Virtual reality is the latest trend in 2018, and it has come a long way since introduction. VR is basically a computer simulation that simulates the user’s physical presence in an imaginary environment, through the use of a headset or otherwise. Our main focus here is to provide you with in-depth information on the types and specifications of different options available in the market today so that you can buy the option that fits you the best.Virtual reality is the latest trend in 2018, and it has come a long way since introduction. VR is basically a computer simulation that simulates the user’s physical presence in an imaginary environment, through the use of a headset or otherwise. Our main focus here is to provide you with in-depth information on the types and specifications of different options available in the market today so that you can buy the option that fits you the best.
When it comes to Virtual Reality, we can divide the headsets into two broad categories:
- Full VR Headset: These are from the expensive but more advanced and immersive category of headsets. They do not require a smartphone to operate since they have their own gyro sensors, but they may require you to connect to a powerful PC or Gaming Console. These are ideal for gamers and enthusiasts who want the latest and greatest but are willing to pay the price.
- Smartphone VR Headsets: These tend to be much cheaper but a little less advanced than Full VR headsets. They work by connecting to your VR supported smartphone and utilize its gyro sensors to simulate reality. The best part about them is that they are very budget friendly and do not require large, expensive equipment. These are ideal for the average consumer who wants to experience virtual reality without breaking the bank. Fortunately, we have listed some of the budget options that you will be surprised work so well for the minimal cost.
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1. HTC Vive – The King of Virtual Reality.
HTC has been well known for its smartphones in the past, but with the HTC Vive VR Headset, the company has stirred new, untamed waters. This headset is the bleeding edge offering in the VR Headset market in 2018, and we can safely say that it is the best experience you can buy in VR today. We would go as far as saying that it is ages ahead of even the next best alternatives, the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR.
While it may seem unfair to expect excellent, ergonomic designs this early in the VR game, the design of the HTC Vive comes very close. The outside of the body is flooded with very precise sensors that will help the Vive track your location, the controllers are very comfortable and ergonomic for your hands, and the two ‘base stations’ which differentiate this VR Headset (more on that later) are also very compact; all of this is offered in a standard matte black color. The headset is attached to your head through straps that are made of a soft, memory foam and you should have no difficulty wearing it for long term use. However, a point to note here is that the HTC Vive is not only bulkier, but also heavier than other Virtual Reality headsets.
When we talk about performance, we don’t exaggerate when we call it ‘outstanding’. With its class leading 110° field of view, more than 70 sensors that track movements to 1/10th of a degree, and an extremely beautiful 2160×1200 OLED display that runs at a refresh rate of 90Hz, the experience is nothing short of fluid. The immersion in HTC Vive is also unparalleled, because you can look around, bend, interact with objects, move your hands, and even walk around the game, although the latter requires you to clear what HTC calls the ‘Room Scale’, a large play area in which you can walk around freely without obstacles thanks to the base stations that come with the VR.
The experience of using the HTC Vive has been unparalleled and people have described it as being something that they have ‘never experienced before’. Seeing in virtual reality is one thing, but moving around and interacting with things in a virtual world is truly next level. The experience is so addictive and immersive that hours can go by without notice, and the real world might seem unfamiliar for a few moments. Complementing this experience is the ability to read notifications from your phone directly from the headset, and the built in camera to switch into real world view seamlessly without removing the headset, equating to a distraction-free experience.
That being said, the HTC Vive isn’t perfect. The headset is attached to the Gaming PC via three hefty cables which can get tangled and topple you over, although HTC has bundled them together to compensate. Speaking of Gaming PC, yes, you will require nothing short of an expensive gaming PC in order to enjoy the HTC Vive experience. Adding to the cost of a PC is the massive price tag of $799 that this headset carries, and this starts to look like a very uneconomical purchase.
If you are in for something that delivers you state of the art, bleeding edge Virtual Reality experience, and you are willing to pay the price, then this is the headset you should go for. However, if you are new to the Virtual Reality world, we recommend trying out some of the cheaper alternatives first, since not everyone enjoys the world of VR and end up regretting their purchase decision.
2. Sony PlayStation VR – Best Value in VR World.
The Sony PlayStation VR isn’t the absolute best of the VR experiences, but it comes very close, and doesn’t break the bank. We can thank Sony’s experience in the gaming world for delivering such an immersive experience at a good cost. The PlayStation VR has the potential to become the mainstream VR gaming headset, and this is not what we can say very surely about other offerings.
The best word to describe the design of the PlayStation VR would be, ‘futuristic’. The black and white accents coupled with 9 LED lights are not only functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. This equates to a VR Headset that looks like a gorgeous, expensive piece of technology which claims its rightful place in 2018. Plus, we should credit Sony for the unmatched ergonomics of this headset, as it is attached to your head via an adjustable headband instead of the ‘straps’ used by other manufacturers. This means that you shouldn’t be afraid of using this one for hours thanks to the comfort, enabled by clever engineering that rests the weight of this headset on the forehead and the back of your head equally.
