Guide and Comparison of Virtual & Augmented Reality Headsets

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6 Best VR Headsets in 2021

If you find yourself on this comparison, it is because you have already heard about it. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung VR, Playstation VR… So many names that are probably familiar to you if you are interested in virtual reality headsets. And that is the problem: there is a plethora of them. Between autonomous headsets, those operating via a smartphone or even models using augmented reality technology, we would almost get lost. Fortunately, your wanderings on the Internet have led you to the right place.

Comparison of the main virtual reality headsets

To help you find your way among all this diversity of offers, features and services, we have identified, referenced and compared all the VR headsets available or announced. You will find them all in our large comparison table, a little further down, preceded by our top of the most popular VR headsets in their sector. And if you still don’t understand it, you can always consult our buying guide dedicated to virtual reality headsets. It will help you learn more about these devices, enlighten you on the criteria on which to compare them and find the right headset for you.

Best VR headsets for your needs

Obviously, the choice of a virtual reality headset must be established according to different criteria. The price is obviously an important factor which will guide your choice but it is also and above all necessary to know your needs and the use that you want to make of it. Some headsets are designed for gaming and other forms of entertainment, while others are designed for professional use.

There are three main categories of virtual reality headsets. Headsets connected to a PC or game console. They are the most efficient but also the most expensive. Stand-alone helmets, more affordable and more practical, they are a little more limited in the experience. Finally, VR headsets that work with a smartphone. Much more accessible, they are however quite limited but present a good entry point to discover the potential of virtual reality.

Features to consider when buying a VR headset

Screen resolution is a very important parameter. The higher this is, the greater the immersion. With a fairly low resolution like that of a smartphone, the grid and pixilation effect is significant. The screens are in fact placed very close to the eyes. The field of vision is also a significant factor. The more the field of vision is reduced, the more the “tunnel vision” effect is important. There is not yet a VR headset that offers a field of view that covers the entirety of that of the human eye.

Knowing if the headset also offers a Room Scale is a parameter to be taken into consideration in order to be able to benefit from the movements in the experiments. Controllers and the possibilities offered by them are also very important for the interaction. Headphones and controllers with 6 degrees of freedom of movement will allow you to perform movements in six different directions and therefore ensure better immersion.

In terms of content, note that not all VR headsets are compatible with all applications on the market. For example, the Oculus Rift allows you to download games from the Oculus Store, while the HTC Vive is limited to the Steam catalog. Depending on the games and software that interest you, it is therefore important to check which headsets are compatible with this content.

Note also that for VR headsets connecting to a PC, the power and characteristics of the PC must be taken into account. It is very possible that you have to boost your computer with a more powerful video card, for example, to be able to use the headphones.

On the contrary, if you opt for a standalone VR headset, it becomes essential to check its technical sheet. The processor and RAM determine the power of the headset, while the battery defines its autonomy. The performance therefore varies a lot from one device to another.

TOP VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSETS

Oculus Rift: the must-have virtual reality headset

Let’s face it: if there’s one headset most people know about, it’s this one. The Oculus Rift was the one that started the race for VR headsets, it remains one of the most successful and best known to date. Oculus was bought by Facebook, and therefore has incomparable financial means to improve its device. The Rift is also the headset offering the greatest compatibility in terms of games and applications, in particular thanks to the Oculus exclusives.

Screen: OLED
FOV: 110 °
Resolution:
 1080 × 1200 per eye
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Oculus Store, Steam
Release:
 March 2016
Price: $399

Valve Index: the underdog of the creator of Steam

With the Index, Valve has put a real hit in the ant-hill of the VR headset market. Remember that the creator of Steam had already worked with HTC on the Vive, and is also the developer of the Lighthouse tracking system.

This experience allowed him to acquire real expertise, and this is felt when one puts on the Valve Index. The construction is of high quality, as is the integrated helmet, and the comfort is there although this device is heavier than average.

The controllers are one of the great strengths of this headset. They hang directly around the hand, so there is no need to hold them at all times. In addition, these accessories are customization to fit the shape of your hand. The controls are pressure sensitive, which makes VR games even more immersive.

The LCD screen offers a wide variety of refresh rates depending on the power of your computer. In the future, the two cameras and the USB expansion port should allow a hardware update of the headset although nothing has been communicated about this at the moment.

Screen:
FOV LCD: 130 °
Resolution:
 1440 × 1600 per eye
Refresh rate: 80/90/120 / 144Hz
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Steam
Release:
 June 2019
Price: $1079 

HTC Vive: one of the best PC VR headsets

Produced by HTC and Valve, HTC Vive is undeniably part of the top of this top. The technical characteristics are substantially identical to those of the Oculus Rift. Its advantage lies in its partnership with Valve, at the origin of the video game download platform Steam, a real heavyweight in the video game industry which can bring a lot of benefits to Vive users. Unlike the Rift, where the sensors were already included in the helmet, these must be positioned outside.

