Thanks to the newest VR headsets, virtual reality is something you can experience in your own home. VR headsets allow you to explore a 360° view just by turning your head. The most popular way to experience VR is with video games, though not all gaming consoles and computers are capable of working with a VR headset.
Headsets vary in their comfort, compatibility, and connectivity. Our favorite is the HTC Vive Virtual Reality System, which includes easy-to-use controllers. To learn more about the variations in VR headsets, continue reading.
Considerations when choosing VR headsets
Ways to use VR
Maybe you're a gamer looking for the most immersive gaming experience available, or maybe you want to travel the world from the comfort of your own home. A VR headset is capable of a variety of other-worldy experiences. Here are just a few:
Gaming: Whether it's the latest first-person-shooter or a fantasy RPG, experiencing video games in VR is an amazing experience.
Crafting apps: Using virtual reality, you can design 3D creations and interact with them from any angle.
Virtual tours: There are a handful of VR apps to choose from to take you wherever you want to go.
Different headsets may be better suited to different tasks, so you should choose a model that is well equipped for your purposes.
Wired vs. wireless
Wireless VR headsets may seem like the obvious choice, but they do come with some disadvantages. By connecting to your primary device (whether it is a smartphone, computer, or gaming console) wirelessly, you can look and move wherever you want within range of your primary device -- as long as you don't run into any furniture or walls. Though wireless models are also less expensive, they tend to have lower image quality.
Wired VR headsets are more expensive and offer superior image quality. Though the wires can be cumbersome, these models are the popular choice for gamers for their high-quality, lag-free images.
While the performance of a VR headset is important, comfort cannot be overlooked, especially if you plan to wear your headset for an hour or more every day.
Fabric straps are less expensive and more comfortable. However, they are not as durable and can lose elasticity over time.
Plastic straps often have more padding and are easy to clean, though they lack stretchiness.
VR headset prices
The least expensive VR headsets are "goggle" headsets that require a smartphone to use as the screen -- these cost around $100 or less. High-performing VR headsets for use with game consoles or computers cost around $300 or more.
Q. How do I know if my PC is compatible with a VR headset?
A. It's not compatibility that's the main issue, it's whether your PC has the sufficient hardware for the job, as VR is an intensive task for your computer. Most VR headsets list their minimum specifications.
Q. Are VR headsets dangerous?
A. You're probably thinking of the videos of grown adults falling over or running headlong into walls with VR headsets on. Even if you are aware of your surroundings, VR can be disorienting at first. We recommend trying VR in a safe environment with others watching you to keep you from harming yourself or others.
VR headsets we recommend
Best of the best: HTC Vive Virtual Reality System
Our take: The tech specs of this powerful headset make it one of the most coveted VR headsets on the market.
What we like: This headset and its included software make it well-suited for in-home use so you don't need a massive space to enjoy VR games. The included controllers are easy to use and setup is straightforward.
What we dislike: Despite the popularity of this headset, its library of compatible games is still limited.
Best bang for your buck: Oculus Rift S PC-Powered VR Gaming Headset
Our take: A powerful VR headset with a comfortable design that makes it ideal for gamers.
What we like: The Rift S improves on the already excellent original Oculus headset with a more comfortable design and sharper images.
What we dislike: Flickering video may occur from time to time, disrupting your experience.
Choice 3: Samsung Gear VR Virtual Reality Headset
Our take: This headset is a great choice for immersive streaming if you own a compatible Samsung device.
What we like: Despite the low price, this headset offers excellent image quality.
What we dislike: This is not the most comfortable headset, and it may not be compatible with your Samsung device.
Peter McPherson is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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