With numerous brands launching their own VR headsets in recent years, it may be an overwhelming experience for someone’s who’s looking for the right headset. So, let this list serve as a guide help you choose the best headset for your own personal needs.
What to Consider in Choosing a VR Headset?
The first thing to consider is your budget, since the prices of VR headsets span a wide range. In terms of price, The Guardian indicates you can categorize the headsets into three: budget, mid-range, and high-end. The most affordable VR headsets are usually the ones developed for mobile devices, while the most expensive headsets are those for PC.
On which platform do you want to experience virtual reality? There are headsets for mobile devices, PC, and console. There are also the newly emerged standalone VR headsets, which don’t require any connection to hardware. Combine this factor with price and you can narrow down your choices.
Today we’re going to introduce to you VRsome of the hottest headsets currently available. But first, let’s talk a little bit about the basics of VR headsets.
Tethered VS. untethered
There are two types of VR headsets: tethered and standalone. You can probably guess what each of them means, but to clarify, tethered headsets use wires, and standalone headsets are wireless. Tethered headsets are more geared towards usage with gaming PCs and consoles and usually provide an overall better VR experience.
You can owe this to the fact that connecting to a separate device with a wire gives it more power to generate enhanced visuals and graphics. Tethered headsets also offer six-degrees-of-freedom motion tracking, meaning it displays both positional and directional changes.
Granted, the fact that these kinds of headsets have to stay connected at all times can be a bit of a pain, but the quality of the VR itself makes up for this easily. Tethered headsets also tend to run for a little more money--think of an average price of $400--and you’ll need additional devices, like a PC or gaming console, to truly make the most of the experience.
Standalone headsets, on the other hand, are typically not as powerful as their tethered counterparts but are still attractive for many different reasons. For starters, you don’t need to connect it to any external devices for it to work, which is a massive plus for those who are more kinetically-inclined.
Most standalone headsets also have six-degrees-of-freedom motion tracking capabilities, so the spatial aspect of the VR experience is very much like that of tethered headsets. They also run on batteries and may need to be charged between uses, which could pose a minor inconvenience.
However, VR experts unanimously agree that standalone models are the future of VR. More and more standalone headsets are becoming comparable to tethered headsets. It’s more than likely that we’ll only see big leaps in standalone VR headset technology in the coming years.
There is also a third option that is much less popular than the other two: mobile VR headsets. Just pop your phone into a mobile-compatible VR headset and watch your augmented reality come to life.
Mobile models “split” your phone screen in two-one-half for each eye, providing a relatively basic VR experience. Unlike tethered and standalone headsets, mobile headsets only have three-degrees-of-freedom motion tracking, so your visual experience will likely be a little more limited. However, they are still an excellent introductory VR headset that you can use to familiarize yourself with the exciting world of VR.
Degrees of freedom
You’re probably wondering what this degrees-of-freedom (DOF) stuff is all about, and rightfully so. DOF technology is what lends VR users the illusion that they’re really in another world.
There are currently two types of DOF capabilities: six and three. Six DOF not only lets you change direction but move through space as well. This is because the six DOF are left, right, up, down, forward, and backward. VR headsets with six DOF capabilities are ideal for intense VR gaming experiences.
Still, they’re also great for simply familiarizing yourself with the world around you in a completely new way.
Three DOF headsets, on the other hand, are much more spatially limited, as the name might suggest. Headsets with three DOF capabilities are more for novelty use as they are much less powerful than their six DOF counterparts.
With three DOF headsets, you can look up, down, left, and right, but you cannot move forward or backward. You can use three DOF headsets with games too, but only if you are viewing the game and not actively moving around while playing.
What’s light leakage?
As the name may suggest, light leakage is when light seeps in through the cracks of our VR headset, thereby making the total experience feel a little less realistic. Not all skulls are created equal, so naturally, VR headsets are not going to fit everyone’s heads very well.
While most people can ignore this, people who are especially sensitive to light may find that light leakage triggers their motion sickness during their VR experience. The best advice is to try on several models before purchase, as you’ll get an idea of how the headset works with the shape of your skull and how snugly it can fit without causing discomfort.
However, experts advise looking at the light leaking through the bottom of the headset if you’re experiencing motion sickness while using a VR headset. This quick-fix will reset your vision and put any disorienting effects you may be feeling to a stop. If and when you decide to upgrade your VR headset, make sure you try a few models on before you buy one. It could save you headaches in the future--literally.
