A Guide To Choosing The Best VR Headset
If you rewind back to the nineties and read about “virtual reality,” the term could probably refer to anything from a Lawnmower Man type simulation system to a bunch of 3D Tetris-like shapes on a computer screen. Luckily, today the term has a much more clear meaning as the technology has become simplified and made into a standard piece of technology used in a variety of industries: the VR headset.
The problem with this simplification, though, is that it has led to many believing that all VR headsets and virtual reality gear as a whole are created equally, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are there a variety of forms of virtual reality headsets on store shelves today coming with a range of price tags, but they also each differ in terms of their technology and capabilities. This can make it difficult to decipher which VR headset is right for you, your child, or your business.
When it comes to making the decision of which virtual reality gear to buy, there is no single, specific device that is right for each person. In fact, when you get down to the more affordable headsets, there are way too many to even count.
Here at our virtual reality store, VRWoke, we want to provide you with a few general tips to keep in mind during your search for the best VR headset that fits your needs and budget. We’ll provide you with different kinds of virtual reality, what features they entail, and how much you can expect to pay for each in order to help you sort through the plethora of options in terms of VR headsets for sale today.
Most Affordable VR Headsets
The most affordable VR headsets out there consist of the simplest design imaginable, made of nothing but a pair of plastic magnifying lenses and a sheet of cardboard. Google Cardboard has certainly become the associated brand for all variations of cardboard VR headsets available today. While these can certainly work for 360 videos on social media platforms or mobile VR games, they aren’t meant to last for long periods of time. They also aren’t meant to be used for long periods of time — hence why they don’t offer any form of straps, relying on users to hold the headset to their eyes for a brief and not-so-immersive experience.
You can find low-end virtual reality cardboard headsets for next-to-nothing today — even for free in some cases as branded promotional items if you attend tech conventions or live in a major city. Google sells their Cardboard online for $15. It’s certainly affordable, but if you plan on actually using your VR equipment for more than just a few trial runs, you’re going to want something a little more advanced.
Since you more than likely have a smartphone, there aren’t many hidden costs associated with the Google Cardboard or similar VR headset. If you plan on using it frequently, however, you will be purchasing new ones frequently, as they give out over time. You will have to ensure you purchase the right form of cardboard that is compatible with your phone’s dimensions since they are not adjustable. If your smartphone is out of date, meaning at least a few generations behind the latest and greatest, there is no guarantee that it can handle the Google Cardboard apps very well, and you’ll generally experience a laggier, lower quality performance. So the hidden cost could be upgrading your smartphone if this pertains to you.
These simple VR headsets aren’t just the cheapest, they’re also the most widely available. You might even have the materials in your home currently to make your own! Likewise, it’s easy to find apps that work with Cardboard VR headsets, even if their range of experiences are limited. Google has even created an entire library of YouTube videos that offer a 360-degree view to be utilized with their Cardboard headsets.
Mid Range VR Headsets
Mid-range virtual reality headsets are a major step up from the Google Cardboard in terms of design and functionality. Where the Cardboard is essentially a box-shaped smartphone case of sorts, these phone-powered headsets have additional tracking sensors; more sophisticated, built-in controls; focus wheels; and even their own screens in some models. The mid-range tier certainly has the most variety in terms of virtual reality headsets that boast different offerings. Some are better for immersive entertainment, such as movies with surround sound, while others are more finely tuned to meet the needs of virtual reality gamers or simulations. So decide what you are likely to be using your virtual reality gear for in most cases and opt for a headset that has the features that align with this. No matter which VR headset you choose in this range, you can be assured they are designed to offer a much more enjoyable experience than the low-end cardboard alternatives.
If you’re looking for a mid-range mobile VR headset that’s durable and made to last, you can expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $125 in most cases. Luckily, we offer high-quality mid-range virtual reality gear at prices you won’t find anywhere else in our virtual reality store. When you opt for a mid-range model, you are certainly getting what you pay for with a much-needed strap, more comfortable feel, and an overall more immersive and enjoyable experience. Most mid-range headsets also feature polarized lenses for better image quality, stereo headphones, and side buttons for volume control or answering the phone.
One of the hidden costs behind many mid-range virtual reality headsets is that a specific smartphone is needed for certain types. For instance, if you’re thinking about purchasing the Samsung Gear VR or LG 360 VR headsets, you must have their respective flagship phones. If Google were to introduce a new, non-cardboard mobile VR headset in the future, it would likely require the Google Pixel as well. So far, Apple has not shown signs of introducing a VR headset tailored to their products any time soon.
If you want to purchase a mid-range VR headset and not worry about what brand of smartphone you currently have or may have in the future, then there are certainly a variety of options still available to you. For example, here at VRWoke, we carry Shinecon VR headsets, which are compatible with a variety of smartphones available today and size up well against the specs of the virtual reality gear from the larger tech conglomerates.
While they may not be getting passed out at trade show booths, these types of VR headsets are very easy to come by. Whether it be through a bix box retailer like Best Buy or from an online VR store like VRWoke, you can easily access affordable virtual reality headsets and information on them today. Overall, if you’re looking to experience virtual reality in it’s true form but are also more concerned with the price more than having the best version on the market, there are plenty of mid-range options available to you.
High-End VR Headsets
At the end of the day, if you want the very best VR experience and price isn’t a factor, then this can’t be powered by a mobile phone. The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Sony Playstation VR, for example, are three high-end headsets that either run off an external computer or game console. While they limit your mobility, they offer more sophisticated features that mobile phone’s simply aren’t advanced enough yet to provide such as larger field of view, 4K graphics, and motion tracking. These are made to wear comfortably for long periods of time for the true gamers out there and the early adopters of VR gear.
By just about anyone’s standards, high-end virtual reality headsets are expensive. Ranging anywhere from $600 to $900, they are a substantial investment, especially when you add in motion controllers and their games and entertainment that must be purchased through their respective stores. While these prices will hopefully come down overtime as more people become accustomed with virtual reality gear, it doesn’t look to change much in the foreseeable future. So unless you have a hefty budget and are a stickler for details, we’d recommend opting for some more affordable virtual reality products. In fact, you can get four Shinecon VR headsets from VRWoke for the same price as the original Oculus Rift so that everyone in the family can get in on the action.
Unlike mobile VR headsets that require a smartphone, high-end VR gear requires the use of a PC — unless you already own a PlayStation 4 and plan on purchasing a PlayStation VR kit specifically. The hidden cost here is that the only people who are likely to own a PC desktop computer that has the processing power necessary to run virtual reality games and videos are film or video editors. This means you’ll have to either upgrade your computer’s RAM and processing power to keep up with the virtual reality software or purchase a new one altogether. And if you happen to have a Mac, you’ll have to make the switch to a PC if you want to be able to use the high-end VR gear.
High-end virtual reality gear is only distributed by their respective brands in most cases, besides older models and refurbished models that can be found at Best Buy or secondhand online stores such as Newegg. This means they are much less accessible than their more affordable counterparts. Especially if you want to purchase the latest and greatest VR headset, you will likely have to buy directly from the manufacturing company such as Oculus or HTC, meaning shopping around for a better price is out of the question.
We hope that this guide helps you come to grips with the best type of virtual reality headset for your specific needs, experience, and budget. Our goal at our virtual reality store is to provide people with information about virtual reality gear of all types, not just our own, so that more people can experience it for themselves and Get Woke!
If you found that a mid-range VR headset is right for you, browse our affordable virtual reality gear here at VRWoke and place an order online today!