In some cases, that outside device is a smartphone; other Headsets are powered by a computer or a game console. The first decision to make when purchasing a virtual reality headset is which type will work best for you.
With the help of specially enabled apps and games, you can explore virtual environments to your heart’s content. Wired headsets typically have superior image quality, although they are significantly more expensive than wireless units (even before the cost of the computer or console).
Similarly, tethered Headsets start around $300, but the required computer or console quickly bumps the total cost up by several hundred dollars. Once you’ve purchased a VR headset and all the necessary supporting hardware, there is also the cost of software to be considered.
Virtual reality games and apps range anywhere from $4 to $50, and should be factored into the total cost of ownership. Crafting apps, including the ultra-popular Minecraft, have been so successful on VR platforms they’ve become their own category.
Whether you’re into casually building your own virtual empire or designing objects that can be 3D-printed in the real world, there’s a VR app for that. Users can take a stroll through Ancient Rome, downtown New York City, or even their favorite museum.
While most people focus on the virtual reality features of Headsets, at the end of the day, they’re still headsets, which means you’ll need to find one that fits your head comfortably. Many VR headsets with plastic straps have extra comfort features, like padding near the forehead area.
If you’re showing virtual reality to a friend or loved one, give them plenty of physical space if it’s their first time. If you experience any of these symptoms while using a VR headset, discontinue use immediately and consult a physician.
Some wireless VR headset phone units are meant to work only with specific smartphone models. Pick up a case for all of your VR gear to keep your investment safe, and ensure enjoyment for years to come.
Regular pauses can prevent you from getting headaches or feeling dizzy, cramped, or even dehydrated. While some people claim to prefer marathon, all-day, uninterrupted VR sessions, your best bet is to prioritize your health: take breaks when you need to, drink water frequently, and get up and stretch regularly.
They offer more and more immersive ways to explore new worlds, letting you move freely and get a real sense of scale in your games. With advanced tracking and 6DoF (six degrees of freedom), your movements are accurately translated into the game world, letting you feel like you're truly there (for better or worse). Quality Headsets can be seriously demanding though, with some packing so many pixels and such a fast refresh rate that you'd need a beastly gaming PC to run them.
We've rounded up our top picks of the bunch, so you can find a quality VR headset that'll offer the life-like gaming experience you're looking for. See It Platform: Standalone, PC Resolution (per-eye): 1,832 × 1,920 Refresh rate: 90Hz Field of view: 100-degrees Tracking: 6DoF Weight: 1.1 poundsThere's a new VR champ on the block, and it's the Oculus Quest 2 (read our review).
This new headset upgrades just about every aspect of the original Oculus Quest that had previously held our top spot. The PlayStation VR (read our review) gives PS4 owners a way to dive deeper into games than ever.
The headset itself is one piece of the puzzle, as there's also a separate camera and motion controllers that can unlock even more immersive gameplay. There's even a free adapter available for the PlayStation Camera, showing a commendable commitment by Sony to continue supporting its VR headset.
Platform: PC Resolution (per-eye): 1,280 × 1,440 Refresh rate: 80Hz Field of view: 110-degrees Tracking: 6DoF Weight: 1.2 pounds Oculus Rift made a splash as the first consumer VR headset for PCs, and Facebook’s Oculus Rift S is a welcome refresh. Like the Oculus Quest, it only costs $400, and while it requires a fairly capable gaming PC to play, that’s still a lot more affordable than the Valve Index.
The display uses small LCD panels that run at 90Hz for the smooth playback required in VR. The headset offers a comfortable, halo-style headband that makes it easy to wear and take off momentarily. But, what really helps set the Five Cosmos apart is its continued support for HTC's official Wireless Adapter, which delivers a high-fidelity, low-lantency stream of your VR content, so you can go truly tetherless.
It's effectively possible to switch which version of the Cosmos you're using by swapping out the face plate, controllers, and any tracking base station, making this a wildly versatile headset. Platform: PC Resolution (per-eye): 1,440 × 1,600 Refresh rate: 120Hz (144Hz experimental mode) Field of view: 130-degrees Tracking: 6DoF Weight: 1.79 poundsValve’s Index headset is the latest and greatest in PC-based VR that will fill each of your eyeballs with 1,440 × 1,600 pixels at a refresh rate of 120Hz.
For reference, two 1440p displays is 88% of the way to 4K in terms of pixel count, and there's not a lot of hardware out there running games in 4K at even 60fps. See It Platform: PC Resolution (per-eye): 2,160 × 2,160 Refresh rate: 90Hz Field of view: 114-degrees Tracking: 6DoF Weight: 1.1 poundsDespite not getting a lot of attention, Windows Mixed Reality headsets are still a thing, and the HP Reverb Professional Edition is arguably the best out there right now.