Screen: Dual AMOLED
FOV: 110 °
Resolution:
 1080 × 1200 per eye
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Tracking: 6DoF room scale
Content: Steam, Viveport
Release:
 April 2016
Price: $599

Oculus Rift S: the worthy successor of the Rift

Launched in 2016, the Oculus Rift was in dire need of a refresh. This will be the case with the Oculus Rift S. This headset concentrates various welcome improvements over its predecessor. In particular, there will be a single LCD screen offering 40% more pixels. New lenses will also correct one of the Rift’s flaws. The strap has also been redesigned to be more comfortable. It will be rigid and quite similar to that of the PlayStation VR.

Notable difference, the Oculus Rift S will not use Room Scale but will be equipped with 5 cameras for tracking. The controllers will be very similar and will offer 6 degrees of freedom. Other minor improvements are also at the rendezvous. Note that the Rift catalog will be fully compatible with the Rift S. Here too, a powerful PC will be needed to operate the headset. The release date is scheduled for spring 2019.

Screen:
FOV LCD: Not communicated at the moment
Resolution:
 2,560 x 1,440 pixels
Refresh rate: 80Hz
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Oculus Store, Steam
Release:
 Expected in spring 2019
Price:
 $399

HTC Vive Cosmos: a headset with mixed reviews

Launched in October 2019, the HTC Vive Cosmos presented itself as the replacement for the classic HTC Vive with attractive improvements such as a more comfortable design, an improved screen, an inside-out tracking system and thus its modularity. Deemed rather expensive (799 euros), the headset is praised for the quality of its screen and the definition of the image. However, the headset was quickly criticized for its disastrous tracking in darker rooms.

An issue that HTC has taken head on and promised to resolve through various updates. For many experts, the headset is judged as an excellent competitor to the Oculus Rift S. A very good choice for gamers who are looking for a high visual experience and comfort of use provided, they can afford it.

Screen:
FOV LCD : 110 degrees
Resolution:
 2.880 x 1.700 pixels
Refresh rate : 90Hz
Tracking : 6DoF
Content : Steam
Release:
 October 3, 2019
Price:
 $799

HTC Vive Pro: the 2nd generation for professionals and VR enthusiasts

Still produced by HTC, this new generation of VR headset has better OLED screens as well as an integrated audio headset. More comfortable and offering better resolution, the HTC Vive Pro is however oriented towards professionals. The headset is now available since April 2018. It also comes with an official adapter for wireless use. During CES 2019, HTC revealed the Vive Pro Eye: an HTC Vive Pro offering an Eye Tracking system.

Screen: OLED
FOV: 110 °
Resolution:
 1440 × 1600 per eye
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Steam, Viveport
Release:
 April 2018
Price: $1399


Lynx: VR and AR in a powerful autonomous headset

Lynx is a French headset that offers both virtual reality and augmented reality. This standalone mixed reality headset is the very first to feature the Snapdragon XR2 processor. This processor is simply twice as powerful as the one on board the Oculus Quest, which is to say the potential offered by the Lynx headset. On the display side, performance is also part of the game with its two LCD screens 1,600 x 1,600 pixels and a refresh rate of 90 Hz. Innovative lenses are also used.

The Lynx is also the very first autonomous headset to offer photo-realistic virtual elements which are superimposed on the environment thanks to these 6 cameras which are used both for tracking and for mixed reality. The helmet also uses Eye-Tracking technology and a 5G module for extremely fast connectivity. With an introductory price of 1,499 dollars, the headset is primarily aimed at professionals. It will be launched in the second quarter of 2020.

Screen:
FOV LCD: 90 degrees
Resolution:
 1,600 x 1,600 pixels
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Professional
Release:
 Q2 2020
Price:
 $1,499

Sony PlayStation VR, the PS4 VR headset for gamers

It’s not just the PC in life. There is also the PlayStation. Console players might wince at the glut of VR headsets for PCs. Let them stop, because the Sony PlayStation VR was specially designed for the PS4, and has nothing to envy its competitors. Very well made, it has the advantage of being the only one compatible with the PlayStation for the moment. Disadvantage: it is probably not compatible with anything else …

We also deplore an image quality inferior to that offered by headsets for PC, a tracking system and controllers that leave something to be desired, or the inability to play standing up. Despite everything, thanks to its PS4 compatibility and a very good catalog of games, the PSVR is the best-selling “high-end” VR headset to date far ahead of the Rift and the Vive.

