SteamVR’s latest update to its beta branch is bringing along with it a Media Player that allows users to browse, preview and view a number of local media files directly in VR, including traditional video/photo formats as well as 180/360 degree content.

Navigable both on monitors and from within VR, SteamVR’s new Media Player gives you an easy-to-use file explorer and re-sizable viewing window that supports both keyboard/mouse or tracked motion controllers. In a news post announcing the update, Valve says the Media Player supports auto-detection of media layout and format, and it also observes common file naming conventions.

At the time of this writing, the beta supports six layouts: mono, stereo left/right, stereo right/left, stereo top/bottom, stereo bottom/top, and anaglyph and four distinct formats: virtual screen, 180 degree, 360 degree, and fisheye. It also supports all Windows 10 systems and most Windows 7 systems.

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A slight pain point in an otherwise ‘no fuss’ package is the Media Player’s current inability to recognize .mkv files, making it a little less convenient than using a desktop media player like VLC and watching straight from SteamVR’s desktop viewer or from a separate program like Bigscreen. Since it’s still in beta, and hasn’t been integrated into the core functionality of SteamVR, we expect this to change before it hits prime time as it fulfills its promise to become a low-friction entry into media viewing.

To run SteamVR Media Player, you’ll need to opt into SteamVR Beta, open the SteamVR Status menu and select Run Media Player.

image courtesy Valve

If you haven’t already opted into SteamVR Beta, just navigate to SteamVR under Tools in your Steam Library. Right click to bring up Properties, then select ‘beta’ from the dropdown in the Betas tab. You can also revert back to the main update branch at any time by opting out.

Valve already provides a Steam 360 Video Player, but the new Media Player’s inclusion of 360 formats make its usecase less appealing, as the Steam 360 Video Player can only view 360 videos available in your Steam Library.

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  • PJ

    Meh, I’ll stick to bigscreen

    • johngrimoldy

      I’ve found the Simple VR Player (for $8 thru Steam) to be the best VR video player and I’ve tried several. The controls are intuitive and, well, simple. I prefer it over BigScreen since it has easier navigation.

      This is not to discredit BigScreen. It’s really best option for watching streaming video like Amazon or Netflix. The virtual community sharing capabilities are pretty intriguing too.

      I’d love to see a self-contained video player that included Hulu, Amazon, Neflix, and others without the requirement of viewing the PC desktop in a vitrual screen. That gets tedious.

      • PJ

        I’ll take a look

    • NooYawker

      Try Vive video, it’s the one I keep falling back to. Control the screen size and choose between curved or flat screen. Plays about every format as well. But it’s to play movies only, no desktop option. It’s also free.

      • PJ

        I’ll give a go

      • Fenrisfil

        Vive Video is the best for a free player. However, I highly recommend Whirligig as a cheap (but still paid for) player. The last update cleared all the bugs for me (which were minor anyway) and it does absolutely everything I want. I particularly like being able to put the video on to the ceiling and manually control size, shape and curvature.

  • Adriano Farina

    Any information about which spatial audio formats it supports?

  • Very very interesting! I want to try it to see how it is compared to DeoVR and Whirligig

  • Robert England

    The ONLY VR MEDIA PLAYER worth using, is SAMSUNG Gallery on Gear VR. Why? –>>> IT HAS A CURVED SCREEN! <<< You watch a 3D, even a 2D Movie, in a 'void' theater, ON A CURVED SCREEN, It may as well BE VR… I would rather mess with 30 minutes of connecting and copying to my S8, than do 1 click and open Steam (or other) Player with NO CURVED SCREEN. It is 2018 people!!! I also never buy a VR game that ONLY has 'Teleport' options, VR is for people who like VR,. Or it should be,. IF ANYBODY KNOWS OF A Desktop VR MEDIA PLAYER CURVED SCREEN, PLEASE SHARE THE INFO!