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Best Apps to Watch Movies with Friends in VR
July 6, 2021
Reading time: 8 minutes
Virtual reality continues to change the world and the way we interact with it. From elevating the video gaming experience to offering unparalleled virtual “trips” to just about anywhere, VR has so much to offer. But did you know it can also be a great way to connect with your friends and loved ones?
VR movie apps provide the opportunity for you to spend time with those close to you beyond video chatting on Zoom or phone calls. With one of these apps, you can upgrade the traditional movie night. Create private rooms to watch your favorite films and even chat while watching. All you need is the right tech – and some popcorn.
How to watch VR movies online
Watching movies online with VR is easy. Once your VR headset is set up and ready to go, all you have to do is download your app of choice. There are several ways to do this:
Download an app to your Android or iPhone
Download the movie directly to your PC and stream it via a mirrored server
Connect your VR headset to your PC, download your app of choice to your PC, and then stream the movie from there
Many VR apps include social features that turn watching VR videos into a communal experience. Some can even render virtual movie theaters that allow you to “sit” beside your friends and watch together. With so many ways to experience movies with your VR headset, it may be hard to decide which one is the best option for watching VR movies with your favorite people.
Virtual reality is continually evolving, with ongoing updates to both gear and the apps it interfaces with. We’ve included links to each of the VR movie apps so you can explore their features and the compatibility with your particular VR tech.
You can experience these VR movies with our new Windows Mixed Reality VR headset. The updated HP Reverb gives you increased comfort and best-in-class specs in this G2 version for watching movies, playing games, creating product designs, and so much more.
Best VR apps to watch movies with friends
We’ve gathered some great VR movie app options available today. Each has its perks, including extensive social features, ease of use, and video quality. Prices vary by app and movie selected. Here are the best VR apps that allow you to invite your friends and family to watch movies together – virtually.
CINEVR is the closest you can get to going to a movie theater without actually leaving your home. With daily screenings of recently released movies, CINEVR recreates the experience of having a private viewing and allows you to watch films in 2D, 3D, and 360-degrees; alone or with others.
There are different film rooms you can create that actually pair with the film’s genre, too, like a 1960s-style drive-in theater for a classic film, a haunted house for a horror movie, and a beautiful tropical island atmosphere for a romantic film. Plus, there are various movies on demand, including an extensive French catalog for those who are interested in foreign films.
2. Plex VR
For those with a sizable digital media collection and a Daydream-enabled Android phone, you can’t go wrong with a Plex media server. It’s a great way to organize all your music, videos, photos, and other files, in addition to those you own on any partnered platforms. While the Plex app was previously only available on mobile devices and smart TVs, it’s now accessible in VR.
With Plex VR, you create a room where you can access your media and experience it all in virtual reality. These rooms are fully interactive environments and you can pick from a drive-in theater, a loft apartment, and a blacked-out room called "The Void."
You can also invite up to 4 friends to your room to socialize, interact with the environment, and start watching movies and other media in your Plex library. To do this, each participant needs a Daydream-enabled Android phone, a VR headset, and the Plex VR app to access your media server.
3. Skybox VR Player
Skybox VR Player gives you an extra layer of control over who gets to watch what through your media library. Unlike other services, it doesn’t upload your entire media library to the watch party by default. You can instead use a server application to install the media player directly to your PC. You then manually decide which files are accessible within the VR player.
Once you have Skybox VR Player downloaded to your PC and VR headset, use the Airscreen feature to port your PC screen over to your VR headset as a virtual desktop. This makes for a more personalized experience. Plus, you can also create various environments for your friends to “hang out” with you in, which range from a movie theater to a space station.
4. Bigscreen VR
With Bigscreen VR, you can watch movies, news channels, Twitch, sports games, and free live TV channels in your headset. When you rent movies directly from Bigscreen, they’ll be functional in both 2D and 3D. Once you rent a movie, you’ll create a private viewing room to screen it. The service also offers extensive playback controls within the 48-hour rental period for movies and boasts ultra-high bitrate video quality.
5. Netflix VR
To watch Netflix VR in your headset, simply download the Netflix VR app directly to your Android device and then sync it with your VR headset. It’s a bit more complicated for iPhone users, because you will need to set up mirroring to stream the actual movie or TV show through your PC and then transfer it to your Apple device's screen.
Once you log in, however, all your Netflix content will populate on a television within the living room of your VR environment. This is called “Living Room Mode.” At this point, you’re free to browse the Netflix library like normal and watch whatever you want.
6. Prime Video VR
Prime Video VR is Amazon's answer to making its library available on VR devices. Amazon has invested heavily in its VR platform, and many of its popular original series, including The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Good Omens, Fleabag, and Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan are available for VR viewing with friends. The company is also working on creating ways for users to enjoy large VR events within its platform.
7. Virtual Desktop
The Virtual Desktop app is more than just a way to watch movies in VR. This app connects your PC to your VR headset and then uses the headset as a display instead of your monitor. With Virtual Desktop, you can play games, watch movies, and use Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services.
The features for watching movies are pretty extensive, and Virtual Desktop allows you to use your media player of choice to watch content, like setting up a Netflix party with your friends. Similar to other apps, you can also render different 3D environments to mix up the way you spend your time in VR.
8. Cmoar VR Cinema
Cmoar VR Cinema is a streamlined, dynamic VR video player that focuses on visuals and an immersive experience over an extensive set of features. You access movies that you first download directly to your VR headset, and along with several friends, you can create a theater experience that focuses on providing the highest quality video possible. This includes full 1080p 3D movies and 3D YouTube videos, the latter of which is not available on all VR video platforms.
9. Disney Movies VR
While the best way to experience Disney’s different worlds is through its theme park, the next best option is the Disney Movies VR app. In this immersive experience, you can interact with some of your favorite characters from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars films.
You also have the option to invite your friends over to experience the films themselves by watching video clips from the movies. However, as of this writing, you can’t access every Disney film and most video content runs at 30 frames per second (fps) which can cause headaches.
Using the HP Reverb G2 VR headset to watch VR movies
When watching VR movies online with friends, your headset should prioritize high-resolution video and comfort for long viewing sessions. The HP Reverb G2 excels in both areas. It provides 2160p resolution per eye as well as fully interpupillary distance adjustments (IPD) to adapt the lenses and give you a perfect fit.
HP also increased the cushion size in this headset’s face mask, which is designed to deliver an even weight distribution. The flexible material and detachability allow for a custom fit, too. The headset also comes equipped with unique near-field speakers designed by Valve that produce high-end sound without the need for a separate headset. It all makes for an excellent headset for watching movies, socializing with friends, and everything else you love to do in VR.
Watching VR movies with friends is a great way to socialize and connect with each other, especially when it’s difficult to do in real life. The best part is that it’s easy to do when you pick one of the VR movie apps from our list.
Although some require a bit more technical expertise than others, these apps help to streamline the process of watching films with your friends and family. Pair one of these apps with the comfortable and crystal-clear HP Reverb G2 headset, and you’ll think you’re living in the future. Spoiler alert: the future is already here.
About the Author: Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.
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