Which VR headset is right for me?



VR headsets are the must-have gift for tech types this year. But which is right for you?

 

Virtual reality is one of the most compelling tech stories of recent times, with high-profile headsets finally bringing VR to your living room. 

The best VR experience comes from a tethered headset – one that runs off external computers rather than your smartphone. Data is streamed from a console or PC at high speed to screens inside the headset, so as to create a 360° experience. When you move your head, the images move too.

Tethered headsets use built-in sensors like the accelerometer and gyroscope to track your movement, have better screens and are generally more comfortable to wear.

Here we run through the 3 best tethered headsets – the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR – to help you decide which best fits your needs.

Oculus rift 

HTC Vive

In a nutshell: Super-powerful VR headset packed with clever tech and partnered with Steam gaming platform

The HTC Vive runs by connecting to a high-powered Windows 10 PC. It gets the full benefits of an Intel Core processor, to deliver VR games and apps with the best graphics.

Gaming is incredibly immersive thanks to a wider field of view (110°). Apps and other VR content look sharper too with better-than-Full-HD screens (2160 x 1200 resolution) in the headset. 

Your movements are tracked accurately in your virtual world, with 32 separate sensors. Vive can see you wherever you roam thanks to infra-red base stations. You control your game with motion-tracking hand controllers (included) described by one reviewer as ‘spot on for virtual reality’.

Vive also has a front-facing camera. With this you can switch between the virtual and the real world. This means you can see obstacles like sofas and chairs as you wander through your virtual surroundings.

HTC Vive

What about the games?

Online gaming platform Steam is integrated with the Vive to offer a collection of amazing VR gaming experiences – from the multiplayer shooter action of Hover Junkies to the fantasy adventure of The Gallery: Call of the Starseed. 

The nuts and bolts:

  • Your PC needs a minimum of: Intel Core i5-4590, NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD R9 290, 8GB RAM, HDMI 1.3 video output, 3 x USB 3.0 ports plus 1 USB 2.0 port 
  • How much does it cost? £769.99

Get HTC Vive

 

Oculus Rift

In a nutshell: The headset that made VR a thing again – combines high power with simple control  

Just a few years ago virtual reality was an obscure, cumbersome thing a million miles from the mainstream. Oculus Rift is the device that kick-started the current virtual reality trend. Oculus first announced its VR headset in 2012, and since then it’s been tweaked and improved into the Rift available today.

Like the HTC Vive, the Rift runs from your gaming PC or laptop using its Intel Core i5 processor and dedicated graphics. Games look amazing through the Full HD resolution (1200x1080) screens, while peripheral vision is excellent with a wide field of view.

Your movements are tracked accurately, from the slightest head-tilt to a full spin around, thanks to the headset’s built-in sensors and a separate tracking sensor.

Games are controlled using an Xbox One controller, which comes bundled with the headset. But motion controllers called Oculus Touch launch before Christmas for the best Oculus VR experience. These hand controllers have built-in motion tracking to make you feel ‘your virtual hands are your own’.

Oculus touch controllers

What about the games?

Oculus has worked with studios and games developers to ensure there are plenty of games already available – from space combat sim Eve: Valkyrie to VR platformer Lucky’s Tale and Antarctic adventure Edge of Nowhere. Partner developers include Insomniac Games, Crytek and CCP Games. 

The nuts and bolts:

  • Your PC needs a minimum of: Intel Core i5-4590, NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD R9 290, 8GB RAM, HDMI 1.3 video output, 3 x USB 3.0 ports plus 1 USB 2.0 port 
  • How much does it cost? £549.

 

PlayStation VR

In a nutshell: The VR headset for PlayStation 4 owners – cheaper to buy and with great games

The PlayStation VR connects to your PlayStation 4. There’s no need for a powerful gaming PC – a PS4 and a PlayStation Camera is all it takes. PlayStation VR is considerably cheaper than Vive and Rift. And not only does the headset cost less, it’s also much cheaper to buy a PS4 than it is to buy a high-end PC.

Games will look immersive and detailed, though the PlayStation VR screens have a lower resolution than the HTC Vive. The field of view is slightly less wide than that of the Vive too, but you’ll still feel as though the virtual game is surrounding you. Games should be smoother on PlayStation VR too thanks to its 120Hz refresh rate – the highest of any of the new VR headsets. Refresh rate basically means how quickly the pictures flash on the screens. The faster they do this, the less judder you’ll feel when playing.

Games are controlled with a PlayStation 4 controller or PlayStation Move motion wand. Your movements, either your head in the PlayStation VR headset or your hands holding the Move controller, are tracked by the PlayStation Camera.

The PlayStation Camera and Move controller are sold separately.

PlayStation VR

What about the games?

PlayStation has confirmed more than 50 VR games will be available in the first few months after launch. Current titles include on-rails shooter Rez Infinite and rhythm game Thumper – set in deep space. Check out some of the games set for release in our E3 round up

The nuts and bolts:

  • What hardware do you need to run it? PlayStation 4, PlayStation Camera
  • How much will it cost? £349.99

Ready to step into the world of virtual reality? Find your perfect VR headset