Pick the experience that best suits your needs.
Don't let this secret slip out, but there's actually no such thing as "the best VR headset" or "the best AR headset" right now! There are new things in hardware and software being built almost every week, and while it's easy to look at the newest or shiniest thing and slap a blue ribbon on it there's a lot more going on.
At the same time, there are a lot of folks eager to try VR or AR and want to know where to best spend money, and we're here to help. This guide contains all of the most compelling strengths for each of the headsets you can buy today, as well as links to our ultimate guide for getting the most out of those experiences.
Ready? Here we go!
- Most immersive
- Most comfortable
- Most iPhone-friendly
- Most Android-friendly
- Best games
- Best value
The Most Immersive VR Headset — HTC Vive
If you want to really feel like you're in another place while enjoying VR, you want to check out an HTC Vive. The headset, and nearly every app and game for it, has been designed for room-scale interactions. That means every step you take in the real world is a step in the virtual world, and when you reach out your arms while holding the included Vive controllers, you can interact with anything in that world as though it were real.
HTC Vive can soon also be upgraded to support wireless movement in your VR environment, and through special tracker accessories you'll soon be able to pick up real world things and use them in VR games. Nothing else comes close to this level of immersion right now, so if you want it to feel more real this is where you start.
The Most Comfortable VR Headset — PlayStation VR
Where many VR headsets involve elastic straps which tightly press lenses against your face so you're completely immersed in the experience, Sony's solution is a great deal more elegant. PlayStation VR is designed to cradle the top of your head and hang the display over your forehead to your eyes. This design keep pressure off of your face entirely, which makes it much easier to enjoy VR for much longer than.
If you're already sold on VR, but you're looking for the most comfortable way to game, Sony's PlayStation VR is it. The headset is sturdy and fits every head much faster and easier than the competition. It's a well designed system, one that is slowly being adopted by the competition.
The Most iPhone-friendly VR headset — Merge VR
You can use your iPhone in a lot of different VR headsets, but almost all of them are built around the standard Google Cardboard design. That means they're simple, and materials are usually a little on the cheap side. Merge VR stands out not just because it's bright purple, but because the headset is made of a super durable foam and the whole headset is built to be adjusted to your specific needs.
It's a solid headset, but Merge has plans for much more than just a container to put your iPhone in when it's time to look at fun photos. Merge is also working on an Augmented Reality accessory called the Cube, and it's going to allow you to do a lot of very interesting things with your iPhone very soon. The bottom line here — if you want a great VR headset for your iPhone you want a Merge headset.
The Most Android-friendly VR headset — Daydream View
There are a ton of VR headsets out there with support for Android phones, but Daydream View is by far the most interesting. On top of being ridiculously comfortable compared to just about everything else, it's the first mobile VR headset to support motion controllers. This means you can move the controller in the real world and see that controller move in VR, which is great for tons of different games and apps.
Google Daydream works with most of the best phones running Android today, but not every Android phone. This is built on creating a great experience, and some display technologies don't work well with that concept yet. As long as your phone works with Daydream, you'll be able to enjoy hundreds of movies and games all from inside this comfortable little headset.
The VR Headsets With The Best Games — Oculus Rift with Touch
The explosive popularity of its Kickstarter campaign, followed immediately by being bought by Facebook, put Oculus in a position to make a lot of incredible deals for upcoming games. This means many of the best VR games either come to Oculus Rift first or are exclusive to the platform entirely. Oculus doesn't have a single "best" game, but a spectrum of incredible experiences that are currently best enjoyed through the Rift headset with Touch controllers.
If your goal is to enjoy some incredible VR games, Oculus is going to have a lot of unique and amazing things for you to try first for quite a while. Everything from shooters to adventure games and no shortage of art and music experiences as well. Plain and simple, Oculus Rift has the best games.
The VR Headset With The Best Value — Samsung Gear VR
It's only available on Samsung's best phones, but the Gear VR has access to hundreds of unique games and dozens of experiences you can only find on this headset. Samsung and Oculus have worked together to create a portable entertainment system entirely in VR, something you can drop your phone in and disappear into another world for hours if you choose. And now, with the new Gear VR Controller, many of these experiences can be enjoyed through the convenience of a motion controller.
The things that really sell the Gear VR are its pricing and availability. You can try out a Gear VR just about anywhere Samsung phones are sold, and the headset is a fairly inexpensive add-on when buying the phone. It's a value you can't get with any other phone, and its also a great VR experience on top of that. If you own a new Samsung phone, the Gear VR is an obvious choice for VR experiences.