Bored of reality? Have you ever considered what it’d be like to live in an alternate reality filled with adventure and magic? Although it may feel like a far-off science fantasy, a virtual reality already exists to allow us to switch off from the rat-race and go into extraordinary, and sometimes dangerous, situations.
Used regularly in surgeries and medical training, and making its mark on the entertainment industry, virtual reality, or VR, is becoming normal. Although previously only part of movies with characters stuck in fake realities, VR is nothing like Hollywood imagined.
Since hitting the mainstream, VR has penetrated the entertainment industry and has finally landed in the hands of normal tech fans; not just tech geeks and early adopters. You’ve got plenty of options to get yourself kitted out with VR; different hardware, system requirements, and myriad offers and deals can get confusing.
Here, we’re going to delve into the world of VR headsets and give you our top choices for the best ones available on the market to suit your needs.
Top choice for console gamers – PlayStation VR
PlayStation VR is a solid offering since it’s got the backing of Sony on the backend for tech and content development. It’s compatible with the massively popular PlayStation 4; you just need the headset, your console and the PlayStation camera which is pretty much standard with all PS VR packages. The gaming content you can use the headset with is both excellent and expanding. Titles such as Moss, Rez Infinite and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood are already on the virtual shelves, and other games like Five Nights at Freddy’s are well into development stages.
The DualShock 4 controller works with most PlayStation VR games, so there’s no need to invest in any new motion controllers. This isn’t the standout feature of the VR system though, since PlayStation 3 era tech is still being used in the form of the PlayStation Move, and they’re just not on the same level as Oculus Touch controllers. It’s also an expensive piece of kit that’s not standard with PlayStation VR bundles.
Cost is definitely a consideration, as there are extras you may need to invest in alongside. However, there have been price cuts of late so it’s a bit more affordable. Although not top in class, the PSVR is solid and is a decent proposition for gamers looking to take their experience up a notch.
Good price point
Near PC-quality performance
Good game options
Not all the kit comes as standard
Poor light seal
Lacking decent motion controller tracking
Best in class mobile VR – Samsung Gear VR
For a well-regarded, smartphone-powered VR headset, Samsung Gear VR is the one to beat, especially with the new motion controller. It’s one of the cheapest options among others on our list for those who seek for a budget VR headset. Along with this upgrade comes a light-weight and sleek headset, plus a USB-C connector making it directly compatible with a Samsung Galaxy handset. Anything from the Galaxy S8 and upwards is going to work with the most up to date version of the Samsung Gear VR headset.
The design of the motion control echoes that of the HTC Vive, coming with a trackpad and a trigger button; all positives indeed. Because of this controller, you can directly interact with the VR world you’re in new and innovative ways.
Although perfect for owners of Samsung mobile phones, and the best choice on the market, it will only work with that brand. Gear VR includes the motion controller and the apps are powered by Oculus software, brining with it hoards of games to choose from.
Performance of the headset lies solely in the hands of the phone you’re pairing it with, although the processing power of Samsung Galaxy phones should be perfectly fine to meet the challenge of the kit. Take note; the older your Samsung phone, the less of an experience you’ll get.
Experience preserved for glasses wearers
No recharging the controller batteries
Only compatible with Samsung smartphones
Can cause nausea
For VR with a gaming rig – Oculus Rift S
Back in 2012, the Oculus Rift captivated the collective imagination of gamers and helped accelerate the revolution in VR. The Oculus Rift felt very real, rather than a throwback from gaming dreams of the nineties. Three years later and fifty dollars more gets you the new Oculus Rift S. It’s now one of the best VR boxes on the market. The look is new and the tech has some slight upgrades. The new system works in the old way; using a PC connection through USB 3.0 plus connecting through DisplayPort.
There’s a pretty long cable that connects you to your PC but it should have plenty of giving to allow you to move about a full room space, well with the Rift S’s remit. There’s limits with respect to free movement, as opposed to the Oculus Quest, however, you get the details and dynamics of a PC powered experience which should be well worth the compromise.
In a nod to keeping existing customers happy, Oculus is ensuring full compatibility with the original Rift back catalog and most of the new content coming out should be fine to work on the old kit as well as the new Rift S and Quest. When compared to the older model, the Rift S seems more comfortable, sets up easier, has loads more games straight off the bat, and the resolution is loads better. However, the trade off comes at the expense of audio quality and refresh rate, which aren’t quite what you’d expect.
Has great, exclusive Oculus games
Comfortable for its weight
Prone to crashes
Mediocre resolution improvements
Needs cables for a gaming PC
Best wire free VR experience – Oculus Quest
The absolute best in category for VR is the Valve Index, as long as you’ve got the kit to run the system. But if you want freedom from cables and don’t want to spend nearly $1000 on a gaming PC rig and headset, your best alternative choice has to be the Oculus Quest.
There’s no PC or smartphone required, you get an OLED display packed with a resolution of 1440 x 1600 per eye, and the processor is the Snapdragon 835 – this really is a groundbreaking piece of virtual reality kit. The Oculus Quest takes mere minutes to get set up, with no sensors to plug in or cables to tangle with. To keep the speed of use going, there’s a fair few Oculus titles that will already work with the Quest too, but not quite all of them.
It’s not all perfection, though. You’ll get a little bit of light leaking in around your nose and the battery life ekes out around 2 to 3 hours of experience, depending on if you’re gaming or using it for media. The short battery life means there’s going to be a fair amount of charging to remember about. However, for standalone VR, this is the best we have to show you. It’s our number one pick on the list because it’s wireless, self-contained, convenient, and best of all it’s fun. Oculus Quest is truly the best quality VR headset from a well-known reliable company.
Inside-out tracking works well
No cables to tangle up
Some of the best VR games available
No extra hardware required
Not as much power as wired kit
Some graininess in the picture
Not cheap compared to other consoles
Virtual Reality, once confined to Hollywood and tech head dreams, has finally become a reality and the industry is stepping up its game.
Your first thoughts will probably jump to movies and gaming when it comes to VR, quite naturally, but in reality the possibilities are endless. You can get tethered to your computer, or have a headset that is its own complete package – we’ve tested your options and looked at what is going to work best depending on your needs.
For mobile gamers, the best mobile VR you’re going to get is Samsung Gear VR, console games need to pick up a PlayStation VR, the Oculus Rift S works best if you want a sharp screen, great cameras, and no external sensors. For the best overall VR experience, grab the Oculus Quest VR headset; you’ll get two controllers, a computer-independent system, six-degrees-of-freedom tracking, and the best bit; a wire free set up.
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