Time for an immersive experience with movies, games, applications, virtual tourism.Everything you do with your smartphone, or computer, or television, virtual reality is taking it to a far next level. All you need is to choose the best VR headset that suits your purpose and fits your budget.
VR headsets, especially from the year 2018, bring the cutting-edge modern VR technology to the masses.
In this collection of VR headsets, there is something for everybody.
How To Choose Your VR Headset?
You have to be clear about what you want to do with your VR headset before you choose one. VR headsets of specific kinds are meant for specific purposes, such as:
- High-end VR headsets for hardcore gaming.
- Moderate VR headsets for light entertainment, curious buyers, tech geeks, and VR developers.
- Computer tethered VR headsets.
- Smartphone-based VR headsets.
- Standalone VR headsets.
- View only VR.
Ranging from the costly HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro, and Oculus Rift, to the moderate Oculus Go, Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream View, to the basic DIY Google Cardboard and Pansonite, this buying guide has the best VR headsets to buy in 2018 reviewed and compared.1. HTC Vive Pro
Here comes the most splendid VR headset – the HTC Vive Pro, which launched in April 2018 to give the best VR experience on earth. HTC Vive Pro is a more pronounced version of the previous best HTC Vive (up next).
Visual simulations in HTC Vive pro are verisimilitudinous to reality. Its high-resolution powered display is so immersive that your brain will perceive things as total reality.
HTC Vive Pro has the latest AMOLED display that has other VR options sidelined. It has an enhanced resolution of 4.6 million pixels per eye which is insanely overwhelming display capability at a resolution of 2,880 x 1,600 for both eyes combined. Earlier HTC Vive and Oculus Rift had the best display of 2.6 million PPI, which was actually half compared to the new Vive pro.
It has advanced leaps and bounds in its audio with integrated earphones, active noise cancellation, built-in amplifier, and spatial 360 degrees 3D audio. With this high-end sound, the VR experience is even more immersive for the brain.
The built-in headphones with included volume controls are there to re-adjust volume without taking off the headsets. Vive Pro has several remarkable physical changes in its design as well. Padding makes it fit and feel comfortable. An additional strap is giving more stability to the device on your head, that prevents jerks to cause head strain in long gaming sessions.
Play Area Requirement
Vive allows you to move around inside the virtual environment which is why a viable play area is a must. A dedicated space at least 2 m x 1.5 m (6 ft 6 in x 5 ft) and enough vertical space to avoid hits and collides while gaming. Vive setup supports a maximum of 5 m diagonal play area which can be extended further using SteamVR 2.0. Although no need for such spaces for seated and stand-only experiences.
HTC has the best VR system in existence for sure, but several things can count as drawbacks.
The whole setup takes a lot of investment. First the headset itself, then the cost of high configuration computer machine it requires to function, and then the play area. Although there is a surety that no cheaper alternatives will be around anytime soon. Vive owners will surely be far ahead from the any other VR device owners. It is a brilliant headset, at a cost.
Provided, it has a high configuration requirement, the price of Vive pro doesn’t include the cost of machines required to run it. HTC recommends Windows 8.1 or above, an Intel Core i5 or equivalent processor, min 4GB of RAM, a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 equivalent or better graphics card, HDMI 1.4 (Vive) or DisplayPort 1.2, and USB 3.0 port or newer. If you do not already have any of these mentioned hardware arrangements, add its price to Vive Pro and see if it sounds gentle at the end of the day.
Level of Difficulty
Once you have the Vive device connected to a computer, there is again a task which you might find challenging. As for another downside, the Vive pro can be a little to very tricky setting up, depending on whether are tech savvy or not. It comes in so many pieces that it will take every hack out of you. You may need a comprehensive guide to setup Vive Pro. But still, compared to the previous HTC Vive, this model has fewer hassles.
When you thoroughly examine this product, you come to the fact that something needs to be fixed. It is not even a complete product yet. Its basic price is $799 which doesn’t include the motion controllers to interact and the Stream VR base stations for motion tracking, so you have to buy them separately. This beautiful machine has no good games. Its shortcomings don’t quite justify its high price. So that brings up the bottom line.
