Plunge your head first in the selection of the best virtual reality headsets of the year.
Choosing the best virtual reality headset is not easy in 2018 as many new products come on the market and promotions with high-end headphones are on the rise.
The good news for the customer is that virtual reality headsets for PCs are now much more affordable thanks to the permanent fall in their price. The bad news is that it complicates your task in choosing the right helmet for you.
In addition to this price drop, most advanced virtual reality headphones such as the HTC Viva Pro have come to the fore. In contrast, there are also virtual reality headsets for smartphones: Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View.
Finally, there is a new category of independent virtual reality headphones, with the all-new Oculus Go leads the way. We will focus on the latest developments in virtual reality headsets as they come out in the next few months.
You can, if you wish, already pass this paragraph and start reading our choices and explanations in detail, but it is important to note that the permanent price drop has made the virtual reality headsets “traditional” quite comparable with each other.
The four best current products on the market – Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro and PlayStation VR – are also, unsurprisingly, the most expensive consumer virtual reality headsets.
Each virtual reality headset has strengths and weaknesses, and if you do not have them in mind before making your choice, you could make costly mistakes. The purpose of this guide is to help you make that choice.
If you’re looking for a more affordable device, this guide also includes some virtual reality headsets for smartphones.
The best VR headsets in 2019:
HTC Vive: The best virtual reality headset
HTC Vive dominates the debates.
Best Price: $499.00 on Amazon Product
The best virtual reality experience
Software partnership with Valve
Requires a powerful processor
When it was released, HTC Vive was way ahead of its closest competitor, the Oculus Rift. It supported room-scale tracking and two motion controllers were provided for a more immersive experience.
Today, however, this advance has diminished. The Oculus Rift equals most features of the Vive and also includes two motion controllers of its own.
But if the Vive always holds the rope against the Oculus, it is because his room-scale tracking is always superior to him. This feature allows you to move in a space of 4.5 x 4.5 meters, adding another dimension to the immersive experience: you no longer just press the buttons of a controller, you use your legs for your move.
Of course, you must have the necessary space in your real room.
The headset itself embeds two 1080p screens providing a sharp image. However, the resolution is not yet high enough to prevent discerning pixels individually when you wear it. The HTC Vive Pro, which offers 78% more pixels per inch than the Vive, has a much sharper image quality, in addition to the built-in audio system that is sorely lacking at Vive.
Finally, although not the newest or best of the Vive models, it scores price points.
More expensive than the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive Pro has some flaws that make it does not always fully justify its high price. For casual users who do not have the funds for an HTC Vive Pro, the HTC Vive offers an excellent experience at a reduced price.
Oculus Go: The best autonomous VR headset
The dawn of a new era for virtual reality.
Best Price: $249.00 on Amazon Product
Excellent virtual reality for a standalone device
Heavy to wear
Light interferes with the bottom of the helmet
To put it simply, the Oculus Go marks the transition to a new era for virtual reality. An era in which there is no need for any smartphone or PC to enjoy intense experiences. But let’s move on to these grandiloquent statements – you want to know how such a virtual reality headset works, do not you?
The Oculus Go is an autonomous headset that rivals the Oculus Rift on many other aspects than its competitive price; the quality of its virtual reality is almost as good as on a non-autonomous virtual reality headset.
With its impressive graphics, a limited grid effect and a very comfortable use (proportionately kept for fairly heavy headphones in front), you are sure to have a good time with the Oculus Go.
Its content library is already consistent with more than 1000 applications, games, movies, and experiences available at its release and it only needs to grow thanks to its compatibility with content Samsung Gear VR. This virtual reality headset is available in two storage capacities, 32 or 64 GB. So you can choose the one that suits you best.
The Oculus Go is not perfect – in addition to being heavy enough to carry, the light does not interfere with the bottom of the helmet (around your nose), which can cause discomfort ranging from simple discomfort to a total distraction.
In addition, the ratio between charging time and battery life is not ideal, but you still enjoy about two hours of play at full load.
If you’re looking for a fun, fast and easy way to get into virtual reality, the Oculus Go is your best ally. The experience is much better than virtual reality headsets for mobile phones while being much more affordable than PC headsets.
PlayStation VR: The best VR Headset for consoles
Virtual reality is finally available on consoles and it’s amazing.
Best Price: $258.00 on Amazon Product
Performance close to the PC
The beautiful collection of games
Lack of accessories provided
Low light insulation
Jerky monitoring of controllers
It goes without saying that to run an HTC Vive, HTC Vive Pro or Oculus Rift, you will need a high-performance PC gamer, which represents a substantial investment for the majority of players.
This is not the case with the Sony PlayStation VR that requires little more than a PS4 to work.
Given the big difference in power between a PC and a PS4, the PlayStation VR is a surprisingly effective virtual reality headset. His refreshing rate is nice and responsive and we had no problem with the accuracy of his monitoring of head movements.
Thanks to the Sony catalog, the selection of PlayStation VR games is impressive. There were dozens at launch and much more followed in the first year of commercialization. Sony has responded to one of the most common complaints about its PlayStation VR – the fact that accessories are sold separately – by offering many packages in which devices such as the PlayStation Camera are included. However, PlayStation Move controllers are not always included in all packages.
