But the tech just isn't quite there -- yet
The biggest drawback: it's still frustratingly low-resolution, which apparently is normal, but I was really surprised to find out (those tricked-out ads probably have something to do with raising expectations).
A lot of scenes were grainy and unclear, and I fiddled around with the focus a lot, because I just couldn't believe I was really at max quality. It was annoying, especially when I compensated by focusing my eyes so hard, which made the experience jarring, even bordering into headache territory. It was like that feeling you get after staring at a computer or mobile screen for too long, multiplied because it's right in front of your retinas.
There are some "operational" problems
A few more kinks need to be ironed out -- in my swiveling, I nearly spilled my beer bottle. Without being able to see my hands, I couldn't have even imagined the mayhem that would've occurred with a popcorn bag (but I'm also a total klutz).
A room packed with swiveling, snacking, laughing, shrieking fellow theatre-goers could turn into a circus in a hurry. You could be all relaxed, riding a trippy Dali elephant, while the kid in front of you is guffawing away at a cartoon or a group of teens is screaming at some horror short. VR cinemas expect the utmost respect from moviegoers. Good luck with that.
It's immersive, but not immersive enough
How much you get out of this experience depends on what you want from an afternoon at the movies. If anything, the cinema works as a sort of showroom for VR headsets. After all, you're perfectly capable of buying and using the technology -- in the exact same way -- at home.
But look for VR cinemas to get more sophisticated. IMAX just announced its game plan to make VR theatres with a "superior and social experience" to outshine your living room. Oculus is developing touch-sensitive handheld controllers to incorporate more body movement into the experience. So far, though, VR's a nascent technology, not yet the utterly convincing dreamscape you're hoping for.
So is it worth your time and money while visiting Berlin? You could certainly do worse at a lot of tourist traps. A VR cinema showing costs €12.50 (about $14) for a 35-minute show. To put that into perspective, for another $5 you can go to the city's 3D IMAX theatre with its 500-square-metre screen, laser sound, and Hollywood features. (And it too serves beer!)
VR will rise above its early adoption for porn and business meetings. It has potential to revolutionize the cinema -- but it's nowhere near prime time yet. Go ahead and catch a show in its early phases so you can bore your grandkids with the story one day. But no rush. VR will be around for a while, and has a lot of improvements to make.
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