virtual reality headsets

Virtual Reality is poised to be the gaming phenomena of the future. Though the established nature of traditional gaming systems still captivates audiences across the world, the allure of an entirely new way to experience a video game has inspired many gamers to jump ship on the old, and embrace the immersive gaming experience that virtual reality could provide.

Still though, the emergence of a new industry is almost invariably met with turmoil and questioning. With the market of virtual reality and augmented reality headsets growing every day, consumers are forced to weigh several factors when making a decision as to which headset is best for them.

Consumers, whether looking for a new car or a virtual reality headset, ought to remain aware of one important truth: there exists no comprehensive ranking system. When it comes to cars, Ford owners will fight you tooth-and-nail that their cars are the best in the business, and Chevy fans will battle to the death arguing the same exact thing for their own manufacturer.

Likewise, there exists no way to objectively declare one VR headset ‘the best.’ Instead, gaming adventurers looking to try their hand at the fiery new kind of game need to weigh their options, looking at a few key issues to decide which headset is ‘the best’ for them.

This guide will touch on four VR headsets: the Samsung Gear VR, the Google Daydream View, the Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. While this guide starts with a comprehensive review of the four leading brands, readers should focus on comparing the four leaders of industry in the virtual reality industry’s three most discerning factors, type of connection, price, and frame rate.

Meet The Top Virtual Reality Headsets:

Without a doubt, virtual reality headsets bursted on to the scene in 2016 and have a huge likelihood to continue the upward growth swing in 2017.

Let’s review the best virtual reality glasses and gear available, and even though there is fallibility inherent to any kind of comprehensive ranking system of virtual reality headsets, what we know about the industry has firmly placed four brands at the top of the newly-molded pack. In this section, let’s take a look at five of the leading VR headsets, their qualities, pros, cons and specifications to look out for when deciding which to buy.

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung’s first shot at the VR business came in the form of a smash hit. The initial version of the Gear was rolled out in 2015, and was met with critical acclaim. Coming back in 2016, the newest manifestation of Samsung’s initial idea is showing great promise. While the Samsung Gear headset may compare to the tethered headsets in many ways, there happen to be three areas where the Gear headset is unique. First, in the pricing category, Samsung has applied their very same cost-effectiveness in their phones to their new headset.

Additionally, potential buyers need to be aware as frame-rate and resolution deficiencies which can result from the portable nature of the mobile units. This deficiency, however, can also translate into strength. By remaining untethered to any other unit, the Samsung Gear Virtual Reality headset manages to give users an immersive, 360 degree experience. The hype for Samsung Gear VR is very real. A product of Samsung’s relentless advertising and PR work, there is no doubt that people are excited for what 2016 and 2017 will bring for Samsung and for virtual reality. Its cheap nature, as well as its 360 degree capability, places it towards the top of any list.

Google Daydream View

Technology giant Google would be insane to not attempt to capitalize on the VR dream which has undoubtedly captured the imagination of gamers and investors alike in 2015 and 2016. While Google’s project is designed for ample comfortability and comes at a cheaper price tag than many of its tethered contemporaries, critics have deemed the Daydream View to be a somewhat unfinished product, rife with hardware innovations but somewhat bereft of content when it comes to games and updateable material.

Much like the Samsung Gear, the Daydream presents the opportunity for 360 movement and versatility. However, it seems to fall short in other key areas. The single biggest drawback to the Daydream also unfortunately helps to mitigate the benefit of a decreased price tag; users who want to use the headset also have to purchase the $650 Google Pixel system. Still, the comfortable design and innovative nature of Google’s entrance into the market helps the Daydream to lead many of its lower-end competitors.

Oculus Rift

The biggest spike in public interest in virtual reality came following the release of the Oculus Rift. With a name initially as mysterious as its technology, the Oculus Rift has helped to open a portal, through which tech companies across the world have jumped through into the world of profit and innovation. The Oculus Rift is the first of the tethered connections on our list. The system has largely lived up to the hype.

Boasting a plethora of nostalgia-inspiring games, the Oculus Rift offers a detailed and immersive gaming experience to consumers. One of the downfalls to its kind, however, is the price. In addition to having to purchase a PC with the specs and computing power to handle the serious data-skills required by VR games, the tethered headset comes at a price of nearly $700, the Oculus will bleed dry the wallets of its owner.