Now if you are planning to buy the PlayStation VR, you have a choice of two packages. The basic package will cost you around $399 and will only include the VR Headset, the control unit, headphones, and the cables. For the full experience though, you will need to spend around $499 to include the PlayStation Camera and the PlayStation Move Motion Controllers. Coupled with both of them is the PlayStation VR Demo disk that is full of VR experiences that are likely to keep you engaged for a long time. Of course, you will need a PlayStation 4 for this to work.
As for the Virtual Reality experience, it is exceptional as expected. The immersion is falls nowhere behind any of the other VR Headsets in its class, and you are unlikely to notice much difference. On paper, the PlayStation VR has an inferior tracking system that uses the camera and lights on the controllers and headset to track movements instead of infrared technology, but in real life the difference isn’t noticeable except for a few isolated cases where it misses a movement or two. Similarly, the PlayStation VR supposedly has a screen of lower resolution of 1920×1080 as compared to 2160×1200 on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but in real life the difference is not noticeable except for times when the games with a very large field of view are being played. Finally, the PlayStation Move Controllers are good, but nowhere are VR ready as the HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift controllers. However, the PlayStation VR does have the ability to render your VR at 90Hz and 120Hz, the latter meaning you can expect a smoother experience with less nausea.
The highlighting benefit, though, are the cost savings the PlayStation VR promises to bring along. To put things in perspective, A PlayStation 4 is much cheaper nowadays than a new gaming PC, the cost of PlayStation VR is much lesser than HTC Vive or the Oculus Rift, and when we calculate the power needs of a PS4 with that of an average gaming PC, we also notice the electricity savings, a crucial factor for many. What this means is the Sony PlayStation VR is able to deliver extremely good value for its price as of 2018, without sacrificing much on performance.
So who is this Virtual Reality headset for? The answer depends, but generally if you already have a PlayStation 4 lying around, want to experience the full and best of what virtual reality has on offer, and are looking forward to spend a moderate amount, then look no further. For the absolute enthusiast, we recommend taking a look at the HTC Vive, or if you want something easier on the pocket, then try something cheaper at first.
3. Oculus Rift – The pioneer.
If you are not new to Virtual Reality, Oculus Rift might be very familiar to you. For those who don’t know, Oculus Rift can be credited for pioneering the mass scale, consumer assessable virtual reality headsets of 21st Century. Unfortunately, in the past couple of years the Rift had struggled to keep up with the features of HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR, but as of 2018 the Oculus Rift + Touch has stepped up its game.
The Design of the Oculus Rift is unmistakably minimalist. It is the product of a raging $2 Million crowdfunding campaign and 4 years of research coming to fruition. With the smooth, curvy lines around the body and soft touch seamless, black color plastic body, the Oculus Rift seems to be the most appealing of all the headsets, although beauty is subjective. Oculus has also done its homework in ergonomics, as the headset is very light yet durable, and features built-in headphones which also curb the weight of additional ones. This theoretically means that it should be a lot more comfortable than something like the HTC Vive.
The unboxing experience is also very pleasing, as you can see the contents of the box neatly laid in front of you. The full version includes the VR Headset, the Oculus Remote, an Xbox One wireless controller, and all the necessary wiring, all embedded in a carry-case style box. Additionally, you can buy the touch controllers and the whole package will cost you around $599.
Coming over to performance, this headset does not fail to impress. Sure, it takes a fair share of time to get used to the Xbox One controller if you are missing out on touch controllers, but where raw performance and responsiveness are considered, Oculus nailed it. And rightfully so, since the company has relied on extensive feedback from developers since the first pre-release model to the final retail model. Inside the headset you will a gorgeous, 2160×1080 OLED screen panel that churns out pixels at a 90Hz refresh rate. All of this, combined with a 110° field of view, and the ultra-responsive constellation camera, provide an experience that rivals the likes of HTC Vive. The 360° head tracking on this headset is extremely precise and rarely skips on any movement. The overall experience is very fluid and immersive.
The only downside when we compare it to the HTC Vive, even then we’d he nitpicking, would be the slightly less wider field of view even though they both advertise it to be 110°. If you are into room scale VR though, Oculus recommends a much smaller, 8×8 feet scale, that too with three motion cameras. For reference, HTC Vive can supposedly go up to 15×15 feet with only 2 motion trackers, allowing for more freedom of movement.
So, the Oculus Rift is an amazing experience, with a library that it rich in content and future-proof. The reason why it is listed at third is simply because of the smaller, fine details that won’t matter to the average consumer. It is a bit cheaper than the HTC Vive but more expensive than the PlayStation VR. Who knows, Oculus may climb up at the top, but for now, we prefer the HTC Vive for PC users and the PlayStation VR for PlayStation users.
