5 things to consider before buying a VR headset


5 things to consider before buying a VR headset

Whether you already own a powerful gaming PC or need a VR headset that works independently without any additional hardware, this buying guide will help you find the right virtual reality (VR) headset for your gaming or entertainment needs.

There are a ton of VR headsets on the market, and if you're new to VR, they all look the same, but you can use five key factors to identify the right headset:

  • price
  • independent or tethered
  • wireless or wired
  • Tracking method
  • solve

The price of a VR headset depends on several factors, such as whether you can use it without a PC, resolution, control methods, and tracking methods. You can buy some VR headsets for a few hundred dollars, while others cost thousands. The most expensive VR headsets often require expensive computers to use.

The following is a general guide to what to expect:

price range What you can expect
<$300 Standalone, you can choose to use online, if you don't have online PC, you can't play high-end games, inside-out tracking, 1832x1920 resolution per eye
$300-600 Tethered, not wireless, may not include controllers or tracking, outside-in tracking, 1440x1600 resolution per eye
USD 600-1000 Tethered, not wireless, may not include controller or tracking system, outside-in tracking, resolution 2880x1600 per eye
USD 1000-1200 Tethered rather than wireless, will include controller and tracking system, outside-in tracking, 2448 × 2448 resolution per eye
$1300-1600 Tethered, wireless, will include controller and tracking system, outside-in tracking, 2448×2448 resolution per eye
US$1700-3000 Standalone or tethered, wireless, includes controller and tracking system, inside-out tracking, 2880x2880 resolution per eye
$3000+ Standalone or tethered, wireless, includes controller and tracking system, inside-out tracking, resolution 3660x3200 per eye

Typically, VR headsets require a separate computer to run games, but some models have built-in computing power. Some VR headsets are coming soon that can do both: with or without a standalone computer, but they haven't become commonplace yet.

When a VR headset is connected to a computer, the computer does all the heavy lifting and sends video and audio signals to the headset. This means that performance depends on how powerful your PC is. Connecting a VR headset to a powerful PC will result in higher frame rates, better graphics, and more characters and objects on screen simultaneously. Some games will only run on a VR-enabled PC, not directly on a standalone VR headset.

If you don't have a VR-capable PC and aren't interested in investing in one, standalone VR headsets offer the same basic experience but are slightly more streamlined. Many of the same games are available, but with graphics and gameplay tweaks that allow them to run on the less powerful hardware built into standalone VR headsets.

When you connect a VR headset to a VR-enabled PC, you can do this using a single cable, multiple cables, or a wireless connection. Some VR headsets require HDMI, data cables, and power cords, while others only require a USB-C cable to transfer everything. In either case, the cable needs to stay connected at all times. This can cause confusion during gameplay, especially if you move around the room while playing.

If you want the best, most realistic, and safest VR experience, wireless connectivity is what you need. By definition, standalone VR headsets are wireless, but some tethered VR headsets can connect to a VR-enabled PC via a wireless connection. In some cases, you'll need to purchase separate wireless peripherals to turn a VR headset into a wireless VR headset.

All VR headsets have limited built-in tracking capabilities, allowing you to turn your head in the real world and simultaneously turn your view in the virtual world. VR headsets need to track your movements in the real world to allow for additional movement, such as moving your head back and forth, or even standing up and walking around.

There are two types of VR motion tracking: outside-in and inside-out. These names refer to how your movements are tracked in the real world.

Outside-in systems use base stations placed on your desk or around the room. The base station then tracks you, or the VR headset tracks the base station, depending on the specific technology the headset uses. Combined, two or three of these trackers can monitor and calculate your movements in real time, allowing you to move through a virtual space by moving in the real world, called room-scale VR.

The inside-out system uses sensors built into the VR headset to track the relative position of objects in the environment and use that to determine the direction and speed of your movement. These headsets can also track the position of the VR controller in your hand. These systems are easier to set up and use because they work right out of the box without any additional setup, but they aren't always as accurate.

If you're new to VR and want something that works, inside-out is a better tracking method because there's no complicated setup process. If you want full body tracking, outside to inside is more flexible.