The other downside to virtual reality’s most famous name is problem inherent to the tethered experience: a lack of movability, and the dreaded cables. By requiring connection to another item, the Oculus Rift and its tethered friends constrict the movement allowed by the user. Additionally, the thick cables often do very little for the ‘futuristic’ aesthetic. Still, the Oculus Rift has been a leader in the march towards futurism in the VR industry. Its immersive experience is nearly unmatched.

HTC Vive

If there exists a system which claims the title of ‘most immersive experience,’ its name is the HTC Vive. Boasting a special and innovative brand of motion-tracking and multiple censors, the Vive delivers a kind of experience most gamers have only dreamed of. Unfortunately, the $800 price tag on the HTC product means that most gamers might have to keep dreaming.

The HTC Vive seems to initially remain neck-and-neck with the Oculus Rift when it comes to specs like field of view, resolution, and type of connection. But the system distinguishes itself to potential consumers when they direct their attention to the additional DisplayPort connection and the external motion tracking.

While other technological innovators rely on the less advanced ‘visual position tracking’, which relies on determining the user’s position in a room by analyzing where the user looks, the HTC Vive is the first system to implement a system of ‘motion sensing’. This means that gamers are able to use their entire room as a gaming zone, moving around whilst being constantly monitored by the incredibly immersive and advanced Vive’s censors.

One potential negative aspect to the system is that, much like the Rift, the tethered nature of this kind of system prevents gamers from moving as much as they would like to. The price tag also helps to knock this giant back into the realm of other alternatives, especially for gamers on a budget.

Astoria VR

One of the hottest holiday gift items of the 2016 year is the Astoria VR Headset. It comes with an easy to use setup and offers a wide variety of nature and outdoor experiences along with games and apps galore. It is an extremely affordable option when comparing to the price tag for some of the virtual reality glasses mentioned above.

Type of Connection

The way that a virtual reality headset loads and analyzes games is incredibly important to any potential buyer. Headsets can either be mobile or tethered. While a mobile headset simply requires a phone (typically an iPhone or Android) to be hooked into it, a tethered set is hooked into either a gaming system or a PC. There are benefits to both, and buyers should be aware of the drawbacks to either kind of connection.

A mobile connection’s main point of argument comes from its ability to be easily moved from one place to another. Occasionally, the thick cables connecting a headset like the Oculus Rift to a PC make the user feel restricted and can break up their perceived (virtual) reality. Unfortunately, the movement and 360 degree experience of a mobile connection can, in many cases, come at the price of decreased resolution, less available games, and unreliable or nonexistent motion-sensing technology.

Samsung Gear VR (mobile)

The Samsung Gear Virtual Reality Headset is a kind of mobile headset. Operating off of the android system and connecting to the Galaxy Note 7, it boasts a fairly impressive catalogue of games, a simple and comfortable design, and an initially inexpensive unit. Because it connects to the Android system, users can expect many of the same games which pique their interest in the Android Store to be possible using this VR system.

Additionally, the simplicity of the mobile connection has been capitalized on by the design team. The Gear is sleek, slim, and visually appealing. Without the big cables or thick, brick-like appearance of a tethered system, the Samsung VR gains a leg-up when it comes to consumers who just want to dip their toes into the waters of virtual reality, without diving in entirely.

Google Daydream View (mobile)

The big sticking point for the Google Daydream is, much like the Samsung Gear, its simplicity and comfortability. With a small size and cushioned eye-holes, Google’s product seems to be the perfect device to strap on for a few minutes of virtual fun. However, the system’s mobile unit it connects to, the Pixel, is an expensive Google creation which has not yet caught on.

Further, the Daydream sufferers from the exact opposite ailment of their aforementioned mobile counterpart: there exist very few games to play. While the developers of the Daydream View plan to make more kinds of games accessible through the system’s database, its connection to an uncommon mobile device makes it largely inaccessible for many gamers and games alike.

Oculus Rift (tethered)

The Oculus rift is the first of the tethered headsets on our list. Its tethered structure means that the system is typically ahead of the mobile headsets when it comes to technical aspects—resolution, field of vision, and refresh rate.

