What's The Best Virtual Reality Headset to Buy?
This year might be the best year when it comes to new innovations in the tech industry especially in the field of virtual reality. The concept of virtual reality isn’t new, there have been VR headsets in recent years but 2016 is supposed to be the breakthrough year of VR headsets and with so many different VR headsets coming out this year we decided to help you figure out the best virtual reality headset for you to buy.
With all the excitement and hype surrounding virtual reality headsets, the majority of people have basic knowledge about what they are but here is a quick review; a VR headset provides an immersive experience in which your head and in some cases your entire body’s movements are tracked in a three dimensional world. These VR headsets are used for playing games and viewing videos currently but there are also several other applications of it.
From Oculus Rift to Google Cardboard it can be difficult to decide where to start on the virtual reality experience. So we are going to breakdown the different VR headsets and their experiences so you can decide which is the best VR headset for your needs and budget.
When you think of VR headsets these days the first name that pops to mind is Oculus Rift. Oculus Rift is undoubtedly the headsets with the most hype surrounding it and rightfully so. It has been in development for a long time and now that Oculus Rift is finally nearing its release date everyone is super excited.
Oculus Rift’s pre-order price was $599 but in addition to the Rift you also need a high end PC to use it, so if you don’t already have a PC that fits Oculus Rift requirements, expect to also have to drop another $1,400 – $1,600 on a computer. That being said, Oculus Rift is also offering bundle packages with starting price of $1,499. Unfortunately for Mac fans, the Oculus Rift is not Mac compatible and Mac support is not being planned at the moment.
The Rift is expected to ship in late March 2016, however, the Xbox One control pad and the Oculus Touch controllers have been delayed.
Oculus Rift is probably the most captivating VR headset on the market. It is capable of creating some really epic VR worlds and it sports a sleek design with adjustable IPD (inter-pupillary distance), and a 2160 x 1200 OLED display.
Oculus Rift is best designed for gaming because of its compatibility with Xbox One so if gaming is the top priority for you when it comes to VR headsets Oculus Rift might just be the best choice. But don’t think the Oculus Rift is just for gamers, its VR movie experience is said to be the best. Additionally, there is Medium, a brilliant sculpting tool for artists, that will launch next year. Oculus is looking to create the all-in-one VR headset, so if you have some cash and want one of best VR experiences you can buy, go for the Rift.
HTC Vive is the other strong contender in the battle for the best VR sets of this year. Developed by Valve it is due to release on April 5 2016. Priced at $799, the HTC Vive will include the VR headset, ear buds, two wireless controllers, and two base stations. Like the Rift, Vive is also PC driven, there hasn’t been any official recommended specifications for HTC Vive but it is estimated to require a PC that will price around $1,500.
It is similar to the Oculus Rift in several ways it has the same 2160 x1200 OLED display but it is slightly heavier than Oculus. The controllers of HTC Vive runs off of the SteamVR platform and one major difference between Vive and Rift is that Vive is a room-scale VR experience. It also comes with a front-facing camera and the ability to open apps and games without taking off your headsets. The HTC Vive is certainly near the top of the list when it comes to VR experiences. The Vive will also track your complete body movements as opposed to just head movements (like some other VR products out there). If you are looking for a room-scale VR experience HTC Vive is your best choice.
Sony PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR was initially named Project Morpheus, this headset’s main difference compared to HTC Vive and Rift is that PlayStation VR is console driven. PlayStation VR isn’t a complete VR system but an accessory for the PS4 console. Other than that it uses similar technologies. In order to track you movements PlayStation VR uses the PlayStation Eye camera along with the PS4 controller. The headset is equipped with a 1920x 1080 OLED display and it has a refresh rate of 120Hz.
PlayStation VR has a sleeker and stylish design than others.The PlayStation VR is priced between $300 and $500 and will start shipping this October for all people who have pre-ordered. Ultimately if you have a PlayStation along with the Eye Camera, PlayStation VR is going to be the best choice budget-wise.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR is an Oculus powered VR headset that is designed to support a smartphone that is it is not PC or Console driven. Samsung Gear VR is available for $100 and it works best with S7 & S7 Edge. It is lightweight and has amazing 360 degree video experience. The hardware is all done by Samsung while the software side is handled completely by Oculus. While this headsets isn’t in the league of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or PlayStation VR it still a sufficiently strong contender in VR technology. One bonus point for the Samsung Gear is that it will also support apps that will be available on Oculus Rift when it is released. Moreover if you pre-order an S7 or S7 edge you get Samsung Gear VR.
There are over 200 apps and games available on Gear VR with more still in development. The strong point of Gear VR is its 360 video experience. If you currently own a Samsung phone that supports Samsung Gear VR, it’s the best virtual reality headset to get started on.
Compared to all the other sets Google Cardboard may sound like a joke if you have never heard about it before, but don’t underestimate it, it is the best way to get a glimpse into virtual reality without putting a dent in your wallet. Essentially Google Cardboard is just exactly as the name suggests; a cardboard cut-out. It is equipped with lenses and a slot where you can insert your smartphone. You can buy one for $10-$50 there are several types available from several manufacturers. And if you want to be creative you can even assemble one yourself to suit your requirements.
Cardboard delivers a very basic VR experience and the quality of video all depends on your smartphone. There is no head strap the headset is intended to be held in front of the face. This is the best way to sample VR and Google Cardboard is pretty good when it comes to viewing content.
Microsoft HoloLens is a thing of the future. It is not just a virtual reality headset it also generate holographic images so this headset is a combination of virtual and augmented reality. The headset merges real world elements with holographic images. It sports a 120 degree field of vision and is capable of amazing high definition visuals. HoloLens uses Kinect-style tech to recognize gesture and voice commands.
Microsoft HoloLens is not officially launched yet. If you’re interested in checking it out, be prepared to pony up some cash. The only way to get it is through the developer edition, which is priced at a whopping $3,000 and will start shipping on March 30 2016 to select developers. The HoloLens also doesn’t need to be connected to a PC, console, or smartphone — it’s a complete system all on its own with Windows 10 directly built into the headset.
Other notable VR headsets
If the aforementioned VR headsets don’t quite tickle your fancy, here are a few other VR headsets to check out: