Top 5 VR Headsets of 2018
Take a step into virtual reality – don’t worry, it’s not real.
Virtual reality (VR) is one of the tech industry’s biggest (and most controversial) “buzz word.” Is VR going to be future? In our opinion, it’s not a matter of if, but rather – when.
What makes a VR headset great? We’re narrowing down the criteria to three crucial factors: comfort, price, and immersion. We’ll be rating them as Excellent, Average, and Needs Improvement.
VR could be mainstream in the next few years, but why wait for the future? Let’s take a look at the Top 5 VR Headsets you can buy today and start living a piece of that future.
Please note – these headsets are not ranked in order.
- Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift is the most notable and recognizable VR headset on this list. What started as a Kickstarter project – has now become a billion dollar company acquired by Facebook. The Oculus Rift is supported by one of the biggest players in the tech space, which is important for on-going development of the Rift’s experience.
Comfort – Excellent: It’s important to experience VR in a comfortable headset. After all – if this is the future of digital content – we need to be in a comfortable for hours of usage time. Amongst its competitors, Oculus ranks as one of the most comfortable headsets available. The headset foam and padding is great for decently long play sessions and the weight is distributed nicely (though not evenly).
Price – Average: The Rift is priced at $399.00 for the full set and it includes a headset with touch controllers. Oculus Rift’s price sits in the middle of the pack when compared to other VR headsets. However, we expect the price to scale down as demand for the Rift increases production.
Immersion – Excellent: Your experience with the Oculus Rift might be as good as it gets on the consumer-level. If you’ve ever tried the Oculus Rift, you’ll know that the future is almost here. With a decently stocked library of VR games (and more in development – thanks to the support of Facebook), there is no shortage of things to do. We’re even starting to see the inclusion VR movies and sporting events – which is best experienced on a high-end device like the Oculus Rift.
- HTC Vive (Steam VR)
The Oculus Rift is an incredible device, but the HTC Vive might give it a run for its money (if it didn’t cost so much). The HTC Vive is comprehensive VR experience – meaning there’s more to the experience than just the headset. The Vive package includes a headset, two motion controllers, and two base stations (they look like cubes on tripods) for a “whole-room” VR experience. You can scale it to a 15’ x 15’ experience and walk around – within the limits of your pre-defined VR boundaries.
Comfort – Excellent: Similar to the Rift in comfort, the HTC Vive is a great start in creating a comfortable and native VR experience. The padding is comfortable and the straps can be adjusted to fit most head sizes – even if you’re wearing glasses.
Price – Needs Improvement: Unfortunately, the HTC Vive sits on the other side of the price spectrum when it comes to affordability. The Vive is priced at $600.00 for its full set and they just unveiled a standalone headset (the Vive Standalone) in certain international markets. The HTC Vive’s comprehensive and full-room experience comes at a cost so it’s up to you on whether the experience justifies it.
Immersion – Average: Aside from the price, the HTC Vive might arguably be the best headset experience a consumer could be looking for. Its full-room experience is nothing to sneeze at and its support through Steam VR means you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to game titles. If you’re looking for a complete VR experience (like the ones you’ve seen in your favorite Sci-Fi movies), the HTC Vive is as close as you can get.
- Sony Playstation VR
If you don’t have a PC (and you should!), you might be feeling a little left out from the VR conversation. Sony is making VR a reality for console players through its Sony Playstation VR – unquestionably the best and only VR headset for console players.
You might be thinking – how well can a VR headset run on a console? That’s a great thought and question. Sony has actually done an incredible job in optimizing the VR experience for outdated hardware and its even earned PCMag’s Editors’ Choice for virtual reality. The Sony Playstation VR seems to be a strange favorite amongst reviewers – but why? Let’s find out.
Comfort – Excellent: Depending on who you ask, the Playstation VR headset might be most comfortable option out there (Dubbed the most comfortable VR headset by Polygon in 2016). Compared to its competitors, the Playstation VR fits around glasses more comfortably and adjustments can be made quickly for sharing. Sony has also pointed out that weight has been added to the rear strap for the sake of balance. Sony caters to a young audience of console gamers so it’s no stranger to making a user-friendly device (capable for even kids).
