Lots of people have VR headsets on their Christmas wish lists this year, and for good reason.
That VR headset will not only take your gaming hobby to new heights, but also offer some much-needed escapism and, for the less anti-social, make your home a hotspot for your gaming buddies who are too cheap to get their own.
Here’s a price guide to the five most popular headsets you’ll want to beg Santa for.
5 best VR headsets for a virtual gaming experience
|Oculus Quest 2||$599|
|Sony PlayStation VR||$499|
|HTC Vive Cosmos Elite||$1,229|
|Valve Index||US$999 ($1,343)|
|Samsung Gear VR||$50|
Oculus Quest 2 ($599)
Oculus headsets are the gold standard when it comes to VR power, but they’re also quite expensive. With Oculus Quest 2 (6GB), they take things up a notch with advanced processing power, 360-degree cinematic sound and the ability to cast to another screen using a TV or app, so you can show off what you’re experiencing to your friends .
The Quest 2 is basically an improved version of the previous Quest headset, with a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, offering even more realistic visuals, a faster refresh rate at 72 to 90Hz, a whopping 6GB of RAM and a more powerful Snapdragon XR2 processor. The battery life is about the same at 2 to 3 hours.
Sony PlayStation VR ($499)
Sony has released their own VR headset for people who want to indulge in virtual reality gaming on the PlayStation system rather than their PC (although the headset can also be used to play PC VR games from Steam).
While not as powerful as some of the more serious players in the market, the Sony PlayStation VR offers a good introduction to the world of virtual reality, with 360-degree vision, 1920 x 1080 resolution and a good selection of games.
There have been complaints that the headset doesn’t seal out light that well, but the quality of the visuals is still good enough to be immersive.
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite ($1,229)
View this post on Instagram
If you’re willing to spend a fortune for a premium VR experience, HTC Vive Comos Elite’s VR system is one option to consider. The headset offers a combined pixel resolution of an impressive 2880 x 1700 and rich stereo audio.
The system claims to offer super precise advanced controllers that react to your every micro-move, but reviews have complained about tracking issues and the bulkiness of the controllers.
Overall, it looks like the HTC Vive Cosmos system really delivers in terms of visuals, but performance issues might make the gaming experience less than ideal. At this price, that’s pretty unforgivable.
Valve Index ($1,343)
Want to get your hands on the Valve Index VR headset? It’s not available in local stores but you can order it on Steam.
Priced at about US$999 (S1,343), it’s a freaking expensive piece of hardware. But according to various reviews, the comfortable, ergonomic headset featuring 1440 x 1600 resolution and 80 to 144 Hz frame rate is well worth the hefty price tag.
All in all, it is a solid high-end VR headset that offers an excellent visual experience.
The controllers also deserve some glory, with finger tracking and a very realistic feel as you pick up, drop and use items. That being said, there’ve been complaints that they take a lot of getting used to before the player can really use them efficiently, and that they’re not yet supported by many games.
Samsung Gear VR ($50)
Want to get a casual taste of VR without spending a bomb? Samsung Gear VR’s headset offers an affordable way to do just that. The lightweight headset is meant to be used by clipping a compatible Samsung smartphone to the front. You can use the headset for VR mobile games or to view 360-degree photos and videos.
Quality of the visuals depends largely on the smartphone you’re using, but to its credit, the headset uses an Oculus chip which makes for smooth head tracking. Overall, it’s nothing mind blowing and you obviously can’t expect the same experiences as with a full-blown gaming rig. But if you’ve got $50 to spare, it can be a pleasant diversion.
How to choose the right VR headset
The games you want to play and the devices you play them on are key factors to consider when choosing a VR headset.
The more expensive and heavier duty systems are only a good investment if you’ve got a gaming rig and a decent collection of VR games.
Pay attention to the resolution, refresh rate and field of view, as these are the factors that will affect the visuals and the smoothness of your game. Apart from that, make sure you try on the headset if you can. If it fits badly or is uncomfortable, you’re not going to be able to game for long hours while wearing it.
Another factor that can add or subtract to the VR experience is the controllers, so test them out to see if you like the grip and whether they can track properly without lagging.
Want to drop some heavy-handed Christmas gift hints? Share this article.