In terms of resolution, the Rift provides 1,080 by 1,200 vision, per eye. Additionally, it offers some of the fastest refresh rates (110 Hz) and the largest field of vision (110 degrees) out of any of the virtual reality systems. The tethered system, because it relies on a powerful outside computing device, is able to take in and put out an incredible amount of data.

The Oculus suffers from the same kind of fallibility akin to many of the tethered kinds of headsets: its connection makes a fully immersive experience less possible. Because the Oculus Rift is connected to a (powerful) PC, the cables prevent users from moving around the room effectively. Still, if a consumer has the money and the interest in virtual reality, the Oculus rift is a headset that lives up to its hype.

HTC Vive (tethered)

The HTC Vive is yet another headset which links to an external system for its computations. However, key aspects of the Vive’s design lend themselves to the uniqueness of the product as a whole. Since its release, the HTC Vive has worked to substantiate itself as a leader within the realm of virtual reality, and with good reason.

The Vive’s main splinter points from competition with the Oculus Rift are its DisplayPorts and Motion Sensors. While the Oculus Rift system only connects via HDMI, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0, the HTC Vive offers the additional DisplaPort connection. This connection makes it easier for potential users to connect the system to their favorite display without having to work with an HDMI-conversion poet.

Additionally, viable motion-censors make the Vive a much more viable candidate for full-room virtual reality play. Equipped with a special monitoring system which lets the player know when he reaches a real-life item before hitting it, HTC’s Vive headset takes the industry one step closer to an entirely immersive experience in the virtual reality.

The pitfall, however, is similar to that of the other tethered system on our list. While the Vive’s innovative motion sensor system can do much to make sure a user’s experience remains immersive, the cables prevent a somewhat palpable physical barrier, breaking the virtual reality when players kick or trip over the ten foot wires.

Price

Understanding the comprehensive price of a VR headset is no easy task. As with any piece of technology, cost is a function of not only the system itself, but also of all the extra things which make the system work to the best of its ability. In the virtual reality industry, this distinction is incredibly important. Initial prices of top competitors are already deterring some potential consumers from dipping their toes in virtual reality. Price tags ranging from $59-$800 dollars confuse gamers, and the higher price tag applied to the top headsets keeps them from the hands of most users.

The more important thing to understand, however, is that many of the less expensive headsets’ prices are driven up by additional purchases required. In nearly every virtual reality headset, there exist additional controllers, sensors, and systems which need to be purchased, driving up the prices of the virtual reality dream. In this section we will discuss the price of the headsets, controllers, and other necessary add-ons, of the main VR headsets in the industry.

Samsung Gear VR

Base Price

The base price of the Samsung Gear VR is around $100. The lowest available price at the moment is $95.25 on Amazon. This package typically comes with the headset itself, and precious little else. While it certainly isn’t uncharacteristic of a VR headset to offer little aside from the set in the box, buyers certainly need to be aware that the Samsung Gear doesn’t offer anything in the light of fancy controllers, additional adjustable phone-holders, or customizable parts.

Additionally, consumers need to keep in mind that the Samsung Gear VR headset only works on select phones: the Galaxy Note 5, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+, S7, and S7 Edge. Because of this, users looking to try the VR headset who already have a Galaxy may benefit from this somewhat cost-effective option, especially when comparing it to the more expensive tethered systems.

Games

The Samsung Gear VR system offers a surprisingly large amount of games for inexpensive prices. Among some of the top contenders include Minecraft, Land’s End, Hitman Go: VR Edition, Smash Hit, and even Netflix. In fact, several games, including Smash Hit, don’t even cost a dime.

Add-ons

There seem to be precious few add-ons available for this mobile VR system. Because it connects to the Galaxy hardware, users looking to optimize their device ought to invest in new apps for the system through their cellular device. Upgrading the Galaxy phone could also present users with the opportunity to enhance their experience.

Total Cost

The Samsung Gear VR system is relative inexpensive. Though its base price of $99 does not seem to offer much aside from the headgear itself, the inexpensive nature of its games make this system a viable option for buyers on a budget.

