“Why shouldn’t people be able to teleport wherever they want to?” This question asked by Palmer Luckey, the CEO of Oculus VR would have certainly raised some eyebrows back in the day. But today, the story is very different. All thanks to VR, our Sci-Fi fantasies of teleporting anywhere and experiencing a self-created reality is now possible. VR offers a space where you can get the feel of the whole adventure of gaming on an amplified level.
VR has been available to consumers in the market for quite some years now, but it has gained exciting momentum only recently. VR headsets made their way into retail stores, and with the coming of these headsets, a lot of inhibitions about VR being limited only to tech-savvy people have settled. Today, the headsets have matured in their functionalities and have been growing fairly rapidly in the tech-world. VR headset is not merely a strap attached to your head; it provides a life-like experience when it comes to gaming. This is something that a monitor on your PC or mobile screen could ever achieve. It has been a game-changer in the world of entertainment and has revolutionized the engagement level of the consumers.
I know this must have got you all excited about getting your hands on your own VR headset. You must be wondering which one of the sets you should get? Look no further! We are here getting into the knacks of the best VR headsets that are available in the market right now. We will cover all the aspects; ranging from specifications, uses, durability, suitability, pros and cons of these headsets and give out our honest feedback in the hope that it helps you make the right choice while purchasing one for yourself.
1. Oculus Quest 2
Where To Buy: Amazon.com
The first VR headset on our list must be the Oculus Quest 2. Oculus Quest 2 was released very recently on October 13th, 2020. It is an upgraded version of the Oculus Quest that was released last year. Oculus quest 2 has garnered a lot of attention in the VR market because of its improved tech and lower price. It is available in 2 variants: A 64 GB one, the price at $299, and a 256 GB model priced at $399. Similar to the Oculus Quest, this headset is tetherless and comes with 2 controllers. The only difference is that now you will log in to your Facebook account to make use of this headset.
The design of Oculus Quest 2 is very chic and minimal. The head straps are made up of Velcro, making the device much lighter than the previous model. The controllers have also increased in size, leaving more room for your hands to rest. The sensitivity rate is also pretty high with these controllers. The actions done get seamlessly translated into VR. The 5 sensors, 4 being on the sides of the headset, and one being above it gives you a 5D experience while playing the games. The Quest 2 ditches the slider for adjustment of lenses and gives you the option to set the distance between the lenses physically on 3 pre-set modes.
The resolution per eye has taken a great leap and adopted an 1832 x 1920 LCD. The processor used has also been upgraded to Snapdragon XR2, making the gaming experience more life-like. The audio quality of this headset remains unchanged and limits you a fully immersive audio experience unless you use the headphone jack.
To make an informed decision about whether to buy this product or not let’s look at its pros and cons.
- Solid Internal Specs: With Quest 2 LCD with a higher resolution is adopted that makes the videos more picturesque and sharper. To top it all, the processor allows the games and software to run seamlessly without any lag.
- Affordability: In the predecessor version of Quest, price and affordability was an issue, but the Quest 2 enhances the accessibility of VR. The 2 variants allow the customers to choose one as per their budget and liking.
- Increased Optional Functionalities: Quest 2 allows tethering to PC. If you are looking for a more powerful gaming experience which cannot be supported by the headset alone then you can alternatively tether it to your PC and enjoy the experience without any interruptions
- Facebook Login Requirement: Many users have complained that the mandatory Facebook login seems to be cumbersome and has even accidentally locked them out of their own accounts. Also, for non-Facebook users, this just seems like an additional unwanted step in their gaming process.
- Additional Costs: Oculus Quest 2 has smartly added accessories like ‘Fit Package’ and ‘Elite Strap’ to prevent light leakage from the nose area, and to give a steady headset strap respectively. These are some additional costs that the user has to bear if they want to make the optimum use of the headset.
- Motion Sickness: People wary of motion sickness cannot game for a long time as some games require a lot of control over your perspective.
- Ipd Settings: Quest 2 limits the option of people to set their own distance between the lenses. The 3 options available cannot be expected to fit all consumers likely.
