Best VR Headset in 2016: The 10 Best
2016 could very well go down in history as the year of VR. The year that devices like Oculus Rift, and Playstation VR picked up where the failed tech of the 90s left off. In fact, this revolution is already underway. Gamers all over the world have already got their hands on what is considered to be the best VR headset, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive.
From that initial VR promise a couple of decades ago, fans have had to endure a long wait to reach where we are today. Since that time, technological hurdles have successfully been conquered and now the tech that once failed has a new lease of life.
For those awaiting products like the Oculus Rift, which seemed to have a never ending development process, patience has certainly been a virtue. However, the device now offers an early insight into what is possible in the world of virtual reality.
Gary Vaynerchuk, visionary entrepreneur and early tech investor in the likes of Facebook, is known for sharing his opinion and he recently took his chance with VR when he said:
“I think that by 2021 VR will have made such a difference to the likes of movies, video games, TV and probably entertainment in general that there will be no going back!”
As an investor the promise of VR technology excites him. However, he doesn’t believe VRs future is with headsets but with contact lenses. Nonetheless, for now, VR contact lenses are a thing of the future. So here are what we think are the best VR headsets available now…
Best VR Headset for Mobile: Samsung Gear VR
Recommended for: It’s a great device for you if you own one of the compatible Samsung Galaxy smartphones.
Samsung’s Gear VR headset provides you with an untethered VR experience. It does this by being able to attach a large array of Samsung’s recent smartphones. Handsets like the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus and Galaxy Note five are compatible with the Gear VR. This then turns their displays into immersive VR gaming environments.
Offering a mix of VR games and entertainment this virtual reality headset is smaller and noticeably lighter than its PC based rivals. However, it still boats a large catalog of entertainment from the likes of Marvel Entertainment, Netflix and Cirque du Soleil.
Operating the Gear VR is simple. You simply slide your Samsung smartphone into the tray at the front of the device. Then, the internal lenses split your phones display output between your eyes into high definition. This will then give you crisp and detailed visuals for your VR enjoyment.
Ultimately the Gear VR provides a wire-free experience that is more affordable than its tethered PC and console competitors. However, there are some drawbacks. For example, the hardware that is tied to phones having a lower screen refresh rate and lower resolution, which can be seen.
Is it the best VR headset? From the perspective of price, yes. However, be sure to check it is compatible with your mobile device before purchasing. IF you like the sound of this headset then you should also consider the Noon VR headset which is extremely similar to this one in our Top VR Headsets in 2016 article.
Google Cardboard VR
Recommended for: If you’re looking to dip a toe into the world of VR, Cardboard will let you do that for an extremely cheap price.
Google’s Cardboard VR device is much more different than the other devices since it’s actually made from cardboard! Similar to the Gear VR, this device allows you to slide your Android smartphone into it and then play.
Notably, the Google Cardboard will accept any smartphone that fits correctly and can be locked into place. Meaning that it has a much wider audience than that of the Gear VR. On Google’s PlayStore there is already a large selection of apps for the device. These include immersive VR games and concert experiences from the likes of Paul McCartney.
Google Cardboard has already seen some serious success, with over 5-million devices sold to date. The device itself is really an ad-hoc VR viewer. This means you won’t need a head strap (there isn’t one supplied). So, you have to hold it to your face to play games and watch other content.
If you’re a VR fan or just curious about this new tech, Cardboard is a great place to start. However, at this point you’re probably asking, is it the best vr headset? Well, for the price yes, it’s cheap, has lots of software on offer, but has its limitations.
Recommended for: This could be the best VR headset for you want one that is compatible with larger smartphones. It’s also a great headset to consider you want something that can adjust to your eye sight.
Are you looking for an alternative to Google Cardboard? Or a VR device with a head strap to free up your hands to enjoy the experience some more! Whatever the reason, this headset provides greater flexibility with the amount and size of smartphones it can work with.
As you can imagine, the lenses on any VR headset are its most important feature. The Homido comes with three different 100-degree vision cones to hold them into place. This is how someone who is short or long-sighted can adjust the device to their needs.
