Best Virtual Reality Headsets are really a thing now, with VR being an interesting and promising technology which is now finally catching up with the launch of a variety of headsets like the Rift by Oculus, HTC’s Vive, PlayStation VR by SONY, Samsung’s Gear, Google’s Daydream and many others.
The concept of virtual reality has been floating in and out of the tech life since many years. It is somewhat a computer-generated recreation of a 3-dimensional environment where you can experience a whole lot of different scenarios, tour the world etc while not even leaving the place you are physically in. VR headsets mainly sit around your head, also enclosing your eyes and range from headsets like Google Daydream that provides access to almost everyone with a smartphone, to headsets like HTC Vive with a full virtual reality set-up.
Best VR Headsets 2021
So, without any further delay, we jump right in to the top 10 best VR Headsets of 2021.
|HTC Vive||14.2 pounds||Dark Grey||(2160 × 1200)||Check Price|
|Oculus Rift||10 pounds||Dark Grey||(1080 × 1200)||Check Price|
|Sony Playstation VR||6.8 pounds||Black & White||(1920 x 1080)||Check Price|
|Google Daydream View||1.2 pounds||Grey||(2560 x 1440)||Check Price|
|Samsung Gear VR||3.6 inches||Black & White||(1480 × 1440)||Check Price|
|Google Cardboard||7 ounces||Light Brown||(2560 x 1440)||Check Price|
|Microsoft Hololens||6.9 pounds||Silver & Black||(1268 x 720)||Check Price|
|Razer OSVR HDK 2||3 pounds||Black||(2160 x 1200)||Check Price|
|Merge VR||12 ounces||Purple||–||Check Price|
HTC vive – Best VR Headsets to Buy 2021
HTC Vive has had everyone crazy with anticipation as to what it will add to our already awesome experience of VR brought by the Rift.
Backed up by Valve, HTC’s Vive is going places; rather it’s already gone places. We see a whole new level of virtual reality brought to life with HTC Vive coming with a heavy price-tag.
Set-Up and Operation
Unlike the Rift, setting up the Vive is a tedious task. It has a lot of hardware included in the kit including sensors, controllers and naturally the headset.
The Vive completely soaks you in the virtually real world by producing two 1080×1200 resolution images.
The unique selling point of the Vive is its “chaperone mode” which allows you to move safely in digital space.
The sensors that you place in your room create a virtual restriction of space for you to move in during your gaming conquests so that you don’t stumble upon any objects/furniture/plants in your room, thereby preventing you from being hurt.
This room scale VR option aids in immersion, in other words, that’s so cool!
Installing the base station sensors, shaped as black cubes, around your room is tedious because you have to ensure that they are installed at the right angles and cover the entire space so that they can track you while also being near power outlets.
Then come the controllers which are to be held in your hands and are tracked as well because they too are dotted with sensors and are rechargeable.
The Vive offers the best VR experience in the area with only one downside that is its price. The system does not lag at all giving off an all natural feel which keeps the brain happy and one rarely feels nauseated.
The Vive was easily able to track the entire body in play and it also easily read the movements of the hand giving off a glee-inducing experience.
There were some installation quibbles as there are lots of sensors to place and pair.
Using the controllers is a delightful experience because they offer great grip and little to no lag while usage. The movement seemed as natural as the movement of one’s hands.
The headset is all black and dotted all around. Even the controls are dotted with the pockmarks so that they can be tracked properly by the base station sensors. The model does look a bit strange looking due to the polkadots. Three Velcro straps support your head which when adjusted provide a better fit.
The headset is wired and three cables protrude from the headset in n orderly fashion then unite into one which is plugged into your PC. The headset doesn’t come with built-in ear cups, which means you can use your own cans or buds.
Overall, it is heavier than the Rift and it can undoubtedly be said that the Rift is more comfortable as compared to the HTC Vive.
- Out of the world VR experience
- Lenghty list of gaming titles
- Room scale VR experience
- Unique ‘chaperone mode’
- Very pricey
- No built-in earphones
- Requires a high powered PC
The Vive is a great VR headset which provides you with the ultimate experience of waltzing in the digital word while staying in your room. If you can sleep well at night after paying that big an amount for it, this is your best option!
Oculus Rift is the first word that comes to mind when one thinks about VR. Trends have been set with Oculus’s Rift; being the first one to start the VR hype with its Rift.
After releasing three to four iterations we finally have the most best of all. There is also an Oculus sensor, a small Oculus remote and an Xbox controller included in the kit but for Oculus Touch Controllers you will have to pay separately.
It has to be known that in order to actually make the best out of the Rift; you need to have a full powered PC.
