VR Headsets – These are the 14 best in [2020]

February 17, 2020
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With the development of several VR headsets in recent years, Virtual Reality has finally found its place in the entertainment world. With VR headsets for PCs, game consoles and smartphones, there are models out there for every budget.

When it comes to choosing one of the many available models, you have to take many aspects into account. Deciding which VR headsets are best will depend on how you want to use them.

Here we show you the best VR headsets on the market in 2020!

How do VR headsets actually work though?

Virtual Reality – Something gamers have been dreaming of since the first generation was released in the early 80s. Films like Tron and numerous science fiction novels made the VR concept appealing to many gamers a long time ago.

For a long time, however, implementation seemed like a distant reality.

This is because complex technology is necessary to create a fully immersive experience. This only became available in recent years thanks to breakthroughs in processor performance and screen technology at affordable prices.

How Humans Perceive Space

An immersive VR experience is only possible if you use the ability of human vision to simulate a real world. In order to be able to understand this from a technical perspective, it is necessary to visualize how the brain combines the information captured by the eyes into an optical image.

Humans can only see in 3D because they have two eyes. As the eyes are slightly offset, they capture the surroundings from slightly different angles. This fact is the basic prerequisite for three-dimensional vision.

In the brain, the images of different viewing angles are combined into a complete, spatial image, which gives us our three-dimensional vision. It’s called stereoscopic vision.

The Trick of Virtual Reality – Provide a Different Display for Each Eye

Virtual Reality makes use of this function of human vision: Both the left and right eye are each shown their own image on their own screen, which represents two slightly offset viewing angles of Virtual Reality. Just as the eyes would see a real room.

The brain then does the rest! Just as with real vision, the brain processes these two perspectives into a 3D field of vision, which enables us to experience the spatial environment.

Technical Requirements of VR Headsets

Photo of computer hardware

Depending on how high the resolution should be, a lot of computing power is required to generate these two images. Virtual Reality and VR glasses have only become a reality thanks to the rapidly improved computing power of PCs, consoles and smartphones in recent years:

In 2016, the first and long-awaited high-end VR headsets from Oculus and HTC were released.

There are some criteria for VR headsets that are crucial in determining the quality of the VR experience:

Image resolution rate

The goal of Virtual Reality is to create the perfect illusion of a virtual world. However, there is still a long way to go. One of the most important criteria for achieving the best possible results is getting the highest possible image resolution rate for VR headsets. This ensures that the world is presented as fluidly as possible. The image resolution rate of the better VR headsets is usually between 60 and 120 Hz.

Resolution

The resolution represented by the pixels or pixel density is important in order to produce as realistic a graphic as possible, as well as an image that is as unscreened and unpixelated as possible.

The resolution is listed per eye or overall and is usually between 1920×1200 (960×1200 per eye) and 2880×1600 (1920×1600 per eye) pixels on current devices.

Image resolution

The importance of the image transmission of VR headsets should not be underestimated. At the moment, HDMI cables are usually used. However, this restricts the player’s freedom of movement.

It goes without saying that VR headsets for smartphones can be used without such cables. However, the quality is much weaker for the PC than with VR headsets. In recent days, wireless variants for image transmission have also become available for the PC.

Wireless VR headsets are definitely the solution of the future as they provide the best user experience. At the moment, however, we still have to compromise on these solutions – be it in the form of high acquisition costs for solutions with PCs (if you don’t already own a powerful PC), or the weaker graphics of Virtual Reality headsets for the smartphone, or even standalone VR glasses.

Field of Vision

The human field of vision is approximately 214 degrees horizontally and up to 150 degrees vertically. Normally, however, people tend to turn their heads rather than take full advantage of their entire field of vision.

For this reason, VR headsets already manage with a much smaller field of vision of up to 110 degrees.

Tracking

Tracking is all about capturing the body/body parts of the player. This can be used for VR gaming as a control, or to locate the player in the virtual room.