Oculus Quest 2 truly provides a wireless VR experience like no other headset in the world does. The headset is an amalgamation of Facebook’s vision and Oculus futuristic design. The silver lining is its price. Could you ever imagine getting into a self-created reality every day and enjoying it at just $299? The price is seriously compelling to all of us tech-lovers! The headset is a worthwhile upgrade to Oculus Quest and can be your go-to device for gaming soon. I suggest you upgrade to this version and get the most out of VR gaming.
Final Review: Oculus quest 2 is a state of art in the VR industry and it is our personal favorite too! Hands-down we give it a 4.5/5.
2. HTC Vive Cosmos
Where To Buy: Amazon
Second, on our list is HTC Vive Cosmos. Vive Cosmos was released on 3rd October 2019 and has managed to stay at the top of the charts since then. It is a tethered device and powerfully supports your gaming experience. It is available in vibrant colors and is aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Vive, not being completely wireless poses the problem of you getting entangled in the wires that the VR headsets come with while gaming. It makes you wary about your movements while gaming as all your movement being translated into VR.
The VR headset is tastefully designed, keeping the trademark peppiness of HTC products in mind. To increase the mobility, even more, the Vive Cosmos comes with adjustable lenses where you can tweak the distance between them as per your liking and use it with a PC. It also has an LED screen with 1,700-by-1,440-pixel resolution lenses that makes the gaming experience more life-like.
Unlike other models, it incorporates 6 advanced cameras that track all your movement precisely. However, you need a larger space to enjoy this headset completely. Some users have also complained that their calibration takes some time in dim-lit spaces.
The product is priced very steeply and is not accessible to all users alike. But, the seamless gaming experience makes up for all the loopholes. These were some of the specs of the headset.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of the headset and see if it is worth buying.
- Ditching the external sensors: Vive Cosmos has gone completely let go of external sensors, giving it an edge when it comes to the mobility of this device. This robust design also enables this headset to make the most out of itself even in small rooms. Walk, run or even crouch while gaming, the design of this headset is suited for all these movements, all thanks to its improved motion sensors!
- Robust internal specs: The device has the latest Intel core processor. This is one of the best processors when it comes to gaming. The videos played are of high quality and has zero lag. The ultra-wide sensors on the side of the headset also ensure the optimum emersion level while experiencing a game. The setup and calibration power of the headset is also quite easy and hassle-free. The device also has 1440 x 1700 pixels, that gives out sharp and crisp videos.
- Inside out tracking: Living up to its name of being a market player, Vive Cosmos does not need any other accessory to translate your movements into VR. It instantly translates your movements and reflects it into the VR through its 6-camera setup.
- Tethering: It does not make much sense of buying such an expensive product that comes with cables and is dependent on a PC. A lot of the wireless VR headsets are available in the market at half the price of Vive Cosmos.
- Heavy on the pocket: All the perks of this headset come along with a steep price of $900. HTC being on its initiative to make VR accessible to everyone fails to do so with this headset. Being such a highly-priced product, consumers can almost pass it off as a luxury good.
- Performance lag: As compared to other wired VR consoles, the HTC Vive Cosmos can sometimes pose a lag in transitions which makes the gaming experience interrupted. The calibration of this device poses a problem in dim-lit spaces. This hampers the VR experience.
- Comfort: The controller of the Vive Cosmos headset still needs some improvement ergonomically. It needs a more sophisticated build and hand space.
HTC Vive Cosmos has hit all the right notes when it comes to futurizing VR experience. Any gizmo lover would vouch for this kind of advanced technology used in this product. It truly revolutionizes VR. But is it all worth the amount of money we pay for it? Well, that’s a very personal choice. This headset is a market leader for a reason and the diverse range of functionalities that the headset posits is unmatchable. So, if you love tech and do not mind spending a little then this headset is a must-buy!
Final review: It would have been a perfect 5 from my side had the price not come into the picture but, for now, HTC Vive Cosmos is a strong 4/5!
