If you're interested in the idea of virtual reality and wish you could be immersed in your favourite PlayStation 4 or Xbox One games then the MVR Ascend could warrant your interest. MVR says there's a gap in the VR market between the budget Google Daydream and high-end HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and to some extent the PlayStation VR.
The MVR Ascend is a headset and controller combination that serves up tether-free gameplay from either console; the PS4 version relies on your Android smartphone while the Xbox One variant is bundled with a proprietary screen to stream your games.
The MVR H1 headset is the star of the show and features a head tracking sensor around the back. This sensor essentially mimics whatever analogue stick you have assigned to camera movements for each game. For example, if you're playing Call of Duty, instead of using the right analogue stick to pan around, you can now turn your head instead.
It works with other games such as Project Cars, where if you select the in-car camera angle, you can again move your head around as if you're actually sitting inside the car.
It's not virtual reality in the same way that HTC or Oculus do it, as there's no handheld sensors to that extra level of control. Instead, you get either a PS4 or Xbox One controller (MVR's own version) to control all other aspects of the game.
The headset has been designed to be as comfortable as possible and has interchangeable lenses to switch between 2D and 3D experiences and glasses wearers can also be safe in the knowledge there's enough space to accommodate them.
If you want to take a break from gaming, you don't need to take the whole headset off, as the smartphone or screen cradle section can flip up. There's a built-in speaker system for sound and you can even make and receive phone calls from the headset.
The controllers look just like conventional PS4 and Xbox One controllers and both have what MVR is calling an ADS (Aim Down Sight) function. This lets you assign one or more of the shoulder buttons (L2, R2, LB, RB) to disengage the headset tracker when pressed.
For example, if you're playing Call of Duty and you want to aim down the sight of your gun, by pressing the assigned shoulder button, you'll no longer be able to look around you. Instead controls will revert to the default, so if you want to pan the camera, you'll have to use the analogue stick.
You can also use either controller as a secondary controller for your games console when playing on the TV.
How to use
To use the PlayStation 4 version you'll need an Android smartphone and the PlayStation app installed to stream games via Remote Play. MVR says the H1 headset can accommodate Android smartphones up to 153mm x 76mm in size. iPhone users are unfortunately left out.
The Xbox One version meanwhile comes with MVR's own S1 screen because the Xbox can't stream to smartphones. The S1 screen slides into the H1 headset and runs Windows 10, so you can stream to it from an Xbox as if it were a PC or tablet.
You don't have to limit yourself to just gaming with the H1 headset though, as you can download any VR app and 360 degree videos on any smartphone and play back through the headset.
The MVR Ascend VR headset and controller is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter where you can pre-order just the headset for £79, the headset with P1 controller for PS4 from £129 and the headset with X1 controller for Xbox One and S1 screen from £179. Estimated shipping is from July 2017.