Last updated: October 12, 2016
If pricing for the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation virtual reality headsets is giving you sticker shock, check out the following five. Powered by mobile phones—instead of computers or consoles—these devices are far less expensive, yet still deliver a solid virtual reality diversion. Just click on the images below to see the best vr headsets under $100.
Norton VR: Best Cardboard Swap
Have a headset made out of cardboard, but wish the device were a bit more durable? The Noton VR may be bare-bones, but the headset is sturdy, light-weight, holds any brand or size of phone, and has straps for your face. You can't adjust the lenses, the headset doesn't fit over glasses, and Noton lacks a control button and padding. Remember: It's a solid piece of plastic. However, the lack of padding makes the device very easy to clean.
Did I mention Noton is only $6?
Mattel View-Master VR: Best Headset For Your Kid
Starting at around $25, the Mattel View-Master VR is a colorful, sturdy device—that does have a control button—and comes with cute augmented reality "experience reels." The downside? No straps, so you have to hold the headset in place against your eyes, and it's too small to fit over glasses. The lenses are also not adjustable, and those "experience reels" are fairly strong marketing gimmick. Instead, go to the app stores and download one of the thousands of free, low-cost virtual reality apps and videos.
Goggle Tech C-1 Glass: Best Pocket-Sized Headset
Want a headset no smaller than your sunglasses? Check out the $20 Goggle Tech C-1 Glasses. The device lacks sides, a top or bottom, or even straps. But the headset is a very easy way to quickly watch a virtual reality video—or an app to a friend. Alternatives include the Homido Mini, the Baofeng Mojing Small, the Cobra VR, and the VR Fold.
Samsung Gear VR: Best Samsung Galaxy Phone Headset
Although the priciest set on this list, the Samsung Gear VR ($99) comes with extra built-in sensors for a better experience. There's also a trackpad, back button and volume control built right into the set. Gear VR has some great games in its app store as well, and is more robust, supporting Netflix and Hulu. The downside? (You knew there had to be one.) The selection of games is still small and the games are pricier than similar games for the Google Cardboard. Plus, Gear VR only works with late-model Samsung phones.
Fiit VR: Best All-Around Headset
Is it possible to get everything in a single headset under $100? A device that fits over glasses, works with any phone, has adjustable lenses, is compatible with augmented reality apps, has room for audio cables, is cool, comfortable, light weight, and has with a wide field of view? The FiiT VR headset meets every requirement on my VR viewer checklist: all starting at just $25. The only downside is a lack of a built-in button. Don't have an external controller? Consider buying the Fiit as a bundle with the controller as part of the deal.
If still not sure about which vr headset is right for you, visit 10 Questions About Virtual Reality Headsets Before You Buy to help guide you.