Google Daydream View

Base Price

The Google Daydream View happens to be the cheapest base price in this guide. Available from Best Buy for only $79, Google’s polished reputation has led many gamers to splurge on the cheap alternative to the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive. However, the Daydream’s utter lack of available accessories and demand for lavish additional expenses takes away from its cost-effectiveness and leaves many gamers holding the bill.

Games

While the typical store from which users can purchase games is rife with cool demos and opportunities, it seems as though Google has failed to translate their games into much more than a substantive demo of a full game. Additionally, even apps like the ‘Google Street View Simulator’ are unfinished thus far. The cost and lack of polished products offered in the games category serves to detract from the Daydream View’s viability as a virtual reality simulator.

Add-ons

Unlike the Samsung View, the Google system does not rely on a common phone; instead, the Google Daydream View connects to Google’s uncommon Pixel phone. Though the Pixel is a phone which hasn’t yet drawn substantial interest from the average Joe, it still manages to demand nearly $650 on Best Buy. For gamers who don’t already have the unpopular phone, this mobile system carries a hidden price tag which is simply too much to bear for the unfinished product they pay for.

Total Cost

The total cost of the Google Daydream View, including the Google Pixel, bumps up to around $720. Perhaps those who already possess a pixel will make do with a smaller price tag. But for the majority of Americans, the total price for this rudimentary system is simply too high. Still, Google’s excellence at software creation means that innovation is in the future, and users can still benefit from the beautiful picture and unique game ideas Google offers.

The Oculus Rift

Initial Price

The Oculus Rift retails at $600 on Amazon. Since coming out nearly one year ago, the system has almost consistently demanded a fair price tag. Proponents of the system, however, have contended that the headset offers an immersive experience which goes unmatched by any of the cheaper mobile systems. However, costly controllers and possibly necessary computer upgrades are almost essential, and definitely boost the price up on the Oculus setup.

Games

One of the major draws of the Oculus system is the amount of games it has to offer the gamer. Benefitting from being the leader and pioneer of virtual reality technology, the Oculus’ virtual reality gaming store has amassed a plethora of titles for users to enjoy. Often for fairly cheap prices, the Oculus system also gives gamers access to the expansive SteamVR store. Because it combines two stores into one, both the pocketbooks and the interest levels of gamers can be preserved at the same time.

Add-ons

The Oculus Rift is one of the few systems which does not come with a sophisticated pair of controllers. While it does come with basic remote controls out of the box, the Oculus experience is not complete without the Oculus Touch Motion Controllers, which retail at nearly $200 on Amazon. These controllers make for a more immersive experience, but can definitely chip away at the wallets of gamers who use the system.

For the uninitiated to the world of PC gaming, the Oculus’ price tag can jump even higher. In order for a computer to have computational ability high enough to meet the high demand of the Oculus Rift, it must have a graphics card to compete with the best. The functionality and immersive nature of the Oculus headset is largely dependent on having the right computer. In this respect, an added computer cost can tack onto the already expensive system, bringing it closer to the cost of the HTC Vive.

Comprehensive Cost

The Oculus Rift starts at a price of $600. When users add in the almost mandatory motion-sensor controllers, this price is bumped up to around $800. Assuming a gamer already has a computer capable of running the VR software and facilitating the connection, the price stops there. Though expensive, many argue that the Oculus Rift offers one of the most immersive and comprehensive virtual reality experiences in existence.

HTC Vive

Initial Cost

The HTC vive appears as the most expensive virtual reality headset on this list. Boasting a hefty price of $800 on Amazon, users can expect to pay an arm and a leg for the system. However, it also functions as one of the most complete sets out-of-the-box that the virtual reality industry has to offer. Because of this, uses who want to dive into the virtual reality world without searching for additional parts or rifling through an incomplete app store ought to consider the HTC vive virtual reality system as a legitimate prospect.

Games

The HTC vive virtual reality set draws its games from the SteamVR store. Because Steam’s ever-expanding app store has already done the leg-work in designing some of the most innovative games and ideas in the virtual reality market, gamers can look to the HTC Vive’s games as a break from the mundane reality of many virtual reality games. Their Fin and Jake game, for example, allows users to almost paradoxically strap on their headsets to play as an Adventure Time character in the third person. Their unique demo system entitled ‘The Lab’ allows users to get a taste of unique game ideas by Steam without throwing more money at the system.