Not all VR headsets are equipped with a tracking system, and the systems themselves differ from each other quite a bit. VR headsets for smartphones and standalone headsets don’t usually have tracking. An exception to this is the Oculus Quest, which does support tracking. On the other hand, VR glasses for PCs usually support tracking, and therefore offer a more complete experience.

Comfort and Weight

In order to optimize the immersive experience as much as possible, the VR consumer should get as little as possible of the hardware once they start wearing VR headsets. The most important factor here is the weight, closely followed by the ergonomics of the headset.

VR headsets should not only be comfortable to wear, they must also sit securely in heated VR situations. And all this has to be achieved without getting tired or feeling pain when wearing VR headsets.

This is no small challenge, as the technology of VR headsets cannot be made easier without any side effects. The development of increasingly comfortable and light components will take time, and will certainly continue to improve with the coming generations of VR headsets.

The weight of a fully functional set of VR glasses is usually somewhere between 380 and 600 grams. Virtual Reality headsets for the smartphone are much lighter. However, you also have to take into account the weight of the smartphone, which is attached directly to the headsets and serves as a screen.

These are the most important criteria of VR headsets. Depending on the type of glasses and the price, these can differ significantly from each other.

The 4 Types of VR Headsets

A man in a room wearing VR glasses.

In 2016, mass-produced VR headsets with affordable prices came on the market for the first time, offering users an outstanding VR experience. There are 4 different types of VR headsets:

VR headsets for PC

The best experience in Virtual Reality can be achieved with high-end headsets. These usually have the best technical specifications. However, this is also reflected in the price. The rather expensive VR headsets for the PC also require as powerful a computer as possible in order to optimally display the VR worlds. The best-known models of VR headsets for the PC are Valve Index, the Oculus Rift S and the HTC Vive Pro.

VR headsets for consoles

As expected, it also makes sense to use VR headsets when playing on a console. Up to now, there is only one serious set of VR headsets for consoles on the market: Sony Playstation VR. There are no VR headsets available for the Xbox yet.

VR headsets for mobile phones

The cheapest and easiest way to experience VR is to use VR headsets that have been specially designed for smartphones. These are usually simple head mounts into which the smartphone is inserted. These serve as both a computer and a display. Two examples of successful VR headsets for smartphones are the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream View.

Standalone VR headsets

There are also some VR headsets on the market that do not require a computer unit such as a PC, a console or a smartphone. These standalone VR devices have their own built-in chip.

The most prominent examples of standalone headsets are the Oculus Go, the Pico , the HTC Vive Cosmos and the Oculus Quest.

For whom are VR headsets suitable?

VR headsets are an exciting new way for the vast majority of users to experience virtual worlds in a more realistic manner. However, VR headsets are not suitable for everyone.

VR for glasses wearers

Many people wonder if they can use VR devices even though they have poor eyesight. The answer is: yes! Virtual Reality headsets can be used by almost all glasses wearers without any problems. This is because most VR headsets have their own focusing wheels, which enable the lenses to be adjusted as required.

Whether or not the adjustment is sufficient depends on the severity of the visual impairment. This is because the lenses of VR headsets are not quite as effective as those of optical glasses. High-end VR headsets also allow you to change the lens according to your visual acuity.

However, if you have a severe visual impairment, you will sometimes have to wear your optical glasses under the VR headset. This is also the case with less expensive VR headsets that do not allow the lenses to be replaced. Wearing glasses under VR headsets normally works without any issues. However, this can become uncomfortable over time, depending on the design. You also have to make sure that the headsets fit exactly, as the focal point is reduced when wearing optical glasses. This means that the image may become blurred if the headset slip slightly.

If you have a visual impairment, you’ll encounter the least amount of problems if you wear contact lenses – as long as you can tolerate them.

Can children use VR headsets?

You should exercise more caution when allowing children or young adults to use VR headsets. On Playstation VR, there is a note stating that children under the age of 12 should not be using it.

