Best Virtual Reality Headset: HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift vs Gear VR vs Playstation VR & More

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In the 90s, virtual reality headsets ranged from simulation systems to 3D models on computer screens. Today, when we say virtual reality, we’re referring to virtual reality headsets that you wear and experience, like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

Using the label virtual reality headset for every pair of goggles makes it seem like all of them are created equal, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ll learn why some are more expensive than others, and why some of the inexpensive ones don’t give you the true virtual reality experience.

What Is Virtual Reality & How Does It Work?

Mashable has this super helpful two and a half minute video explaining what virtual reality (VR) is, and how it works. They also show some examples of what it looks like through the goggles. We suggest you watch it before reading our reviews if you do not know what VR is. Then you can read more about our top picks and the pros and cons and pricing for each headset.

Samsung Gear VR Review

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#1

At a great price point, the Samsung Gear VR is our #1 pick for the best VR headset. Tons of Samsung users are purchasing the Gear VR to test out virtual reality without the high dollar. It holds your Galaxy phone, which is why the price is so drastically lower than competitors’. If you’re not a Galaxy owner, you’re outta luck and can’t use this set. This is a great starting point if you’re interested in testing out VR.

Pros

Cons

  • Less expensive than competitors
  • Comfortable
  • Easy setup
  • Lots of content
  • Not very heavy
  • Not as good as PC/console based VR sets
  • Only compatible with Samsung Galaxy phones
  • Video quality is a little grainy

Pricing

Playstation VR Review

Playstation VR#2

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The Sony Playstation VR launched Fall 2016 and has quickly moved into our top three. Early reviews are looking pretty solid, which is why we’re comfortable putting them at the #2 spot. While it’s more expensive than the Samsung Gear VR, it is less expensive than the typical $500-$800 VR systems on the market.

Pros

Cons

  • Comfortable
  • Less expensive than HTS or Oculus Rift
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of content
  • Resolution isn’t as good as others
  • Still fairly new

Pricing

HTC Vive Review

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#3

The HTC Vive was previously our winner for best VR headset, but Samsung and Playstation have really stepped it up. This is the only VR headset that lets you walk around the room while playing your virtual reality games.

How do you not run into objects? Great question! Vive’s Chaperone system has virtual boundaries pop up to stop you from running into a wall in your playing space. Vive’s motion controllers really set this apart from its competitors since you can use your hands to pick up objects and whatnot.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy setup
  • 360° room-scale
  • Great motion controllers
  • Good game library
  • Front facing camera lets you “return” to the real world briefly
  • No nauseous feeling
  • Pricey

Pricing

VR Headset Reviews

Below are the rest of our VR headset reviews that didn’t make our top three in our best VR goggles.

Homido | LG 360 VR | Oculus RiftOnePlus Loop VR | Sulon Q

Homido Review

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If you’re new to VR goggles, this may be a good gateway headset for you. The Homido works with any 4″ to 6″ iPhone or Android smartphone. At a price point of less than $100, you can get an idea if you really like the idea of playing virtual games or experiencing virtual reality.

Overall, these are incomparable to the serious, high-end players in this category, but if you’re a beginner and are looking for a cheap alternative to VR glasses, look no further.

Pros

Cons

  • Comfortable fit
  • Low price
  • Has no features that make it stand out from the competition
  • No cover around the foam so it wears down easily
  • Many reviewers say it’s not worth the money

Pricing

LG 360 VR Review

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The LG 360 VR leaks light in like the Oculus Rift, so we suggest if you have this headset that you turn the lights off and play in a dark room. Overall, we couldn’t find any positive reviews of this VR headset. In fact, one site we read even said a pro was “good gift for someone you dislike.” We can’t recommend this at this time.

Pros

Cons

  • None found
  • Must own LG G5
  • Uncomfortable
  • Poor performance
  • Not good if you wear glasses

Pricing

Oculus Rift Review

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The Oculus Rift is what started the virtual headset mayhem. To use the Oculus Rift you sit in a chair, facing one direction (for the most part) and use an Xbox controller to move throughout the virtual world. There have been some users complaining of a motion sickness due to the motion they are seeing combined with not physically moving.

While the Oculus Rift gets the job done for VR, sitting still is not as realistic as the HTC Vive, which allows you to walk around. There are plans for the Oculus Touch motion controllers to launch in 2016, which would give more of a “rawness” to the games. The fit of the Oculus Rift’s face plate can be a bit odd. If you wear it tight, the lens fogs up, but if you wear it loose, light enters the view. This may not sound like a big deal, but it does decrease the realness of the virtual reality.

How can you avoid this? We suggest you wear it loosely and play in a dark room.

Pros

Cons

  • Includes an Xbox One controller
  • Design is aesthetically pleasing
  • Lightweight
  • Built-in headphones with great sound
  • Easy to setup
  • On backorder
  • Lens fogs up if you wear it tight
  • Cannot play and move around at the same time (stationary playing)
  • Motion sickness for some games

Pricing & Tech Specs

OnePlus Loop VR Review

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OnePlus Loop VR was supposed to release in June 2016 but was delayed. It looks like it came out in late July but early reviews are mediocre at best. We will update our review as we gather more information.

Pricing

  • $399 MSRP

Sulon Q Review

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The Sulon Q is another VR headset that suffered from failure to launch in Spring 2016, so we have no information about its performance.

Pricing

  • Not announced at time of writing

Virtual Reality Ain’t Cheap!

The hardest part when choosing VR goggles is deciding how much you want to spend. While some of these approach the $1,000 mark, others are much less expensive. It depends on what type of experience you’re seeking. Or if watching reality TV is more up your alley than virtual reality, check out our best home theater projectors and wireless surround sound systems for a killer at home viewing experience.

What type of virtual reality headset do you covet?

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She is one of Exploring Life's Mysteries most experienced researchers. When reviewing products and services her natural curiosity helps her dig deep and unearth the truth behind the marketing. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly grew up camping at the nearby lake with her family when she was a young girl. It wasn't until she met her husband that she rediscovered her love for the outdoors and began taking regular vacations to the national parks. Some of Kimberly's favorite memories include camping in a tent, hiking beautiful terrains, sitting around a campfire eating s'mores and sipping on a cold craft beer.

After three years of dating and exploring different regions of the U.S., Kimberly's husband proposed to her with the help of Exploring Life's Mysteries' online engagement content that she had researched and written. Not only was he able to design her ring himself, he was able to do so at great cost savings.

Kimberly likes starting her days with a warm cup of Nespresso, and she enjoys going for walks with her family and hound mix, Sally. In the evenings, she likes indulging in a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate while cozying up by the fire pit in her backyard.

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