Add-ons

The lack of necessary add-ons makes the HTC Vive an even more close competitor to the Oculus Rift headset. Unlike the Rift system, the Vive headset comes prepackaged with motion-sensing controllers. These censors make it immediately possible for users to experience whole-room virtual reality gameplay. The system also offers a DisplayPort connection unique to the HTC Vive. While users can still expect to shell out money for a new computer if they do not already have one with the capabilities to run virtual reality software, the HTC Vive comes with many of the best add-ons already ready to go.

Comprehensive Cost

The HTC Vive does much to distinguish itself from its competitors in the cost department. Offering motion-sensor controllers, full access to the SteamVR network, and a plethora of free game demos for gamers to try out, the Vive is a perfect option for gamers who want to jump right into a polished product and an entirely immersive virtual reality experience.

Technical Specifications

As the virtual reality industry expands, technological experts and gamers alike are starting to catch on to the specifications most integral to a good VR experience. In order to engulf users fully in a reality which is not their own, a system has to maintain a high resolution, a quick refresh rate, and a realistic field of view. The goals and the standards of virtual reality manufacturers are changing every day. As it stands, however, the leaders of industry stand neck-and-neck on key specifications. In this section, we will take a look at the four leaders of industry and how they stack up on when it comes to statistics and specifications.

Google Daydream View

Overview

Almost characteristic of the Google headset, the Daydream View seems to fall short in a few main areas of concern for the modern gamer. Unlike the other three headsets on our list, the Daydream does not have a variety of ways users can connect to their phone. Even less appealing to potential consumers is the Daydream’s singular controller: the handheld remote. Far from the motion-sensing remotes of a tethered system, users have compared the Daydream’s controls to that of a common TV remote.

Beyond the unappealing technical facade, the Google Daydream View also falls short when it comes to refresh rate. At a rate of 60 Hz, the Daydream lags behind the two tethered systems by 30 Hz. Its resolution can depend on the phone. However, with an unspecified field of view and a motion-only tracking method, the Google virtual reality attempt remains one of the weaker systems of the mobile and tethered form alike.

Connections

The Daydream headset can connect to the Pixel phone by a direct connection. A nod to the futuristic design of the Pixel itself, this kind of connection seems to have very little effect on the Daydream’s ability to maintain composure, technologically speaking. In fact, this cable-free connection can help to mitigate customer concerns of battery drainage. While there are reports of the Daydream running battery out on the Pixel incredibly quickly, plugging the phone in to charge while you play is definitely an option.

Though the lack of additional ways to connect the product to your mobile device may be a negative to some, it can also help to curb concerns of battery drainage, and doesn’t seem to thus far have a substantive impact on the quality of image projected. Another huge benefit to the Daydream is that it does not require a charger. It serves as a simple viewing theater for games primarily analyzed through the Pixel phone.

Resolution

One of the major flaws to the Google Daydream VR headset is the lack of information given to users regarding things like resolution, refresh rate, and field of view. When it comes to resolution, the official view taken by Google is that the quality of image depends on the resolution displayed on the phone. The Pixel and the Pixel XL certainly boast impressive picture-quality—the Pixel offers 1,080 by 1,920 pixel resolutions, while its larger counterpart comes in at 1,440 by 2,560. Both options give users a comparable experience, at least when in terms of resolution per eye, to its higher-end competitors. Still, the lack of information put out by Google in terms of specifics leads many gamers to speculate that updates and newer versions of the system are still to come.

Refresh Rate

The Google Daydream View again falls short when it comes to the technical issue of refresh rate. Coming in at only 60 Hz, the Daydream’s refresh rate doesn’t seem to match-up with the quality users have come to expect from Google. Still, reviews from tech professionals testify that the system does a better job than other systems when it comes to not tearing the image when the user quickly turns their head.

Sensors

The Google Daydream offers only motion sensors at the moment. This means that gamers are largely unable to successfully move around in the real world as they explore a virtual one. In fact, viable movements are almost entirely restricted to lateral head movements by the user. Given the small assortment of games– many of which do not require movement– that the Pixel currently offers, users don’t suffer too much from this lack of hardware.

