The ability to be a part of the story used to be in the realm of science fiction. However, that is no longer the case. Since the 1980s, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets have emerged to make that possible. These headsets immerse the user in a game or entertainment by creating a virtual environment. The user becomes involved in the story, game, or movie. In a way, they are diving into a virtual world.
Researchers are even looking for how to include taste and smell in the experience. A typical VR headset consists of a head-mounted display and stereo sound. There are also embedded sensors for tracking head motion. While some need a connection to a computer to run apps like games, others require the user to clip a cellphone to the frontal part of the headset.
Several VR headsets have had commercial success in the market. The modern age of VR headsets started with Palmer Luckey, who created the Oculus Rift VR device. This headset was so successful that Facebook later bought the company for $2 billion.
In this article, we will compare the various VR headsets and explain which is the best.
H-end VR headsets
Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 VR headset has a release date of October 2020. Oculus, a division of Facebook Inc., manufactured it.
Price: 250,000 naira
Specifications: Other VR headsets need a PC, but the Oculus Quest 2 is a standalone device. The CPU is a Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processor, while the operating system is Android-based. The headset comes with two six-degree-of-freedom (6DOF) controllers. These controllers support orientation and positional tracking. The refresh rate is 72 Hz, but one can customize it. There is one USB connector and integrated audio ports. The total memory size is 6 GB, and it has an adjustable lens distance. There is accommodation for seated and stationary play, as well as room-scale play.
Sony PlayStation VR
Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC produces the Sony PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset with a release date of October 2016. The company is famous for video games and console games such as PS4 and PS5. The second version of the VR headset, PSVR 2, will soon be on the market.
Price: 200,000 naira
Specifications: This VR headset works with a PC. It has an OLED display that is 5.7 inches. The refresh rate of PSVR is 120 Hz or 90 Hz, depending on whichever the user specifies. PSVR has a field of view that is approximately 100 degrees. Every device comes with an integrated microphone with a USB or HDMI connection. The sensors include an accelerometer and gyroscope. The VR headset weighs approximately 600g, and it has an embedded 3D audio processing capability.
HP Reverb G2 Virtual Reality Headset
The HP Reverb G2 VR headset comes from HP. HP is famous for manufacturing electronic and computing equipment. The VR headset has a release date of November 2020.
Price: 290,500 naira
Specifications: The HP Reverb G2 VR headset needs a PC to operate. The computer, if Intel, should have a processor of Intel Core i5 at least. It also requires that the PC have at least a memory of 8GB RAM with the Windows 10 operating system. The screen is dual LCD with Pulse Backlight technology. It has a field of view of about 114 degrees, and motion tracking is possible with two front-facing and side-facing cameras. The sensors give six degrees of freedom (6DOF) with a gyroscope, accelerometer, and magnetometer while the refresh rate is 90Hz. There is a power adapter connector, a USB port, and a Display port. The VR headset weighs 550g.
Valve Index VR Kit
The Valve Index VR kit is a VR headset manufactured by Valve. Valve is famous for producing video games such as Steam. The VR headset has a release date of June 2019. It is a second-generation headset.
Price: 347,000 naira
Specifications: The headset needs a PC to operate. The PC could be running Windows or Linux. The screen is an LCD panel with IPS fast switching technology with a combined resolution of 2880 x 1600. The refresh rates are 80Hz, 90Hz, or 120Hz. The field of view is 130 degrees. The headset comes with controllers that support Valve's Lighthouse 2.0 tracking system. The controller comes equipped with a joystick, a trigger, and a touchpad. Headphones integrated with BMR drivers for low-frequency sounds are present. At the same time, a single connection exists for video/audio, USB, and power.
HTC Vive Cosmos
The HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset is an HTC brand that has a release date of October 2019. HTC is the company behind several successful computer equipment and smartphones.
Price: 369,650 naira
Specifications: An HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset must connect to a computer to function. The computer must be running an Intel Core i5 processor or higher with Windows 10. The VR headset ships with a headset and two controllers. The headset screen is dual 3.4 inches diagonal with a combined resolution of 2880 x 1700 pixels. The refresh rate is 90Hz, and it has a field of view of 110 degrees. It ships with stereo headphones, and integrated microphones are present. The microphones have a headset button. The sensors in the headset are a G-sensor and gyroscopes with IPD settings for eye comfort. The two controllers use alkaline batteries, and they have buttons for input. Some of the input buttons are a joystick, trigger, and grip buttons.
Which VR headset is the best?
Deciding on the best VR headset is not easy. However, many VR equipment enthusiasts have several reasons why they chose a brand. The five brands outlined above are all successful brands that have made their marks in the VR space. Hence, this article will concentrate on three aspects that influenced a decision. First is the idea of whether you need an external computer to make the VR headset function.
Most of the VR headsets in the market do need a computer to function. For the HTC Vive Cosmos, you do need a powerful computer. That is why Oculus Quest 2 stands out. Oculus Quest 2 VR headset does not require a PC but rather, it is a standalone product. It has an inbuilt processor. That is the future of VR headsets.
Also, the next consideration is the immersive experience. This is key. No user would want to buy a VR headset without requiring a wide field of view or an impressive screen. Of all the VR headsets, HP Reverbe G2 has the highest resolution, so it has a high asking price. Valve Index comes equipped with futuristic controllers. One could say that the controllers of the Valve Index VR Kit are state of the art. They come with everything one would need in immersive technology. Oculus Quest 2 gives you enough space to relish your virtual world becomes there are no cords to limit your freedom.
