I Watched Netflix In VR And Now Reality Seems Hollow And Pointless

I Watched Netflix In VR and Now Reality Seems Hollow and Pointless

"IT'S FOR GAMES" has been the oft-quoted cry of VR headset makers and gamers when talking about virtual reality, but the opportunity for movies is unquestionably huge. Today, Oculus VR released a Netflix app for the Gear VR (and eventually Oculus' own headset.) And it makes watching Netflix in real life seem super lame.

The above image gives you a good feel for what we're talking about here. After strapping on the Gear VR Innovator's Edition and whizzing through a few startup screens, I'm whisked away to some weird wooden cabin place. A quick glance outside the window to my left and it seems I have a nice getaway home on top of Everest or something.

Inside the house is basically a giant advertisement for Netflix. Above what I'm going to guess is a 110-inch project screen, there's a Bojack Horseman painting, to my right, movies posters for Netflix's Daredevil, and even on the coffee table in front of me, there's a vacation magazine for the Rayburn's Hotel and a pamphlet for Camp Firewood, cutesy references to Netflix's own Bloodline and Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp original series.

But the real attention-grabber is that Netflix TV that's front and center. In a lot of ways, it works like Oculus Cinema. You, the viewer, are basically a floating head in the center of a red couch. Because of the Gear VR's hardware limitation, you can't move your body, so leaning in to get closer to the screen is impossible, but you can look in all 360 degrees. The actual Netflix interface is very familiar if you've used interfaces on consoles like the Ps4. Scroll up and down for Netflix curated playlists, and like most VR applications, your gaze is the cursor. Road to VR has a great video of what this all looks like IRT:

After that, it's basically just the Netflix that you know and love and it all works amazingly well, even the screen hues projected on the floor, furniture, and walls felt incredibly natural. The only small hiccup is that the layout itself -- the thing projected on the fake 110-inch screen -- feels not 100 per cent optimised for vision control. For example, if you glance at a show on the very far right, the description pops up on the left. But you can't read it because you have to keep your gaze on that title. It's a really small thing, and probably something that will be ironed out over time, but little small quirks like that pop up here and there.

Overall, it was pretty amazing and showcased the scary possibility of never wanting to leave this fake reality -- ever. If you already had a Netflix-binging problem, virtual reality just became the ultimate enabler.

Top image via Netflix



    Did anyone else just put their nose up to the screen to try and get the VR perspective?...... nope, me neither. :)

      Just merge the two images into a center one? No need to get close.

    I must be missing the point here? Why would I want to watch a flat screen image in a 3D environment that doesn't let you see a 3D movie in that VR environment?

      Think of it a different way. The VR goggles let you watch stuff on a 100 inch screen, even though you dont have a 100 inch screen. And do it anywhere you care to wear the goggles.

      I imagine 3D capabilities will come eventually, but thats going to mean a separate library of Netflix titles first.

        But wouldn't the resolution of the virtual 100 inch TV be reduced? makes it pointless in the end really.

          Its about perception or more specifically, pixel density. 1080p on a 50 inch tele (to pick a number) is going to be as sharp as 4K on a 100" tele because the pixel density is the same.

          If you figure it on a 3 inch screen per eye, it ends up being about a million pixels on 25 square centimeters. And that makes for some very smooth video, so while its "only" 1080p resolution, the pixel density makes it go considerably further.

          Resolution is a consideration, but pixel density is more important, because the more pixels per inch, the less you can see the individual pixels, and with these goggles, there are a hell of a lot of ppi.

      100" inch screen on a plane instead of a tiny laptop screen. 110" screen lying in bed without annoying the person next to you with a brightly glowing tablet screen. 200" screen for Facebook on the toilet.

    i'm with you, I really don't understand the point of this... Doesnt this also mean that the resoulution/quality of the video you are watching in VR is reduced over watching it in real life? This makes no sense to me.

      You can hold your phone close enough to your face to appear as big as a movie screen. Is it the same? No way!

        Who doesn't have a TV or even a computer at home to watch stuff on though, chances are if youve invested in this you are definately going to have some sort of screen at home.

        I don't understand why you would want to strap on a VR headset to watch TV/Movie, especially since it will then only be yourself who can watch it. I just can't think of a situation where you would use this at all.

        I don't imagine people are going to carry this around and strap it on to watch netflix on the train or something... so you cant really compare it to using a phone close to your face.

          As someone who travels a lot for work, I was immediately excited by this product.
          I might have a nice TV at home, but I can't take it with me everywhere I go. You might be surprised to hear how often even the swankiest of hotels will equip their rooms with underwhelming TV setups - and some of them don't allow you to plug in a USB/HDMI device!
          This looks like a brilliant option for watching movies & TV while away from home.

    It is fantastic! I've done it a few times with the Oculus and the effect is AMAZING!

    If you watch a 3D movie, the 3D effects still work, but even just a 2D movie, you honestly feel like you are in a movie cinema.

    The problem I've had with the Oculus DK units is needing a PC also, using the Samsung Gear makes this a travelers dream! Not sure I would recommend it on bus or train though, as you'd have no idea what people are doing around you, but definitely for plane travel!

    Yep @skaremedia, the resolution on the DK2 is lower than if you were watching on a actual screen, but the overall effect really is amazing, and with the better resolution of the Note and Galaxy, maybe this isn't an issue? (I haven't tried a Samsung Gear).

      Yeah it just seems like a gimmick to me, I'm sure the first time I would be like "oh wow cool" but then never use it again, I just dont see it being practical. Even on a plane I think people would be much more likely to pack a small laptop/tablet than this... also good luck streaming netflix on a plane :P haha

    Odd that they released it on the Samsung VR thing and not the DK2 until later.

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