Everyone is talking about virtual reality and VR headsets. But do you know where to start with VR? When you look at the choices today, you might feels a little overwhelmed. Consumers clearly have a lot more options to choose from than ever before.
For instance, there are expensive VR headsets that also require extensive, outside power from a computer. However, the experience they offer is tremendous. If you don't want to make that kind of financial investment to buy a sophisticated VR headset—especially if you are not sure it will work with your existing computer—don't worry. There are quite a few VR headsets that are not too expensive, and still allow you to test the waters of virtual reality without breaking the bank. (Note: if you fall into this category, you should also check out our review, Best VR Headsets For Under $100.)
Overall, it's basically true that the more expensive the VR headset, the better the experience. But that doesn't mean you can't have fun, even with a lower-end model. To help you get started, and comb through the myriad options, here are GearBrain's top picks for the best VR headsets for gamers. And don't worry, we have listed a few nice headsets in the lower price ranges as well.
HTC Vive Virtual Reality Headset
The HTC Vive is the closest we can get right now to a Star Trek-style holodeck. But woah, this headset is expensive. The HTC Vive starts at around $800, plus at least another $1,000 for a high-end computer since your current desktop probably won't do the job.
Also, you're going to need a lot of room to move around in, since one of the big selling point of the Vive is the room-scale VR. What that means is you'll feel you're right in the game. Combined with the super-responsive gesture controllers, the virtual reality environments feel as real as you can get without a plug connecting directly into your brain.
To learn more about HTC Vive, check out our review, Best VR Headsets for Gaming. If interested in buying a HTC Vive Headset, you can place orders for $800 from HTC. Best Buy doesn't carry it, but it does have a wide selection of compatible desktops.
Woman wearing an oculus rift for an immersive entertaining experience
Oculus jump-started the current wave of VR interest with its successful crowdfunding campaign, the $2 billion purchase by Facebook, and its plucky, appealing then-teenaged inventor, Palmer Luckey.
The Oculus Rift headset also costs a little less than HTC's Vive headset—around $600—but you still need an expensive, high-end computer.
With a big name like Facebook behind it, Oculus has been able to get some high-profile developers on board to create games. Unfortunately, the best games require the Oculus Touch motion controllers, which are not going to be available until later on this year.
To learn more about Oculus Rift headset, check out our review: Best VR Headsets For Gaming. You can buy the headset for $600 from the company itself, or buy it bundled together with a PC from Best Buy to save some money. Oculus has finally worked through its backlog, and you should be able to receive your headset relatively quickly.
This is the only headset on the list that I haven't personally tried, but early reviews are that it's pretty good—but still not as good as HTC Vive. On the other hand, PlayStation VR also costs half as much as the other two leading VR headsets in the space.
To learn more about PlayStation VR and its apps, check out our review: Best VR Headsets for Gaming.
Samsung Gear VR
If you have a late-model Samsung phone, save your money and get a virtual reality experience almost as good as that of the desktop and console-based headsets with the $99 Gear VR.
In addition to its reasonable price, the Gear VR is very easy to use. Download the app, take the front cover off the headset, and snap in your phone. Then put on your headset and use the built-in trackpad and buttons to navigate around your home menu.
Samsung partnered up with Oculus to get games and experiences for the platform, which you can see here. Note: popular games include the space shooter Eve: Gunjack, Gun Club 3 VR, and the horror game Affected.
To learn more about Gear VR, check out GearBrain's Best VR Headsets for Gaming. You can buy Gear VR for $99 from the company itself, from Amazon, or from Best Buy. If you physically go to Best Buy, they may also have a headset for you to try before you take the headset home.
The BoboVR Z4 is the best mobile headset that's not a Gear VR. It has built-in headphones and a control button, and is very easy to use.
The field of view is a very impressive 120 degrees—that's more than the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, or the Gear VR. This means that you get the widest view possible on your smartphone. For the best experience, then, you'll want a phone with the largest, highest-resolution screen that you can afford.
To learn more about BoboVR Z4, check out GearBrain's Best VR Headsets for Gaming.
You can buy BoboVR Z4 for$39 on Amazon. or $29 from GearBest or $28 from AliExpress. If you search the sites, you can also find versions sold without the headphones, and versions bundled with Bluetooth controllers.
View-Master VR Headset
The View-Master VR is a great, fun headset that your kids will love, at a great price. The headset won't fit over your adult-sized glasses, doesn't have adjustable lenses or built-in headphones, and doesn't have straps to hold against your head. But the headset is very cute, very easy to use, and works with both Android and iPhones.
To learn more about Mattel's View-Master VR and the apps that you can use, check out GearBrain's Best VR Headsets for Gaming.
Still not sure which vr headsets to buy, check out GearBrain's 11 Best VR Headsets or 11 Questions About Virtual Reality Headsets Before You Buy. Either of these articles will help you find the right vr glasses or headset that meets your virtual reality viewing needs today.