The best VR headsets

The best VR headsets

Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR, Gear VR, HTC Vive… virtual reality is back, baby!
The best VR headsets

Virtual reality is back baby – 2016 is set to be the year when the likes of Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive Pre take VR mainstream.

Virtual reality is an immersive experience in which your head movements are tracked in a three-dimensional world, making it ideally suited to games and even movies.

Explained: How does VR actually work?

While VR was a non-starter back in the 90s, developers are now creating mind-blowing experiences that look set to revolutionise gaming and entertainment.

But what are the best VR headsets and which one should you choose? We've put together the definitive selection of the most gob-smackingly awesome devices just waiting to be strapped to your bonce.

Read on for the full list…

Oculus Rift

Best VR headsets

Of course, Oculus Rift is the virtual reality headset that started the current hysteria. Developed by Palmer Luckey, funded via Kickstarter and snapped up by Facebook for a cool $2 billion, the Rift plugs into your computer's DVI and USB ports and tracks your head movements to provide 3D imagery on its stereo screens.

It's available to order now, with shipping expected in March 2016. The Oculus Touch controllers have been delayed until later in the year, but you will get an Xbox One control pad in the box.

Make sure you check out our round up of the best games for Oculus Rift.

$599, oculus.com

Sony PlayStation VR

Best VR gaming headset

At last we have a launch date for the PlayStation VR headset: October 2016.

A new version was announced at GDC 2015 and gone is the 5-inch LCD display of the original prototype; in its place a 5.7-inch OLED one which enables low persistence, which should mean less motion blur. The display's refresh rate has also been ramped up to 120Hz, making 120fps gaming a real possibility.

The reported latency issues of Morpheus Mk1 have been addressed, with a new 18ms reading, and tracking accuracy has been tweaked with a total of nine LEDs now aiding the positional awareness of the headset.

$399, sony.com

HTC Vive

best VR headsets

HTC unveiled the HTC Vive, a Steam VR headset made in collaboration with Valve, at MWC 2015 – and it's due to hit the shops in April.

The HTC Vive plugs into PCs and work with Valve's mammoth gaming ecosystem. It packs in 70 sensors plus offers 360 degree head-tracking as well as a 90Hz refresh rate; the stat that's key to keeping down latency. Elsewhere, there's an accompanying "context aware controller", so you can shoot, move and interact with elements in the virtual world.

Check out our hands-on with the HTC Vive for more info.

$799, htcvr.com

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung's entry into VR has delivered one of the best all-round and consumer-friendly headsets on the market, albeit with a restrictive walled garden that we're at least becoming accustomed to.

The Gear VR, now available officially to consumers, is an Oculus Rift-powered device that uses a Samsung Galaxy smartphone as its processor and display. The Galaxy handset simply slots in front of the lenses, into a Micro USB dock, and uses its Super AMOLED display as your screen.

It's already added a host of games plus a whole marketplace of VR video content called Milk VR. And if you want to try it out, just head to Samsung stores, museums and even hotel rooms for a taster.

In our Samsung Gear VR review, we said that “Samsung's first VR headset is an awesome peek into the future of VR for the rest of us and we're betting on Samsung to make good on its promise to get as many movies, games and VR experiences onto the Gear VR as possible."

$99, samsung.com

Microsoft HoloLens

The device that took everyone off guard, Microsoft HoloLens is half virtual and half augmented reality. The device merges real-world elements with virtual 'holographic' images, meaning you can look at your Minecraft world on your kitchen table, or walk around the surface of Mars in your living room.

Using Kinect-style tech to recognise gestures and voice commands, the headset has a 120-degree field of vision on both axes, and is capable of 'high definition' visuals. What's more, there's no connection to a PC – a full Windows 10 system is built into the headset and runs off a battery. No, we can't wait to see how long that lasts either.

The Development Edition will launch in 2016 with a price tag of $3,000.

$3,000, microsoft.com

FOVE VR

FOVE VR differs from the likes of Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR because it offers interactive eye-tracking. Inside the headset is an infrared sensor that monitors the wearer's eyes; offering both a new control method and an edge on its competitors when it comes to realism.

With FOVE, simulated depth-of-field is possible, due to the system knowing exactly what you're looking at, and as a result, the virtual should appear more real.

FOVE makes use of the Wear VR software platform and is compatible with Unity, Unreal, and Cryengine game engines.

From $349, getfove.com

Zeiss VR One

Best VR headsets

Like the Samsung Gear VR, the hardware power for this Zeiss branded headset comes from your smartphone. Unlike Sammy's effort, however, you're not tied to just one mobile with the Zeiss VR One; it will play ball with any iOS or Android handset between 4.7 and 5.2 inches.

It packs a media player for the likes of pictures and YouTube videos and an AR app for augmented experiences, while the open source Unity3D SDK (iOS and Android) means there's plenty of scope for development.