Step into the smartphone Virtual Reality space and you notice a significant drop in performance. The resolution takes a steep dive and the refresh rate on smartphones is quite low. However, this is no reason to despair, as smartphone VR is not only more cost effective, but also more practical and mainstream.
4. Google Daydream View – Ergonomic and Economic.
The google daydream view is a very recent competitor in the Virtual Reality Space. Essentially, this means that if Google is interested, Virtual Reality has a real chance at going mainstream. Like other Google products, the Google Daydream View is good at what it does: the essentials. The design and interface is minimalist, yet practical and delivers well at all fronts.
The build quality is perhaps the differentiating factor where the Daydream View absolutely crushes the competition. The soft textured fabric construction is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also really ergonomic and comfortable to wear. Therefore, this headset really stands out from the VR headset crowd, specially because its main competition comes from cheap, plastic built headsets.
The performance in mobile VR headsets is more or less the same across the board, with minor differences in lenses being the differentiating factor. Again, Google has shown no slouch here and the clarity these lenses offer put even the closest of competitors to shame. Rightfully so, because Google has been really selective about the smartphones which gain the privilege to be supported. You can find out whether your phone is supported or not from the following link:
So then, who is this VR Headset for? People looking for a headset with comfortable and lightweight fit, exceptional ergonomics and unmatched experience. Plus, it’s cheaper than the Samsung Gear VR and according to us, a better value.
5. Samsung Gear VR – Absolute best experience.
The Samsung Gear VR is one of the earliest and well known mobile Virtual Reality Headsets. Dating back to 2015, this headset has evolved and in 2018, comes with an optional controller. Given the fact that it was developed with Oculus, this headset has the most content and is full of experiences.
We did not find anything unique about the design of Gear VR in our hands-on experience. Sure, the headset is comfortable to wear and is light enough, but it lacks the build quality we expect at its price point. Holding one of these plastic headsets in our hands felt cheap and hollow. It has a foam padding where your head comes in contact with the headset, and it does not let any light bleed in. The best part about Gear VR is the touchpad which is located on the headset itself. This means that even without a controller, you can enjoy world of Virtual Reality.
Where this headset shines, though, is performance. Being compatible with only selective Galaxy phones, this headset has an obvious advantage. Samsung has created a smooth, beautiful experience which is evidently free of any hiccups. Also, you have immediate access to thousands of games and experiences. This can be credited to the fact that Samsung has had the opportunity to ideate and innovate over the past few years. In some regions, the Gear VR even comes bundled with your Galaxy S phones.
However, this headset is not cheap by any means and leads the pricing among smartphone virtusl reality headsets. We would recommend this headset to the owners of Samsung Galaxy series of smartphones who also want the best of experiences and are willing to pay the price.
6. Destek V2 – Best Value.
The Destek V2 is an example of how great tech is getting cheaper and cheap tech is getting great. For just a fraction of the cost, you can expect an experience that comes close to the premier Virtual Reality headsets. Now we won’t claim that it isn’t without it’s set of problems, but you can’t get wrong at this price point.
The build quality isn’t amazing, but we aren’t complaining, specially since the plastic build is somewhere we have seen before on a much more expensive headset (ahem, Samsung). The design is a bit bland, and Destek could have invested a bit more in this department. Overall, the Destek V2 won’t turn any heads but nails the essentials.
Let’s be clear; the performance is not as good as what you would expect from the likes of a Gear VR. But considering this is a universal Virtual Reality Headset, the headset impressed us. Plus, this also comes bundled with a remote control now, delivering a great experience. The Destek V2 operates on the Google Cardboard platform which means you can expect it to swiftly handle video streaming or basic games, but nothing much sophisticated.
However, certain aspects of this device need to be considered before purchase. If you wear prescription glasses, forget this device since it does not support that function. Plus, the awkward placement of the retainer clip presses on the power buttons or Volume rockers of certain phones. Finally, bigger phones need to be pulled out of their cases to fit.
So, do we still recommend this headset? Definitely. Even though it has a few shortcomings, this headset doesn’t fail to impress at its price point.
7. Google Cardboard – Simply a cardboard.
The Google cardboard is essentially what the name suggests: a piece of cardboard with two lenses. You can either buy one very cheaply at Amazon or build one on your own using the plans on Google’s website:
There’s nothing much to say about the design of this headset. Depending on the manufacturer, this is a piece of cardboard which grabs your phone with velcro. In the basic version, no straps are available, so you’ll have to hold the headset to your head which can be tiring. The headset which we have linked above, however, also includes the straps.
As mentioned above, the Google Cardboard platform is really basic but includes some fun games and YouTube 360°. This means that this headset is perfect for those who want to test the virtual reality experience without spending almost anything.
These are the 7 Best Virtual Reality (VR) headsets we recommend you to buy according to your personal preferences. When buying a virtual reality headset, it is important to remember that they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and in the end, it all comes down to what you think is important for you.
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