Best Experience Overall - Runner-up
Although HTC Vive has its more advanced version – the Vive pro launched, this early model is still a choice over the latter. In overall experience, it’s only second to its only successor – the Vive pro, and costs you less than half at the same time.
More importantly, HTC Vive is the cheapest room scale VR headset that lets you stand up, walk around, jump, or flip in sync with your real physical activity. This VR headset provides the best immersive experience among its competitors of the same price range – the Oculus Rift and the Playstation VR.
The only point is that its pro avatar (which has its own downsides) is more sophisticated and immersive; provided its high res audio and visuals, and several more advancements. But no headset in the VR industry can challenge it other than its own pro.
As for the technical specifications, the HTC Vive has OLED display in 2,160 x 1,200 resolution, 90 Hz frame rate, 110 degrees field of view, and it supports room scale tracking for a customizable 6X5 foot play area. It has an inbuilt audio strap, a mic for voice command input, and a camera in the front to occasionally keep track of your real surroundings.
Things so far are good, but what may call you back before you place an order is that HTC Vive asks for a lot more than its price on display. If you do not already have a high-end computer machine, building the whole setup is going to cost you about twice the price of this headset.
Vive requires a computer with minimum a 4 GB RAM, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 equivalent graphics card, and an Intel Core i5-4590 equivalent processor. All this stuff adds $1000 to the price.
Another downside for HTC Vive is that it’s not wireless, it has numerous wired connections against your freedom. You always feel wires touching your cheeks and neck, and your legs may even get tangled in the wires which is an annoying situation. Seemingly that is why this headset has a camera in the front which you can turn on in such situations to untangle the wires without having to remove the headset.
Another stumbling block is the difficulty setting up the connections to get the ball rolling with this otherwise very amazing VR headset. The harsh fact is that even if you spend your every waking hour in sync with technology, you will have a tough time figuring out how to put the right connection in the right port, how many wires and how may ports!
It may take an hour to get all the accessories plugged to where they belong, then it’s time to download and install games, calibrate the headset, the controllers, and the playing area, and finally get to play. Patience!
It presents a better deal for those who already have a high-end gaming PC and are happy with wires and the hassle of setting up the connections. All that for an immersive experience way better than any other existing VR headset but the Vive Pro.
Best Smartphone VR
The contest for the best VR headset since 2016 has been around Oculus Rift Vs HTC Vive since both are slightly different from each other. The difference is however intolerable and a head to head comparison is a must. We’ve got you covered.
In a nutshell, Oculus Rift is the most compelling VR headset besides it lacks the room-scale technology which is present in HTC Vive, hence the Rift is comparatively cheaper by a considerable amount. Summary of the battle!
Rift is easier to set-up and you get away with it in 10 minutes. Just plug in the headset, sensor, and Xbox One controller Wifi stick, and start playing. Whereas setting up the connections in HTC Vive, and synchronizing its play area takes an eternity.
Also keep in mind that although HTC allows you to move around, it is still wired, not wireless. The idea to walk around in a play area seems pointless until your freedom of movement is tangled in wires.
Both headsets have the same specifications – dual OLED displays, 1080 x 1200 resolution per eye, 90Hz refresh rate and the 110-degree field of view for the headset. However, the newly updated touch controllers of the Rift are reportedly superior to HTC controllers.
Both require wired connections to a high-end PC. An Intel Core i5 4590 or equivalent processor, 8GB of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 970 or AMD Radeon 290 video card are the minimum recommendations for Rift.
Rift audio quality is felt better compared to HTC, and you can even replace the existing headphone with your own earphones. Also, Rift has more entertaining VR games that keep you entertained for longer.
The company Oculus is the flag bearer of the VR technology. Its product, the Oculus Rift is the first high powered mass-market virtual reality headset available for the regular joes. Questionably, Oculus Rift is the biggest name in the VR market. But that may be because of the omnipresence of Facebook which owns it and deploys its marketability for its product.