PlayStation boss Shuhei Yoshida has himself called for a new age rating system that will be adapted for VR games. The reason for this is that we know very little about the long-term effects that these very intensive VR experiences can have on both the body and mind.

The Oculus Rift has an age limit of 13 years. The safety information is as follows:

“…Prolonged use should be avoided as it may adversely affect hand and eye coordination, balance as well as your ability to multi-task.”

Although the HTC Vive doesn’t have a specified age limit, you should exercise the same caution with these VR headsets.

Motion sickness

Motion sickness or kinetosis is still a very common side effect of VR, caused by the release of stress hormones. This may be expressed in:

  • Dizziness
  • Cold sweats
  • General discomfort
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Headaches

Motion sickness does not pose a long-term risk and usually subsides within a few hours. We spoke about this in our article: How To Create 360-Degree Videos.

The industry assumes that motion sickness will become increasingly rare as VR technology improves.

Addiction potential of Virtual Reality

Due to a lack of data, it is not yet possible to estimate how high the addiction potential of Virtual Reality is. What is certain, however, is that conventional video games have the potential to be highly addictive. Due to the very immersive experience of VR, it wouldn’t be unlikely if the addiction potential of VR games were even higher.

Due to the very immersive experience you get in VR, it is not unlikely that the development of VR content will generate some negative headlines.

What to pay attention to when purchasing VR headsets

There is a large number of suitable VR headsets currently on the market. The decision regarding which VR headsets are the right ones depends on what you want to do with them, on the technical possibilities and conditions and last but not least, on the price.

What do VR headsets cost on average?

VR headsets are available in four different categories which we have already outlined. The average prices are different depending on the category. We have calculated them here for you:

Price of VR headsets for the PC

In this category you will find the most technically sophisticated VR headsets. Accordingly, the prices are also the highest. In addition, you need powerful hardware to be able to use these VR headsets in an optimal way. Having compared numerous suppliers, we worked out that the average price is 510 euros. The cheapest set costs 419 euros. The most expensive model is the HTC Vive Pro for 659 euros.

Price of VR headsets for the smartphone

If you want to enter the VR world but don’t want to spend too much, you can fall back on a solution for the smartphone. The smartphone is mounted into or on the headsets for this. Having compared the numerous offers available, we found the average price to be just under 42 euros. The current cheapest model is the Hamswan 3D, which currently costs 24 euros, while the Samsung Gear VR currently costs 119 euros.

Price of VR headsets for consoles

There’s not much choice at the moment when it comes to finding VR headsets for consoles. For the Playstation, the only option available is Playstation VR. Playstation VR is available for 190 euros.

Price of standalone VR headsets

Standalone VR headsets are still quite rare at the moment. Besides the two most important manufacturers Oculus (Go, Quest) and Pico (G2 4k), only Lenovo has so far brought a usable model onto the market with the Mirage Solo. Prices vary between 159 euros (Oculus Go) and 799 euros (HTC Vive Focus import) for standalone VR headsets.

Overview of the current VR headsets in 2020

To give you an overview of the numerous models, you will find the best VR headsets listed here.

Independent VR headsets in 2020

1. Oculus Quest

Image of Oculus Quest VR glasses
Oculus Quest

The Oculus Quest is the newest set of standalone headsets from Oculus. These VR headsets are for those looking for a wireless way to consume VR that does not require any additional hardware.

Special feature: The Quest has built-in tracking. Hardly any other provider currently offers this function.

The Oculus Quest’s major plus points are the controllers and large selection of games included in the package. The price is also quite reasonable. You can get a complete set of VR glasses for just under 450 euros.

2. Pico (Neo, G2)

Image of Pico G2 VR glasses
Pico G2

Pico was the first Chinese manufacturer to draw attention to itself in the VR world. Their first model, the Pico Neo, was the first pair of standalone VR glasses ever. The specifications of the Neo are most similar to the Oculus Go.

