Friday, December 14, 2018
The best VR headset you can buy

The best VR headset you can buy

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The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you’ll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

best vr headsetsLenovo/Business Insider

The Insider Pick:

  • A great VR headset has access to a range of apps and games, a high-resolution display, and a good range of accessories that maximize the experience.

  • That’s why we’ve chosen the HTC Vive Pro as our top pick — It has the best selection of VR content, the more immersive quality, and the best accessories of any headset we’ve tested.

Virtual reality could be one of the next major frontiers in tech, and it’s already growing as a great way to get more immersion in gaming, video, and even in social media. But, there are a number of virtual reality headsets to choose from, and they’re not all created equal.

There are a few things to consider before dropping cash on a virtual reality headset. For starters, you’ll want to think about whether you want a wired or wireless headset. Wired headsets have a wire that connects to a computer or console. The advantage of the wired connection is that these headsets can generally run more powerful and immersive games. Wireless headsets are generally limited to on-device processing, so they can’t really handle the most powerful apps and games.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is what kind of a computer or console you need to run your headset if it’s a wired headset. Often, you’ll need a pretty powerful computer to run graphically intense apps and games, so you’ll want to double-check the specs you need before you buy the headset.

Next up, you should consider the software and operating system that runs on the headset. Most high-end headsets, like the HTC Vive Pro and Oculus Rift, can run some games from Steam, which is very helpful. Others, like the Lenovo Mirage Solo, run apps and games that are built for Google’s Daydream platform.

With all the options out there, it can be hard to figure out which virtual reality headset is right for you. That, however, is why we’ve put together this guide.

Here are the best VR headsets you can buy:

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.


The best VR headset overall

The best VR headset overall

HTC Vive

Why you’ll love it: The HTC Vive Pro is comfortable, super powerful, and it has a high-resolution display that’s immersive and realistic.

Although there was once a time when the Oculus Rift was clearly the best choice for those who want a high-end VR headset, these days that title instead falls to the HTC Vive Pro. There are plenty of reasons why the Vive is the best VR headset, from its high-res display and immersive quality to its big library of games and apps.

Like some of the other high-end VR headsets, the HTC Vive Pro connects to your computer for gaming, and you’ll need some powerful specs, including a GTX 970 or better graphics card, a USB 3.0 port, and a DisplayPort 1.2 or newer. You can check out full specs here and shop for compatible computers on HP’s website. There’s also a wireless adapter for the Vive Pro, and although you will still need a computer and you’ll only get 3 hours of battery life, the adapter will free you up a little for certain games.

Perhaps the best thing about the HTC Vive Pro is that it offers a better display than many other VR headsets, coming in with a 2,880 x 1,600-pixel resolution and a refresh rate of 90Hz. While the slight pixelation isn’t going to disappear just yet, the improved resolution and relatively high refresh rate should make for as realistic an experience as currently possible.

The software is also an important aspect to consider, and the headset supports Steam VR, meaning there’s a range of games at your disposal, and the list is only growing.

So what are the downsides to the HTC Vive Pro? Well, pretty much the only downside is the price and the wires, but apart from that, it’s well and truly the best VR headset.

Pros: Good resolution, wireless support, Steam game support, comfortable

Cons: Expensive

Buy the HTC Vive Pro on Amazon for $799 (headset only) or $1,399 (bundle)

Shop for Vive-ready PCs at HP

The best mobile VR headset

The best mobile VR headset

Lenovo

Why you’ll love it: The Lenovo Mirage Solo is well-designed, supports six degrees of freedom for more mobility, and you can use it without a PC.

Perhaps you’re looking for a headset that you can take out of your home and use wherever you want. If that’s you, you’ll probably want a mobile VR headset, and the best mobile VR headset is the Lenovo Mirage Solo.

The Lenovo Mirage Solo is one of the only headsets that supports six degrees of freedom (6dof), meaning you can not only move your head in an environment, but you can also move your body around a room and interact with items in a virtual environment. Lenovo calls that technology WorldSense. Apart from that, the headset boasts a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage, plus it works with Google Daydream platform. The resolution of the display comes in at 2,560 x 1,440 pixels.

Now, Google Daydream is a bit of a double-edged sword for some. While it’s a great operating system and features a growing selection of apps and games, some prefer the Oculus Go’s software, which brings access to a much larger library of content. In other words, we recommend checking out Daydream’s library before you buy to make sure there’s enough content for you.

Plenty of other reviewers liked the Lenovo Mirage Solo, too. TechRadar scored it 4/5 stars, while Digital Trends gave it an equivalent 8/10. The downsides? Well, it’s a bit pricey compared to the Oculus Go.

Pros: 6dof support, nice display, decent battery life

Cons: A bit pricey, Google Daydream could use more content

Buy the Lenovo Mirage Solo for $399.99 and up

The best VR headset for PlayStation owners

The best VR headset for PlayStation owners

Sony

Why you’ll love it: The PlayStation VR headset can go head to head with any other top-tier VR headset thanks to its excellent game selection and great performance.

If you own a PlayStation 4 or PlayStation 4 Pro, then there’s another headset that’s probably best for you: the PlayStation VR. PSVR is a tethered headset, but unlikely the other headsets you won’t need to invest in a high-end computer to use it, as it simply connects to your PlayStation for processing.

