Virtual reality has never been more accessible. For years, to experience VR you had to invest thousands of dollars in premium and powerful computers to enter the digital world, along with the large cost of a high-end headset and controllers. But recently, more and more people are diving into virtual reality with the computing power inside their pockets.
|Oculus Quest All-in-one VR Gaming Headset|
|Avegant Glyph AG101 VR Video Headsets|
|HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset|
|HTC Vive Virtual Reality System|
|Oculus Go Standalone Virtual Reality Headset|
1. Oculus Quest All-in-one VR Gaming Headset
As an all-in-one headset, you don’t need to hook the Oculus Quest to an external machine or dot sensors around the room. Charge up the headset, plonk it on your head and you’re good to go. The Oculus Go offers something similar, but thanks to a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chip, the Quest is able to play more demanding VR games such as Superhot VR, Robo Recall and Beat Saber.
You have one main decision to make when buying an Oculus Quest: choosing between the $399 64GB model and the $499 124GB model (I splurged on the latter). Storage space is the only difference between the two. With 124GB, I don’t have to be choosy with which apps I keep downloaded on the Quest and which I store in the cloud for a rainy day. And downloading apps is easy. It’s done entirely from inside the headset. It’s important to note that the Quest and other VR headsets from Oculus are rated for ages 13 and up.
2. Avegant Glyph AG101 VR Video Headsets
The Avegant Glyph is a screen that you wear on your face. That’s the simplest way to describe it. The whole device looks like a pair of outsized Beats headphones, complete with a huge chunky body and thick plastic headband; the parts that go on your ears are indeed headphones, but that huge headband hides a 720p DLP screen (though “screen” isn’t quite right, as we’ll see) and the optics necessary to make the display work.
The Avegant Glyph is trying something different, but treading new ground also means making a few missteps. The core movie-viewing experience is enjoyable, but some of the more immersive features such as head tracking are yet to be full exploited. If you’re an early adopter, this device will thrill you. Otherwise, more casual users are better off waiting for a more refined version later on.
3. HP Reverb Virtual Reality Headset
Windows Mixed Reality, while not the highest quality VR platform currently available, is an excellent jumping-off point for those looking to step into the world of VR without breaking the bank. Multiple budget-friendly headset options, compatibility with a massive library of experiences offered by SteamVR (and Oculus via LibreVR’s Revive app), the list goes on.
With the launch of the latest Windows Mixed Reality headset, the HP Reverb, the company hopes to step up its usual offerings with a significantly more powerful PC VR headset capable of competing directly with higher-end devices, such as the HTC Vive Pro. And while the HP Reverb is an impressive upgrade from its various cousins—such as the Samsung Odyssey and Acer AH101—the headset still falls short in several key areas that, unfortunately, keep it just shy of greatness.
4. HTC Vive Virtual Reality System
The HTC Vive is the most advanced VR system ever sold. Its headset is ridiculously powerful, so you can look around in all directions without a hitch. Its wireless controllers make it easy to interact with objects in the virtual world. Even cooler than all that, the Vive lets you walk around in the game—which sets it apart from every other VR headset ever made.
If you have the space to dedicate to it and a PC good enough to power it, the Vive is a must-have gadget for every tech head. Those are big ifs, though. I can just about get it to work well in my living room, but guess what? That’s not where I keep my gaming PC.
The cost of the Vive and a compatible PC for your living room will be prohibitive for most, as will dedicating a whole room to it. Still, if you can afford it, nothing else compares.
5. Oculus Go Standalone Virtual Reality Headset
Oculus Go is a whole new way to watch in VR. With crystal clear optics and state of the art 3D graphics, the headset feels more like a personal theater. Just put it on, switch it on, and enjoy the littlest, big screen around. Watch a movie on a 180 inch screen, catch a sold-out concert from the front row, or just hang out with friends from anywhere.
The Oculus Go is the most convenient and comfortable VR headset ever made. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s well deserved. With the Rift, its first headset to reach consumers, Oculus helped introduce us to high-end VR. And together with Samsung, it delivered the cheap Gear VR headset for smartphones. But the $199 Go has a far better chance of getting average consumers into virtual reality, because it’s dead simple to use.
Oculus Go represents a step in the right direction for VR. It’s certainly not for the hardcore VR convert, nor the professional VR user, as both demand the kind of processing power which currently only PCs (and, to a lesser extent, consoles) can deliver.