What's more, with lens maker Zeiss doing the optics, this definitely has promise.

$120, zeissvrone.tumblr.com

Avegant Glyph

Best VR headsets to buy

The majority of these headsets are large and heavy, but Avegant's Glyph is both sleeker and smaller than the pack. Its svelte size is due to its display technology: rather than using conventional smartphone-like screens to present imagery, it uses an array of micro mirrors to reflect an image directly into your retina.

The Glyph can be worn like a pair of headphones until you pull the screen down over your eyes, where you can enjoy 1280 x 720 for each eyeball. And while it's limited to a 45 degree field of view, the micro mirror array is said to reduce motion sickness and eye fatigue.

$699, avegant.com

Razer OSVR

Razer's OSVR isn't a rival to the likes of Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR. Instead, it's intended to make life easier for developers to make applications for VR hardware, without technical (software and hardware) limitations getting in their way.

Open source is the big buzzword, breaking down the limitations that hinder development even on Oculus Rift. We have already seen plenty of third parties getting involved to help develop new features, including gesture tracking with a Leap Motion faceplate.

Previously on sale to developers, the general public can now order the dev kit direct through Razer, although the company is keen to stress that it's still not a consumer product and, as such, only has a 30 day warranty.

$299.99, razerzone.com

Google Cardboard

The best AR and VR headsets

Not to be outdone, Google announced its Cardboard virtual reality headset at I/O 2014 and unveiled version 2 at the 2015 conference. Popping a smartphone into a cardboard container and then strapping it to your head may sound like a joke, but it actually works and it could become a low-cost way to experience virtual reality.

After all, your smartphone contains all the necessary gyroscopic sensors and positioning systems to accurately track your head movements. Related is Durovis' Dive, which is essentially the same thing made of higher quality and more sweat-resistant materials.

Take a look at the best Google Cardboard VR apps and games.

$29.95, dodocase.com (others are available, look for the 'works with Cardboard' seal of approval)

Freefly VR headset

Freefly's VR headset looks dorkier than most, thanks to those 'wings', but who cares? It's now compatible with the 200+ Google Cardboard apps, plus it rocks 42mm lenses and a 120-degree field of view while faux leather helps to keep things comfortable. It fits any smartphone with a screen between 4.7in and 6.1in, which is admittedly less than an Archos headset but still covers most flagships in 2015.

As well as featuring head-tracking via your phone's accelerometer, one point of difference over the cheapest options is that Freefly comes with an odd little controller, named Glide, that you hold in one hand. It saves you the cost of buying a Bluetooth peripheral, though we've got to say we prefer a two-handed controller for gaming.

$79, freeflyvr.com

77 Comments

  • IONVR says:

    How about the ImmersiON-VRelia products? Rated "Best of CES 2015" by GamBit magazine and winner for "Best designed VR-Headset" by VR-iPhone.com?

    Thanks.

    • Prantha says:

      Excellent question!

  • Sari says:

    Looks like next big thing in technology is virtual reality and already there are many products coming up. http://techliveinfo.com/

  • Sari says:

    Hope VR field gets its boost. 

  • romz says:

    How about this http://pcardboard.com/3d-virtual-reality-helmet-medium 3D Virtual reality Helmet?

    Is it really works? I heard what its the same as Oculus but cheaper just using smartphone. Who tried already?

  • Shanon says:

    Shame, shame! 

    virtual reality is for sinners. Jesus is all you need. What's next, virtual brothels? Shame, shame, shame.

    • Goose says:

      With your line of thinking please refrain from using any electronic devices as they are all sinning facilitation devices. In all honestly, your mind seems to be the one considering sin rather than revolutions in remote surgeries, space exploration, education, travel, emergency rescue, entertainment (including brothels) and much more...

      • videogames69 says:

        excuse me but lets just remember that the bible said that we should kill homosexuals and non believers but then you can realize not everyone is going to buy a $600 vr set to watch porn the people who use them use them for videogames to try to feel like they are the character they are playing as

    • PhillisStien says:

      Great idea!

    • mikeg7385 says:

      Wow your a ignorant fuc.k

      • slimjim says:

        I think you mean "you're". You would make a strong case if you used the correct spelling. Ignorance is acceptable the first time. Stupidity is not.

        • Harukon says:

          WERE DO PEOPLE LIKE YOU POP OUT FROM !!!!!!

          • eroe says:

            i think you mean "where"... <grin>

            • Sayato says:

              Bakk oph uv hem. Knot ull uv us ksan u-ford spell-chek!

    • coltonb13 says:

      Not brothels, but VR porn is already here. Sorry.

