Virtual Reality (VR) is becoming more and more of a household term. It is expected that by 2020, about 30% of US households will have VR. In the media, VR is portrayed to have many different use cases, from gaming to medical applications. However, one thing for sure is that whether you’re using VR to play games or train for a surgery, the only way you can access the virtual content is by using a headset.
Although Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the leaders in the VR headset marketplace, there are several other options that can help users access immersive content. The best VR headset can vary from person to person. For example, design and architecture professionals looking to use VR headsets for client demos will most likely require a different headset than someone who is just looking to watch 360 videos. As a result, we crafted a list of 10 headsets in the market that we think are ideal based on price range.
Full List of VR Headsets:
The first three headsets on the list are premium headsets. These headsets are for users who are professionals and heavy users. They are perfect for gaming, collaborating during engineering projects, and sharing ideas.
Released in April 2016, HTC has taken the VR headset market by a landslide. Not only is it way ahead of its time, but it also allows full mobility to consumers. The great thing about HTC Vive is that users can take advantage of their surroundings to have fully immersive experiences as long as it’s within 225 square feet.
HTC Vive comes with two cameras (one on the headset, and another one to be affixed to a wall) to give users a continuous immersive experience. The downside of the HTC Vive is that it is reported to be less comfortable than the Oculus Rift, and requires a lot of GPU power to function.
Source: HTC Vive
Oculus is probably one of the most well-known VR brands. Not only because it has an amazing library of movies and games, but also because the company was acquired by Facebook for a hefty $2.9 billion. Oculus VR also made headlines earlier this year with its new set of headsets that we will discuss later on.
Launched around the same time as HTC Vive, Oculus Rift managed to capture the gaming community’s heart. One amazing thing about this headset is that it is very comfortable. Recalling Nintendo’s Virtual Boy’s ergonomic disaster, Oculus Rift avoided that problem. The downside is that it requires a lot of processing power to support its functionality.
Source: New Atlas
Razer is known for making high-end gaming hardware so it’s no surprise that they entered the VR headset market. Razer has entered the VR market with an open platform VR headset. The great thing about being completely open is that users have the freedom to choose from different types of controllers in the market from various manufacturers.
Like the Oculus and HTC, the Razer features LED screens, giving users the ultimate visual experience. Even though the viewer is too small for people who wear glasses, the Razer overcomes this obstacle by allowing users to adjust the screens to match their eyesight.
Being completely open source can result in lower quality control. When TechRadar reviewed the product they learned that, in terms of performance, the Razer runs comfortably on any computer.
They also noticed a lot of judders while using the headset. The journalist concluded because their experiences are accumulated from different manufacturers, there is very little quality control. Finally, several users have reported that it is uncomfortably tight.
The next three on the list are our mid-range headsets. These headsets are for individuals who have an occasional need for virtual reality hardware, but are not seeking to use it daily. These are perfect for users who want to use VR for casual gaming, watching 360 videos or just want to participate on the receiving end of ideas or meetings.
The Mirage Solo is a VR headset released by Google. The great thing about the Mirage is that it is a headset made for professionals, and yet it is the perfect hybrid between smartphone-ready VR and PC-ready VR.
Unlike the Rift and Vive, the Mirage doesn’t require a connection to a PC. The Mirage doesn’t require an expensive smartphone to work. There are two cameras at the front that scan your environment, so you can use it to move around anywhere.
Unfortunately, the library is not as big as Oculus or HTC. It features an LCD display, rather than the conventional LED. Some users have also commented that its unique shape makes it difficult to travel with.
Oculus GO is a mid-level VR headset by Oculus VR. It’s a perfect beginner headset for people just entering the VR world. This headset doesn’t require a connection to a PC or a smartphone, and is incredibly lightweight, thus making it the perfect portable device for travel.
This headset is reportedly one of the most comfortable options on the market due to its ergonomic fit and breathable fabric. If you wear glasses or lenses, you can make the screen suitable to your own prescription so that you don’t have to worry about wearing them while you wear the headset.
Some users experience some light penetration from the bottom of the headset, which detracts from the full immersive experience. Also, the battery charge time isn’t ideal since the Oculus GO requires three hours of charging to get two hours of continuous use.
Although supported on smartphones, the Google Daydream View is one of the best options to experience VR on this list. It is very similar to the Samsung Gear VR, however, unlike Samsung, you don’t need to purchase their expensive smartphone to access their VR content. Instead, you can use a wide range of smartphones that support Daydream View.
The casing is made out of fabric so it is more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. You can also remove the face-pad and hand wash it easily. The VR headset comes with a controller that you can use to access content and play interactive games.
It can be a bit heavier at the front than some of the other options on this list, but this can be helped by ensuring that it’s properly fitted before you start playing with it, so overall this headset is a good investment.
Our final selections are for individuals who are brand new to the VR world. Whether you want to slowly immerse yourself in VR, or just want to dabble in it, the following will help you to get your foot in the door. These are also excellent choices for educators who want to implement VR in the classroom, but don’t have the resources to do so.
Google Cardboard is one of the most popular and affordable options for experiencing VR on the market today. The reason is that Google Cardboard is a low to no-cost option. There are instructions online that you can follow to build your own. It’s very easy to use and works with almost any smartphone.
The Google Cardboard doesn’t come with a controller, however, there is a magnet on the left that you can use to click or control the virtual world. It is a fun little device to work with and although it has limited capabilities, the main reason that Google has been investing in this is to get people interested in VR by making it accessible to a wider audience.
Merge VR Glasses are a worthwhile investment for a newcomer to VR. It is made out of a soft foam, rather than cardboard or expensive plastic. It is also very flexible so that you can plug it into any smartphone to access virtual content. It features a clicker on top that you can use to access content, and it is adjustable so that you can ensure that the lenses fit you comfortably.
Another great thing about the Merge is that there is a cover in front of your phone’s camera that you can take off, so your camera can see the surrounding environment for augmented reality purposes. Again, this is a means of getting more people interested in VR. This is a very user-friendly option since it was designed to be simple.
Source: VR Life
ZEISS is a German optical and medical manufacturer, so it’s no surprise that they want to take advantage of VR technology for their own industry. The ZEISS is a bit pricier than both the Merge and Google Cardboard. It comes in a plastic casing where you can plug in your smartphone, and although it doesn’t come with a controller, you can easily navigate using the ZEISS VR dedicated apps. Again, like the previous two headsets, this product is mostly for accessing and viewing content rather than interacting with it.
Oculus Quest was introduced to the world during Oculus Connect 5 and it is poised to take the world by storm. It is going to have four cameras in the front for better tracking of your environment, and you will be able to move around more freely. Oculus Quest is expected to hit the market sometime in 2019.
These are some of the best headsets that you can use to have fully immersive experiences. However, it’s important to remember that there is no perfect headset. The usability of a particular headset varies from one person to another.
Heavy users that need the processing power might choose a premium headset to support their activity, while casual and experimental users might opt for something with less functionality at an affordable price point. In any case, we hope this post helps you make the right selection for your situation. Let us know if we missed any VR headsets in the comments below.