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Part 2: Virtual Reality Headsets: Which One Is For You?

By January 25, 2017 No Comments

It’s 2017, a new year, and another tremendous growth opportunity for virtual reality and augmented reality. With advancements in eye-tracking technology,  inside-out camera-based positional tracking, the implementation of add-on wireless capabilities for tethered headsets, and a push for lower price points, just like the preceding year, 2017 will continue to be a time of growth and technological innovation for virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.

 

As mentioned before, virtual reality /augmented reality headsets are still in the introduction stage of the product cycle while steadily creeping into its second iteration as investment in  R&D is being poured into the industry. Here at 900lbs, we’re researching all we can to stay on frontier of the emerging market, making sure we’re using the greatest, if not latest, hardware and software for our projects.

 

We compiled a list of the coolest, mind-blowing headsets last year, but much has changed and will change. Here’s an updated list of the coolest (still mind-blowing) headsets available or soon-to-be-available on the market now. Note: we included some of the headsets we covered in our original post.

 

Virtual Reality Headsets

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Google Cardboard – $16.99

Google Cardboard, at the low price of $16.99, styles itself as the every man’s virtual reality headset. All you need to do is fold the cardboard, insert your smartphone into the slot, and off you go into another dimension. On top of the low prices and tons of fun Cardboard designs, Google’s Daydream platform allows users to bring the applications they already know and love into virtual reality, such as YouTube and Facebook, on top of hundreds of new exciting apps to come.

Pro: Price, Content Platform, Mobile Connection

Con: Comfort, Lack of Immersion

Google Daydream view

Google Daydream View – $79

The Daydream View is Google’s latest VR headset offering. At its base, it is essentially a headset phone holder that is only compatible with the latest Google Pixel and Pixel XL phones. Nevertheless, for one of the least expensive headset on this list, the Daydream View is more comfortable than the Cardboard predecessor and Samsung Gear VR. It also comes with a handheld wireless remote to control content from the Google Daydream application for VR content.

Pro: Price, Content Platform, Wireless Connection

Con: Device Compatibility

samsung gear vr

Samsung Gear Virtual Reality – $99 ($92.95 on Amazon)

Upgraded from the previous version, the new Samsung Gear VR works in a similar fashion to the Google Daydream View, you only need to slide your Galaxy phone into the headset. The Gear VR uses the Oculus-powered Gear VR app store to provide content to its users. Overall, it is  a very concrete option for Samsung Galaxy phone owners seeking a VR experience without spending considerably more for other systems.

Pro: Price, Wireless Connection

Con: Comfort, Device Compatibilty

playstationvr

Sony Playstation VR – $399

Sony Playstation VR connects to your Playstation for a whole new gaming experience that is steadily branching into other content options. The headset is designed so you forget you are wearing it, and the 5.7 inch OLED display has a 120 Hz refresh rate complete with motion tracking, so you are definitely in no danger of any queasiness. The Playstation VR is likely the easiest way for consumers to enter the high-end VR market, without having to be high-end. Of the headsets on the list, the Playstation VR headset provides the best bang for your buck with its balance of cost, power, and content.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution, Controller Features, Content Platform, Comfort, Motion Tracking

Con: Tethered Connection, Device Compatibility (Requires PS4)

oculusriftvr

Oculus Rift – $599

Oculus Rift, developed by Palmer Luckey, funded by Kickstarter, and purchased by Facebook for $2 billion, is the technology that brought virtual reality back to the center stage of the gaming and technology world. The Rift also comes with the optional Oculus Touch motion controllers which are available for an additional $200. The Rift comes with content options from both the SteamVR and Oculus stores. It brings a frontier immersive VR experience in unison with backing and goals for major improvements and advancements.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution, Controller Features, Content Platforms, Comfort, Internal Motion Tracking, External Visual Positioning

Con: Tethered Connection, Price

htcvive

HTC Vive – $799

The Vive, a collaboration between HTC and Valve, the makers of the popular PC gaming platform Steam, offers a more immersive experience. Thanks to motion tracking stations and a chaperone guidance system, users can actually walk around while wearing the headset, instead of just chilling on the sofa. The Vive has also a 90Hz refresh rate comfortably reducing worry for motion sickness. There are also two wireless hand controllers available, with 24 sensors each, making a truly interactive experience within the virtual world.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution, Controller Features, Content Platform, Comfort, Internal Motion Tracking, Camera Sensor, External Motion Tracking, External Visual Positioning

Con: Tethered Connection, Price, External Headphones

 fove 0

Fove 0 – $599

An independent Silicon Valley VR hardware developer birthed from Kickstarter, FOVE’s Fove 0 offers interactive eye-tracking, something that its competitors have not, thus far. With eye-tracking, simulated depth-of-field can be developed making the virtual world that much realer. The Fove has a 5.7-inch OLED display with comparable power, resolution, and quality as its competitors. The headset is currently on preorder with an estimated shipping date of late 2017.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution, Motion Tracking, Eye Tracking

Con: Tethered Connection, Price, External Headphones, Content Platform (Current)

 Razer OSVR HDK 2

Razer OSVR HDK 2 – $399

Razer’s OSVR is an open source headset option that is more geared towards VR developers than the general public. With it being open source, third parties are allowed to do whatever they want to and through the headset. A number of companies  from the likes of LeapMotion, Sixense, Untold Games, Bosch and Virtuix have pledged support and technology to the the open source platform. Ubisoft and Nvidia have even agreed to using the device for content access and projects.  It has a competitive 5.5-inch Full HD OLED, but has publicly noted that there are no intentions of being a competitor to the likes of Oculus.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution, Open Source, Motion Tracking, Camera Tracking

Con: Comfort, Tethered Connection, External Headphone

 Pimax Pimax8K

Pimax Pimax8K – $599

The Pimax8K is a VR headset made by the new Chinese VR hardware player Pimax. The Pimax8K, named the amount of total resolution in both eyes combined, something unheard of so far in the market. The Pimax8K is the successor the currently available Pimax4K. So far, the headset has impressed many with its resolution and and field of vision.

Pro: Screen Size, Resolution,  Motion Tracking, Camera Tracking

Con: Tethered Connection, External Headphone

 Windows 10 Compatible Headsets

Windows 10 Compatible Headsets – $299

Microsoft announced partnerships with multiple hardware manufacturers to offer a variety of Windows 10 OS compatible VR headsets to be used in unison with many of Microsoft’s upcoming projects into the VR space such as the Creators Update and Remix 3D. Unlike some of its competitors, these headsets will have motion tracking via sensors and no outward facing camera for external tracking.

Pro: Motion Tracking, Device Compatibility

Con: Tethered Connection, Price, External Headphones, Content Platform (Current)

 

As we mentioned last year, virtual reality is still within the early stages of its life cycle and with that, room for growth and potential. As price points drop and adoption grows, the market will bring competitive innovation that will push the capabilities of virtual reality that much further. Be sure to be on the lookout, the best thing yet is just right around the corner.