    • unforgiven says:

      if that's the case then you need to get off the internet right now, sell all your possessions and follow him instead of  being a hypocrite trying to preach

    • unforgiven says:

      Well if that's the case you better get off the internet quick. Sell off all your possessions and follow him instead preaching what you obviously don't practice.

      • whatevah says:

        wanna try that again...? 

    • deattoms says:

      Oh how sad Shanon that you are stuck in the Dark Ages and in the mindset of a religion thrust upon this world by the ancient Romans as a last ditch effort to try to regain control of their dying empire. Put all that behind you....come with us! We are the ones headed into the New Age. An age devoid of fear, hate and intolerance of those that are different from you. We are the happy ones - discovering new technologies, new paths and new worlds - the sky is the limit and the universe is our playground. If that which created the universe didn't want us to have or discover all of these wonderful new toys then it wouldn't be so - nothing exists without the creator's approval. It must be such a terrible thing to live in that world of fear all the time!

    • videogames69 says:

      their are over 500,000 people who have vr headsets not to watch porn but to immerse themselves in the world the character is in like the far cry franchise or arma2 or dayz they use it for videogames and not porn and if you think vr is bad listen to your own bibles words

      deuteronomy 13:6-9  “If your brother, the son of your mother, your son or your daughter, the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, secretly entices you, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, not consent to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him or conceal him he shall be put to death, your hand should be the first in putting him to death and afterward the hand of all the people.

    • starlord says:

      id rather go to a real one.   just sayin

    • Halex says:

      Virtual Jesus ?

    • Sayato says:

      I hope you're joking.The terms "virtual reality "and "virtual brothels" share only the word "virtual". I pray to God that you're joking. It's 2016.

  • Nic says:

    How can you miss out Homido??

  • branman93 says:

    JUST THINK OF EVERYONE AT HOME THAT GETS A CONSTANT DISTRACTION AND CAN NEVER GET FULLY INTO THE GAME. THEY JUST CANT FOCUS SO WHY NOT BRING THEM INTO A SURROUND SOUND IN YOUR FACE, GAMING HEADSET THAT BLOCKS OUT NOISE AND LIGHT FROM THE OUTSIDE. JUST PICTURE PLAYING PER SAY A RPG GAME LIKE SKYRIM AND OF INSTEAD OF WATCHING IT FROM A DISTANCE ON A TV SCREEN BRING IT CLOSER SO THATS ALL YOU CAN SEE NOTHING ELSE . THATS WHAT GAMING SHOULD BE ACTUALLY FEEL LIKE YOUR THERE IN THE GAMEJUST NOT PLAYING .

  • Swtr says:

    what are your thoughts on starvr

    • sonny says:

      yea, i was missing it in the list, too.

    • ajdasldhnaksd says:

      my thoughts thar your stupid and ugky

  • kenavith says:

    My love this 

  • norazlin says:

    Does anyone know whether I can tie in the VR goggles with my Architectural Walk through of an apartment?

    • MaxIlse says:

      I would try to create an architectural model (e.g. in SketchUp) and import the model in Unity3D.

  • Rizen says:

    (sigh) why not just use all of their resources and put them together so that way VRMMOs will become reality faster.

    • Demortes says:

      Competition brings about better stuff for consumers. Monopolies not so much. I get what you mean, but one solution doesn't fit all.

      • ExiHyp says:

        There is no actual competition. It's just the left and the right hands of the same body, to make an impression of a competition.

      • Steamerandy says:

        On one point I agree. On smart phone vr apps anyway. The use of controllers needs to be addressed. The controler options button maping, magnet or keyboard should by configurable. Some apps move in the direction you look. You can't look around to see were you might won't to go without moving in the direction you are look8ng. Others allow game controler to be used. Most intuitive is strafe, forward and back. Joy stick movement relative to view direction. We shouldn't have to be turing around in an our real environment that we cannot see with the headset on to control our orientation in the vr environment.  I originally purchased a cheap plastic cardboard headset. Just upgraded to a FreeFly headset. The field of view and optics were well worth it.  The.android app Halls Of Fear is a good example of controller use.

  • garymatt says:

    Am I the only one?  Sure the best finest most wonderful game in VR would be fantastic BUT for years and I do mean years I have lusted after what surely must be for sale somewhere by somebody: A computer connected head worn device that would just let you watch movies in big screen splendor, sound included.  Even strapping a phone to your face embedded in cardboard seems possible.  If only getting movies to phones weren't such hassle that has to be repeated for every movie.

    Griping aside, is there such a beast and I am just too out of touch to be able to find it? Oh yeah, preferably costing less than a Ferrari.

    GaryMatt


    • Aussiedog says:

      That's what the Avegant Glyph does among other things.

    • Aussiedog says:

      That is what the Avegant Glyph does, as well as VR applications.

