Read this complete guide to compare and buy the Best Virtual Reality Headset for PC, PS4, and Xbox 360 based on the review, buying tips and pricing:
The purpose of a virtual reality headset is to immerse you in a virtual environment to feel as if you are fighting with life-size game characters, driving life-size cars, chasing life-size dragons, and meeting your friends feeling like it would feel in the physical real life. The more the immersion from a headset, the better, but that may come at additional cost.
The market has enough options–PC, mobile, and consoles headsets. Some headsets come as standalone devices, while others require other devices to be bought. Headsets come with a different capability for integration and support for other hardware, features, benefits, and challenges.
This guide informs you not only the best virtual reality headsets in the market for different operating software platforms but will also let you understand how to buy the best VR headset.
What You Will Learn:
- Virtual Reality Headsets
- List Of Top Virtual Reality Headsets
Virtual Reality Headsets
Valve Index VR headset:
What they are and what are their applications?
Virtual reality is the relatively less popular technology that allows users to virtually immerse themselves in the content they are browsing, for instance, games or virtually working.
Looking and browsing through the content while wearing the virtual reality headset over his or her head with the lens directly in front of their eyes, a user will feel like though they were physically present in the environments they are browsing through or looking at.
Second, the user can use gaze sensor mode by looking at the content through the lenses and can use hand controllers to virtually interact with to control the content they are browsing or looking at. This increases the feeling of immersion.
How Do VR Headsets Work
A virtual reality headset comprises many parts including lenses, sensors, and connector ports.
The basic function of the device which is usually worn over the head with lenses placed in front of the eye is to project the image from a device such as smartphone graphics components, gaming console graphics components, or PC graphics components to the eye after creating a stereoscopic life-size 3D image, and environments.
For starters, a 3D image, video, and the environment is one that a user can browse from all sides, left, right, center, up, and down.
The headset can be so simple that it does not have an integrated computer device to recreate the image to 3D beyond having lenses but instead, has lenses to magnify already generated/created 3D images, videos, and environments into life-size images for further immersion.
#1) Cardboard headset comprises lenses that only magnifies the image and contains the sensors that allow a user to browse the content with gaze mode, just by looking at the control points in the 3D environments or content; and by rotating the head (rotational tracking). A user will only need to slot the smartphone into the cardboard device and start enjoying the 3D environments.
#2) Simpler VR headsets lack 3D audio and hand or body tracking, so it is called half-immersion. The problem here is when the user moves the rest of their body–beyond the head and hands–for instance, the user takes a step forward in the real world, the entire VR environment moves and does not detect these movements.
#3) Headsets used for top quality VR experiences have lenses, sensors, and controllers. Sensors and cameras are used for position-tracking or to track the position of the user, and for motion-tracking or for tracking the user’s motion.
#4) Positional and motion tracking helps to position the user or their body, or their hands, in the VR environment such that the user can move their body and move objects inside VR environments. This is called 6-degrees of freedom and the kind of VR is called Room-scale VR because besides rotating the head and using controllers to browse through the content, a user can move freely in the real world and consequently is tracked in the VR environment as they move around, and can even move objects in the virtual environment.
#6) Sensors can be located on the controllers operated by hand, placed or worn on the body, integrated on the headset itself, or even placed in the room to track the position and motion of the user in relation to headset and controllers. Controllers may contain sensors to detect finger movement or hand gestures.
#7) The other kinds of inputs include buttons on the controllers, gamepads, keyboard, and mouse buttons. These are used to relay the signal from hand or eye or head or body to be fed into the system and to allow the user to control or manipulate the VR content, for instance, shoot a character with a virtual gun if playing in a VR game.
Types Of VR Headsets
Virtual reality headsets are divided according to pricing and the level of immersion and experiences they provide, type of connectivity with other devices, and based on how they track the user’s motion and position as they use the devices.
#1) Based on connectivity or no connectivity with other devices:
Types such as HTC Vive Pro and others are physically connected/tethered to a computer through a USB and/or HDMI cable. The connected powerful PC processes the 3D or VR environments and sends them to the headset which magnifies them and also manages the other inputs and outputs from and to the user.
