Virtual Reality headset is a great tool to escape from the environment into the invented world. Whether you use such devices for work or entertainment, you are looking for the optimal solution that will suit you. We’ll try to help you with that.
Top 5 VR Headsets to Buy in 2023
Modern technology offers numerous headset options. And suppose you dive into the topic unprepared. In that case, the possibilities and the number of existing options can be a little frightening, especially if you compare the characteristics of devices without context. Still, the best option is to use a headset that immerses you in the world of Virtual Reality as easily and conveniently as possible and is as intuitive as possible. However, there is no perfect universal option; everything is based on your requirements and preferences. But to find something for yourself, you need to immerse yourself in the search, so let’s try to start somewhere. Consider the most popular samples that are worthy of attention. At the end of the article, you will also find a list of the most common terms related to best VR Headsets.
1. Meta Quest 2
Yes, this is the same headset as Oculus Quest 2. Meta owns Oculus, and thanks to rebranding from Facebook, it destroyed the Oculus brand.
But let’s talk about the headset itself. As long as you keep it level with your eyes in the center, Quest 2 provides a clear and high-quality image. You can either play games specially designed for the headset or stream them from your PC using the Oculus Link and a compatible USB Type-C cable. The original cable is quite expensive, but users claim that you can use a cheaper cable. However, it is worth noting that some of them do not have the necessary length, bandwidth, or capacity, like more expensive cables.
Compared to Oculus Link, Quest 2 has significant improvements. It has evolved into a versatile Swiss knife in Virtual Reality, capable of perfectly creating Virtual Reality in motion and playing games compatible with SteamVR and Oculus Rift. Thanks to the latest update, it now supports a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz, making the game process even more enjoyable.
Technically, there are two storage options: 256GB and 128GB. There are also 64 GB models, but Meta has replaced it with a 256 GB model at the same price, so we do not recommend choosing a 64 GB model if it is not much cheaper than the manufacturer’s suggested retail price.
Quest 2 is one of the fastest headsets on this list. With built-in Inside-Out tracking and hand tracking, you can go from unpacking to running a VR in just a few minutes. During the first setup, you’ll need to remove the headset, remember your Wi-Fi passwords, turn the headset back on, and then wait for a few updates. It’s a little tricky, but you only need to do it once.
However, Oculus Quest 2 has a serious problem: to immerse yourself in Virtual Reality with this headset, you need a Facebook account to log in. If you’re not a fan of Meta (native Facebook) practice, you’d better scroll down to find a VR headset to invest in.
If that doesn’t bother you, Quest 2 is a quick and easy device to convert to VR. Most connected headsets require the use of one or two external sensors. Oculus Quest 2 is a stand-alone device capable of tracking the movement of the controller, hands, and headset without needing an additional kit, as its predecessor did.
As a versatile Virtual Reality headset for a wide range of uses, Quest 2 has no equal. And the fact that this is also the cheapest Virtual Reality headset we recommend only adds points to it.
2. Valve Index
Valve Index boasts some of the best visual effects among all mass commercially available Virtual Reality headsets with display resolutions equal to Vive Pro, Quest, and Odyssey+, but in combination with a refresh rate of 120 Hz (up to 144 Hz in currently unsupported experimental mode). The viewing angle of 130 degrees is also the best in its class, and there is practically no noticeable grid effect inside the headset (see VR headsets Vocabulary).
It is impossible not to mention how Index transmits sound. Its speakers provide excellent three-dimensional surround sound, somehow also providing a certain level of sound isolation without completely blocking out external noises. With zero pressure on your ears, you get less tired of being in a VR for a long time, and they don’t transmit audio to the rest of the room.
Another distinctive feature of the Index is its new controllers, which simultaneously perform the functions of typical motion controllers and hand/finger trackers. Index controllers are mounted on your arm, meaning you can completely free your arm without worrying if you lose them. Currently, not many games use finger-tracking, which means that in addition to Aperture Hand Labs and Half Life: Alyx, this feature may seem a bit tricky. Nevertheless, there is great potential for future games.
And all these premium features have their price. It is the best virtual reality headset on the market… if you ignore value propositions.
3. HTC Vive Pro 2
HTC Vive Pro 2 has several upgrades, making it one of the most impressive core options. Its native resolution of 2448 x 2448 pixels is incredible and combined with a 120 Hz refresh rate and 120-degree viewing angle. It provides one of the best viewing experiences.
Vive Pro 2 is one of the most popular headsets with the highest resolution, and it also has a significant advantage over Quest 2, which has 3664 x 1920. It’s excellent for high-quality games, but it also means you need high-quality textures and high-resolution models to truly enjoy this headset’s benefits.
And, of course, at these resolutions, you’ll need high-quality hardware to get the most out of this headset. HTC recommends the Nvidia GeForce RTX 20 or Radeon RX 5000 series graphics processor to keep you running smoothly.