The perfect resolution for a VR headset is about 8K per eye, but that's not yet an option. Generally speaking, the higher the resolution, the better. The problem is that the display in a VR headset is very close to your eyes, much closer than you would normally hold a phone, so the lower resolution makes it more likely that you can make out individual pixels. When this happens, you'll feel like you're looking at the world through a screen door.

Here are some examples of display resolutions for various VR headsets:

  • PlayStation VR : 960x1080
  • Valve index : 1440x1600
  • Metatask 2 : 1832x1920
  • Varjo XR-3 : 1920x1920
  • PlayStation VR2 : 2000x2040
  • Metatask 3 : 2064x2208
  • HP Reverb G2 : 2160x2160
  • HTC VIVE Focus 3 and Vive Pro 2 : 2448x2448
  • PiCrystal : 2880x2880
  • Apple Vision Pro : 3660x3200

At 1440x1600 and below, the screen door effect is very obvious. At 1832x1920 the effect is significantly reduced, but still noticeable. Some people no longer notice the screen door effect at 2448x2448 resolution, but different people report different experiences.

Any serious gamer should consider buying a VR headset, but so should creatives, movie buffs, and many others. As VR headsets become more common, they will become increasingly valuable for socializing, working, and shopping, among other activities.

Here are some people who should consider buying a VR headset:

  • game player. If you've never played a game in VR, you're missing out on a new experience. You can play many of your old favorite games in VR, but there are also a lot of games that can only be played in VR.
  • Creative people. Virtual reality isn’t just for gaming; It can be a huge creative outlet. Whether you want to doodle in a 3D art app or quickly prototype in real time, VR is a game-changer.
  • Movie fans. If you want a true theater experience at home, VR headsets can provide a better experience than most home theater setups, with a lower initial investment.
  • Early adopters. If you're early into VR, it's time to upgrade. The field is changing rapidly, so it's time to take advantage of wireless playback, improved resolution and everything else.
  • Perseverant. If you were initially interested in VR but were hesitant due to low resolution, the screen door effect, or the cost of buying a VR-capable PC, it's time to take the plunge. The best VR headsets have eliminated the screen door effect, and you can get a standalone headset that doesn't even require a PC.

If you've never owned a VR headset before, you'll need to do some work to be ready and ready to use it as soon as it arrives. Here's a quick overview of what you can do immediately after purchasing and what you can do once your shipment arrives:

  • Make sure your computer meets minimum specifications . If you are using a tethered VR headset, your graphics card, RAM, and other hardware must meet the minimum specifications for the VR headset. If not, you will need to upgrade.
  • Identify and organize your VR gaming space . If your new headset supports room-scale gaming, consider setting up a dedicated VR area that's clear of obstacles and safe for you and others.
  • Purchase any necessary peripherals . If your VR headset uses outside-in tracking, make sure you have adequate tracking stations. You may also need to purchase a special HDMI cable or USB cable to play the game in online mode or purchase a separate controller.
  • If you wear glasses, check if the headphones are suitable for glasses . You may need to purchase a spacer to use the VR headset with the glasses, or the manufacturer may provide one for free upon request.
  • Make sure you are comfortable in VR . Sit back, relax and enjoy the experience before putting on your headphones for the first time. Some people experience discomfort, such as motion sickness or vertigo, and you don't want to stand up if you experience adverse reactions.

A VR headset is a device that you wear, like an oversized pair of glasses or goggles. The headset covers your eyes and contains two displays or a display that splits in half to show two images. Each image is shown to one of your eyes, preventing your eye from seeing the other image. Because each eye sees the image from a slightly different angle, your brain interprets the image as three-dimensional.

Some VR headsets are designed to be used with expensive VR-ready PCs; others have built-in computer hardware and do not require a separate PC.

  • Building something like an Oculus or PSVR at home is a daunting task, but you can make a basic VR headset that uses your phone as a display. The general structure of a DIY VR headset is a frame that blocks light and stabilizes the display, and two lenses that focus the image on either side. You can find templates online and use materials, including 3D printing plastic or cardboard.

  • You can clean most parts of your headset using the same method you would clean your keyboard or any other PC peripheral. However, you should always be careful when cleaning your lenses. Use a microfiber cloth and water to avoid scratches or cloudiness.