These lesser powerful headsets do not require an external connection to a PC or smartphone but come with an integrated computer, processors, sensors, battery, storage memory, and displays, and once strapped, they are ready to go, although they can work with separate controllers and other position and motion tracking sensors and devices. Examples include Oculus Go and Lenovo Mirage Solo.
These lesser powerful (than above two categories) headsets contain lenses and sometimes sensors and all it requires the user to insert a VR-capable or other smartphones to enjoy VR apps. Smartphones that have gyroscopic sensors and accelerometers help create better immersion experiences with these lower quality headsets.
Examples include the Samsung Gear VR, Xiaomi Mi VR Play 2, and Cardboard devices.
#2) According to the quality of VR experiences:
The Oculus Rift, Valve and HTC’s Vive, Vive Pro, Oculus Quest, and Sony PlayStation VR are examples of headsets you might want to buy if willing to experience the best of quality graphics and refresh rates.
Besides the high-resolution screens, they contain motion and position tracking sensors and devices, which is best for full immersion in VR and free movement when playing games and exploring VR content in a room.
These are the most expensive but have lesser motion sickness. You might need to spend around $1,000 together with other hardware costs, such as buying a GPU for your PC.
The mid-range VR headsets are the ones powered by smartphones, though some come with integrated computer processing units.
However, unlike the cheaper cardboard options, they may comprise own screens, more powerful lenses and field of view, motion tracking sensors, position tracking systems and sensors, a dedicated app store, content subscription with the brands, built-in controls such as through buttons as controllers, and focus wheels.
Samsung’s Gear VR is the most sophisticated, and probably the most successful in this category. These devices cost between $75 to $125.
These devices are the cheapest. Made of cardboard, plastics, or aluminum bodies, they have lenses that magnify the 3D and VR content is viewed from a VR app installed in a smartphone inserted in the headset. They are countless, cost as low as $10, and examples include the Mattel View-Master.
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#3) According to position and motion tracking mode:
a) Inside-out tracking headsets
Mostly for high-end tethered and wireless headsets, these have sensors attached or fitted on the headset itself to track the motion and position of the user or headset versus that of the room in which the user is roaming as they play VR games or browse VR content.
There is the freedom to roam without restriction, hence more real. The problem is accuracy and latency because good computer vision is required, yet the technology is behind outside-in solutions. Another problem is the headset will need to do all the computational work itself.
b) Outside-in tracking headsets
In outside-in tracking, position and motion trackers or sensors are placed separately from the headset, in the room, or on an external device such as on the tethered PC, to track the position of the headset against that of the room. Examples are Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PS VR.
They do not cause a lot of nausea. It is the most powerful kind of tracking for now, best for accuracy, and it is possible to add more trackers around the room to increase accuracy.
However, there is the problem of occlusion, and sensors must be in the position to track the user effectively in 360 degrees otherwise they can lose placement when you turn around, and the user has to be in the field of view of the cameras to be tracked in the VR environment.
VR Headset Buying Tips
#1) Decide on which device you want to use to view the virtual reality content and the minimum requirement to operate VR, whether is it a PC, smartphone? You might need to buy GPU graphics for your PC.
#2) What is your application? Do you need the high-end VR headsets that support full-body positional and body movement tracking? What is your desired level of immersion?
High-end tethered or wireless VR headsets are also best for hard-core gamers, trainers, and their trainees, for example, in Government Defense departments who need top-notch immersion in their training simulations, etc. If the application is not as sensitive, it may be quite expensive for you to buy a high-end VR headset.
#3) If you need mobility, then you might need a mobile VR headset such as the smartphone-based headsets, wireless headsets, standalone headsets, or the cardboards. The smartphone category might need you to add an extra cost for VR-capable smartphone. The tethered ones are connected via a short cable to a PC and will limit movements, though you can upgrade some to be wireless by buying additional devices.
#4) Budget–High end cost the tunes of $3000 while the cheaper cardboards cost as low as $10.