As for settings the Homido has controls on the faceplate. This adjusts the IPD settings (distance between your pupils), to help eliminate any blur or distortion. Furthermore, the Homido is compatible with both iPhone or Android devices and is able to contend displays up to nearly 6-inches.
So to answer the question, is this the best VR headset for mobile? Whilst some critics have claimed it to be only a plastic upgrade to the Cardboard, its compatibility with all vision types means the Homido is well worth considering.
Recommended for: Mobile users of multiple platforms can use the Merge VR. Also, if you’re looking for educational software for a child this device has bundles of choice.
Merge VR is compatible with both iOS and Android handsets. It will easily stand out in a crowd due to its purple and square design. This headset raises the stakes compared to the previous ones in this article. This is because it has the ability to provide both VR and augmented reality experiences.
What’s quite unique about the Merge virtual reality glasses, is their lightweight foam design. It is super comfortable for the wearer and makes the whole experience better thanks to not having cardboard rubbing your face and plastic digging into your Neck. One recent reviewer likened wearing the Merge as to have a soft squishy nerf ball on your face.
Another surprising point about this device is that it delivers a coherent VR experience. Some reviewers have placed it up there with the likes of the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. Now that’s an achievement considering those devices are more expensive than Merge.
Overall the Merge VR has some great design features that help it stand out from its competition. However, it is still only a mobile VR headset and can only compete with those like it!
With that in mind and when comparing it directly against the Google Cardboard and Homido VR, there’s no doubt that of the three, this is the best VR headset with regard to features and comfortableness.
Zeiss VR One
Recommended for: If you’re someone who is looking for an alternative to the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Something that is simple to use and of good build quality, this Zeiss is certainly the best VR headset in its price range.
This Zeiss VR is slightly larger and heavier than the similar looking Gear VR, with its white matt plastic visor and transparent faceplate. And also like the Gear VR it has lines of foam padding within the face mask part of the headset that help to make wearing it a more comfortable experience.
However, unlike any of the other devices in we’ve looked at so far the Zeiss comes with smartphone trays. There is no removable front plate and in-built smartphone holder to attach your phone into. Instead there is a tray, which slides out of the side.
This is where you pop your phone into. Compatible trays are available for the iPhone 6, 6s, Galaxy S5 and Galaxy S6. Though, it comes standard with a Galaxy S5 tray.
As you’ve seen the Zeiss is compatible with both iOS and Android. And what’s more is Zeiss offers a handful of its own VR apps for you to choose from. The apps available include Zeiss VR One AR and Zeiss VR One Cinema. If you purchase this device, you will find a colorful cardboard cube in with the packaging.
The cube is to be used with the VR One AR app to display augmented reality figures in real time. So overall is this the best VR headset for mobile? We’d have to say that there are a few control limitations. Nonetheless, it’s overall performance is on par with those above it.
Recommended for: If you want Bluetooth connectivity so that you can use gaming controls like a joystick for increased in game interaction. The Freefly VR is one of only a few mobile VR headsets available now to offer this feature.
Freefly is seen to be in direct competition with the Merge VR by many. However, it does manage to weigh in slightly lighter, which enables you to wear it for longer periods of time. The inbuilt lenses of this device are adjustable depending on your eyesight and provide good quality detailed imagery.
Offering a 120-degree field of view, the Freefly and its 42mm lenses are able to fill your field of view. This makes the VR experience a truly immersive one. In comparison, the Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard only provide a 100-degree field of view and these are much more expensive devices!
One downside of many of the cheaper mobile VR headsets is their lack of a remote control. This often leaves you unable to take full control of some in app features. However, the Freefly VR does come with a remote called the Glide VR. This adds extra functionality for the likes of fps games and other apps.
With its funky looking winged design, improved field of vision, being comfortable to wear and the fact that it comes with a remote and supports both Android and iOS handsets of various sizes. We have to say that the Freefly is in our opinion the best VR headset for mobile.
LG 360 VR
Recommended for: Yet again this is for the user that wants something other than the Samsung Gear VR. The LG 360VR is in turn a direct competitor.
Designed to work with the LG G5 handset, this headset uses its processing power to run the entire VR experience. However, your phone isn’t required to be directly inserted into the headset. This is because the 360VR has its own internal display. You simply plug your G5 in via a USB-C cable.