The successor model Pico G2 could pose a real threat to the Oculus Go. With 2880×1600 pixels at a frame rate of up to 90Hz and a camera for outward vision, the G2 has specs that outperform all other standalone headsets available so far. In addition, the G2 is extremely light, weighing just 268-278 grams.

However, the G2, which is available in three versions (G2, G2 Pro for even more performance, and G2 4K with extra high resolution), is not currently intended for the consumer market: The VR headsets produced by Pico are currently available exclusively for developers and business customers via the Pico website.

3. HTC Vive Focus

HTC Vive Focus VR headset
HTC Vive Focus

The Vive Focus from HTC does not require you to have a PC, base station or sensors. As soon as the device arrives, you can start immediately and enjoy VR in a 2880 x 1660 pixel resolution.

The sensors on the headset enable inside-out tracking, in which the room can be detected and your own position in the room can be determined. This allows the headset to adapt to the available space and no longer depends on the free space having to be a certain size.

If you are interested in the HTC Vive Focus, it is currently available for 693 euros.

4. Oculus GO

Image of Oculus Go VR glasses
Oculus GO

The Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset, especially designed for the consumption of VR apps and 360-degree videos. In order to meet these requirements, much lower specifications are required than VR headsets designed for gaming. This also affects the price. Available for less than 200 euros, it is significantly cheaper than the Oculus Quest.

5. Lenovo Mirage Solo

Image of Lenovo Mirage Solo VR glasses
Lenovo Mirage Solo

The Lenovo Mirage Solo only came on the market a little later than the Oculus Go. In terms of specifications, however, it is much closer to the more powerful Oculus Quest.

The reason for this is that Lenovo’s VR headsets are also equipped with several cameras that allow tracking. Furthermore, the processor performance, as well as the frame rate, are significantly better than what the Oculus Go can provide. The Lenovo Mirage Solo is currently available for just over 400 euros.

The best VR headsets for the computer in 2020

1. Valve Index

Valve Index VR headset
Valve Index

With the Valve Index, the software manufacturer Valve Corporation has launched a VR headset that is perfect for gaming. The two RGB – LCDs impress with 1440 x 1600 pixels each and offer a pin sharp picture. Higher frame rates and a low illumination duration also improve the appearance of the virtual content.

Valve also relies on an ergonomic headset that can be comfortably worn for several hours. For example, the headphones no longer sit directly on the head, which reduces the pressure on the ears. The headset is well padded and can be individually adjusted to each head. The built-in lenses maximise the field of vision and can also be individually adapted to the eyes.

If you’re looking for a high-quality headset that you can comfortably play with for several hours, you should definitely take a look at the Valve Index. Currently, the Valve Index with controllers costs 800 euros.

2. Oculus Rift S

Image of Oculus Rift S VR glasses
Oculus Rift S

The Oculus Rift S is the improved successor of the Oculus Rift – the VR headsets that ushered in the age of Virtual Reality alongside HTC Vive. This is a high-end device and is one of the most technically sophisticated models.

Both in terms of pixel density and image change rate, the Rift S is among the best devices currently available on the market. Oculus, a subsidiary of Facebook, has done a great job of making the experience as perfect as possible for VR users with a real interest in gaming.

These VR headsets are intended for all those looking for the most comprehensive experience possible, especially while playing games. Please remember, however, that you will need a powerful PC in order to use the Oculus Rift S to its full potential.

3. HTC Vive

Image of HTC Vive PRO VR glasses
HTC Vive PRO

By developing the HTC Vive Pro,HTC, as a premium manufacturer of VR headsets, has once again gone one better. With outstanding specifications that are unmatched in the VR sector, the South Korean company is setting new standards and is also targeting business customers.

Among the consumer VR headsets, it has the highest pixel density (615 ppi) with 2880×1600 pixels. Another feature unmatched by other headsets is a possible tracking range of up to 100 square meters, which is covered by four sensors.

These features make the HTC Vive Pro the best-equipped set of VR headsets, but also the most expensive. The HTC Vive Pro currently costs just under 700 euros.