List Of Top Virtual Reality Headsets
Below is the list of best VR headsets For PC, PS4, Xbox, etc:
- HTC Vive Pro
- Valve Index
- Oculus Quest
- The HTC Vive
- Samsung Odyssey+
- PlayStation VR
- Microsoft HoloLens
- Samsung Gear VR
- Oculus Rift S
- Homido VR headset
Comparison Of Best VR Headsets
|VR Headset||Type||Resolution||Refresh rate||Motion detection||Controls||Required platform||Software platform||Rating(Out of 5)||Price|
|Valve Index||Tethered||1600 x 1440||144 HZ, 120 HZ, 90 HZ, 80HZ||6DOS||Valve Controllers||PC||Valve||4||$999|
|HTC Vive Pro||Tethered and wireless||2,880 x 1,600||80hz||6DOS||Vive Controller||Windows 10, and 8.1||Viveport||4|
|Oculus Quest||Standalone||1600x1440 per eye||72 Hz||6DOS||Oculus Touch||Android||Oculus||4.5||$399|
|HTC Vive||Tethered||2,160 x 1,200||90hz||6DOS||Vive Controller||Windows 7, 8, 10||Viveport||4.5||$850|
|Samsung Odyssey+||Tethered||2880x1600||90hz||6DOS||Odyssey controllers||Windows||Samsung VR store||3.9||$500|
|Sony PlayStation VR||Tethered||1080x960 per eye||120 Hz||6DOS||DualShock 4, PlayStation Move||PlayStation 4||PlayStation 4||4.5||$270|
|Microsoft HoloLens||Standalone||1280 × 720||60Hz||6DOS||Xbox Wireless||Windows||Microsoft Store||3.8-4.0||$3,500|
|Oculus Rift S||Tethered||1440x1280 per eye||80 Hz||6DOS||Oculus Touch||PC||Oculus||4||$613|
|Samsung Gear VR||SmartPhone||1280x1440||60Hz||3 DoF||Gamepad||SmartPhone||Android, Samsung VR store, Oculus Store||4||$129|
|Homido VR headset||Smartphone||Depends on phone||60Hz||3DOS||Buttons||Smartphone||Homido Center||3.6||$20|
These VR Headsets are reviewed below:
#1) HTC Vive Pro
- It is one of the best virtual reality headsets out there because it allows you to use the 2.0 Base Station to create a 20 by 20 feet virtual world, and you can build and walk freely in that virtual world on your two feet, virtually.
- The upgrade of the HTC Vive standard headset has a double-resolution (2,880 x 1,600 pixels) of its predecessor. It packs an AMOLED screen, one for each eye.
- It offers a wireless option for connectivity in addition to the PC tethering option via cable, so it is better than the likes of only PC-tethered Vive Cosmos or Oculus Rift and Rift S. It is also capable of 3D spatial audio.
- You require a Windows PC with the minimum of a GeForce GTX 970 or above or a virtual Windows setting.
- Very comfortable to wear.
- Viveport provides a variety of games and app options.
- Higher resolution than original HTC Vive.
- Wireless capability.
- Clearer visuals than original Vive.
- Includes adjustment controls, built-in headphones, and immersion mic.
- Vive Pro kit includes the base stations and motion controllers on Amazon.
- High PC requirements.
- 3x the price of standard Vive.
- Requires full DisplayPort (no HDMI or mini DisplayPort to work with USB, USB-C, and HDMI.).
- The screen door effect is visible, though smaller and less obstructive.
Our Ratings: 4/5
Price: Buy HTC Vive Pro On Amazon.
#2) Valve Index
- Although heavier than other headsets in this list, Valve features high quality and comfortable design, built-in speakers, and comes with hand-strapping controllers that have pressure-sensitive control.
- It is capable of 6-degrees-of-freedom VR with full position and body motion tracking, and it has a pair of cameras and a USB port for future expansion capabilities. The LCD panel adjusts the refresh rate from the range depending on your computer’s processing power.
- Options for future expansion.
- Great build and smart design on controllers.
- No charging cable provided.
Our Ratings: 4/5
Price: Buy Valve Index on Amazon
#3) Oculus Quest
- Oculus Quest is Oculus’s second VR headset option since Oculus Rift and is also a stand-alone headset, meaning it comes with an integrated computer device for processing, just like Vive Pro and Valve headsets.