Screen: OLED
FOV: 100 °
Resolution:
 960 × 1080 per eye
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Content: PlayStation Store
Release:
 November 2017

Price: $159.90

Google Cardboard: the most affordable iPhone / Android VR headset

Normally, from the sight of the product, you should have understood why Google’s Cardboard is the cheapest on the market. It sells for € 30, but it can be found for only € 2. As a result, you should not expect a high-quality product. The image quality offered by our smartphones is not there yet and the immersion of the helmet leaves something to be desired, in particular due to the lack of settings which allow light to filter through the sides. Not really the most comfortable model either. In short, an economical headset which is especially interesting for those who would like to test virtual reality without putting too much hand in the wallet, or for developers who would like to create 3D applications and test them quickly.

Samsung Gear VR, the high-end mobile VR headset (for smartphones)

Here we enter the part of mobile VR headsets, which means that it is actually your smartphone that gives the illusion of 3D. While most of these models offer perfect image quality, Samsung’s Gear VR plays on quality. Available for a hundred euros, it offers good immersion and good responsiveness but is only compatible with the Samsung Galaxy S6, S7, Note 5 and 7. It also has the advantage of offering access to the Oculus Store.

In March 2017, Samsung presented a new iteration of its Gear VR to accompany the release of its new flagship, the Galaxy S8. The headset does not change drastically but will now be delivered with a Bluetooth controller.

Dell Visor: the most stylish Windows Mixed Reality headset

Without a doubt, the Dell Visor will be the most aesthetically polished headset in the Windows Mixed Reality line. It is equipped with a sweatband that supports the front and back of the head. More hygienic than a classic headband, the inside of the helmet is easy to clean after each use.

Dell has found the solution to the recurring problem of VR headsets, namely cables that intermingle in the user’s legs. With the push of a button, you can decide to run the cable front or back so you never get tripped up. Available at the end of the year for 510 euros. Hopefully for Dell that the delay will not be too hard to catch up with compared to other brands which have already released their own WMR headphones, like Acer for example.

Screen:  LCD
Cable:  4 meters
FOV:  105 °
Resolution:  2880 x 1440
Release:  October 17, 2017
Price:  From $510

ASUS HC102: The Windows Mixed Reality headset that’s really different

Thanks to its futuristic design and its visor made up of triangles intertwined with each other, Asus manages to pull out of the game. Anyone who has already had this experience knows, sharing the same virtual reality headset with friends, posing some hygienic problems. Indeed, we sweat a lot in a VR headset. Asus had the good idea to cover the internal band, the one that is in contact with your face, with a quick-drying anti-bacterial surface. This avoids getting too hot, but also leaving traces of body moisture after several tens of minutes of play. That was for the aesthetic side and the choice of materials. In terms of hardware, Asus does nothing like the others once again and chooses to equip its ASUS HC102 with a single 3K 2880 × 1440 screen rather than two 1440 × 1440 screens.

Screen:  LCD
Cable:  4 meters
FOV:  105 °
Resolution:  2880 x 1440
Release:  Spring 2018
Price:  From $449

Acer Windows Mixed Reality AH101: mixed reality according to Microsoft

With the new Windows 10 operating system sound updateMicrosoft is banking on virtual reality and augmented reality. To support developers, the Redmond firm, in partnership with the manufacturer Acer, offers a developer edition of a mixed reality headset. The device has two liquid crystal displays with a resolution of 1440 × 1440 pixels each, with a refresh rate of 90 Hz (native). 

Screen:  LCD
Cable:  4 meters
FOV:  105 °
Resolution:  2880 x 1440

HP VR1000: the cheapest and strongest WMR headset

If the WMR headsets are more alike than the others, HP still managed to stand out thanks to a shocking argument: a lower price than the competition. Indeed, the headsets of Asus, Acer, and Lenovo are at 449 euros against only 349 euros for this WMR headset. HP also scores points for the quality of the materials used to manufacture the product. Just like the Dell Visor, the headband of the headset is fully covered with sweat-wicking fleece. Also, for convenience, the HDMI cable can be detached for storage. A solid helmet, of good quality and less expensive than the competition, released at the end of 2018

Screen:  LCD
Cable: 
 4 meters
FOV: 
 105 °
Resolution: 
 2880 x 1440
Output:
 Available
Price: 
 From $349

Lenovo Explorer: the most comfortable Windows Mixed Reality headset

Again, WMR helmets all look the same, hard to tell apart, especially with identical specs. However, this virtual reality headset offers a fully padded headband for more user comfort. Always with the idea of ​​improving the gaming experience, the brand has decided to integrate more fan in its helmet to better circulate the air and therefore sweat less during gaming sessions.