Set-Up and Operation
Oculus’s Rift requires is not wireless; which means that for operation you need to connect it to a top-notch gaming PC so that it can support the 1080×1200 resolution pictures that its lenses produce. The most recent iteration of the Rift is equipped with an innate program which helps us set up and in getting started.
The Rift, like all other VR headsets, puts you in a virtual world by creating two images simultaneously – whereas in reality you are sitting on your couch. It uses a camera to track your head movement, however, you can only make use of the Rift while sitting or standing because it does not offer the ‘room scale VR’ option.
After you are done plugging and setting up your Rift you will find a very long list of games.
When paired with the right kind of PC, Oculus’s Rift offers the best virtual reality experience ever. Its internal and external sensors are very smart, turning off the Rift when you take it off and turning it back on when you wear it.
The Oculus sensor which you place near you is great at sensing movements up to 180 degrees and can be tilted upwards or downwards depending upon your position.
However, a major downside here is the fact that this sensor cannot track your hands.
This is where the Xbox controller comes into play, making one wish that the Rift actually came with the Touch controllers.
I guess Oculus makes up for this downside by offering a long list of drool-worthy games such as Elite Dangerous, Eve Valkyrie etc.
The headset is featherweight giving off a hollow feel when you hold it which is great for prolonged indulgence. When you wear it it’s as comfortable as they come and a perfect fit. You can adjust the distance of the lenses based on your eyesight and it also allows you to wear your glasses while using it if you want.
There are flexible straps on either side which are adjusted for a better fit. And also, the Rift comes with its own earphones integrated on the headset. For better audio quality, you can change those for your own cans but it’s very convenient to use those that come along.
Overall, the look is sleek and elegant in black. This is a great improvement on the part of Oculus considering the first shabby and rough look of the first edition.
- Great VR experience
- Sleek and elegant design
- Simple set-up
- Great fit
- Room scale VR not available
- Requires a hi-tech gaming PC for operation
- Touch costs extra bucks
The Rift by Oculus may not be the ultimate VR headset but it offers the best package with its latest iteration having great clarity, comfortable and sleek construction, growing list of gaming titles and has great potential to be the best. If you can spare the cash, you should definitely go for it.
Sony’s Play Station VR is proof that moderately-priced VR can also provide a great virtual reality experience, that too in console.
The requirements for PS VR’s full operation are the PlayStation Camera, PlayStation Move Controllers and obviously the PS4 as well as the PlayStation Dual Shock 4 controller. If you have all these you are good to go.
All this hardware combined costs less than any of its competitors while also offering a premium quality.
Set-Up and Operation
Setting up the PlayStation VR is very simple process and you are guided via a visual guide. The PlayStation VR creates two simultaneous images which completely immerse you in the virtual world.
To top it off, it does not require a full-powered PC or pricey graphic cards to do so like the Rift or the Vive. All it needs is the PS4.
The PS VR uses one camera to track your movements and if you stray too far away from its line of vision it will lose track, so beware! The camera tracks you via nine light points on the headset.
Being very affordable, the PSVR offers an overall satisfying VR experience which can compete with the Rift and the Vive. The tracking is quite accurate even though the play space is confined. There is no noticeable lag which makes one nauseated.
A real bummer is light leakage which kind of hinders the experience and reduces immersion.
Then there is an assortment of gaming titles that Sony offers and this is a plus point for the PS VR as none of its competitors has reached that level of greatness when it comes to gaming titles.
The headset is constructed of black and white matte plastic looking as if it’s picked straight out of a sci-fi movie. It has seven evenly distributed lights in the front and two on the back strap which help track your movements.
The single matte white strap cradles your noggin very comfortably and is adjustable to fit you snugly. The inside of the strap is cushioned yielding even more comfort. A knob on the side allows you to adjust the lenses to focus the images.
- Good VR quality
- Great gaming titles
- Tracking issues can occur
- Light leakage may occur
PlayStation VR may not provide as great a VR experience as Oculus’ Rift or HTC’s Vive but it does a pretty good job at bringing virtual reality in console in an affordable package.
Google Daydream View is a VR headset introduced by virtue of Google’s VR platform called Daydream.
Daydream View like the Samsung Gear VR is operated via Android phones and supports all those phones that can function with the Google Daydream app; the best choice being Pixel and Pixel XL.
Set-Up and Operation
The set-up process of the Daydream View is as simple as it gets.
All you have to do is install the Daydream app into the smartphone of your choice (the Pixel and Pixel XL, even the Moto 4) and then slide the phone into the headset and secure it. That’s it.
