The VR headset market is growing fast. There are so many more options now than there were just a few years ago. This means more choices for the consumer but it also means more confusion at checkout. What headset is right for you? This guide breaks down all the major features of VR headsets and compares them side by side so you can make the most informed decision.
Note: A detailed table that shows the specs for all major headsets can be found at the bottom of this article.
Which VR Headset Is Best for You
There is no one VR headset that is the best for everything. Some headsets specialize in screen resolution, others specialize in wide field of view. Because there are so many variables to consider, it’s useful to break down VR headset features into categories. This will help you clarify what’s most important to you. It will also help you do an apples to apples comparison of all the most important headset specs.
Which VR Headset Features Are the Most Important
So what are the most important factors to consider when looking at VR headsets? The three biggest factors are screen resolution, field of view, and tracking. All three of these factors are critical to a good VR experience and a defect in any one of them will put a serious damper on your quality of virtual life.
No single headset is the best in all three categories so it’s important to prioritize the features that are most important to you personally. This depends on what you most want to do in VR. For example, do you plan on playing VR shooting games or VR porn games? Maybe you intend to just lay in bed watching VR movies on a giant virtual screen instead? Regardless of what type of VR user you are, there’s a headset for you.
Three Different Types of VR Users
If you’re an aspiring VR gamer who wants to play competitive shooters, you’re going to want the best tracking possible. That’s because any tracking loss will hurt your performance on the battlefield. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing to a noob because of hardware so you’ll want to opt for a headset that offers an external lighthouse tracking solution. External lighthouses have superior movement detection that will help you land that critical headshot under pressure. The Valve Index would be perfect for someone in this situation. It’s advanced headset detection and finger mapping make it the gold standard for tracking.
If Instead, you’re a gamer who enjoys open-world role playing titles you’ll probably care more about wide field of view than tracking. That’s because even the slightest FOV increase will greatly enhance your immersion as you explore the environment and loot your way through levels. People in this predicament should check out the Pimax line of headsets which are famous for their extra wide lenses.
If you are an avid movie watcher, you’re going to care more about screen resolution than tracking or FOV. You’ll want every detail of your VR video to be pixel perfect and you’d gladly sacrifice a little tracking accuracy in exchange for visual fidelity. Someone in this situation will want to take a serious look at the HP Reverb. The Reverb has a higher resolution than any other consumer headset on the market and the difference really shows. Tech journalists who have tried the device all agree that the screen clarity is an absolute game changer.
Additional VR Headset Features
VR Display Panels
As mentioned earlier, resolution is not the only variable when it comes to VR visuals. The panel type plays a role too. The two main types of VR panes are LCD and LED. They both have their pros and cons. Generally speaking, LCD screens offer better clarity, while LED screens offer better color.
VR Screen Refresh Rate
Refresh rate, is another way that VR displays differ. It’s basically how many frames the headset can produce per second. This is important because fast refresh rates add an additional layer of realism and help prevent motion sickness.The standard headset refresh rate at the moment is 90Hz but some go as high as 120Hz if your computer can process it.
VR Headset Comfort
With all the technical aspects of VR hardware it can be easy to overlook the importance of ergonomics. If you’re going to be wearing a large set of VR goggles on your head for an extended period of time, you better make sure it’s comforable. At present, there are two main types of headset designs – soft strap, and halo strap. Soft straps have the advantage of being lighter and more versatile. Halo straps are bulkier but offer superior comfort over long play sessions.
VR Headset Cost
Once you decide which features are most important to you, it’s time to consider price. The entry price to VR has declined drastically in the past few years but that doesn’t eliminate the need for prudence. For those who are willing to sacrifice some high-end features, you can pick up a used HTC Vive or Oculus Rift for a fraction of what they once cost. Alternatively, you can buy a brand new Samsung Odyssey+ which has the best display in its price range.
VR Headset Specs Comparison Table
Below is a useful table that gives a side-by-side comparison of all the major VR headset specs.
|Specs||Oculus Rift S||Oculus Rift||Oculus Quest||Oculus Go||Valve Index||Vive Cosmos||HTC Vive Pro||HTC Vive||HP Reverb||Samsung Odyssey+||PSVR|
|Field of View||110°||110°||110°||110°||130°||110°||115°||115°||110°||115°||100°|
|Tracking||6dof Internal||6dof External||6dof Internal||3dof Internal||6dof External||6dof Internal||6dof External||6dof External||6dof Internal||6dof Internal||6dof External|