As a result, this VR headset is much lighter when in use than any of the other models we’ve looked at. As for design it is not the prettiest we’ve seen. The headset comes with a grey plastic body and grey textured fabric.
Moving on to software and specs, the LG 360VR has the Jaunt VR app and YouTube as its main sources of VR content. But there’s also the option to view any content that you’ve recorded on the LG 360, you can view images and video.
Now compared to the other devices, this headset like many other manufacturers, is LG’s first foray into the world of VR. And this doesn’t go un-noticed since both the design and the titles offered are somewhat limited. So, is it the best VR headset? If you don’t care much for looks then it’s a great price but there are better available.
Best VR Headset for PC/Consoles: Oculus Rift
Recommended for: If you’re looking for the best VR headset on the market or at least one of them, the Oculus Rift should certainly be on your list.
The Oculus Rift has been a long time coming. We first heard about it a few years back and now this PC-based virtual reality headset is on the market for consumers like you to buy. This device started shipping in late March and comes packaged with an Xbox 360 controller, this means that jumping straight in to immersive gaming is possible from the get go!
Compared to the other mobile compatible headsets we’ve looked at, the audio experience with the Oculus is lightyears ahead. This is thanks to its built-in headphones that provide an engrossing spatial audio experience. So, along with stunningly immersive visuals the Oculus also gives you great audio for a truly impressive VR experience.
In terms of design, the headset looks somewhat similar to other VR headsets we’ve already looked at. The faceplate is matt black plastic and has the customary logo stamp on it. The rest of the body is generously covered with a comfortable on the face black cloth.
There’s also a focus control switch on the bottom right corner of the headset, this enables you to change the lens position and get the focus and sharpness that you desire.
At this point, I’m sure you’re asking yourself, is the Oculus Rift the best Virtual reality headset? To be honest, it could take the crown as the most technological and also the one with the most hype. However, it’s a little too early to decide if it’s the best or not.
Recommended for: This headset has a wide appeal for gamers, teachers and children thanks to its potential to provide an amazing immersive experience.
One of the most talked about pieces of pre-launch technology we’ve ever seen is the HTC Vive. This VR headset is the product of a partnership between both HTC and Valve and has the potential to become as popular or even more so than the Oculus Rift.
This headset certainly offers something different than what we’ve seen so far. And it’s Valve’s SteamVR platform that is the driving force behind it. This platform allows you to walk around a sizeable 15-by-15-foot virtual reality space using a couple of well-placed base stations and Valve’s Lighthouse tech. However, that’s not all. There are also two controllers included, which enable you to interact with your environment.
So far, the Vive is providing the tools to give you what maybe an unrivalled VR experience, but what about specs?
The Vive includes a 110-degree field of vision, 90fps screen refresh rate, positional tracking and location tracking. Plus, hand-held controllers that are paired with a room tracking software called Chaperone! This headset is certainly among the most exciting, if not the best, VR headset coming soon.
As you probably already know, the Vive is not yet available to buy however, you can still be among the first few to pre-order.
Recommended for: Aimed directly at PlayStation 4 gamers. The PlayStation VR is the first console focused headset in this article.
Originally called Project Morpheus, the PlayStation VR is still not quite ready to be purchased. Current estimates of its availability are giving it an October 2016 launch date. So if you’re a PS4 gamer there’s still some need for patience. However, what is Sony’s VR headset capable of and what specs and features does it have?
In a similar manner to that of the HTC Vive, the Sony device uses Sony’s PS4 Move tools to offer motion control to its VR users. As far as gaming demo’s are concerned, we’ve seen it allow players to do incredible things. This includes taking part in swords fights, shooting guns and even using a bow and arrow.
The Playstation VR headset is certainly one of the more attractive models we’ve seen. The faceplate gives of a minimalist vibe with both its black and white matte plastic finish.
Overall, the Playstation VR is an inspiring piece of kit that will allow you to take a sneak peak at what console based gaming may evolve into in the near future. Is it the best VR headset? We don’t know, but it certainly will be a contender!
While this headset is not currently available, you can place a pre-order and be one of the first to own this exciting VR headset!
What do you think of our list? Feel we missed something out? Let us know in the comments below!