A roundup of best VR headsets of 2016. Is this real? Is this even happening? We are now officially in an age where we have enough Virtual Reality headsets to make a comparison/rating post! A few years ago it was only Oculus Rift, who were sort of the pioneers in this field, and now so many more have popped up that your average gamer is spoiled for choices. We expect many more, better, innovative VR headsets to be released in the coming months and years. We absolutely hope that is the case, because more competition would also mean the prices will come down, and every gamer’s house will have a VR headset. We are just salivating at the thought of VR based gaming championships. Bye-bye sunlight!
We of course don’t own all the headsets, and can only give our opinion on the ones we’ve tried, based on the feel, comfort, clarity, resolution and virtual reality simulation excellence:
1. HTC Vive
Even though Oculus started the VR war, HTC has drawn first blood with its Vive headset, making it the most complete VR experience on the market right now, complete with a headset (D’oh), two base stations for tracking the headset’s movement, two motion controllers to go pew-pew on space aliens. HTC Vive also happens to have one of the best screen resolution in the market right now, which gives you a very crisp quality VR image.
What makes the HTC Vive stand out from all its competitors is its motion-tracking room-scale feature, where you can walk around in an area of 4.5x 4.5 meters, so you can pretty much walk around in a game, and not simply stay in one location and go pew-pew. (Am I using pew-pew a bit too much?) The motion tracking AND partnership with Steam for their Steam VR initiative makes HTC Vive an absolute must-have for PC gamers. It is quite pricey, on top of needing a high-end gaming PC to run. But if you are a true VR enthusiast, hardcore gamer, and have a big enough room, this is the stuff for you.
2. Oculus Rift
Oculus were the pioneers in the VR space, with the very first VR headset popping up a few years ago, and numerous iterations since. Despite not having the motion tracking feature yet, it still remains a very viable choice due to being $200 cheaper than the HTC Vive. If you want to stay in one place and enjoy VR, for example in a racing simulation rig, this is the VR headset for you. Only professional, high level, extremely expensive racing simulation setups actually simulate physics, or none at all, so spending extra on HTC Vive for that wouldn’t make much sense. You still get a lot of bang for your buck with the Oculus Rift, and with the VR wars heating up, we expect to see many improvements in the coming years. Exciting time to be alive!
3. Playstation VR
Console gamers, rejoice! If you already have bought a Playstation 4 and can’t be bothered to spend extra money to buy a high-end gaming PC for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift displayed above, Playstation VR is the answer for you. It is also cheaper than its PC counterparts. According to initial reviews and hands-on demos, it seems to be one of the most comfortable VR headsets around. You also get the least amount of motion sickness from it due to the 1080p resolution and 120hz refresh rate. Don’t rush out to buy one yet, as the next version of the Playstation is just around the corner, PS4.5 I think? That should have many more VR capabilities. Sorry, PS4 buyers, this is the fast pace of technology.
4. Microsoft Hololens
Microsoft surprised the world last year with their take on augmented reality. While this is isn’t VR, it’s similar in the way it works with holograms. And it may also not be aimed at hardcore gamers, but more at workaholics looking for new ways to explore a far wider gamut of productivity tools they can use to go that much further and make the grind that less boring. I can already envision doing a spell check on Microsoft Word while roaming around in my room, scrolling the document from top to bottom with motion tracked hand gestures.
Augmented reality means you are not entirely in a virtual world or setting, but instead it puts interactive holograms in the space where you live or work. This can be a godsend for architects who can test their creations in full scale holograms before making them a reality. Wearing these glasses, you can also have a video running on one corner of the room you are working in.
The Microsoft Hololens is more of a hybrid between an entertainment, gaming and office productivity tool, which makes it a unique offering in this space. Again, awesome times ahead.
Honorable Mentions for best VR headsets 2016:
Razer OSVR HDK 2: Still in development, it is an open source virtual reality headset. As far had hardware specs go, it is right up there with Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, but it still needs some improvement on other fronts, especially motion tracking. Price: $399
Sulon Q: A tether-less VR/AR headset with a battery pack, so obviously you’ll be worried about the battery life. It’s a augmented and virtual reality hybrid, with a higher resolution than all headsets we’ve talked about here. Price at this point is unknown.
Samsung Gear VR: Mobile virtual reality for smartphones, especially the ones made by Samsung. You just install VR apps from the Play Store, slot the smartphone into the headset, and experience some low-level VR. It’s not amazing, but it’s still the best VR experience you can get with a smartphone. Price: $199
Google Cardboard: Virtual reality on the cheap, and for the masses. You can download the instructions from the Google Cardboard website, or just buy a kit online VERY cheap, mostly up to $60 to $70 max. You can fold up a cardboard according to the instructions, and slot your smartphone with VR apps on it and get VRing. Awesome initiative to get virtual reality to everyone. If you are new to VR and would like to test first before taking the full plunge with any of the high-end headsets, this one is for you. Price: $0 to $80