HTC has set up a satellite for Vive Pro 2 to ensure accurate controller tracking, which means you’ll need a lot of sockets to make it work. The complete starter kit includes a headset, two first-generation controllers, and a pair of Base Station 2.0 satellites.
Setup is challenging and requires satellites to be installed so that they don’t jump in response to your virtual actions. They come with wall brackets, which is probably the best solution. You will also need to place them near the sockets as each satellite needs to be plugged in, and you will also need an additional socket for the headset’s switching box.
The headset is available separately, which is helpful if you’re updating your first-generation settings. It is an expensive upgrade compared to the Valve Index and is not enough, except for an improved display, to justify this cost. However, if you’re looking for the best display, especially as an update, Vive Pro 2 is definitely the leader. It’s a pity that the starter kit is so expensive.
4. HP Reverb G2
HP Reverb G2 has won a place among the best Virtual Reality headsets, thanks in many ways to its fantastic resolution. If your basic setup requirement is image accuracy, this headset will not disappoint you. With the 2160 Reverb G2 resolution, you can completely eliminate the grid effect that can cause problems with some lower-resolution headsets, provided you have a powerful enough GPU to handle it.
The Reverb G2 tracking solution means that base stations are not required, which means easier setup, but it also has some drawbacks. Do not expect the headset to work well in a sunny or dark room as it requires very special lighting to place you in physical space properly.
Hand tracking is also somewhat limited without base stations, but HP compensates for this with IMU gyroscopic sensors, which involve movements outside the tracking area if they are smooth.
Some users have complained about problems with too much curvature of the face gasket, but there are 3D-printed solutions if it doesn’t fit properly. But we noted earless headphones (off-ear headphones) for incredible sound quality.
Reverb G2 may not have all the fancy features that some headsets have on the list, but it does have some great features that are worth the money.
5. HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is an attempt to solve some of the problems of the original HTC Vive Cosmos while maintaining the main characteristics of this model. Basically, these are dual 4.3-inch displays 1440 x 1700 operating at 90 Hz.
The headset comes in a set with Half-Life: Alyx and a 6-month subscription to Viveport Infinity, which at least means there are many things to try with your new headset.
The Cosmos Elite is essentially the original Cosmos with first-generation base stations and controllers, but the headset has another front panel attached. If you’ve already bought Cosmos, you can upgrade it with the new $200 front panel, though you’ll need to purchase your base stations separately to use it.
You will also need to allocate an area of at least 2×2 meters for use.
The overall hand tracking works well and the controllers, the same as in the original Vive, are quite handy.
The original starting price of Cosmos Elite was exorbitantly high, which is one of the reasons it didn’t get better on the list. However, if you are looking for a first-class Virtual Reality gaming experience, you will have to pay a certain amount for it, whatever solution you choose.
VR Headsets Vocabulary
For tracking your movements, your VR headset must use a method to determine both the headset itself and the controllers in your hands. The first VR headsets used so-called beacons, separate sensors, or position trackers connected to your PC.
It is the most accurate tracking method, but it’s cumbersome, and if they’re not installed permanently in one place in the room, you’ll need to set them up every time you want to play, including calibrating them every time.
Inside-out tracking means you don’t need external sensors because the headset can monitor both itself and the controllers around it. Initially, this method was not as sensitive and effective. Tracking and the method used are crucial for providing three degrees of freedom (the ability to look around in any direction in VR) or six degrees of freedom (the ability to look around and move your body in any direction in VR).
Field of view (FOV)
The field of view means the scale of the environment visible to the observer; in VR, it is the size of the game world seen on the displays. The wider viewing angle in the headset is an integral part of the immersion feeling.
Resolution is the measurement in pixels, horizontal and vertical, of an image or display. Higher resolution in virtual reality is important because the displays are located very close to the user’s eyes, highlighting uneven lines, pixelation, and grid effect.
The delay between action and response on headset displays. Low latency is important to reduce nausea in virtual reality, which manifests itself when there is a delay or trap between movement or gaze and display response.
The number of images the display can display per second is measured in hertz. A high refresh rate is important for VR, as is a delay, as a low refresh rate can cause attenuation (or even visibility of freezing), which can cause nausea.
Screen door effect (SDE)
VR Headsets Specifications
|Meta Quest 2||Valve Index||HTC Vive Pro 2||HP Reverb G2||
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
|Screen Resolution||3664 x 1920||2880 x 1600||4896 x 2448||4320 x 2160||2880 x 1700|
|Refresh rate (hz)||Up to 120Hz||120Hz, experimental 144Hz mode||120Hz||90Hz||90Hz|
|FOV (field of view) degrees||100 degrees||~130 degrees||120 degrees||~114 degrees||110 degrees|
|Weight (grams)||503g||809g||850 g||550g||702 g|
|Price||$399.99 (128GB) $499.00 (256GB)||1495||1340||579||749|
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