It offers significantly a higher resolution picture of 2,160 × 2,160 per-eye, which translates to noticeably better graphics in-game. There are some setbacks with this headset though as tracking and controllers aren’t as good as the Rift or Five. However, if resolution is king, and you have the graphics card to drive it, the Reverb offers some of the sharpest picture quality you’ll find right now.
The new model has improved controls that aren't the clunky Windows Mixed Reality controllers of yesteryear, and it includes integrated headphones for precise audio with a slightly changed design over the previous model. These upgrades to the HP Reverb G2 are solid, especially when considering that the headset features one of the sharpest displays on the market. That makes for a full image that packs more pixels than 4K and runs at 90Hz, so it'll take a serious gaming PC to power.
Other headsets, like the Oculus Go or the smartphone-based Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View, support fewer degrees of freedom, only tracking the swivel and tilt of your head rather than following you as you move around. Other systems, like the HTC Five and Valve Index, require you to place a few base stations around the room to track your movements.
The bestVRheadsets usually require a wire connected to your PC, while standalone solutions allow you to roam freely. Being wired up isn’t the worst thing in the world by any means, especially if you’re only going to play in one room anyway, and you'll see the best resolution and image quality possible.
Going wireless makes tripping one less thing to worry about, but it also adds the constraints of battery life. Whit son Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years.
Watching a movie in VR is a lot simpler than, say, playing your favorite RPG. If you, like so many of us, love escaping into an exciting new world whenever you sit down to watch a movie, then, no doubt about it, VR is the way forward.
In this guide, we’ll be covering the special features that make each headset unique from the rest of the field, as well as what we liked about each mode, and what we didn’t. Our most expensive headset on the list, the Five Pro does live up to its heft price tag.
But unlike the Odyssey, the designers of the Five Pro put all their efforts into making sure there is no obstacle to your complete immersion. This means no limitations in your field of view, no physical discomfort when wearing the headset, incredible audio quality, and a smooth control scheme.
At the moment, the Five Pro is pushing the boundaries in VR technology, and using this headset is a real treat. For people hoping to enjoy the occasional movie, the immersion is amazing and the experience will be better than any other unit.
The unit also requires some pretty intensive setup, as well as a relatively advanced PC to connect with. Both of these present more barriers to enjoying the Five Pro, and mobility and ease of use suffer as a result.
This, combined with the free movement, means there’s no hassle for those who lead a more mobile lifestyle. The Quest features pretty good resolution, particularly for a set that’s a lot lower on the price scale than some others on this list.
While the light pollution through the nose piece is irritating, it isn’t a deal-breaker by any means: we watched movies in the dark before VR, so what’s the big deal? Unlike the Oculus Quest, the Samsung Odyssey is a “tethered” headset, meaning it’s attached to your computer while you’re using it.
And as much as we gushed about the amazing freedom afforded with the Quest, the Odyssey showed us that tethering doesn’t always have to be painful. Most of the time tethered virtual reality headsets come with tricky, complicated, or tedious setup.
The entire process took about ten minutes, and I imagine that’ll be even shorter once you get to know your system better. The resolution is incredibly crisp, and Samsung has (mostly) eliminated the screen door effect, leaving you completely immersed in your zone.
Sound quality is also at a premium; the built-in speakers don’t cause much ambient noise for people nearby, nor do they result in any of that drive-in theater effect I talked about with the Quest. The Odyssey is another excellent option for those who love catching a movie in the seclusion of their VR headset.
On the one hand, for a casual VR user who just wants to kick back and watch a few movies a week, this is a great experience at an incredibly affordable price. On the other hand for folks who’ve experienced the capabilities of a full VR headset, this one is not going to cut it.
Right away, you’ll begin to realize that the “limitation” I mentioned can quickly become the biggest positive for this system. The whole thing feels like a well-polished final product, and it’s ready to play just minutes after you’ve unpacked it.
Overall, this is a great system for people who’re already used to PS products and who want to make the leap into VR. The headset’s internal theater screen is wide and 3D compatible, meaning you can enjoy your favorite 3D movies in a whole new way.
The video quality is crisp and well-lit, and it’s clear that Goods have identified and decreased the screen door effect. The Goods does not have a very good battery life, which is a huge problem when you’re sitting down to watch a movie.
The user interface also comes with a host of different bugs and irritations, including trouble adjusting the screen size, instances of the unit turning itself off, and even heating up after some minor use. However, in doing so, there have been a few key oversights and design bugs that can result in an uncomfortable and distracting experience when you put on the Goods.
It’s hard to take a step back, now that we’ve adopted the concept of VR into our everyday life. But these headsets look like something out of a science fiction movie, and most of them work very well, considering how recently they hit the market.
And with the relatively new feel of the products, you can usually tell what kind of experience you’ll be getting based on the cost of the unit.