The lenses will adjust themselves and the phone screen will be aligned into two images for you to view. Then the phone will sync with the device via NFC and switch into the Daydream interface.
A very interesting and unique part of the Daydream View is the remote control that comes with it.
This remote control acts as a controller in many games unlike the Gear where you need to buy a separate controller.
This oblong, plastic wand having a trackpad which is clicked/swiped also has two menu and volume buttons. The Daydream app explains its operation and after a few seconds of use you will be good to go. It consists of internal sensors which sense where it is pointing and therefore it is used in many pointing and clicking tasks. It is the main input device helping you do various tasks including navigation, virtual keyboard typing, conquests and conquering.
If you run out of juice plug it into the USB cable and when you are done for the day you can tuck it away in its hiding place on the inside of the flap with an elastic band.
Using the Pixel and Pixel XL with the Daydream View, we noticed pixilation. It was not a mammoth factor which ruined the entire experience, but it was enough to get our attention.
Google Daydream View let’s you make use of apps and not just games.
There are a lot of great VR apps to try out which include Youtube VR for watching 3D videos, Netflix VR and HBO Go, your Photo gallery and Google Photos for an amazing experience of 360-degree videos and photos etc. Other than that the Daydream View really needs to work on bringing better VR gaming content to the show.
Moving on we noticed that the phone enclosed in the headset tends to heat-up after little usage time. That’s a real bummer because one cannot use it for longer sessions.
Not to forget the fact that the Daydream View also tends to hog your smartphone’s juice rapidly.
These two factors are real downsides to an otherwise great VR headset.
Unlike its competitors which are made out of plastic mainly, the Google Daydream View is mainly constructed of cloth available in an interesting trio of colors: Snow, Slate and Crimson. The cloth is lined with plush foam internally making it very, very comfortable.
The headset is simply constructed, having a front flap in which you tuck in your phone and a single strap going to the back of your head and around it.
It is secured in place by Velcro at the back of your head, making it very simple to put on, although the grip doesn’t get a 10/10 as it is prone to slip that way.
Overall, the look is very sophisticated while also being ergonomic.
- Great design
- Comfortable build
- Great VR apps and other areas besides games
- Not compatible with a wide range of phones
- Overheats after short period of use
- Drains the battery life very fast
- Unimpressive gaming content
Google Daydream View is a lot like the Gear VR as it is android operated. However, it comes in a very comfortable, good-looking and cheaper package than the Gear.
Samsung Gear VR 2016 is an ergonomic version of the 2014 edition and supports S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ and Note 5 along with S7 and S7 Edge. The experience of VR just got a whole lot accessible when Samsung partnered with Oculus to launch the Gear VR.
Set-Up and Operation
Setting up the Gear VR is a breeze; all you have to do is chuck your Samsung phone in and you are good to go and if you have one of the aforementioned Samsung smartphones; the headset alone does not cost all that much for a hands-on VR experience.
One of the best features of the Gear VR is that it provides you with a virtual reality experience without being tethered to a hi-tech PC.
So it’s wireless and doesn’t require heavy equipment to operate unlike the Rift, Vive and PS VR which may provide the ultimate VR experience however the wires can hinder the experience. And it does not drain the phone battery rapidly either.
After you set up, the system walks you through what’s what and each time you turn the device on, a proximity sensor detects when the Gear is facing you, the home screen appears with Store (both Oculus and Samsung) and Library options and you also have access to Oculus Cinema and 360 Videos and Photos among other things.
The Gear VR does not provide as magnificent an experience as its rivals like the Rift or the Vive but what it does offer is immersive and surprising.
The magnified 360 degree view causes pixilation which may not be the worst there is but is quite noticeable and even the image sharpness and clarity is lacking.
The response time is rated at 60Hz which may feel fine but may also induce nausea due to the lag considering its other competitors like the Rift which is rated at 90Hz.
Samsung has finally added some great titles to its list including Land’s End, Dreadhalls, Eve: Gunjack etc.
The latest Samsung Gear is s lightweight version of its former edition that sits on your head very comfortably.
The chunky headband padding has been cut back which allows a better fit and reduces its weight. The interior is all white and spares some space for glasses.
The focus is adjusted via a wheel atop the headset. This was a little stiff, but then it won’t require frequent adjustments once you’ve found your sweet focus spot.
The operating controls of the device are located to the right hand side of the headset and comprising of the back and volume buttons and the touchpad and a few taps and swipes will let you navigate through the interface. This operating system is quite simple.
- Wire-free mobile VR headset
- Price lower than previous models
- Modified design
- May cause nausea
- Not a wide range of gaming titles
- Still expensive as compared to other mobile VR headsets.
