Finding the Best Virtual Reality Headset Using our Top 6 Tips
We get loads of questions at MXTreality about VR, AR, MR, and XR. Some of these questions pertain to what these acronyms mean, but the most frequent question is, “What is the best VR hardware?”
This is a complicated question. With VR tech moving so fast, it is almost a full-time job just to keep up with this stuff. So to answer this question, we talked with folks whose full-time job is to keep up with this stuff. Jeff Rayner, CEO at MXTreality, answered this question with a methodical approach. He crafted a way to judge each device on six different categories:
Number of applicable games
What hardware works best for you is dependent on what you consider the most important factors. Here are Jeff’s top picks for each category.
1. QUALITY: The VARJO-XR-1 wins hands down. It has the most features, best quality, and has true MR (mixed reality) which allows you to take virtual experiences into the real world. The VARJO uses advanced hand tracking through Ultraleap (formerly Leap Motion) to deliver a true to nature, MR experience (no controllers required). But, the cost of the headset doesn’t stop at the headset, which is already 10k. You’re going to need a powerful computer to utilize what the VARJO has to offer.
2. PRICE: It’s no surprise that the Oculus Quest is the best all-around headset if you are on a budget. The Quest costs less than $400, can be used as PC free, or plugged in for full VR. It has hand tracking, tons of compatible games, and is constantly being updated. While the Quest won’t blow you away with graphics or hardware, its widespread access has allowed it to boast a huge games library. If you are new to VR, the Quest is for you.
It’s worth noting that the Quest can be used with a powerful Tower or Gaming Laptop to make the experience that much more fluid, but it can also be taken on the run (not a recommendation to run while using it).
3. NUMBER OF APPLICABLE GAMES: Steam currently has the widest array of VR games, and most headsets support Steam. However, it’s important to look at the devices games are built for, and how they use the controllers and headsets to best effect. With these factors considered, HTC Vive wins this one by a thin margin. It also has its own store, Viveport.
We used the HTC Vive during the prototyping of our free game, Adventure Climb VR, which runs best on the Vive.
4. COMFORT: Ooh, this is tricky. If you ask 50 people they all will give different answers. I’d recommend trying a few on, but since that’s not an option currently, here are some thoughts. The lightness of the HP Reverb is great, while the band of the Samsung Odyssey is most comfortable, but the ergonomic design of the Valve Index makes it feel super immersive. It’s a tough call here.
The Samsung Odyssey is really easy to use, to set-up, and to wear.
5. ACCURACY: Each headset has different ways of tracking the room and your position in it. Different games require different movement methods and have differing accuracy. The two common types of tracking are Outside-in and Inside-out. Difference being, outside or inside camera headset tracking. Typically anything “outside” has better accuracy in games as it can detect your movements (particularly hands) even when not in view of the headset. The Vives and Valve Index do the best job at this.
The VALVE Index is a great ergonomic headset, and has controllers aka “Knuckles” to match. Note the exterior cameras for great tracking. We played through Half Life: Alyx with the headset and could not have had a better time.
6. LONGEVITY: The HTC Vive was one of the first headsets and is still fully supported. All headsets seem to last a long time, but the Vive takes the cake on this one. Going forward though, the regular software updates of the Quest may unseat the Vive.
The HTC Vive has been around a long time and we still love it here!
In conclusion: There are some pretty good headsets out there. The question isn’t which headset is the best, but which headset is the best for you. So let us know which headset is your favorite by shooting us a tweet or sliding into our DMs.