But Oculus Rift is clearly light years ahead of any other VR brands surrounding it – the Sony Playstation VR or the Samsung Gear VR, only HTC Vive beating it at the room-scale technology.
Looking at the VR market, you easily find that it will be impossible for any manufacturer to provide such an amazing VR experience at this low price.
Best Smartphone VR - Runner UP
Built by Samsung in collaboration with Oculus, Samsung Gear VR is the best smartphone powered VR headset. It is a surprisingly capable wireless basic VR headset working on the idea of being simple and affordable.
It doesn’t require a cutting-edge PC, but any Samsung smartphone launched in the past 2 years – Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, S7 Edge, S8, S8+, and the Note 8. The latest Samsung Gear VR SM-325 headset is compatible with all the mentioned Samsung smartphones. If you already have a Samsung smartphone or if you are planning for one, pull it off with Gear VR.
Gear VR displays 1024X1024 of resolution at a 70 Hz refresh rate and a 101-degree field of view.
Definitely, a portable virtual reality platform cannot compete with the incredibility of a PC tethered VR device like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but that also makes a world of difference in the cost of getting VR to your home. Just a $100 deal. Enticingly, Gear VR comes as a free gift upon pre-ordering Samsung Galaxy S8.
Gear VR is a lightweight device. It is also designed to quickly adjust for various eye comfort levels, and if you wear glasses, you can wear the headset with your prescription glasses on. Charge your phone while you are using it in the headset saving your smartphone from running out of battery possibly interrupting the fun – all that makes way for hours of extended gaming or movie sessions.
The essence of the Samsung Gear VR headset is that it is a thing for masses, and that makes it the most phenomenal VR option on the planet right now. With Samsung Gear VR, it’s time to introduce VR as a commodity rather than a luxury.
Gear VR is now facing the deadly challenge from Oculus Go Standalone VR headset which was launched on May 1, 2018. Be sure to check it out below.
Best Standalone VR Headset
Launch Date: 1st May 2018. Oculus Go is clearly the final choice at present for most of the buyers. Finally, a VR headset that comes at a very reasonable price and does away with a number of hassles.
Firstly, it wards off the requirement of an expensive PC or a particular smartphone in order to work. It is totally standalone.
Secondly, since it is standalone, it is also wireless. So tangling wires are not hanging around. It is also really easy to set up.
And the most important part, it is such a high-quality product at a groundbreaking low price.
Its audio, video, and overall VR experience is almost at par with its elder brother – the Oculus Rift, yet it comes at a horribly low price for its competitors.
Oculus Go has 2560X1440 WQHD resolution, which is better than the costlier Gear VR or Oculus Rift headset.
Imagine the world without Oculus Go and you will understand.
The top-notch VR headsets are obviously very expensive. But if you don’t find them already expensive, they require connection with a fairly expensive PC that will cost you like investing in a business. If you don’t already have an expensive gaming PC, you’ll probably like to drop the plan. But if you go for cheaper options, the VR experience they provide is just a basic demo of the VR technology.
So here is the middle way. Oculus Go gives a better experience than smartphone-based VR headsets, and at the same time costs less than the PC-based headsets.
When Oculus Go finally launched in 2018, a dream suddenly became reality. It has become the VR device that brings virtual reality to masses.
Just pair it with your phone, and you’re off to the VR world whether it is a game, a movie, or a virtual social gathering.
Oculus Go has a fast-switch LCD display with a 2560×1440 resolution.
It is important to note that there are two Oculus Go models – a 32GB model for $199, and a 64GB model for $249. Besides being on the cheaper side of the VR spectrum, ‘Go’ bears the luxurious touch with solid plastic, soft foam molding, and adjustable straps.
It is not a heavyweight headset but it is neither lightweight. You’ll feel some weight on your face, the rest of it is fully comfortable.