The Samsung Gear VR 2016 is the right choice to go for especially if you have a S6 or S6 Edge considering it offers an adequate and immersive VR experience at the Android operational level of a smartphone.
Google Cardboard VR is an easy to set up VR headset which gives you the taste of what is VR without emptying your pockets.
And the best part? You won’t regret spending hundreds of dollars on it, in case you decide that a VR headset is not worth your money (honestly, who could think that) because you won’t be spending any hundred of dollars on it!
Another great feature? It is compatible with ALL android phones that can fit inside it (up to six inches long) and not confined to a few making it a cheap and easily accessible medium of VR experience.
You could say using the Google Cardboard VR you are testing waters of the VR world before wading in.
Set-Up and Operation
Setting up the Google Cardboard is not a big affair. After assembling its parts all you need to do is put in your phone after installing the Cardboard app in it. If your phone has NFC pairing enabled then the Cardboard app does the rest of the work on the headset.
The headset obviously does not come with built-in earplugs or headphones therefore you will need to use your own. It is better advised to make use of headphones instead of anything else as it provides great sound aiding the immersion.
For the best experience it is better to use Android phones with the Jelly Bean 4.1 version. It is advised to use a phone display where the pixel density is higher otherwise the low resolution when magnified creates distorted images and then you can make out the pixels which inhibiting the experience.
The smaller headset goes best with smaller smartphones being either completely compatible or partially compatible like the Moto X where the phone does not support the magnet (on the headset) but runs the apps.
Additionally, larger Cardboard headsets can support larger phones like Samsung S6 and S6 Edge.
As the name goes, Google Cardboard is made of cardboard and it comes like a DIY kit for you to put together. If you don’t want to build it up yourself you can buy an already-put-together version for a few extra dollars. Honestly though, building it up yourself is kind of fun.
It lacks the aesthetic look that its counterparts at the top of the list have but then again, that look comes with a price. The device is simply folded cardboard in which you tuck your phone in. It lacks a head strap and you will need to hold it to your head to view the magic.
- Easy to set-up and use
- Easily accessible
- Hands-free use is impossible
- Lack of proper navigation
- Not the best VR experience
Google Cardboard Viewer is a fun, experimental DIY set-up for the VR curious. If you’re new to this world, you should definitely go for it!
Microsoft HoloLens is the company’s attempt at creating what could be the future of technology- augmented reality (AR).
The HoloLens has not yet made its debut into the market; however, a few did get to see what it was about at the Build 2015.
Design and Operations
Microsoft HoloLens is designed pretty simply, being light-weight and minimal although most of its weight is concentrated in the front producing a heavy sensation, not as much to call it uncomfortable though.
HoloLens obviously supports realistic holograms that behave like real objects when you move around them. The HoloLens holograms are controlled through hand gestures, voice controls and your eyes. The device does not house any complicated operating controls. The device very accurately tracks your line of sight and is on-point that is very responsive making it a very unique experience.
It has an inner, cushioned adjustable plastic ring made on which a roller is located that you slide back and forth for a snug fit. The adjustment does take a few tries and once it is achieved the experience is great.
A downside here is the short battery life
The screen of the HoloLens is see-through so you won’t feel crammed and wearing glasses with it was no problem.
Two speakers, one above each ear cater to the need for headphones. The brightness control is placed on the left and volume buttons on the right.
The comfort was not above par, with the front-heavy sensation and the frequent readjusting. It would not harm Microsoft to reconsider and balance out some of the weight here and there.
The most relieving part of the design was its untethered operation. An experience without wires is always appreciated.
- Great build and design
- Hologram interaction and control is impressive
- Hands-free interaction
- Not so comfortable
- Short battery life
- Small screen
Microsoft HoloLens is an interesting new medium we can’t wait to explore but it has a long way to go and has great potential. However, it is not meant for the here and now.
Razer Open Source VR Headset may have had its name placed besides the big names in the VR game with its second iteration, but it still has a long way to go.
Design and Operations
The OSVR HDK 2 mainly utilizes the same hardware that the HTC Vive and the Rift require for proper functioning.
What is very surprising is that even though the OSVR uses the same hardware it costs a lot less than both the Rift and Vive.
As the headset is open source it utilizes everything and anything that consumers and developers bring in therefore experiences vary from one title to another and not all of them are ideal. This might become a problem as there is no quality control due to open sourcing.
Moving on, there are tracking glitches here and there because unlike the Vive, the OSVR makes use of only one camera which does not cover much of the field.