3. Oculus Rift S
Where To Buy: Amazon
Oculus has been dominating the VR industry for a long time now. They offer both wired and wireless headsets and the tethered headsets that are the best in the market currently, are the Oculus Rift S. Oculus Rift S was launched tangential to the Oculus quest. The ‘insight tracking’ feature of the Oculus series was first introduced in this device. Rift S is an upgraded version of the Rift and costs $50 more than the original Rift which was priced at $349. The Rift S also has a resolution of 1200 x 1080 that is better than the previous model.
Rift S needs a sufficiently spaced room as it comes with tethering needs. Apart from that the software used is powerful and provides a gaming experience with minimum interruptions. Unlike the other models of VR headsets by Oculus, the Rift S has 2 front sensors, 2 side sensors, and one sensor above the headset. This increases the degree of freedom of hand movements. The headset is halo styled and is very comfortable to wear and comes with automatic calibration which makes them more accessible and user-friendly. The controllers are also sturdy and evenly distributed. The audio quality is clear but lacks some sense of full immersion. They are not loud enough so it is better to use it with a headset.
The slider that is used for physical adjustment of the distance between the lenses has been removed from this headset. An internal software replaces the need for it. So, you should check out the IPD settings and check if the device suits you. To make the most out of this headset, you should have the best PC for gaming. Although it is compatible with your older versions, the best experience comes from the newer ones.
Rift S was the first step in commercializing the VR headsets. Let’s look at the high and low points of the same.
- Comfortable: Rift S is specially built, keeping in mind the gaming needs of individuals. Its halo-ring style head strap distributes the weight of the headset equally. There is also extra room in the headset for people who wear glasses. This makes the gaming experience worth the while.
- Accurate Tracking: The cutting-edge insight tracking by the sensors allows the user to be fully engrossed in the game and get larger than life quality visuals.
- Powerful Gaming Experience: When plugged into a gaming PC, this VR headset does wonders. The exclusive Oculus games run marvelously on this headset.
- Tethered: Wired headset seems to be dated now. The wires always have a problem with entangling you while gaming. The wires also restrict the mobility of the device and demand the need for a larger space where the headset can be used.
- Bland Design: The Rift S does not introduce anything new on its design front. It combines elements of Lenovo, PlayStation, and the previous Rift models. Launched with Oculus Quest, this device would surely take a back seat when it comes to its design.
- Unsatisfactory Upgrades: Given the steep increase in its price, the upgrades from the previous version is not much.
Oculus Rift S surely pushes the envelope by introducing better tracking systems and optimizing the touch sensitivity. The visuals are also pretty solid as compared to the previous Rift models. It is the best tethered VR headset that is available in the market right now. A lot of VR Gamers swear by this product, and it is understandable given the power and functionality of this device.
Final Review: Overall, the model could be rated a 3.9/5, but when compared to other tethered models, it surely stands to be a 4/5.
4. Playstation VR
Where To Buy: Amazon
In this dynamic world of virtual reality, how has a device remained relevant in 2016? This is one of the most commonly asked questions while purchasing a PlayStation VR headset. Well, the simple answer to it is quality and affordability. PSVR is the best-selling product in the market and why is that so? Because Sony decided to shift over 21 million games to its PSVR. This gained a lot of attraction among PS4 users and gamers in general. The headsets bring the experience of Virtual Reality to your consoles. The specs of these products are also decent. It has a 100-degree field of view, a 1920 X RGB X 1080 resolution, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope.
If you already own a PlayStation 4 or a PlayStation Pro, it makes perfect sense to go for PSVR. The VR has aged quite well and is very comfortable to wear. So, you can game for a long period without any hassles. The RGB cut down on the ‘screen door’ effect that comes into the picture while playing. The OLED display projects the blacks perfectly.
The motion controller in this headset is controlled by a single camera that creates limited mobility while gaming. Switching between the standing and sitting movements might be harder to tracker with this headset.