Screen:  LCD
Cable: 
 4 meters
FOV: 
 105 °
Resolution: 
 2880 x 1440
Output:
 Available
Price: 
 From $349

AUTONOMOUS VIRTUAL REALITY HEADSETS

Pico Neo CV: the autonomous and independent helmet

New to the VR headset market, the Chinese Pico has chosen to strike a blow by offering a completely autonomous headset. Forget the PC and its string of cables or the smartphone and its average autonomy. Pico relies on headphones, most of the hardware of which has been relocated to a wired controller connected to the headphones. Running under a fork of Android, the Pico Neo CV should be able to benefit from the VR applications available on the PlayStore as well as from dedicated software. Note that, not content with being independent, the Pico Neo can also be connected to a PC to take advantage of the tracking kit developed by the brand. 

Screen: AMOLED
FOV: 102 °
Resolution:
 1500 × 1500 per eye
Refresh rate: 90Hz
Processor: Snapdragon 820 + 4GB RAM
Storage space: MicroSD up to 128GB
Battery life: 2.5 hours
Tracking: 6DoF
Content: Google Play
Output:
 January 2017

Price: $295

Oculus Go: the standalone Facebook headset that democratizes VR

The Oculus Go is a standalone VR headset, which works without needing to be connected to a PC or smartphone. All the components necessary for its operation are on board. In addition, unlike the Rift headset, the Go’s bindings are made entirely of fabric, which is very comfortable to wear.

The Oculus Go is a great standalone VR headset, maybe even the best. Perfect for small budgets who want to venture into virtual reality at a lower price. Facebook has won the gamble of a virtual reality headset with flying colors. Be careful, however, autonomous virtual reality headsets are not yet as good in terms of graphics and immersion as high-end headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. No doubt, the release of this headset marked the year 2018 with regard to the democratization of VR.

Screen: LCD
Cable: 
 without cable
FOV:  110 °
Resolution: 
 1440 p
Output:
 Available Oculus Go
Price: 32GB version   at $219/64GB version   at  $269  Battery life  : two hours for video games, two and a half hours for 360 ° video

Oculus Quest: A wireless and PC-less Oculus Rift

The Oculus Quest presented by Facebook will be released in Spring 2019. It will have the same game catalog as the Rift. A real revolution in the world of VR, we will finally have a high-end virtual reality headset that will work wirelessly and without a PC. A standalone Oculus Rift . It will come with two controllers that provide 6 degrees of freedom of movement.

Screen: OLED
Cable:
 USB-C
FOV 😕
Resolution:
 1600 × 1400 per eye
Released:
 Spring 2019 Oculus Quest
Price:  $399

HTC Vive Focus: the high-end standalone HTC VR headset

Available since early 2018 in China, the HTC Vive Focus was finally launched globally in November 2018 . However, at this time, it is only offered as a developer edition.

It is a standalone VR headset with a 3K definition AMOLED screen. It draws its power from a Snapdragon 835 mobile processor. Its main strength is an inside-out tracking system (without external sensors) 6DoF (six degrees freedom of movement). In fact, this device is presented more as a competitor of the Oculus Quest than as a rival of the Oculus Go. The applications are purchased on Viveport, the content store created by HTC.

Screen: AMOLED
FOV: 110 °
Resolution:
 2880 × 1600
Refresh rate: 75Hz
Processor: Snapdragon 835
Storage space: MicroSD up to 2TB
Battery life: 3 hours
Tracking: 6DoF Inside-Out
Content: Viveport
Cable: USB-C
Output:
  November 2018

Price: $649

 

HEADSETS OF AUGMENTED REALITY

Vuzix Blade: the successor to the AR Google Glass glasses?

Since the appearance of Google Glass, the tech world has dreamed of a chimera which bears the name of “augmented reality glasses”. Presented at CES 2018, the Vuzix Blades could be the long-awaited Grall of the AR world. In partnership with Amazon, the glasses integrate the intelligent assistant Alexa. They are able to display various information such as the GPS track and certain phone notifications such as SMS and calls on the lenses.

Screen:  LCD
Camera: 8 megapixels
Weight: 85 grams
Release: Current 2018
Price:  From $1000

Microsoft’s HoloLens: the augmented reality headset

We had to talk about it. Even if this comparison is mainly dedicated to virtual reality headsets, augmented reality devices exist and are talked about in the same areas (video games, you guessed it). In this sector, it’s hard to miss the HoloLens, the headset created by Microsoft. Here, the virtual image is added to reality, giving the impression of evolving in the middle of particularly realistic holograms. Difficult to know all the possibilities in terms of video games, even if an advertising sport had already let us see a version of Minecraft in augmented reality.

Magic Leap One: the highly anticipated augmented reality glasses

Since 2011, the company has been developing a secret augmented reality glasses project. After several fundraising events, each more incredible than the last, the company has promised wonders for these new augmented glasses. Since August 2018, the Magic Leap One is finally available in the United States. In the end, the device is not as convincing as expected. In particular, he fishes with a disappointing field of vision. However, it is mostly the apps and content that developers will create for this headset that will determine its commercial success in a global launch.

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