Controls

As previously stated, the Google Daydream does not currently offer a comprehensive kind of motion-sensing remote. It does, however, score points in the design department. Comparable to the size of a middle finger, the remote for the Google Daydream thrives on simplicity. An app button and a home button on the top of the remote and a volume button on the bottom is the full extent of the remote’s control.

Samsung Gear VR

Overview

The Samsung Gear offers far more technological opportunities than the Google Daydream. Linking up with either a USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connection, it operates off of the more advanced motion and presence system. The Gear also offers more options in controllers than the Daydream, with both an onboard touchpad and a nifty Bluetooth controller. Additionally, the Samsung Gear also manages to usurp some of the bigger name tethered connections when it comes to resolution. Boasting impressive 2,560 by 1,440 numbers, the Samsung Gear virtual reality set really goes the distance, especially for a mobile unit. The jury is still out, however, when it comes to the refresh rate and field of view. As new information becomes available, the exact specifications of the Galaxy-compatible mobile system lend weight to its true place as a giant in the virtual reality industry.

Connections

 For a mobile device, the technology of the Samsung Gear VR has a lot to offer gamers. With connections of both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, the Samsung gear provides users with a more controlled and secure connection of their Samsung phone to The Gear. Note that the system does not come with a charger.

Resolution

 Boasting a more documented and consistent refresh rate than the Google Daydream, Samsung’s virtual reality headset can lay claim to resolution of 2,560 by 1,440 pixels. With a stunning and (mostly) unbroken picture, the Samsung Gear VR offers users with an immersive mobile experience. Reports have shown, however, that the very picture which makes The Gear so inviting can also serve to its detriment. Occasionally, users have reported a break in the frame rate and overall picture of the virtual reality system when they turned their head too fast. Overall, this headset offers good resolution in a mobile format.

Refresh Rate

This Samsung mobile VR system has not yet been marked by a consistent refresh rate. It is possible that the above-stated reports of a break in quality could be attributed to a low refresh rate. While initial reports from both the company and users have found the device to be at least somewhat acceptable in the area of refresh rate, Samsung has not officially specified a refresh rate for their virtual reality headset. Until more information is released, the jury is still out on the refresh rate of the Samsung Gear headset.

Sensors

Samsung’s shot at the mobile virtual reality trend is marked by partial innovation when it comes to the area of controls. Whereas the Google Daydream can only offer motion sensors, this system also presents a presence-detecting technology usually foreign to mobile virtual reality headsets. By implementing this motion sensing technology, the Samsung Gear is able to alert gamers if they get too close to an object in the real world.

Controllers

Samsung’s mobile virtual reality headset offers gamers a choice between an onboard touchpad and Bluetooth controllers. The sophisticated design on the touchpad offers users a nuanced take on the traditional controller interface. The small Bluetooth controller comes in handy when quickly trying to adjust volume and turn the system on or off.

Oculus Rift

Overview

The Oculus Rift has been hailed as one of the most technologically innovative products of the last ten years. On the forefront of the industry, it stands along the HTC Vive as one of the most significant forces pushing forward the progress of virtual reality systems as a whole. First, the Oculus rift is filled with technical specifications which help to put it ahead of the pack. With HDMI, USB 2.0, and USB 3.0 connections, this tethered VR headset gives users ample opportunity to hook up to their PC.

The impressive specs don’t stop there—the Oculus Rift also offers a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a field of view of 100 degrees, as well as an external visual positioning system. Additionally, the system also offers even more controllers, including the Xbox One gamepad and the Oculus Touch motion sensor controllers. One thing the Rift lacks, however, is an advanced motion tracking system. Its lack of motion tracking means that full-room virtual reality is but a distant dream for the Oculus Rift—for now at least.

Connections

Because it links into a personal computer, the way that the Oculus Rift connects is incredibly important to the quality of an experience it produces. Luckily for users, the Oculus Rift is the first system on our list to implement an HDMI outlet in its connection. This connection allows for what is often a cleaner, crisper image than a simple USB 2.0 or 3.0 connection. Keep in mind that the Oculus system is tethered, which means that it connects directly into a computer using a variety of cords. Though these cords make a more realistic virtual reality experience harder to attain, they do serve to present a more immersive experience than can be often provided by a cordless mobile connection.