Now that you know a little more about what makes VR headsets tick, let’s dive into the exciting new models that can give the best VR experience currently available.
Top 10 Best VR (Virtual Reality)Headsets of 2020 So Far
The Oculus Rift has an OLED display with 2160 x 1200 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It is HDMI, USB2.0, and USB3.0 compatible. You will need either need the Oculus Touch or the Xbox One gamepad for controls and a PC as its platform.
It comes with five amazing titles, which includes, The Dead and Buried, Toybox, Robo Recall, Medium, Lucky's Tale, Quill. Oculus's ultra-low-latency tracking gives you an unparalleled immersion of entertainment. To use the Oculus on a PC, you need to have at least 8gb of RAM. You would also need the NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti/AMD Radeon RX 470 graphic card or something greater.
Being the first modern VR headset to hit the shelves, the Oculus Rift is a pioneer in VR technology. Even though many other headsets launched subsequently, the Oculus Rift’s comfortable design and video/audio quality still hold up. In fact, Oculus Rift is a great recommendation for those who are serious about getting into VR, because of its large selection of games. Oculus seem to be blue eyed baby of retailers, so keep an eye out for deals at major retailers like Best Buy, Amazon etc.
- It gives you an unparalleled immersion in the game
- Graphics are excellent
- It is compatible with both USB and HDMI
- It works only with the Windows 10 operating system
- You require an internet connection to use it
The Oculus Go is a standalone headset, meaning it doesn’t need to be connected to a mobile device or PC. It features a 2560 x 1440 resolution, LCD display and 60Hz refresh rate.
With over 1000 social apps and games to use with the Oculus Go, you can never get bored. Its 64 GB storage space also gives you the privilege to get so many apps installed and running. The Oculus Go is being powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 which this means that the Oculus Go uses so little power, but yet it still delivers excellent video and audio quality. The video and sound quality are really good that you almost feel as though you're in the scene without the help of VR.
In case you aren’t blessed with a high-end smartphone, you can opt for the Oculus Go. It’s a lot more affordable than the Oculus Rift, but its quality is almost similar. Therefore, it will give you more bang for your buck. You can even sync the Oculus TV app with it to enjoy videos on Netflix and other streaming services.
- It is a standalone device which isn’t too expensive
- It supports over 1000 games and social apps
- Features a high-resolution display
- You can also use the Oculus Go to watch a movie in a big 180oscreen
- You need an internet connection to enjoy the best features
The HTC Vive, which was also developed for the PC platform, is similar to the Oculus Rift with its OLED display, 2160 x 1200 resolution and 90Hz refresh. It functions in tandem with the HTC Vive motion controllers and is compatible with HDMI and USB3.0. You can use it with the Oculus Go controller.
It’s a close race between it and the Oculus Rift but when it comes to price, the HTC Vive is bit more expensive. It’s also heavier than the Oculus Rift, so if you value lightweight designs, go with the Rift instead. However, the Vive does feature slightly better optics and field of view. It may also be the most immersive headset, given its biggest selling point is its room-scale VR and 360-degree sensors. This means that sports or any movement-heavy games work well on the HTC Vive. In fact, Men's Journal even called it the ideal VR headset for fitness buffs.
The headset itself also requires fewer port connections for it to function. Choosing between the two would depend entirely on your preferences as both are great choices for VR gaming.
With the HTC Vive, you get to experience an uninterrupted and unparalleled real life virtual reality with a top-notch VR quality in 15 feet by 15 feet space. However, if you don't have so much space, you can still enjoy it in 6 feet by 5 feet space. HTC Vive is being powered by Intel Core i5 CPU and 4 GB RAM that also ensures there are no interruptions in the projection. Most importantly, it can be connected to the Windows operating system.
- It supports both a USB and an HDMI ports
- It has up to 4 GB RAM
- You can enjoy up to 360-degree coverage with the HTC Vive
- It runs on an Intel Core i7
- It is supported by only the Windows operating system
HTC Vive Pro
The high-end version of the HTC Vive features an AMOLED display with 2880 x 1660 resolution and 90Hz refresh rate. It has HDMI, USB2.0, and USB3.0 connections, but you can also opt for a wireless option with an adaptor. Its field of view is 110 degrees. The headset also works on PC, and thus requires the HTC Vive motion controllers or other PC gamepads that are compatible.
The HTC Vive Pro improves on the original’s lenses and also has better light blocking, which is a common issue with VR headsets. It’s still as heavy though, but props should be given to its better weight distribution and strap design.