Also, the lack of touch controllers is covered by a pair of gloves, but these don’t execute actions as accurately as a pair of touch controllers would.
The OSVR is not constructed to be as comfortable as the Daydream or the Vive but it does the job. Two straps hold the headset, coming from the sides of your head and being met by one coming over your head.
The straps can be adjusted to fit you better and you may find it a tad bit tighter especially if you are wearing your glasses. Better to take them off.
The OSVR supports two 1080×1200 images with an impressive refresh rate of 90 HZ (same as the Rift). It also boasts a 110 degree field view. You can adjust the lens distance using the diopter and you will be good to go.
Razer can surely tweak the headset here and there for a more comfortable fit.
- Open source brings a variety
- Moderately- priced
- Has a lot of potential
- Uncomfortable construction
- Lack of motion controls hinders the experience
- Tracking glitches
Merge VR is a potentially superb VR headset that when paired with the right content can beat its top-of-the-list competitors without putting a dent on your pockets.
Design and Operations
Merge VR depends completely on content produced by app developers which may either be mind-blowing or disappointing. So ultimately the VR experience provided by Merge is dependent upon the type of content you are viewing. If the app quality and headset setting is right, the experience is immersive and awe-inducing.
The lack of external controllers creates another problem making the device awkward to use during hardcore gaming sessions as the top buttons used for interaction and game-play are not that responsive.
Additionally, while using the Merge VR if you want to switch from one app to another you cannot do it via the in-house controls, you would have to take your phone out, switch apps and place it back in. And if you are using headphones then that gets even more tedious. These are the instances where a controller would come in handy. There is a controller for the Merge VR around the corner, although when it hits the market is quote unknown. Let’s wait and watch.
Merge VR is has a toy-like construction and. The headset is made of purple plastic with large side panels which also allow ventilation.
The headset is relatively lightweight and quiet comfortable and you can adjust it to better fit your noggin.
Sliders on the top and bottom let you adjust the lenses for a better view, also allowing the use of spectacles if need be.
Navigation essentially occurs via controls situated at the top of the headset which are the medium of interaction during gaming conquests which is not a good thing. Wanting to fire at a zombie by pressing on the top controls is kind of weird and definitely taints the experience.
Merge VR is not here to make a fashion statement but it is practical and comfortable.
- Comfortable build
- Durable construction
- Awkward control location
- Lack of external controllers
VR headsets Buyers Guide
The age of Virtual Reality is upon us after lurking around us for about twenty years. And in this age of VR, the VR headsets are becoming increasingly popular with the great digital experience they provide in gaming or 3D movies and TV shows.
Virtual Reality is a whole new dimension that we cannot wait to explore and not just in gaming and movies. To think what this technology can be made into, in the world of communication and interaction.
And due to that you are probably wondering if you should get one. And which one?
To answer your first question VR is an extraordinary experience where you taste the entire world come alive around you, fight wars and waltz around in digital space while not even leaving your desk/couch. And everyone should get a taste of that.
Coming to the second question, various VR headsets that cater to a variety of needs are available.
Being a hardcore gamer and you would probably want to plunge into the virtual world with your console, then the PlayStation VR will be your bestfriend.
The Rift by Oculus and HTC’s Vive will give you a completely immersive VR experience.
However, presuming that you want to keep it simple and do not have expensive gaming PCs or other equipment you can go for Android operating system headsets like Samsung Gear VR or Google’s Daydream View.
Another major aspect of consideration is the budget. How much are you willing to invest in a VR Headset? The price range is extensive and hence you have a lot of options to choose from.
To help you take your pick we have reviewed many headsets and selected the 10 best for you so that you make a wise choice.
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer generated 3D environment. You interact with the digital world while physically not even leaving your room.
What does a Virtual Reality Headset do?
It is a device which brings to life a virtual reality experience. The device is either powered by a beefy PC or just a smartphone. It encloses your eyes and you get to see what all the VR fuss is about.
Which headset should I go for?
The choice of your VR headset depends upon your needs. What will you use the headset for; movies or games. Do you just want to try out VR because you are curious? Or do you want to experience a full-fledged VR world?
CLOSING THE ARGUMENT
One can make a list of the best VR headsets after days of detailed reviewing and may end up with a couple of names that steal the limelight. However, all products have their share of flaws and none of them is the one immaculate headset. And where one feature is above par in a certain pair, it may lack in delivering another feature nicely.
Nevertheless, this in-depth list includes a range of latest VR headsets which may either be budget-friendly, provide an out-of-the-world VR experience or may be very comfortable and sleek. In short, this list contains the cream of the best VR Headsets of 2021, selected to help you choose what’s best for you.