Field of view (FOV) isn't everything, but it is a huge factor when it comes to your VR experience.
If you plan on throwing down some big bucks for a VR rig, you'll definitely want to know which one of the big contenders has the best FOV. Ready for a face-off?
- What is field of view?
- What field of view do humans have?
- Field of view and VR
- The winner
- The runners-up
- Does FOV matter to you?
What is field of view?
Field of view is exactly what it sounds like; the extent of vision of the human eye (or what you can see while in VR).
A VR headset with low FOV will result in removal from immersion, while a VR headset with high FOV will let you sink comfortably into whatever you're viewing.
What field of view do humans have?
Short answer: Humans have a forward-facing field of view of about 180 degrees — great for wilderness survival and VR gaming!
Long answer: There are two natural FOV measurements for humans: monocular and binocular. Monocular field of view is what each eye sees separately, and is about 160 horizontal degrees and about 135 vertical degrees. Combine the two eyes and you get a binocular FOV of about 200 horizontal degrees and 135 vertical degrees.
The sweet spot where both eye's FOV come together for an overlapping binocular field of view results in about 120 horizontal degrees and 135 vertical degrees of vision. This is also where you get to enjoy that sweet, sweet, natural 3D vision.
Field of view and VR
There are two separate types of FOV to consider when dealing with VR: camera field of view and display field of view. In this face-off we stick strictly to display field of view.
Display field of view is related to lenses and hardware design (i.e. how close the lenses sit to your eyes). Camera field of view relates to changes you can make within the game or program (e.g. in the Call of Duty settings menu).
The answer to this question can be viewed a few different ways. Do we consider only stock FOV? Do we consider FOV after modding your VR headset? Why not both?
To be fair, and to deter an endless argument including photos of Rift lenses glued directly to your eyeballs, the winner is crowned based on its stock FOV.
The HTC Vive has the best field of view with about 145 diagonal degrees when your eyes are about 10mm away from the lenses. That means you're getting an FOV of about 100 horizontal degrees and about 110 vertical degrees with a stock HTC Vive.
Stock HTC Vive, you say? Some users have reported that trimming the foam padding on the Vive can increase FOV by about 30 degrees. Keep in mind that modifying your Vive can result in uncomfortable wearing and eye fatigue!
For the less intrepid VR modder, the Vive has a built-in dial that lets you adjust the distance of the lenses from your eyes. Adjusting the distance between the lenses and your eyes can result in a few sweet degrees of view. Try it out yourself!
Oculus Rift CV1
The FOV of the Oculus Rift CV1 (consumer version 1) is about 80 horizontal degrees and about 90 vertical degrees when your eyes are about 10mm away from the lenses. That's about 120 diagonal degrees.
Since the Rift's lenses are only adjustable to accommodate width of face and not distance from eyes, that's about where things will stay depending on the shape of your head (unless you take matters into your own hands). Please don't glue anything to your eyeballs.
Samsung Gear VR
Many sites have reported that Samsung Gear VR has a static FOV of 96 degrees, but it really depends on the phone used. Smaller phones deliver, as you can imagine, less field of view. Some users claim their Note 4 gets about 95 degrees, while other users claim their Galaxy S6 gets about 90 degrees. Makes sense, right? That's a pretty decent FOV for the cheapest VR headset on this list.
AndroidCentral forum member kingkong90210 decided to take FOV matters into his/her own hands by cutting away some of the plastic shroud around the lenses. The result? A voided warranty and better field of view.
The PSVR doesn't launch until October and there is thus a lot less known about its true specs. Users so far can't perform their own FOV tests, and Sony isn't saying much more than, "100-degree field of view." Whether that's measured diagonally, horizontally, or vertically, only time will tell (but it's most likely horizontal).
Like the Vive, the PSVR has adjustable lenses. You can slide the whole headset in and out to change the distance from your eyes. This should allow everyone to get at least a 100-degree field of view.
Does FOV matter to you?
Did you buy your VR rig based on FOV? Did you buy it based on price? How much does FOV matter to you? Let us know in the comments section below!