One of the newest features is a Steam VR 2.0 tracking which allows you to operate Steam interface and games directly in a 20’ x 20’ room-scale. In a high-resolution provided by the dual-OLED displays, vivid graphics is guaranteed.
The HTC Vive Pro is built to meet the demands for your VR needs today. With a 4 GB RAM, dedicated graphics card, Intel Core i5 CPU, and the HDMI and USB ports, you cannot make a mistake by going for the Vive Pro version.
- It has up to 4GB RAM
- It runs on an Intel Core i5 CPU
- Features AMOLED display
- Plenty of ports
- Improved lens
- It is supported by only the Windows operating system
- Requires HTC Vive motion controller or other PC gamepads
The PlayStation VR’s features are an OLED display, 1920 x RGB x 1080 resolution, and 90hz refresh rate. It connects via HDMI and USB2.0. Naturally, you would need the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation 4 controller to be able to use the PlayStation VR. Some games will require the use of other PlayStation 4 controllers like the PlayStation Move and the PlayStation Aim.
The PlayStation VR is one of the most polished headsets on this list with a reasonable price. The obvious drawback is that it only works on the PlayStation 4, and may also require additional devices (like the PlayStation Camera and PlayStation Move controllers) for full functionality. There are many PSVR games that players can enjoy using the PS4 controller, but these don't require much movement. If you want a more immersive experience, those specialized controllers will count. The PSVR's catalog of games features some of the best VR experiences to date, making this a worthy investment overall.
With the PlayStation VR headset, you can enjoy your VR in positional tracking, seated VR and standing VR. It features both the HDMI and USB ports. Laying eyes on your favorite game through the expansive 5.7” OLED 1080p display which runs at 120 frames per second will make you feel like you’re literally in the game.
Combine it with a 3D audio technology that will allow you to pinpoint the direction of the sounds.
- Offers a field of view up to 100 degrees
- It has a refreshing rate ranging between 90 and 120 Hz
- It displays runs on about 120 frames per seconds
- Offers a lot of value for the price
- It’s plug and play compatible
- You would require at least PlayStation 4 console to use it
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR is a headset made specifically for the Samsung Galaxy phone models. It can function with the Samsung Gear VR controller and the Xbox wireless controller.
It undoubtedly is one of the best VR headsets in the budget category since it is powered by Oculus. But the market for it is rather niche, since it is only compatible with Samsung Galaxy smartphones. It would be a good investment if you already own a Samsung Galaxy phone or are planning to get one.
Gear VR is designed such that you can enjoy 2D, 3D, and 360 degrees on it by directly connecting it to your device. You can enjoy hundreds of games which will take you to another dimension thanks to the number of sensor types such as accelerometer, proximity sensor, and even gyro sensor.
Other than enjoying hundreds of games, you have the chance to explore virtual worlds using images and videos too.
- It features different sensors like the accelerometer, proximity sensor, and the gyro sensor
- It features a TouchPal at the side of the VR device for easier cursor control
- It’s compatible with a range of devices, but they are specially made for Samsung Galaxy
- Can function with a Samsung Gear VR controller or Xbox wireless controller
- The lens can fog from moisture in some cases
- Remote is an average
Google Daydream View
Like most mobile VR headsets, the Google Daydream View is a headset whose graphics performance depends on the phone. It has a handheld remote for a controller, which is one of the things that make the headset stand out. It is compatible with certain models like the Google Pixel, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, and the Moto Z.
You can tell from its unique appearance that this headset boasts a comfortable design. Quality-wise, it is comparable to the Samsung Gear VR. Perhaps an edge the Daydream View has is that it's a good headset for watching live-streamed events. Coral noted how VR is used to stream Major League Baseball every Tuesday. In a 3D setting, the VR service shows a live game along with real-time statistics and standings. It is currently only compatible with the Daydream View headset, so if you're a big baseball fan, you should opt for this one instead.
The greatest Google Daydream View feature is the ability to not only see the world but experience it, from visiting places to even visiting virtual museums.
But no matter if you’re gaming, visiting places, or simply exploring – Google Daydream View will always surprise you with the comfort. It’s a lightweight and durable headset that comes with paddings at perfect places and a breathable fabric which makes wearing this headset for hours a lot of fun.
