I Tried Out Pornhub's New Budget Virtual Reality Porn

The democratization of virtual reality porn is no longer in the distant future; it's here.

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Mar 24 2016, 4:15pm

For years, sex and tech journalists have been going on about the rise of VR porn and the very real possibility of sex robots becoming a reality. In our documentary The Digital Love Industry, we found that their predictions were right: Not only has the technology around virtual reality porn reached an impressive level, but a surprisingly large number of people are already using VR machines for sexual purposes.

Thing is, it all seemed a bit far off; the equipment was expensive and cumbersome, and hardly accessible to the majority of masturbators.

However, this week, that all changed: PornHub announced that it has teamed up with BaDoinkVR to launch virtual reality porn that works with phones and headsets. PornHub has done a bit of a soft launch already, but apparently once it's all properly up and running, you'll not only be immersed in a film, but also able to interact with your favorite stars.

To mark the launch, PornHub is giving away 10,000 pairs of free VR goggles. We didn't apply for a pair within the time limit, but luckily, we already had a cardboard headset hanging around in the office, made by a company called "Happy Finish" (which, confusingly, is actually just a normal VR company and doesn't have anything to do with porn). The headset looks a bit like one of those cutout DIY cardboard toys you get on the back of cereal packets. Once it's assembled, you load up a video on your phone, put your phone inside the headset, and you're off. You are a consumer of virtual reality porn.

"Prepare to be happy," read a message on top of the headset. I'd be the judge of that.

I opened up the back of the headset, chose a video from PornHub's new VR collection, and strapped the phone inside the set. Now to sit back and relax in this famously erotic of locations: the lobby of our office, surrounded by my colleagues' bikes.

"Lez strap-on"

In the first video I watched, you find yourself on a bed with a pair of absolutely fantastic boobs. It's hard not to take a moment to stop and just admire yourself; I'll never have such great boobs again for free. The other girl in the video was facing me on the bed, and we proceeded to touch each other and feel each other's great boobs.

It did feel pretty 3D, but it was kind of annoying having to hold the headset up with my hands. Maybe PornHub's freebies have a much-needed strap. I'm imagining myself having to hold this with one hand and jerk with the other, and it's all a bit inconvenient.

Massive disclaimer: With other VR vide,o you can turn your head and the view moves with you, which is called "360 video." With this, you can't do that. Or, at least, I couldn't. Maybe I was doing it wrong, but the multiple "thumbs down" for the content marked as "360 video" suggests PornHub hasn't quite worked out that side of things yet.

I enjoyed the video, though. It's direct and simple in a good way: You end up wearing a strap-on with a brunette going off on one on top of you.

Rating: 4/5

"Birds of a feather"

I was absolutely howling from the get go on this one. The video started with my obscenely fake-looking hand opening a door, which I peeked around to find a bunch of naked women lying on a bed. In the same way those 5D cinema rides at Disneyland throw in a lunge anywhere they can in the narrative to make you feel as immersed as possible, this video is really just showing you what they're capable of.

Except, it all goes a bit wrong: Body parts distort like you're in a porno Alice in Wonderland . One woman reaches out to grab your hand and pull you into the room, and the arm is spilling out across the frame like the oily liquid in a broken iPhone screen. Off you go, all the same, to lie on the bed and get sucked off. This is when I realized that you really have to mimic the position of your character; if she sat up, you sit up; if she lay down, you lie down. That's the only real way to feel like you're there. Here's my lying down:

Maybe it was because I couldn't relate to this guy, maybe it was the crap 3D, but I just didn't feel like I was getting a blowjob. Because the video was reasonably lo-res, and there were multiple characters further away from me, I couldn't believe in it, and therefore couldn't enjoy it, even after assuming the correct position.

Rating: 2/5

"Hard day at the office with Martha"

Aptly named considering my week, PornHub. If you only knew. In this fun little video, you're sitting at your desk when Martha comes in to get you to sign something. Your hands are there on the table, fingers like sausages, splayed out across the screen. But I didn't really mind the weird, chubby fingers because the video had so many great moments of humor that it distracted from the technical flaws.

"Do you need anything else?" Martha asks helpfully. Your finger then beckons her in with all the subtlety of an elephant pounding its way over the desk. Onto the next location, and again you're sat back with your cock as the center of focus. This, like many of the videos I flicked through, was obviously very male-centric—perhaps unsurprising, given that men consume a lot more porn than women.

There's a weird charm to this set-up, though, and I can legitimately see lots of people of all genders and identities enjoying jerking off to this.

Rating: 3/5 for effort.

It's early days, of course, and as it stands, this new VR porn doesn't add a huge amount to the traditional porn-watching experience. Personally: would try again, but would probably prefer to watch regular porn in a dark room on a massive screen with the help of the best arousal tool of all: good, old-fashioned imagination. This was all too awkward and techy. You couldn't turn and look around the room or reach out and touch someone; you were still watching a movie. Essentially, it was a bit like having a laptop strung around your face.

However, you can see where this is going. It did make the experience much more immersive, bringing porn viewers one step closer to placing themselves fully within their deepest fantasies.

This move from PornHub is a clear signal: The democratization of virtual reality porn isn't just coming; it's here. It's happening just like they said it would. It might be a few more years before it really feels like you're getting sucked off in a princess castle or being gangbanged by a team of university professors, but until then, I'm sure plenty of people are going to be satisfied with the poor man's VR porn.

Follow Hannah on Twitter.

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