I understand that you must be hesitant about buying a product that is from 2016. To make that job easier I have compiled a list of all pros and cons. Let’s have a look at them.
- Comfortable: The headsets are easy to wear and use. They are designed ergonomically and prevents motion sickness as well.
- Affordable: The headset is priced at $299 which makes it one of the most affordable VR headsets in the market currently. It is best for beginners and PS users.
- Vast Content Library: Sony has shifter over 21 million games on PSVR and is continuing to do so. All the classic games which cannot be enjoyed on any other VR device is available on PSVR.
- Dated Product: PSVR has been in the market since 2016 and lacks various innovations like insight tracking and optimised controller settings that have come since then.
- Competitors: People should spend the same amount of money on Quest models that offer more features and functionalities as compared to the PSVR.
- Tracking Issues: A single head camera cannot track a wide range of movement. A lot of users of PSVR have also complained that the sensors have interrupted them while playing games several times.
Buying or not buying the PSVR headset depends on the possession of a PlayStation 4. So, if you are an owner of it makes sense for you to get the VR experience on your console, but if you do not have one, then you can surely pass this product and buy any other standalone VR headset.
Final Review: Keeping in mind the relevance and content library of this headset, we give it a 3.7/5.
5. Valve Index
Where To Buy: Amazon
The Valve Index is one of the most high-end tethered VR products in the market. To optimize the tracking system, the Vive has adopted the “lighthouse tracking system” that works with the help of mounted cameras placed on opposite sides of your room. The headsets have comfortable inner cushions and adjustable helmet-like head straps.
You can also adjust the distance between the lenses through a dial. Valve also comes with a headphone system that is smartly placed one inch away from the ear. This is very useful when you are gaming for a long period. But the headsets being placed away from ears also poses a problem of sound leakage.
The overall design of the Valve is quite overt and attention-grabbing. It has a premium feel to it. Even the controllers are tastefully designed and detect even the slightest movements of your hands. It almost feels like using a natural hand while gaming with these controllers. The resolution of the eyes of the headset is 1440 x 1600 pixels. The visuals are stunning and crisp, and the screen is very impressive. The best part about this headset is its field of view that is a whopping 20 degrees higher than the original 100-110 degrees of freedom.
The Valve Index might not be suitable for people who have a limited budget. No doubt, it can be used by people who game as professionals or the ones who have deeper pockets and can spend that kind of money on a VR headset.
The pros and cons of the headset are obvious. Let’s look at them.
- Astounding Tracking System: With the help of the mounts on either side of the room, the tracking system of this headset seems to be seamless. Even the back movements do not go unnoticed.
- Comfort: The headset places well on your head like a helmet and gives an optimum angular view. You can game for long hours using this headset.
- Wide Field of View: Compared to any other VR headset, Valve provides an additional 20 degrees of freedom. This feature is the USP of the product.
- Not Affordable: No doubt, the product is premium and comes with a high price tag. It can burn a hole in your pocket if you aren’t ready to invest that kind of money into a VR headset.
- Dated Technology: Being tethered to a PC makes this product feel kind of dated. If you are spending so much on headset now, you can least expect the option for it to go wireless.
- Lighthouse Setup: The lighthouse setup might not work in bigger rooms, and a lot of your movements will go unnoticed and fail to translate into VR.
Final Review: Our decision to give the headset a 3/5 is solely because of its price.
That was our take on the VR headsets that are currently dominating the market. We hope that you would have got some useful information that will help you make an informed decision about a purchase. After all, you are investing in something that is beyond reality!
Investing in a good VR headset can change the way you entertain yourself. Choosing from the best is certainly a tough decision but to make that choice you should always keep in mind the specs you are looking for and the amount you can shelve for the headset.
VR is the future of gaming and video streaming and sooner than later, you will have to switch on to it. There are a lot of innovations happening every day in this industry and millions of dollars being invested to augment reality. We are entering the time where VR headsets will not just be limited to gaming but will also be used for medical and retail purposes. It only makes sense to be a part of this change and experience the pearls of technology.