- You can plug it with a mobile device and enjoy the quality of the device on the VR
- It is high quality and low latency VR for mobile devices
- Features a handheld remote controller with the headset
- Ideal for watching live-streamed events
- 3D setting shows a lot of real-time statistics
- Perfect for baseball fans
- It is only compatible with a few mobile devices
Lenovo Mirage Solo
The Mirage Solo has a 2560 x 1440 resolution with LCD display and 75Hz. It is also a standalone headset. You can use it with the Mirage Camera with Daydream to create your own VR content, which could then be shared on YouTube or Google Photos.
As standalone headsets go, the Mirage Solo has a similar performance to the Oculus Go. But it does have a wider field of view at 110 degrees, which is the same as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. It also sports updated processors and bigger storage space. With better specs, it’s only natural that the Mirage Solo has the higher price tag.
Even though Lenovo Mirage Solo is a bit on a pricier side, it’s totally worth it since it’s being powered with high-end components. It features the latest version of Snapdragon 835 mobile VR platform which delivers untethered high-quality VR experience.
Because it is a standalone VR headset, it is powered with rechargeable batteries which battery can last for up to 3 hours on one single charge. They don’t take long to get recharged so you can get back in the game in no time.
- It features rechargeable batteries that can last up to 3 hours
- It is a standalone VR headset
- It comes with a 4gb ram capacity
- It is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR platform
- Has a wider field of view at 110-degrees
- It requires an internet connection to use the best of its features
Google Cardboard is aptly named such because of its fold-out cardboard viewer. You can either build one from low-cost components or buy a pre-manufactured one. It is compatible with numerous Android and iOS smartphone devices.
This is the headset with the simplest design of this bunch, hence its affordability. It provides a decent VR viewing experience, but it is understandably not as immersive as other headsets. However, it can be a good entry point for people who just want to experience VR for the first time.
The Google Cardboard VR headset is quite an impressive VR headset overall and is probably one of the cheapest VR headsets on the market. It’s compatible with any smartphone and once you connect it – you’re ready to start exploring the world.
It can’t be compared with more immersive (and pricier VR headsets), but its clever design will provide a quality VR experience that can be a stepping stone to a better VR headset without breaking your bank.
- It is compatible with both Android and iOS devices
- It supposed devices with a screen size between 4 to 6 inches
- It works with Android 4.1 devices or higher and iOS 8.0 devices or higher
- Easy to build one out of low-cost components
- Price is fairly affordable
- It is not very rugged in terms of design
Merge VR Goggles
The Merge Goggles adopts Google Cardboard’s design and adds adjustable lens to make it work with most iOS and Android smartphone devices. It can be used on all apps that are Google Cardboard compatible.
While Google Cardboard is only compatible with certain smartphone devices, Merge Goggles was designed to work with all smartphones. It has a variety of headset sizes and colors, which is why it’s a great headset for kids of all ages. It may be the better and more expensive variant of the Google Cardboard, but it does have one drawback in that it doesn’t feature hand controls.
Whether you’re going to explore locations, watch videos & movies, or play games – you can turn your smartphone into VR world in just seconds.
Featuring an engaging STEM Toy, the whole family will have plenty of content to enjoy with over 300+ family-friendly apps to choose from.
- It works with most smartphones
- It features well over 300+ family friendly games
- It has an improved & durable design
- Its lens is adjustable to fit your eyes distance
- It features spring buttons on the VR headset for control
- Is a bit heavy as weight isn’t balanced
The Samsung Odyssey is a VR headset that is one rare headsets that will provide a premium experience while paying attention to comfort.
As soon as you begin to dive into the functionality of this virtual reality headset, with its NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card and its AMOLED screen you would love the features it offers.
Odyssey comes with a 110-degrees field of view and a 1440 x 1600 resolution. And if you combine these features together, you’ll be able to even hear someone sneaking up on you. Detecting clues about what’s around you takes the experience to another level.
The phenomenal sense of presence is guaranteed, and the ability to interact with Cortana is a brilliant move by Samsung.
Therefore, you get the ability to have a little chat with a friend while using an app with an integrated microphone.
- You can utilise the VR headset to interact with Cortina
- It features 2 wireless controller
- Premium built-in AKG headphones
- Features phenomenal sense of presence
- It is compatible with just windows system
Want to find the best laptops with VR capabilities for your new VR headset? Check out the Wired Shopper’s list of top 10 gaming laptops this year.
VR Headset Apps
Before you shell out hundreds of dollars on VR apps that will take you into a ride of immersive virtual world, its worthwhile to note that you can have as much fun playing VR games through your consoles and phones. iTunes & Play Store have countless apps that you can try before making that big spend!