In the earliest days of VR innovation, the driving force behind augmentative headsets was functionality. The earliest designs helped simplify complex practices, from learning to pilot an airplane to exploring an underground cave system.
Since then, VR has become the frontier of entertainment. Even better, pricing isn’t necessarily prohibitive for VR enthusiasts—so long as they’re fine with working with the $30 Google Cardboard VR solution.
According to Insider Intelligence, nearly 60 million Americans will use VR this year. Unsurprisingly, options have never been more varied for users. One of the most robust sectors in VR is gaming. Both eSports and casino gaming are incredibly lucrative and popular worldwide, with mobile gaming adding an extra boost in the last five years.
The world of online poker alone was worth an estimated $58.96 billion in 2019, according to The Business Research Centre. Meanwhile, PC gaming was worth over $37 billion in 2020, according to Statista. Unsurprisingly, both sectors have adapted VR options for gamers, from futuristic casino floors to the latest in survival games like Half-Life: Alyx.
Another popular sector is basic video streaming. The NBA has opted to launch VR features for its LeaguePass, while other basic subscription services like Netflix and Disney+ can be launched with headsets via mobile VR apps.
Clearly, the future of entertainment will be VR-friendly. But which headset is best for users with different priorities? Let’s take a closer look at quality options, which are all available for online purchase.
Beginner-Friendly: Oculus Gear VR for $99
For those who don’t know, VR headsets come in three basic tiers: cardboard setups, mobile headsets, and WiFi-ready headsets that connect to other power sources. As mentioned above, cardboard variations start at $30.
For VR beginners looking to kickstart their journey into augmented realities, a mobile headset is a more durable and long-term option. The Oculus Gear VR is a great headset to start out, with basic features that help newcomers get acclimated and access to a range of Oculus offers.
The Gear VR headset has a touchpad and back button on either side of the headset to make navigation easier. The headset also has advanced field of view technology and rotational tracking. The device connects to WiFi and is now available with a controller.
Advanced Features: HTC Vive for $799
When it comes to the highest quality in VR headsets, Oculus and HTC have created superb products in their Rift and Vive creations, respectively. However, the HTC Vive headset has the most robust features of any commercial headset on the market today.
Vive offers the most well-rounded experience in terms of directional audio, headset tracking, and HD haptic feedback. In layman’s terms, this equates to an unparalleled VR experience—the world feels and sounds more real.
Even better, HTC’s SteamVR Tracking technology lets users sit, stand, and even walk around to create a truly interactive world. This augments the standard streaming fare, allowing users to take advantage of interactive adventure games offered on most streaming services. The headset also includes safety features, making it perfect for all users.
Innovation: PlayStation VR (PSVR) for $299
As mentioned above, one of VR’s specialties is in gaming. As such, some groups have focused on creating innovative headsets with PC and console gaming in mind. Sony, as the parent company of PlayStation, has hit it out of the park with their specialized headset that pairs with PlayStation 4 and 5 models.
This product isn’t just a headset. The setup also includes an external camera and connecting cables. These are used to create an interactive environment for gamers; they’re literally moving in a constructed field, co-created between the headset and external camera.
Another aspect that makes PlayStation VR perfect for gamers is the PS VR platform. Designed to pair with the headset, this platform allows gamers access to exclusive VR games, such as Astro Bot Rescue Mission, and commercial titles like Star Wars: Squadron and Minecraft. Mirror mode allows friends to join the adventure remotely.