best VR headstes 2017 Review
If you hang around this comparison, you’ve heard about it. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung VR, Playstation VR … So many names you are probably familiar with if you’re interested in virtual reality headphones. And this is the problem: there is a plethora. Between stand-alone headsets, those using a smartphone or models using augmented reality technology, one would almost get lost. Fortunately, your wanderings on the Internet have taken you to the right place.
To help you find your way through this range of offers, features and services, Pharazone testers have listed, referenced and compared all available or advertised VR helmets. You will find them all in our large comparative table, a little lower, preceded by our top VR helmets most popular in their sector. And if you still do not understand anything, you can always check out our virtual reality helmet purchase guide. It will help you to learn more about these devices, will enlighten you on the criteria on which to compare them and to find the helmet that suits you. Stay seated, keep your arms inside the vehicle, pharazone.com takes care of everything.
Oculus Rift: the essential virtual reality helmet
Let’s face it: if there’s one headset that most people know, it’s this one. The Oculus Rift was the one that launched the VR helmet race, it remains one of the most successful and best known to date. Redeemed by Facebook, it is the most extensive headset and probably the one that offers the greatest compatibility in terms of PC applications and accessories. The sensors are already integrated in the headset and it has in addition a webcam.
HTC Vive: one of the most successful
Produced by HTC and Valve, HTC Vive is undeniably part of the top of this top. The technical characteristics are essentially identical to those of Oculus. Its advantage lies in its partnership with Valve, the originator of the Steam video game download platform, 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 are positioned outside.
Playstation VR by Sony, headset for game console
It is not just the PC in life. There’s also the Playstation. Console players could grimace at the overabundance of the offer of VR headphones for PCs. Let them stop, because Sony’s Morpheus Project designates a virtual reality helmet specially designed for the PS4, which has nothing to envy its competitors. Very good bill (our journalists loved it at the Paris Game Week), it has the advantage of being the only compatible with the Playstation at the moment. Disadvantage: it is probably compatible with nothing else …
Google Cardboard: the most economical
Normally, at the sight of the product, you must have figured out why the Google Cardboard is the cheapest on the market. It is sold at 30 €, but it can be found at 2 € only. As a result, do not expect a high quality product. The image quality offered by our smartphones is not yet there and the immersion of the helmet leaves something to be desired, due in particular to the lack of adjustments that allows the light to filter on the sides. Not really the most comfortable model either. In short, an economic headset that is especially interesting for those who would like to test the virtual reality without too much hands in the portfolio, or for developers who would like to create 3D applications and test them quickly.
Samsung Gear VR, VR mobile headset (for smartphone) high-end
Here we enter the mobile VR helmet part, which means that it is actually your smartphone that gives the illusion of 3D. While most of these models offer perfective image quality, the Samsung Gear VR plays on quality. Available for a hundred euros, it proposes a good immersion and a good reactivity but is compatible only with some Samsung Galaxy S6. It also has the advantage of offering access to the Oculus Store.
Hololens from Microsoft: augmented reality helmet
We had to talk about it. While this comparative is primarily dedicated to virtual reality helmets, augmented reality devices exist and are being talked about in the same areas (video games, you guessed). In this sector, hard to miss out on the Hololens, the headset created by Microsoft. Here, the virtual image is added to reality, giving the impression of evolving in the midst of particularly realistic holograms. Difficult to know all the possibilities in video games, even if an advertising sport had already let us see a version of Minecraft in augmented reality.
purchase guide: How to choose my vr headsets?
What is a virtual reality helmet?
What if we set out on a good basis? A VR headset for example, what is it? In the jargon, VR (sometimes referred to as RV, because anglophones always do everything upside down) refers to the technology of Virtual Reality.
Stop right away if you start thinking about Matrix. Remember helmets offering an immersive and three dimensional virtual reality vision of when you were little? Well, that’s it. The concept is not new, since the most geeks of you may have already tried the Virtual Boy, one of the first VR helmets offered by Nintendo … in 1995. We are no longer here today . The technology makes it possible to create a realistic virtual environment and (almost) without latency, which explains the overabundance of the offer.
How it works ?
