
I’ve bought my VR headset and I can’t wait to get started! What’s the next step?
When you set up your headset, you will need to install some additional software on your computer. Even if you aren’t planning on using VR for gaming, you’ll need to download a gaming store platform.
This is because VR headsets are primarily targeted towards the gaming industry, and manufacturers have selected these platforms as the best way to update the drivers needed to run their headsets. These stores are also the main way to purchase your VR applications, including Gravity Sketch (unless you want the Enterprise version, in which case please contact us at email@example.com).
If you have an Oculus headset you are better off installing the Oculus Store software, but for other headsets you will need to install Steam. In either case, you will be required to create an account and once you have done this, you are free to purchase apps to your heart’s content.
If you have purchased an Oculus Quest, you will need to download an app onto your phone and follow the instructions. If you already have an Oculus account, you can use the same account to sign-in and if you have already purchased Gravity Sketch through the Oculus Store (e.g. for Rift), you will be able to open it on the Quest as well, and vice-versa.