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Last update on 2021-05-06 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
The leap from 2D to 3D was an amazing evolution of gaming. No longer your characters are bound to move on a scrolling screen, now they can navigate in a 3D environment. The next big thing since the 3D transformation in gaming is now here: Virtual Reality (VR). The door to the virtual world now has been opened and welcome anyone to immerse themselves into it. What you need are just the best VR headsets to take the first step into it.
VR has been experiencing a considerable amount of growth since its reemergence in 2010. However, this technology remains unfamiliar to many gamers. To erase this lack of familiarity, we’ve put together a guide for those who are looking for the best VR headsets. Below is the buying guide with information you need to know:
1. Tethered VR headsets
VR headsets of this type have a cable wire connecting them to the computer or the console. They are the best VR headsets in terms of performance. Tethered VR headsets have better all-round performance and the capability to access and handle demanding games or apps. Some noticeable names include Sony PlayStation VR, HTC Vive Cosmos, etc.
Because they are physically bound to the pc or console, their mobility is severely limited. You have to keep an eye out while using them or you may risk tripping over or entangling in cables. Another problem is that tethered VR headsets require a dedicated powerful pc or console to be able to use them.
2. Untethered VR headsets
Untethered or standalone headsets don’t require you to plug in a connection cable of any kind to the computer or the console. Furthermore, you don’t need an external device to operate them like with tethered VR headsets.
Untethered VR headsets offer a hand-free experience and more immersion thanks to their wireless capability, often through Wi-Fi. In exchange, their specs are not as powerful as the tethered headsets. Nevertheless, some standalone VR headsets such as Oculus Quest 2 still pack serious mobile computing power for detailed and smooth graphics.
3. Mobile VR headsets
As the name implies, this type of VR headsets can be used with just a smartphone. They are the most popular type thanks to their simplicity and convenience. They are the best VR headsets for enjoying VR content just about anywhere. As long as you have a smartphone and a mobile headset.
As mentioned above, smartphones are used as both a display and a processing unit. Because of that, mobile VR headsets are the least powerful in terms of performance. Mobile headsets such as Samsung Gear VR or BNEXT VR Headset are more fitting for users that don’t require a lot of high-end features.
Besides the above criteria, there are some factors you also need to take into consideration to be able to choose the best VR headsets:
Controllers: These should feel comfortable to hold in your hand without any overcomplicated button layout. If your controllers are damaged or lost, you can buy a standalone one such as Oculus Touch. Just ensure that it’s compatible with your VR headset.
FOV (field of view): FOV refers to the amount of virtual environment that is visible to the gamers’ eyes. The wider the field, the more immersed the experience is. This DJI Goggles has an impressive FOV of 148°.
Resolution: We’ve been familiar with this term through the use of smartphones and computers. Likewise, higher resolution is vital in VR as the displays are very close to the user’ eyes.
Tracking sensors: These are used to track your real-life movement and translate it into the digital world. Some VR headsets such as Oculus Rift S have built-in systems while others use external sensors to do this.
Latency: This refers to the delay between the user’s input and what’s displayed on screen. The best VR headsets will have a low latency which helps reduce dizziness or nausea.
Refresh rate: This has an impact on the smoothness of the image. The higher it is in “Hz”, the more fluid of the image movement.
1. Are VR headsets safe to use?
Since this is still a relatively new technology, most manufacturers are taking a cautionary approach to health and safety.
You’ll also most likely feel discomfort after prolonged use of VR. Some people would also feel motion sickness, eye strain, or dizzy. Therefore, it’s advisable to take frequent breaks every hour of VR gaming. If you’re not feeling too good, you should consult a doctor immediately.
All VR headsets also are not suitable for kids. They are mostly either labeled “not designed to be used by children” or have an age restriction of 12+. It’s best to not let children experience VR just yet to protect their still-developing eyes and health.
2. How much does a VR headset typically cost?
VR headsets are available in various price ranges for you to choose from. The general rule is that a mobile headset will be cheaper than a tethered or untethered headset. Here are some price marks for you to take a look at:
Low-end ($15-50): Most of the headsets in this range are made of cardboard and a pair of magnifying lenses. They are portable and often designed for smartphones.
Mid-end ($50-250): At this segment, VR headsets feature better sensors, control systems, etc. unlike the low-end and high-end market, mid-end VR headsets vary significantly in terms of quality and features.
High-end ($300+): the best VR headsets are all run on pc or consoles. They offer a huge range of features such as sophisticated motion tracking or powerful configurations.
3. Can I use my VR headsets on a laptop?
Yes, you can. You just need to see whether your laptop has the power to handle VR or not. In other words, playability depends on the specs of your laptop.
However, the problem with laptops is in exchange for portability, their cost rises up significantly. It means that you have to pay an arm and a leg for a VR-ready laptop. You would have to spend roughly about $1,500 or more.
Some VR headsets require many USB and video outputs while your laptop may lack the necessary number of connectivity ports.
4. How do I know if my pc is VR ready?
You just need to look at your pc specs and the recommended hardware requirements for VR gaming. If your system does not meet the recommended specs, you may have a very unpleasant VR experience with slideshow framerate. It’s similar to how you determine if your pc can run certain programs or games or not.
For reference, here’s the general minimum requirements of most VR headsets:
CPU: i5-4590/Ryzen 5 1400 or greater
GPU: GTX 1060/RX 470 or greater
USB ports: One USB 3.0 port
Video output: HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
5. Beside a desktop computer for programming, should I get anything else?
The best VR headsets can give you the chance to explore the boundary of imagination. The technology and hardware in this field are indeed impressive and groundbreaking. To further improve your overall experience, there are some accessories that you can consider getting:
Hands-On Throttle-and-Stick (HOTAS): What’s the better way to immerse yourself in a space or flight games than using the flight stick.
Leap Motion Controllers: These allow you to control the computer by hand gestures. They offer smooth hand control and better tracking for your VR setup.
Wireless adapters: If you want a cable-free experience you have to get one of these.
Face covers: After a while, your VR headsets’ face covers will get dirty from sweat and heat. You want to buy some disposable face covers to replace them.
Haptic vests: These provide physical feedback which helps enhance the immersion. You’re not only hearing and seeing, but also “feeling” everything.
The best all-rounder VR headset is Oculus Quest 2. The 64GB and 256Gb versions just have a $100 difference. This premium headset features built-in sensors so that the users can move around freely in their room. The Oculus Touch controllers allow everyone to interact with the virtual content in a free and intuitive way. Its sibling Oculus Rift S is also worth taking a look at.
Another premium option is Valve Index. Although more on an expensive side, it boats the best hardware and visuals of any VR headsets. Specifically, the Valve Index offers up to 144Hz refresh rate and 130° FOV, the best in-class capability. This VR headset is the most ideal for experiencing the best VR games, such as Half-Life: Alyx, which you get for free.
All in all, we hope this guide has helped you decide which are the best VR headsets for yourself. Although being a relatively new technology, VR has become more and more polished with time. Maybe in one or two decades later, we’ll get to fully immerse our whole body and sensations in virtual reality.