Not surprisingly, the 3D impression is simulated by a slight shift of certain elements of the image on each of the two eyes. This is enough to give the impression to the user to be in another place, a factitious reality. By adding motion detectors in the process, it is even possible to visit this virtual universe and explore every nook and cranny. For a long time, the main problem of this kind of apparatus was the latency between the movement of the head and the reaction of the image. Today, this delay has been so diminished that it is imperceptible, creating the illusion of a true reality.
That being said, not all RV helmets work the same way. Some even differ radically from others. In general, we can divide them into two main families:
The “autonomous” RV helmets
– On the one hand, autonomous headsets embody all the technology necessary for 3D vision. Just connect them to the computer or the console to enjoy all its capabilities. Thus, these devices (which include the majority of helmets included in this comparison, such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive) are more often directed towards video games. The embedded technology is powerful, allowing a high image quality, and can be coupled with additional sensors such as motion detectors.
– On the other hand, we find the so-called cardboards. These are much more affordable than their competitors, since they do not embody any technology. The principle is to use the user’s smartphone as a VR headset. The structure of the cardboard makes it possible to place the phone in front of the eyes of the spectator and to separate the received image in two. Using a special application, which will diffuse two slightly shifted images, one finds the illusion of the 3D of the classic VR helmets. The motion detectors and the phone gyroscope complete the immersion to immerse the user in his virtual reality. If these devices are much more accessible and easy to use than the first category, it is not surprising to realize that their performances are less impressive and less focused on gaming. Nevertheless, the price of some of these objects is so low (it can be found for a few euros) that it is not unlikely that more and more applications or mobile video games are starting to exploit it. Case to follow.
What’s the point ?
What is a video game console? To have fun, quite simply. In the same perspective, the virtual reality helmet is the fantasy of every gamer for decades. Not difficult to understand the full potential they offer the immersion film industry or video game industry.
Yet, it is not just the entertainment world that this technology interests. Training is one of the environments most affected by these devices. There are already several training applications in the heavy industry sector or hazardous operations. Firefighters are already using it, as are all those working in the field of nuclear sites, refineries or oil rigs.
Another professional sector to be interested in VR helmets is that of distribution. Real estate agencies, for example, have already started offering apartment tours without moving from their chairs, all through VR helmets. In the same vein, architects could present their project to their clients before starting the initial work. There is also a suggestion that travel agencies could offer 3D tours of hotels or tourist sites to interested parties.
But hey, you do not need to lie. If the professional applications are numerous, the particular uses will be mostly turned around the video game. Let us not dither any longer and enter the heart of the subject.
How to choose your virtual reality helmet?
It is that of VR helmets, there exists to the shovel. In addition to the technology used, device compatibility, proposed content and pricing often differ from model to model. It is not enough to have a comparative table before the eyes, it is necessary to know the different criteria of selection.
This is the point to watch first. Gamers already know that before buying a game, there are some checks to be made. Compatibility with its console or the minimum system requirements of its computer are the most illustrative examples. The same process must apply before purchasing a virtual reality helmet.
Some models will only work with certain machines. The Sony Morpheus proves ideal for PS4 players for example, while the Oculus will only work on bikes running under Windows 7 at least. Also, depending on the size of some cardboards, not all smartphones will be compatible with all models. For that, we can not help you. It is up to you to check with which headsets your hardware is compatible.
Who says differences in brands says differences in services. Here, it is the range of applications proposed that will have to be monitored, because from one support to another, it will not necessarily be the same.
If you have no expectation about your games, then do not bother to linger here. On the other hand, if you are an avid user of Steam and Valve is integrating the RV into their games, chances are that only his Vive helmet is optimized for their use. It will be checked once the games in question come out, but this is a point to keep in mind.
The choice is a little easier on mobile headsets, since compatible applications depend on the smartphone (which normally must already be in your possession).
Obviously the price has its role to play. Few tips to give here: look at your budget and adjust your choice accordingly. In general, stand-alone headsets (for computers and consoles) cost substantially more than mobile versions, which can go down to a few euros.
A bonus is added to all the accessories provided for the helmet type. A controller, glove or mask can dramatically increase the gaming experience but add a few numbers to the note. Ideally, their purchase is to be expected before purchasing the helmet.