- It also incorporates sensors that can trace the motion and position of the user when using the headset in a room, therefore, capable of providing room-scale VR experience. Users can also control virtual reality environments using hand controllers.
- It was launched with 50 games, but now there are multiple games from which users can select.
- Can manage room-scale VR.
- Ability to cast content to TV and smartphones.
- Provides a large library of apps.
- Offers all-in-one VR solution.
Our Ratings: 4.5/5
Price: Buy Oculus Quest on Amazon
#4) The HTC Vive
- The HTC Vive is one of the best headsets for PC used today because, in addition to room position and motion tracking, you can also bring real-world items into the virtual scene, using the Vive Trackers.
- You can also use the $299 TPCast add-on to make it completely wireless and free yourself from the usage of cables. You can also use HTC’s $99 Deluxe Audio Strap, which provides an immersive audio experience through adjustable headphones.
- HTC Vive Pro includes a dual camera and in-built eye-tracking, instead of a singular central lens in the original HTC Vive.
- Pro also comes with AMOLED instead of OLED in HTC Vive, and a resolution of 2,880 x 1,600 compared to the 2,160 x 1,200 in the original Vive.
- While HTC Vive requires Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 and does not support Windows 7, Vive supports Windows 7.
- It offers smooth graphics and low latency.
- Easy to use and adapt controllers.
- A large library of games.
- You tether it to the PC or laptop using a 6-foot cable, but there is the option of using it wirelessly with a $299 TPCast add-on.
- No built-in audio for HTC Vive. Pro has inbuilt audio headphones.
- Lots of space needed to use the headset.
- Lots of electrical outlets needed to use the headset.
Our Ratings: 4.5/5.
Price: Buy HTC Vive on Amazon
#5) Samsung Odyssey+
- As an improvement of the Odyssey HMD and as one of the best Windows Mixed Reality headset offerings, the display of Odyssey+ is one of the best at 2880×1600 and there is an anti-screen door feature to reduce fine-grain visible in many HMDs.
- The refresh rate is 90Hz, Field of View is 110 degrees, and the headset features HDMI and USB connection, and is used with the Odyssey controllers.
- Half the price of Vive Pro but with better resolution.
- Inside-out tracking.
- Reduced screen door effect.
- Support in both Viveport and SteamVR libraries.
- Though there is SteamVR support, the Odyssey+ has a slight games library.
Our Ratings: 3.9/5
#6) PlayStation VR
- PlayStation VR is for those who like PS4 virtual reality games and other VR experiences, especially if you already have PlayStation 4 and 5. It is the best in the VR headsets for consoles and already has several popular and top VR gaming titles like the Star Wars Battlefront.
- It is the most affordable high-end stand-alone VR headset currently available even when you include the price of the console.
- It comes with hand-controlled Move Controllers and you can watch movies and TV in a theatre-like set-up at 120 Hz. You can also watch movies and play games on the PS VR without wearing the headset, using the Social Screen.
- Extensive gaming and movie library.
- Easy set-up.
- Relatively affordable than most on this list.
- Sony PlayStation VR headset can deliver a 120-hertz refresh rate, which is one of the highest.
- The camera can be exacting.
- Lens has a lower resolution than other headsets.
Our Ratings: 4.5/5
Price: Buy PlayStation VR on Amazon
#7) Microsoft HoloLens
- Microsoft HoloLens has no connecting cable and therefore provides the freedom to roam around in VR without being tripped. It does not rest on the nose but drifts over the face. Hence it is comfortable to wear.
- Features two in-built speakers, and is managed by gestures of eyes, hands, and voice. Additionally, instead of wrapping the headset over the head, the display screen just hangs over in front of your face.
- It generates 3D holograms that are pinned to the real world around the user, by making use of optics and sensors. The visor which contains sensors and displays can be rotated up and down when wearing the lenses.
- The brightness buttons on the left of the device can be used to vary brightness just as the volume buttons can be used to vary the volume.
- The HoloLens comes with a micro-USB.
- The holographic lenses are see-through. The resolution of the holographic is 2 HD 16:9 light engines producing 2.3M total light points. The device has 4 cameras to understand the environment around the user, and one depth camera, a light sensor, mixed reality capture, HD video camera, and microphones.