Resolution

As would be expected, the Oculus presents a stunning picture at 1,080 by 1,200 per eye. Though such resolution is nearly matched by the Samsung Gear’s VR, consumers need to keep in mind that the more comprehensive work that has been put into the Oculus Rift’s physical specs make it a much more realistic experience, numbers aside.

Refresh Rate

The Oculus Rift has a refresh rate of 90 Hz. One of the quickest refresh rates in the industry, the Oculus manages to stay ahead of the pack with this technical perk.

Sensors

The tethered system does much for the player when it comes to sensor technology. Offering both motion sensing and external visual positioning, the Oculus Rift is able to track the gamer’s surroundings, as well as their place relative to the rest of the room. While the sensors don’t quite match up to the tracking enabled on the HTC Vive, Oculus does exceptionally well at providing a well-tuned sensor system on their headset.

Controllers

The Oculus headset typically only comes with the Xbox One gamepad. However, users will have a much better time enjoying they system if they splurge to buy the Oculus Touch, the Oculus Rift’s unique motion tracking handheld controllers. These controllers, while they may not offer a full-room experience yet, give users the opportunity to interact with the virtual world around them using their very own hands.

HTC Vive

Overview

In nearly every respect, the HTC Vive has managed to distinguish itself among its competitors technologically. Cutting-edge hardware and software combine with ingenuity to make the Vive a true leader of industry. Keeping in mind the current standards of the virtual reality world, the HTC Vive seems to be right on-par with the Oculus Rift.

It offers a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a field of view of 110 degrees, and a hardware platform requiring a somewhat strong Personal Computer. The system differentiates itself in two main ways. First, the addition of the DisplayPort connection allows users to bolster their system’s connection to their hardware platform. While the DisplayPort itself may do little to add to the immersive gameplay of the Vive, the system’s connection to the PC is stronger as a result of the additional connection base. This can allow for quicker refresh rates and better resolution per eye.

Even more integral to the HTC Vive’s uniqueness, however, is its revolutionary external motion tracking system. Using a form of a camera mounted on the front of the headset, the HTC Vive is able to monitor the location of the user relative to other entities within the play room. While its cables continue to prevent a full-room experience from being fully explored, HTC’s innovative design and cutting-edge technology gives it a leg-up over much of the competition.

Connections

In addition to the same connections offered by the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive ups-the-ante with an additional DisplayPort connection. Though the substantive effects of this additional connection have yet to be fully determined, the flawless look of the Vive’s picture could be in part attributed to its more secure connection to the PC.

Resolution

The HTC virtual reality headset matches the resolution in the picture of the Oculus Rift. 1,080 by 1,200 seems to be the industry goal at the moment. Users need not spend too much time puzzling over which tethered system offers the best resolution.

Refresh Rate

Again, the HTC Vive does little to distinguish itself in refresh rate. Providing users with the same rate of 90 Hz, this system remains at the top of the industry, though it may not be alone.

Sensors

The HTC Vive’s unique external motion tracking system is one of the few unique features which help to place it so high on any gamer’s wish-list.  This system reanalyzes the position of the user constantly while being in-use. In doing so, the multitude of sensors on the helm of the headset allow for a more immersive experience. The dream of allowing users to move around freely while playing their game is a goal shared by companies all over the spectrum of the virtual reality industry. With the HTC Vive sensor innovation, this dream has become more possible.

Controllers

The HTC Vive comes with motion controllers which allow the user to move both their hands and their bodies around their playroom as they explore virtual reality.

The Bottom Line: Weigh Your Options

Genuine ranking systems in any industry ought to be approached with subtle skepticism by potential consumers. Especially when it comes to the relatively new market of virtual reality, it is increasingly important that buyers categorize and begin to prioritize the issues that matter to them when making a decision on what to buy.

The type of connection, price, and technical specifications of a virtual reality headset all factor into a consumer’s decision. While headsets like the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift may take the title of the most immersive experiences in the industry, potential virtual reality gamers ought to weigh several important aspects of both mobile and tethered headsets when making a decision.

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