While being aware of the additional expenses that will be made depending on the package you have chosen, recent price decreases have however made the PlayStation VR even cheaper than before. This is not the best virtual reality headset, but this PSVR is a product that will be convincing to players.
Oculus Rift: The best virtual reality headset for PC
Despite some failures, the Oculus Rift is breathtaking.
Best Price: $349.00 on Amazon Product
A pioneer of virtual reality
Supported by Facebook
The room-scale is not perfect
The current struggle in the field of virtual reality takes place only through one man: The creator of Oculus, Palmer Luckey. As a teenager, Luckey collected virtual reality devices and was obsessed with making a helmet of his own invention in his garage. After many prototypes and a $ 2 billion investment from Facebook, Oculus is still the benchmark for virtual reality.
Many improvements have appeared over the years with the appearance of touch controllers (which are objectively slightly higher than the controllers of Vive) and a few price cuts at key moments.
However, compared to HTC Vive’s room-scale technology, the Rift is not level. The main reason for this is that the Vive is designed to let you move in all directions while, by default, the Rift requires you to install its two sensors in front of you. This means that the tracking is more oriented on one side and does not leave you the freedom to turn on yourself without the sensors losing track.
The experience is different when you add a third sensor, but, comparing what is comparable, we think the Vive has a much better room-scale management.
That said, being much cheaper than the Vive, the Oculus Rift offers a mid-range virtual reality experience that is very satisfying for those with less space at home.
HTC Vive Pro: The novelty for PC
High resolution at the high price.
Best Price: $1,399.00 on Amazon Product
Better light insulation than the HTC Vive
The most expensive virtual reality headset
Headphones can sizzle
The latest high-end virtual reality headset on the market embeds its share of impressive technologies. For example, its 2880 x 1600 resolution offers 78% more pixels per inch than the HTC Vive.
This gives you exceptional visual fidelity, allowing you to grasp textures and shadows like never before in virtual reality.
But the assets of HTC Vive Pro do not stop there. It also has built-in headphones and a new nose guard to improve the light insulation compared to HTC Vive. Thus, the HTC Vive Pro is a clear evolution in terms of design as technology compared to the more dated HTC Vive.
However, despite its gleaming new features, its new navy blue color and a growing library of games, the HTC Vive Pro has some serious flaws.
The main thing is obvious: it is very expensive. It costs as much as the HTC Vive at launch but is not provided with any accessories. You read correctly: you must buy the controllers and the sensors separately, at least until the arrival of a pack late 2018.
The configuration is also a real headache with the HTC Vive Pro since all your firmware must be perfectly up to date. Even if updates are made, there may still be difficulties that could deter mainstream users from getting the Vive Pro experience.
Because of its price, its delicate configuration and the fact that the excellent HTC Vive is now much cheaper, the HTC Vive Pro is probably aimed at fans of virtual reality and arcades. A beautiful helmet that is not within the reach of everyone.
Samsung Gear VR: The best VR headset for mobile
If you own a Samsung smartphone, it’s for you!
Best Price: $129.99 on Amazon Product
Compatible with multiple Samsung phones
More expensive Google Daydream View
The batteries of the controllers are not rechargeable
The Samsung Gear VR has always been a virtual reality headset for a respectable smartphone, but now offered with a motion controller, it plays in another category.
In addition to this new controller, the new Gear VR is lighter and more streamlined than before and offers a USB-C port to connect directly to a Samsung Galaxy phone.
The list of compatible phones includes, of course, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus as well as the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus (if you have the latest Gear VR headset)
The included controller has some points of resemblance to that of HTC Vive, with a touchpad and trigger, which is not a bad thing. It is thanks to this controller that the Gear VR truly expresses itself, allowing you to interact with the worlds of virtual reality that face you in an unprecedented way until now for this device.
Of course, being powered by a smartphone, the performance of your headset depends totally on the phone you’re plugged in, although performance is generally not a problem in our opinion, because of the power of Samsung’s high-end phones. However, if you use an older Galaxy phone, the experience could be profoundly altered.
As Oculus prepares to launch the Oculus Go stand-alone headset, the question of the place of mobile devices like the Gear VR arises more and more. But by providing a shared library of applications and games between the Oculus Go and the Samsung Gear VR, the support of the Gear VR should be extended for some time.
Google Daydream View (2017): The outsider of virtual reality for mobile
An improvement of the original model, but still insufficient
Best Price: $59.95 on Amazon Product
Correct virtual reality for a mobile headset
Heavy on the front
Lack of attractive content
If you have an Android phone (which is not necessarily a Galaxy) and want to get into virtual reality without spending a fortune in a headset and a powerful PC, the Google Daydream View (2017) is an option to take into account.
What makes this helmet attractive is its price: less than 100 € and a current promotion make it even more affordable, at least for the moment.
It’s also an easy-to-use helmet for everyone. Not only do you just install the dedicated application on your phone but once in virtual reality mode, navigation is facilitated by the included controller.
You will not experience the immersive experiences offered by a high-end PC virtual reality headset with the Google Daydream View, but you’ll have a quality device that is compatible with many of the best Android phones, and we’ve said it was very cheap? The offer of content is not very attractive – there is not much content that would justify multiple gaming sessions – but this one is varied and offers a little something for all audiences.
It’s certainly not the best virtual reality headset on the market, far from it, but it’s an easy way to learn about virtual reality for Android phone owners. And that’s really all there is to know about it.