Moreso, a lot goes to the Sony PlayStation VR headset. Sony is famous for producing games, and these games are compatible with the PSVR headset. That is what VR enthusiasts love about PSVR – the ability to have access to their PS4 and PS5 games. But PSVR is only limited to Sony products.
Finally, in choosing the best, one has to consider the price. The cheapest among the best VR headsets is the Oculus Quest 2. It sells for 200,000 naira in Nigeria, while other VR headsets have a higher price tag. However, despite its lower price, it has several immersive features and high-end games one can enjoy. Because it is lower priced and has excellent features, the Oculus Quest 2 is ideal for every pocket.
After every consideration, the choice for the best VR headset is the Oculus Quest 2. There is a lot of creativity in the product. Oculus has several brands of VR headsets which have also been successful. Not only does it have several advantages stated above, but it also gives you the freedom to use space.
Signs that a VR Headset Is Fake
There are a lot of cloned or "fake" VR headsets in the market. Fledgling companies who hoped to cash into the huge VR market created these products. These fakes are in contrast to the high-end VR headsets outlined above. One factor that makes people consider them is price. On Jumia, some of these fakes sell for as low as 8,000 naira.
The first thing to look out for is the price. Good VR headsets are costly because the producers of most VR headsets had gamers in mind. These are gamers with deep pockets, and that is why they have many features. One of the features that make them expensive is having motion tracking. Also, they come with high-resolution screens and have high performance. Fakes do not have these.
Furthermore, the design of these clones gives them away. Most of their designs are from the books of the Oculus Rift VR headset. Oculus Rift was the first successful headset to hit the market. Unfortunately, the companies peddling Oculus Rift clones lack research depth.
Also, they lack adequate funding to do research and development. Thus, they have to rely on outdated designs. Another way to detect them is to note their weight. The focus of most of these clones is movie-watching audiences. This category of the market uses a wide range of smartphones. Hence, they do not mind if the headsets are heavy. Also, wearers do not have the freedom to move their heads that much. So, a test of these VR headsets is to strap them to your head and note the weight.
Finally, these headsets have a limited field of view. Many of them can achieve at most 80 degrees. But high-end VR headsets like Valve Index VR Kit have up to 130 degrees field of view. Despite their faults, these "fake" VR headsets are very popular in the market. This is because the high-end VR headsets are beyond the reach of the average person.
How A VR Headset Works
The essential equipment for a VR headset is the headset itself. Other kits may come with a set of controllers. VR headsets whose screen one mounts to their face are usually termed head-mounted displays (HMD).
VR headsets are generally of three types:
- Those that need a console or computer for the headset to work. VR headsets in this example include the PlayStation VR. 2.
- Others need the user to fit a smartphone to the headset to watch videos or games. An example is the Samsung Gear VR.
- Standalone Headsets. That is, they do not need any external equipment. An example of this is the Oculus Quest 2. VR headsets use LCDs that could have single or double screens.
Also, a lens occupies the space between the screen and the eyes. The screen-lens combination angles the 2D image to create a stereoscopic 3D vision. Head tracking and motion tracking systems are also needed. When a user moves the head, the VR head tracking system needs to recognize what happened. That is why VR headsets use a system called six degrees of freedom (6DOF). This system creates an X, Y, and Z-axis of the head's position and uses it to measure head movement. The head tracking system also uses other components. These include a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a magnetometer. An effective head tracking system needs to have low latency. Latency is the time difference between action performance and the time the display registers it. A comfortable latency should be below 30 milliseconds. Above this, the immersive experience becomes inefficient. Also, developers create a sense of immersion by using 3D audio. 3D audio makes the user believe that the sound is coming from different directions.
The second important system is motion tracking. Some VR headsets like HTC Vive have wireless controllers that mimic the feeling of being in control because every user wants to control the VR environment. The controller comes with gesture detecting sensors which gestures could be pointing or waving. Oculus Quest 2 has those sensors inbuilt. Other input methods include smart gloves, treadmills, and voice control. A treadmill is very effective in allowing the user to simulate walking. One must realize that all VR headsets must have a frame rate of at least 60 frames per second. Below this limit, the blur produced can cause sickness. Also, the display needs to be high resolution to avoid the feeling of looking through a grid.
Finally, everything has to be life-like as much as possible. The Difference Between A VR headset and A VR goggles. VR headsets and VR goggles or glasses don't have much difference. However, before ending this article, it is pertinent to mention this fact.
Lots of times, when reading comments online about VR, many persons talk about VR glasses. But, unfortunately, they usually mistake the headset and the glasses. Know that VR headsets are the whole kits themselves. They include the entire system, including the goggles.
In contrast, the VR goggles are the glasses. The developers fitted them into the headset. These glasses give one the feeling of being in a virtual environment. Another notable point is that the VR space is still a technology that has not arrived at its full potential. There are a lot of advances in technology. So, we are awaiting more advanced headsets comparable to the Oculus Quest 2.
Research is uncovering more ways to create virtual environments, and the technology is following in step. Virtual reality is effective in education, training doctors, helping sick patients and astronauts. Unfortunately, due to their high cost, it has not become mainstream. But Oculus Quest 2 has shown that the cost of producing a high-end VR headset is falling. The future is promising.