4. HTC Vive

Image of HTC Vive VR glasses
HTC Vive

The HTC Vive was one of the first high-end VR headsets on the market alongside the Oculus Rift. The Vive has similar specifications to the Oculus Rift, but is about 100 grams heavier. It is aimed at users who want to experience VR intensively and who either own or are willing to invest in a PC with high performance.

The HTC Vive comes with two controllers and room sensors that allow the player to move around in the VR world. The HTC Vive also has an extensive ecosystem, which contains numerous VR games on the steam platform.

5. HP Reverb

HP Reverb VR headset
HP Reverb

For the HP Reverb, HP primarily relies on a VR headset that convinces with better resolution. The headset has 2160 x 2160 pixels on each side, which marks a significant difference to the first generation VR headsets.

The VR headsets from HP are also very light and offer various options for adjusting the headset to the head. Both headphones can be detached as well as adjusted and have an integrated surround sound. Two integrated microphones and the corresponding intelligent assistant should simplify communication.

The HP Reverb is currently considered the best mixed reality headset for Windows and costs almost 700 euros.

6. HTC Vive Cosmos

Image of HTC Vive Cosmos VR glasses
HTC Vive Cosmos

With the Vive Cosmos, HTC has announced the next generation of VR headsets. These standalone VR headsets are equipped with 6 cameras, which are used for tracking and should make playing possible in any environment. The design also promises an improved fit to allow longer play. Practical feature: The Vive Cosmos makes it possible to easily fold the screens upwards to quickly allow a free field of view into the real world if necessary.

The Vive Cosmos can be connected to a PC as well as to a smartphone, and also works independently. So if you are looking for a high-end solution that works without cables, you might also want to take a look at the HTC Vive Cosmos.

The Best VR Headsets for Mobile Phones in 2020

1. Samsung Gear VR

Image of Samsung Gear VR glasses
Samsung Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR is one of the cheapest and best options on the market if you are looking for an entry-level VR device. The Samsung Gear VR is relatively comfortable to wear and comes with a sophisticated controller. The Samsung Gear VR is now compatible with some Samsung smartphones that have been released in recent years.

This model is recommended for anyone with a Samsung smartphone who is looking for a cheap way to experience Virtual Reality.

Attention: The Samsung Gear VR will no longer be supported by Oculus. This means that old apps will still work, but because of the development stop there will be no new apps.

2. Google Daydream View

Image of Google Daydream VR glasses
Google Daydream View

The Google Daydream View is the counterpart to the Samsung Gear VR for all users of Google Pixel phones, as well as some phones from other manufacturers. The VR headsets produced by Google are a little more expensive than the Samsung solution, but they are still some of the cheapest available VR headsets for the smartphone on the market that offer at least decent quality.

The biggest advantage of the Google Daydream View is the integrated YouTube app, which allows you to consume 360-degree videos in a very simple and intuitive way.

Attention: The Google Daydream is being stopped. This means that the headset is no longer sold by Google. The associated platform will remain available for the owners of Google Daydream, but there will be no new apps for it.

The Best VR Headsets for Game Consoles in 2020

1. Playstation VR

Image of Playstation VR glasses
Playstation VR

With Playstation VR, Sony has come up with a powerful response to the VR headsets produced by the two premium manufacturers Oculus and HTC. Although Playstation VR cannot quite keep pace with the specifications of the Oculus Rift S or the HTC Vive, it does have the advantage that it has been optimized for use with the Playstation 4. It is significantly cheaper than the competition and offers a very simple plug-and-play setup. The selection of games and content is also quite substantial.

However, Playstation VR does lack some features such as the tracking solution available on Oculus and HTC headsets. In addition, Playstation VR is slightly heavier than the competition. Overall, Playstation VR is a good investment for those who already own a Playstation 4.

Your experiences are very valuable to us!

Did we forget some important headsets? Do you have experience with any of the VR headsets listed here? Help our readers by sharing your personal experience with one or more of the models. We look forward to hearing from you!

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