Gone are the days of VR headsets being locked in one position, exclusively showing black and white images, and getting derided by critics. However, choosing the right headset for you is a tricky affair. Luckily, we’re here to help with our roundup of all the latest VR tech that has the power to take your living room into another dimension.
Oculus Quest: cable-free and budget-friendly
While there are other more powerful systems out there, when it comes to ease of use, maneuverability and being kind to your bank balance, the Oculus Quest is hard to beat. With nothing more than the Oculus app, you can start playing games or accessing media content, with no need for a complex gaming PC. Allied to all this comes the news that YouTube content is also available in glorious VR quality, meaning anything from music videos to extreme sports clips can be viewed.
Generously priced in the under $500 range, it’s inevitable that the experience provided by the Oculus Quest isn’t perfect. There have been reports of certain users suffering light leakage (depending on the shape of your nose) and battery life being restricted to between 2 to 3 hours, but for the price, this headset is still an excellent option.
Valve Index: Powerful next-gen market leader
VR headsets have come a long way since 1995 when the very first, Nintendo’s “Virtual Boy”, was pulled from the shelves after just six months of being on sale. The Valve Index is the next generation of headset, that is accompanied by an incredible “knuckle” controller, which tracks the movement of each of your fingers, making for a truly immersive experience.
This being a seriously powerful piece of kit, it is of course not without its glitches. Regular updates can lead to a stilted start-up at the beginning of a new gaming session, and the initial setup process can also be a drag, depending on the computer you have. But these teething issues will disappear into the ether as you marvel at the expanded field of view, lightning refresh rate, and crystal clear graphics.
Samsung Gear VR: Your VR fix on the go
The most important thing to know about Samsung Gear VR is that if you don’t have a Samsung phone, and don’t plan on purchasing one, then it’s not for you, because the headset is only compatible with a Samsung device. The higher the version of Galaxy the better. This aside, a new motion controller adds an extra facet to your experience, allowing you to interact with VR worlds like never before.
Although we like this lightweight device very much, it is worth mentioning that the motion controller’s batteries are not rechargeable, which in this day and age is somewhat annoying. Also, as previously mentioned, check that your Galaxy device will work with the Gear. There’s nothing worse than unwrapping a product to find out that you have to return it.
Pansonite 3D VR Glasses: VR for the masses
Everyone loves a bargain, and the Pansonite 3D VR Glasses are certainly that, giving you the chance to enter the world of VR for under $50. The glasses are comfortable thanks to their adjustable strap and put more expensive headsets to shame with their ability to block out virtually all unwanted external light, no matter the contours of your face. Unlike the Samsung Gear, the device can be used with both Android and iPhone.
So what’s the catch? There’s no getting away from the fact that the performance of the headset relies heavily on the caliber of the mobile phone you use it with, which should always be kept in mind. However, the only main drawback we could find was that the headset doesn’t come with headphones, meaning you must rely on your own. If this isn’t a deal-breaker for you, then the Pansonite 3D VR Glasses could be for you.