An inbuilt sensor to power on or off the headset as soon as you wear the headset or remove it. If you forget to turn off the headset after usage, the sensor does it automatically and your battery is saved from discharging.
Oculus Go provides spatial audio for an immersive feel. Its speakers are extremely good but you can also plug-in your own headset in a given 3.5 mm jack. A microphone for social interactions and voice command input is also inbuilt. You easily get used to its cute-little single controller that lets you interact with the VR environment.
But don’t think that we are here only talking about the bright side. If you want to make sure of its downsides, you must skip Oculus Go if you want frontline VR experience. It is still inferior to the immersive visuals and audio of the mighty HTC Vives and Oculus Rift, and it doesn’t give you the freedom to physically walk around inside the VR world like in those and only lets you move your head rotationally. Likewise, your overall experience might be great with this headset, but specific headsets can easily overtake it in specific areas.
Best Gaming VR Headset
We know Sony as a world-class game publisher. It is quite acceptable that no one else can bring VR to the gaming space in a better way. So here comes the PSVR which is even more compelling with the recent price cut-down.
Standing to the expectations, Playstation VR by Sony is definitely at the pinnacle of virtual reality in the gaming space. It comes as the best option for console gamers who now want gaming experience in virtual reality. You should be more interested in PSVR if you already have a PS4.
Highest class of gaming experience without a highly expensive PC defines the worth of PSVR.
The Vive and the Rift VR headsets are already very expensive and they also require an expensive cutting-edge PC. On the other hand, PSVR is not only cheaper but also gives a matching experience with just a PS4.
At significantly low requirements, Playstation VR has surprising capabilities. It supports 1080p games and features a 920 x RGB x 1080 OLED display at 90 times to 120 times per second image refresh rate, depending on the VR game or application you are running.
It has a 100-degree field of view which is slightly less than the HTC and Oculus headsets that sit at the cutting edge. PSVR requires 6 x 10 ft of free space, where you can’t move around but stationary in your position and your head and hand movements being tracked.
The social screen feature can be another reason to buy PSVR. If you want your friends to be able to see how well you are doing in a game inside the headset, just connect your TV. Whatever you see in the headset will be visible to everyone and that takes PSVR to a fun-level up.
PSVR comes in a variety of bundles based on packed accessories. A DualShock 4 controller, and the PlayStation Camera is very much required. Although you can easily grab any accessory from a retail store. Once you have gathered everything, setting up PSVR is not a very time-consuming task.
While PSVR can’t compare to the Vive and the Rift, its experience is still more ergonomic compared to mobile-powered VR headsets such as Gear VR or Google Cardboard, especially when it comes to gaming. Only the Oculus Go can be recommended over PSVR in under $1000 overall competition.
Choose PSVR to get blown away by the most entertaining games and full VR sensation at the most reasonable price.
Cheapest, Best DIY VR headset
It was actually very obvious for the tech giant to have its say in the VR world. So Google has stepped in with its Daydream view and Cardboard models. It has worked out virtual reality very convincingly with Google Cardboard. We don’t know whether or not Google Cardboard is one of the Google’s many exemplary creations, but it is surely out of the box.
Unboxing Google Cardboard gives unusual outcomes. You don’t actually get a cuboid VR box like in every other case but literally a cardboard in several folds which upon manual launching would assemble as a VR box of the 5th-grade handcraft style.
Assembling the folds of the VR cardboard is done intuitively without any hassle. Lenses are already at the place and there is space to put your Android phone. You operate the device with a button given on the left side which doesn’t facilitate a lot of interaction.
Surfing through Google Maps street view, flying in 3D VR space in Google Earth, 360-degree videos and a variety of VR games are some of the exciting things to do to with this device.
If you ask about the significance of Google Cardboard, the thing is that Google has a kind of open sourced it for developers to build apps for it. It is basically a community managed project.
There are no head straps, no hand controls, just a basic device. But, it allows a beginner to dive into VR apps and games of the Android and the iOS platforms. All that just for $15 bucks sounds a good deal after all!