- It uses Intel 32-bit architecture and custom-built Microsoft Holographic Processing Unit (HPU 1.0) processors.
- Comfortable to wear.
- High potential for the system.
- The screen is too small.
Our Rating: 3.8/5
Price: Buy Microsoft HoloLens
#8) Samsung Gear VR
- The Samsung Gear VR is the best in the category of smartphone virtual reality headsets, with support for Galaxy S8, S8 Plus, S9, and S9 Plus.
- With the motion controller, touchpad, and trigger button, you can control and interact with the virtual reality worlds as you like.
- Light in weight.
- It supports several phones.
- Controller batteries cannot be recharged.
Our Ratings: 4.1/5
#9) Oculus Rift S
- The Oculus Rift S is an improvement of the Oculus Rift, is one of the top virtual reality headsets, and is more comfortable to wear.
- It also features the inside-out tracking for good room-scale VR experience without using any external sensors. Inside-out tracking utilizes 5 cameras placed on the headset.
- The resolution is higher than that of the Oculus Rift at 1280 x 1440 compared to 1200 x 1080 pixels per eye, although the refresh rate is slightly lower with Rift S at 80 Hz compared to 90 Hz on the Rift.
- The headset requires USB 3 and DisplayPort connector, and it includes the AAA batteries for the controllers in the box.
- The device uses touch controllers and the pass-through cameras allow you to see what is around as you walk in VR. The controllers have capacitive sensors on the buttons and thumbsticks to allow the user to use finger-pointing gestures in virtual reality.
- Is easy to use and set up.
- Inside-out tracking so no external tracking sensors.
- Crisp visuals.
- Some glitches have been reported, where it freezes, requiring the device to be restart.
Our Ratings: 4/5
Price: Buy Oculus Rift S on Amazon
#10) Homido VR headset
- Homido gets into this list because its smart design allows every smartphone–Android, iOS, or Windows, and every app to work with it.
- Using the concept of cardboards, the device lets you insert a phone on it and can play any app with 3D content and unlike Samsung Gear VR which only allows a few Samsung phones, this one is universal.
- It is possible to adjust the distance of the smartphone from the lenses and also the center distance between the lenses. It also features the Homido Center, which contains details of how to use the headset.
- Accepts and works with all smartphones and apps.
- Features a soft, cushy built.
- A bit overpriced.
- Low-quality VR experience compared to many high-end devices.
Our Rating: 3.6/5
Price: Buy Homido VR on Walmart
Challenges Of Using VR Headsets
- VR and headset devices have not reached mainstream adoption. All of them, VR hardware companies, software companies, and content creators are yet to find regular day-to-day and massive applications for VR.
- Virtual reality hardware, including the headsets, is expensive. At the same time, only a few hardware currently in use can support virtual reality content and platforms.
- A long period is needed before companies and persons can receive back on their VR investment or ROI.
- Steeper learning curve and complicated setups compared to other technologies.
- Internal implications such as nausea feelings when you use the headset for long. Other challenges include light-headedness, discomfort or pain in the head or eyes, drowsiness, fatigue, sweating, increased salvation, impaired hand-eye coordination, and impaired balance. Most of the best virtual reality headsets try to reduce those effects.
In conclusion, virtual reality headsets come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and types. If looking for the best virtual reality headsets, there are those standalone types that can be used alone without needing attachment to smartphones or PCs and there are those that require being tethered on PCs, and those that require smartphones insertion to play their role.
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Among the top virtual reality headsets, we have high-end VR, mid-range, and low-end VR in terms of the quality of virtual reality experiences. Most have associated content and app stores from which the user can get content to play if they buy a headset.
We looked, in this top virtual reality headset tutorial, at the specifics of a virtual reality headset, but most importantly, we concentrated on the top 10 virtual reality headsets available in the market today.
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They include Samsung Odyssey+, HTC Vive, and Vive Pro, Oculus Quest and Rift S, Homido, Microsoft HoloLens, Valve Index, Samsung Gear VR, and without forgetting one of the most valuable for gamers, in this list–the PlayStation VR headset.