PSVR works with both the PS4 and PS4 Pro, and the experience will be very similar, but the PS4 Pro may deliver slightly sharper images than the standard PS4. That said, even on the standard PS4, the experience is still one of the better VR gaming experiences out there. So much so, that if you happen to already have a PS4, it may offer a better experience than even our top choice, the HTC Vive Pro.

Plenty of reviewers love PSVR, like Trusted Reviews, which gave it a whopping 10/10, and TechRadar, which gave it a still stellar 4.5/5. That said, the headset does have its limitations, and the biggest of those is the display’s resolution of 2,160 x 1,920 pixels, which is a little less than other VR headsets.  

Still, given its range of excellent games, and the fact that it works with a PlayStation 4 that you may already own, this is definitely a top headset to consider.

Pros: Great games, works with PS4, great performance

Cons: Display isn’t as good as other headsets

Buy the PlayStation VR Starter Bundle on Amazon for $369.99 (originally $1,999.99)

Buy the PlayStation 4 Pro on Amazon for $399

The best budget VR headset

The best budget VR headset

Sarah Gilbert

Why you’ll love it: The Oculus Go has access to a massive range of apps and games, plus it’s relatively inexpensive.

Oculus has made waves not just for its high-end desktop headset, the Oculus Rift, but also for its recent move into mobile VR with the Oculus Go. The Oculus Go was a serious contender for the title of best mobile VR headset, but lost out thanks to the Lenovo Mirage Solo’s 6dof. One thing, however, is for sure: The Oculus Go is by far the best budget VR headset.

Perhaps the best thing about the Oculus Go is that it has access to a huge range of apps and games. In fact, when the headset launched earlier in the year, Oculus boasted that it had access to a whopping 1,000 apps. That’s pretty impressive.

Apart from that, the specs of the headset are pretty solid. The display comes in at 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, and you’ll find a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 chipset and either 32GB or 64GB of storage.

Plenty of reviewers love the headset, too. TechRadar scored it 4.5/5 stars, while IGN gave it an equivalent 9/10. The only noted downsides are that you’ll only get around 2-3 hours of use on a charge and that it’s slightly heavy.

Pros: Excellent value for money, access to tons of apps, relatively comfortable

Cons: Battery life is short

Buy the Oculus Go on Amazon for $199

The best Oculus VR headset

The best Oculus VR headset

Oculus

Why you’ll love it: The Oculus Rift is the original high-end VR headset, and as such, there’s a huge library of apps and games. Plus, the headset is pretty inexpensive these days.

Perhaps the most important VR headset in history is the Oculus Rift, and it’s still a great buy. If you’re looking for a high-end virtual reality headset and want access to Oculus’ massive range of apps and games, then the Oculus Rift is the way to go.

The Oculus Rift, like some of the other high-end VR headsets, requires a pretty high powered computer to run it. Minimum specs include parts like a Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card and at least 8GB of RAM. You can find a full list of minimum specs and compatible PCs on Oculus’ site. HP’s Omen laptops are a good choice. Specs on the actual Rift include a 2,160 x 2,400 pixel display (1,080 x 1,200 pixels per eye) and a 90Hz refresh rate.

Most notable about the Rift is its huge game library, but the headset is also pretty inexpensive these days, too. At launch, the Rift cost $599, but these days you can get your hands on it for under $400.

Plenty of reviewers loved the Rift, too. TechRadar gave the headset 4/5 stars, while Trusted Reviews gave it an equivalent 8/10. The only real downsides are that the headset requires a pretty powerful and expensive, computer.

Pros: Excellent game selection, decent display, relatively inexpensive these days

Cons: High minimum specs

Buy the Oculus Rift on Amazon for $399

Shop HP Omen laptops for the Rift

Check out our other gaming guides

Check out our other gaming guides

Shutterstock/Lenscap

The best gaming consoles you can buy

Video game consoles are next-level awesome these days. Of all the consoles out there, the PlayStation 4 Pro is our top pick for most gamers. A great game library, 4K Ultra HD output, compatibility with popular streaming services, VR capability, and an excellent gamepad make this console the best plug-and-play system out there. The Xbox One S, the Nintendo Switch, the New Nintendo 3DS XL, and the Xbox One X are also all excellent consoles.

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The best multi-platform games you can buy

Whether you have a PlayStation, an Xbox, or a Windows PC, you can play any of these great multi-platform games. Our favorite titles include “Doom,” “The Witcher III: Wild Hunt,” “Resident Evil 7: Biohazard,” “Metal Gear Solid V,” and “Overwatch.”

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The best PlayStation exclusive games for the PS4

The PlayStation 4 is one of the best gaming consoles around, and it has tons of amazing exclusive titles. Some of our favorites include “Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End,” “Persona 5,” “Bloodborne,” “Nier: Automata,” and “The Last Guardian.”

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The best Nintendo 3DS games you can buy

The Nintendo 3DS is a great handheld gaming console with many fun games. We’ve rounded up five of our favorite 3DS games to help you build your collection. Check out “Super Mario 3D Land,” “The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds,” “Animal Crossing: New Leaf,” “Pokémon Sun,” “Pokémon Moon,” and “Fire Emblem: Awakening.”

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The best gaming mice you can buy

A great gaming mouse is a vital weapon in any gamer’s arsenal, and the Razer DeathAdder Chroma is built for gamers with its super accurate and high-resolution performance. It’s also comfortable to use, so you can win level after level.

You should also consider the Logitech MX Master 2S, the Logitech G502 Proteus, the SteelSeries Sensei 310, and the Razer Naga Epic Chroma.

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