Virtual Reality is the latest trend in gaming and is more than likely going to become one of the next biggest things in technology. At the moment the virtual reality market is split up into 4 main devices with each of them having strengths and weaknesses. Knowing which VR headset to buy can be quite difficult when you have no idea what each of them do. This guide is here to help. IF you are looking to buy a VR headset, read this guide and you will know which is the best one for you.
The first thing you need to figure out is what sort of hardware you have. Not all headsets on the market are compatible with the same hardware. For example, the PSVR will only work with the PlayStation 4 and the HTC Vive will not work with mobile. Before you buy anything, make sure you know what you are buying the headset for to make sure you do not end up buying something that is not compatible with the device you intend on playing VR with.
Mobile VR Headsets
VR on smartphones has become huge. It is easily accessible for most people since the vast majority of people will own a fairly fast smartphone. Even low end phones can play VR games. If you have an android phone, then you have a lot of options.
Mobile started out with the Google Cardboard addon. This was a super cheap piece of cardboard that you put your smartphone into. Since smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy come with very powerful specs and an OLED display, making it a great option for people looking to give Vr a try. The cardboard would then be put over your head an the phone would do the rest of the work. Since then lots of other companies have released more durable versions of this made from plastic. They all work the same. With mobile VR, the smartphone does all the hard work and the headset is more of a harness for phone.
Other manufacturers are starting to jump on board adding more advanced headsets that do a little more than act as a harness for the smartphone. The Samsung gear VR does this and Oculus are also working on a standalone headset which will also push the mobile Vr experience forward.
Cost: Very cheap ($5-$20)
Powered VR headsets are generally considered the best way to enjoy the VR experience. A powered Vr headset is a headset that you attach to a gaming system. The VR headset handles all of the head tracking and does all of the advanced VR stuff. A separate camera is then used for motion tracking so that the gaming system knows where you are standing. This allows for much better VR games that let you walk around and move far more accurately.
There are three main VR headsets on the market at the moment. Each of them have their own pros and cons. Check out the list of virtual reality headsets below to figure out which one is for you.
PlayStation VR (PSVR)
The PlayStation Vr was built to work exclusively with the PlayStation 4. This is also the only headset that you can use with the PS4. If you own a PS4 and want to play VR, this is the ONLY headset that you can purchase.
The PSVR is the cheapest of the three main VR headsets, but is also the most limited. The resolution of the PSVR is not HD which results in a picture quality that is not as sharp as the other two headsets. To play the PSVR you will need to own a PS camera and 1 (preferably 2) PS move controllers. These have their own cost, but normally it is possible to buy a bundle that has everything you need along with a game for a very good price.
Cost: Cheap ($399 or $499 bundled with a camera and move controllers)
The HTC Vive is arguably the best VR headset on the market at the moment. The system is constantly being improved and with the HTC Vive pro you get an amazing Vr experience that has the option for something very unique in the powered VR market, the ability to go wireless. This means you can have the best possible VR experience while also being able to ditch the ugly wires.
The HTC Vive might be very advanced, but this comes at a very hefty price. The HTC vive is by far the most expensive of the VR headsets. The base price for the pro is almost $900. Add the cost of the motion controllers and the wireless adaptor and you are looking at close to $1500.
The HTC Vive is an open VR system which will allow any hardware manufacturer to add support for it, unlike the PSVR which is locked to the PlayStation. To play VR games that take advantage of the high resolution screen of the Vive, you will need to have a fairly powerful gaming PC which comes with its own high price tag. This is the best possible VR experience, but is also the most expensive experience. If you can afford it, this is the way to go.
Cost: Very High ($900 for the headset with the full package costing closer to $1500) .
Note: A gaming pc is also required bringing the cost well over $2000 for the full VR experience.
The Oculus Rift was once the leading VR headset on the market and was where the buzz around VR really picked up. Since the acquisition by Facebook I have lost a lot of interest in this headset. Facebook are known for invading privacy and harvesting peoples data with little respect. The Rift is a powerful headset that rivals the Viva, but due to the unethical business practices of the parent company, this may be something that turns you off buying this headset.
The rift is a direct competitor of the HTC vive. Both headsets come with very similar specs and both enhance VR gaming on the PC. Just like the Vive, you will need to have a high end PC to play VR games using this headset.
The Rift also has some addons similar to the Vive that allow for wireless VR gaming, but it is not an addon that is created by the manufacturer. There is very little difference in the two headsets on a technical level. The Vive might have an edge in some areas, but for the cost difference it isn’t something to worry about unless you are determined to get the best Vr experience.
The cost of the Rift is 200-300 lower than the Vive, depending on where you live and what retailer you go to. If you are trying to stick to a budget but still want to have an awesome VR experience then the Rift might be a good headset for you.
Cost: High ($599 with motion controls and wireless adaptor sold separately)
Note: Just like the Vive, you will need a high end Pc to play this costing in the region of $1000
Conclusion – The Best VR Headset For You
Now you know the differences between the major VR headsets on the market for gaming, you should be able to make a more informed decision on what the best VR headset is to purchase. Remember to make sure you are informed about the hardware you own before you buy a headset. Just because you own a PC that can play games, does not mean you will be able to play VR games on that PC. Most PCs will play any game, but the frame rate will be so low that the game will be unplayable.
If anyone is unsure about anything and needs some help, leave a comment below and I will attempt to help you find the best VR headset for your setup.