2023’s top VR headsets

2023's top VR headsets

VR Headsets: Taking Immersion and Gaming to New Heights

If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to jump into the world of virtual reality (VR), the wait is over. VR technology has come a long way since the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive six years ago. Today, there are a variety of headsets available that offer immersive experiences and enhanced controls. So, what exactly makes a good VR headset?

The Key Criteria for a Great VR Headset

To judge a VR headset, we look at a few key factors: ergonomics, immersion, and controls. It’s not enough to simply place a mobile display into a plastic headset and strap it onto your head. The true craftsmanship lies in creating a well-balanced headset that remains comfortable even after extended use.

Immersion is crucial, and it’s achieved through high-resolution screens with fast refresh rates. This results in sharp and smooth visuals. Another important element is the field of view (FOV), which determines how well the VR screens can cover your perspective. A wider FOV enhances the feeling of “presence” and can transport you into a virtual world with astonishing realism.

Finally, controllers play a vital role in the VR experience. The best VR headsets have controllers that fit naturally in your hands and offer accurate tracking. Meta’s touch controllers have become the industry standard, but there are also exciting innovations like Valve’s finger-tracking gamepads.

The Meta Quest 2: The Best VR Headset for Most People

After two years on the market, the Meta Quest 2, previously known as the Oculus Quest 2, remains the top choice for the majority of VR consumers. It’s a completely cordless headset that provides exceptional comfort for long gaming sessions. While the price has increased by $100 this year, standing at $400, it still offers a fantastic experience and a wide library of VR titles.

Featuring fast-switching LCDs with a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye, the Meta Quest 2 delivers stunning visuals. The 90Hz refresh rate ensures smooth performance, even on mobile hardware. Though its FOV is measured at around 90 degrees, it’s sufficient for most VR experiences. Plus, you can enhance the FOV by using different face pads. For an even more comfortable fit, you can opt for the Elite headstrap, available for $49 or $129 with a built-in battery and case.

Meta has also taken steps to address comfort concerns. They recalled the foam inserts from the original model and now offer silicone covers to enhance comfort. Additionally, the base 128GB storage capacity allows you to store plenty of VR games and apps. In summary, the Meta Quest 2 may not provide the absolute best VR experience, but it remains the most accessible and popular headset on the market.

PlayStation VR2: The Best Console VR Experience

The PlayStation VR2 offers a compelling VR experience without the need for a high-end gaming PC. Utilizing dual 2K OLED HDR screens, it delivers remarkable visual quality and immersion that rivals 4K resolution. Comfort is a priority with this headset, making it one of the most comfortable options available.

It does come with a few caveats, namely the higher price of $550, which exceeds the cost of the PlayStation 5 itself. Additionally, the game library is still growing, with only a few exclusives currently available. However, if you’re a PlayStation 5 owner, the PS VR2 is the easiest way to experience high-quality VR gaming.

HP Reverb G2: The Best PC VR Headset Under $600

For PC gamers who prioritize quality over wireless convenience, the HP Reverb G2 offers exceptional value at $599. Developed in collaboration with Valve, this headset incorporates some of the best features from the pricier Index headset. It sports sharp screens with a resolution of 2,160 by 2,160 pixels per eye, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a wide 114-degree FOV.

What sets the Reverb G2 apart is its inclusion of four sensors, ensuring accurate tracking during fast-paced games. Comfort is another standout feature, with luxurious cushioning around the eye-piece and rear strap. Although the motion controllers may not be everyone’s favorite, they are a significant improvement over HP’s previous model. If desired, you have the option to upgrade to Valve’s finger-tracking controllers for an even better experience.

Valve Index: The Best PC VR Headset for Gamers

Valve’s Index kit remains a top choice for high-end PC gaming. Priced at $999, it includes the Index headset, Valve’s finger-tracking controllers, and two SteamVR base stations. While newer headsets boast higher resolutions, the Index still offers incredible performance with a 1,440 by 1,600 pixel resolution, a 144Hz refresh rate, and a massive 130-degree FOV. It provides an unrivaled level of detail and immersion.

The only drawback is the installation process, which involves setting up two sensors in the corners of your room. However, these inconveniences are well worth it for the higher refresh rate and superior tracking. Valve’s finger-tracking controllers are a joy to use, enhancing game experiences like Half-Life: Alyx. While other games haven’t fully embraced this technology, the potential is exciting.

HTC Vive Pro 2: The Epitome of VR Quality

The HTC Vive Pro 2 is undoubtedly the best-looking PC VR headset on the market. Boasting a sharp 5K screen and a solid 120Hz refresh rate, it offers an unparalleled visual experience. The full kit, including the headset, two SteamVR sensors, and wand controllers, comes with a price tag of $1,399. However, you can also purchase the standalone headset for $799 or as an upgrade to the original Vive Pro or Valve Index.

The Pro 2 achieves an excellent balance between comfort and performance, thanks to the expertise of Valve. Although the large wand controllers lack ergonomic design, they still function effectively. This headset stands out primarily for its outstanding visual quality and is a must-have for true VR enthusiasts.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do VR headsets work? At their core, VR headsets are high-quality screens that you hold up to your face. The rendering of VR games is typically done on a PC or game console for tethered headsets, while wireless headsets like the Meta Quest 2 handle the processing internally. External or built-in sensors map your physical space, enabling motion tracking controllers for a truly immersive experience.

  • What VR headset offers full body tracking? While no haptic VR bodysuits are widely available yet, there are options for accurate full-body tracking. Both the Valve Index and HTC Vive Pro 2 utilize room-tracking sensors, providing superior body mapping compared to other headsets. By adding HTC Vive Trackers to straps on wrists, legs, and belts, you can enhance body tracking further. Unfortunately, full body tracking solutions for PlayStation VR and VR2 have yet to be introduced.

  • Are there VR headsets better than Oculus? Currently, Oculus has been rebranded as Meta, and the company focuses on supporting the Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro wireless headsets. However, PC VR headsets generally offer better overall quality, as they rely on more powerful hardware for enhanced performance.

  • Do Xbox consoles support VR headsets? Currently, Microsoft’s Xbox consoles do not support any VR headsets.

As the VR market continues to evolve, these headsets provide a glimpse into the future of immersive gaming. Whether you’re a PC gamer, console user, or someone seeking an accessible VR experience, there’s a headset that caters to your needs. Get ready to dive into a world where gaming takes on a whole new dimension!