  • scalibur says:

    why do I feel like this is turning into another pc vs console, Microsoft vs apples...., and Xbox vs Playstation vs nintendo vs steam vs nvidia kind of thing. I don't feel good about this. Sorry guys, I am happy it's finally happening, but this is going to be hairy the first year with all the competition, die hard fans, and most likely esclusivity of softwares or apps. 

  • Kaushik says:

    What about the people wearing spectacles. Will the device as mentioned above fit well with the spectacles on?

    Would be grateful for your response.

    • coltonb13 says:

      i can only speak for Samsung VR and id assume the other high end ones do as well. There is an adjustable knob to put it into focus. Im blind as a bat, an my gf 20/20, 3sec slide of a jnob and we both see perfectly 

    • sindrirune says:

      I was wondering the same thing and read some offer adjustable lens to help with those of us that wear glasses.... I just wanted to find a pair of VR glasses for my nephew who loves to watch movies on my iPhone 6 Plus.... He is also into Mind Craft... So this idea was to keep him happy when he visits. Of course most of our time is spent playing outdoors and enjoying nature ... Balance is important

  • GrtwWhtBuffalo says:

    Why cant they just make a screen that i strap to my face that i can play my PC games on with a normal ass controller? no vr or head tracking. just something simple and inexpensive.

  • Johnk says:

    How about StarVR ?

  • MistaP says:

    This is a fast-moving field - and in 2 months this article is out of date. I just ordered the Samsung Gear VR for $99. With the 4K screen on my Note 5 and an iPEGA bluetooth controller for $30, I'm looking forward to the VR age - arriving next week!

    • codah says:

      Note 5 is not 4K

      • Grimreaper364 says:

        I believe it's 1440p which is excellent for the Gear VR.

  • Lisa says:

    Error in this article. Driving me crazy.  "Snapped by by Facebook"

  • Black_Swordsman says:

    I think the avegant glyph has won me over 

  • lorenzo says:

    Smartphone VR is bad VR.

    • copyitright says:

      Atleast it gives you a sneak peek into the VR world without adding much costs.

    • fishstick says:

      learn some grammar honeyy.

  • sparkz says:

    I like the thinking behind the Vove but looking at the demo videos I notice the out of focus blurring doesn't seem that natural. Whilst "out of focus" objects are blurred internally, their edges are relatively sharp which makes the whole effect look weird IMHO.

  • Truegamer says:

    I think all of these VR gadgets are to VR what the Atari 2600 was to video game consoles back in the day. In other words, they're unwieldy, low-quality gadgets and hardly worth more than an eyebrow raise. In a few more years, they'll be ready for prime time. Right now, they're little more than novelties for those with more money than sense.

  • dougieconnor says:

    Why is no one mentioning Vuzix The iWear Video Headphones no VR in the Title but they are VR with HDMI input, built in android os. Not cheap but worth the price

  • howitis says:

    I agree that this VR tech was primarily invented for filth, just check out the way it's marketed in China , check taobao.com this ours like Chinese version of Amazon. Every VR head set is pictured alongside a hot girl and some even packaged together with sex toys.

  • elcami23 says:

    Does anybody know where we can find those? Buy or hire them? Any info would be useful. Thanks in advance.

  • Manoj says:

    Can I have any VR Kit for my 8 inch samsung tablet....?

  • wavemaker says:

    I lke VR! How Can I do? 

  • fishstickhottie says:

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  • fishstick says:

    swag swag swag HEY QUEEN swags swag swag TACOS swag swag swag QUEEN

  • fishstick says:

    you used to call me on your cellphone

  • fishstick says:

    late night when you need my love

  • fishstick says:

    used to call me on your cellphone

  • fishstick says:

    i know when that hotline bling

  • fishstick says:

    that can only mean 1 thing

  • fishstick says:

    hello

  • fishstick says:

    its me

  • fishstick says:

    i was wondering if after all these years you'd like to meet

  • fishstick says:

    and go over...

  • fishstick says:

    everything...

  • fishstick says:

    they say that times supposed to heal yah..

  • fishstick says:

    but i aint done much healin..

  • fishstick says:

    HELLO

  • fishstick says:

    can you hear me

  • MusoStu says:

    Avegant Glyph is not a VR Headset

  • Glowzinski says:

    Well, I have all the game systems out.  I have a Mac.  The best new Mac Pro I could get.  After reading all the stuff I have read, on the VR things.  I am happy that I pre ordered the PS VR.  I have never had a problem with the motion controls for the system.  I do not have Windows 10.  If anything, I think of the three, PS VR will be on it's own.  The other two will be competing with one another.  Then, of those two, I really think the winner will be the HTC.  Requiring one to have Windows, just seems like a bad idea.  Right there, they limit those who can use them.  Plus, the computer you need to run the thing, limits it even more.  Same with the HTC thing.  I will get the PS VR.  If I like it, I will be happy to get newer ones from the company.

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