Price – Average: For just the headset, Playstation VR will run you $249.99, but if you’d like the whole set (motion controllers and camera), it’ll be looking at a price tag of $449.99. The Sony Playstation VR is similar to the Rift in pricing, but if you’re not looking for a PC VR system, this might be your option for the time being.
Immersion – Average: It might not perform as well as its PC counterparts (due to running on a 4-year old console) – but its pretty darn close. It’s also important to note that you won’t need to purchase a $600 plus VR-ready system to get in the VR mix. Reviewers agree that Sony’s Playstation VR headset is a pretty experience for the money with its strong and growing collection of exclusive titles. Despite not being the best VR experience out there, the Playstation VR is incredibly in its ability to unlock VR capabilities in an older gaming device. If you’re a proud owner of a PS4, this is your best bet for VR.
- Samsung Gear VR
If you’re not sure you want to pull the trigger on a full and expensive VR set, the Samsung Gear VR might be for you. As one of the most accessible VR headsets out there, the Gear VR gives you the opportunity to dip your toes in the world of VR by connecting it to a compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphone (limited to S6 to S8). The Gear VR is great for viewing 360 content and light VR applications on your smartphone.
Comfort – Average: Comfort for the Gear VR is pretty good and most importantly, light. The Gear VR has ample padding and the its simply the weight of your smartphone attached to the headset. Samsung Galaxy phones are getting lighter and thinner so this reduces the weight on your Gear VR experience.
Price – Excellent: Accessibility is the Samsung Gear VR’s biggest strength. It’ll only set you back $130 and its often bundled with Samsung smartphones. You won’t need a console or VR-ready gaming PC to get started and it lets you see what the VR hype is all about – without the cost commitment.
Immersion – Needs Improvement: You might’ve guessed it – experiencing VR on your phone isn’t great. Sure, the 360 content is cool and its running off your phone, but it’s nowhere near the pinnacle of a VR experience. The Samsung Gear VR is designed to enhance certain types of content on a mobile device and whiles it’s not a seamless experience, it does the job. We’d recommend the Gear VR for anyone looking to see what VR is like without diving in too deep.
- Google Daydream View
Not everyone has a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, but most people have at least an Android-based phone. As a the most affordable VR headset on our list, Google’s Daydream View wants to transform your Android phone into a VR-ready experience. Aside from Google’s interesting naming conventions, the Daydream performs similar to the Samsung Gear VR – emphasizing usage around 360 degree games and content. However, the biggest different between the Gear VR and Daydream is the included controller. The Google Daydream View lets you navigate with a tiny remote and it’s the perfect device to dip your toes in VR.
Comfort – Average: I’d rate the comfort of the Daydream View similar to the Gear VR. Google’s Daydream View has a unique fabric design (most stylish choice out of the top 5) and lightweight compared to the HTC Vive or Rift. Reviewers rate this as one of the most comfortable headsets out there with the option to wear the Daydream View for hours without interruption.
Price – Excellent: Google’s Daydream View is the most affordable option – even more so than the Samsung Gear VR. Priced at $99.00, it doesn’t get any better than this. All you need is a compatible Android-phone (some Android phones work better than others) and a headset to start experiencing VR at an affordable price.
Immersion – Needs Improvement: Despite the Daydream View’s comfort and great price, its simply not the best VR experience out there. The Daydream struggles from the same issues as the Gear VR – with its limited selection of interesting apps and usage models. Aside from its selection, the Google Daydream View is still an entry-level experience when compared to its more comprehensive competition (though with a hefty price tag attached). Just like the Samsung Gear VR, if you want to experience VR on a budget – this is your best shot at it.
VR Ready Systems (from iBUYPOWER)
Thank you for reading our “Top 5 Headsets in 2018”! We hoped we could enlighten you with insights about the best headsets available in the market. At iBUYPOWER, we are dedicated to offering the best possible gaming experience, even if its in a virtual space.
As noted in our article, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are two of the best options out there and its best played on a VR-ready system. We partnered with Intel to offer systems designed to give you the most immersive experience possible on a PC-based headset. For VR gaming, we recommend at least an Intel Core i5 CPU and an NVIDIA GTX 1060. Learn more about our VR-ready selection at https://www.ibuypower.com/Product/LandingPage/Intel-VR!