VR headsets comparison
The tech in virtual reality headsets has finally improved to a point that it’s worth the investment VR headsets can be used for not only gaming but also immersive workout sessions, concerts, watching movies and even traveling — all virtually. But to have the best virtual reality experiences, you need the best VR headset.
To help you figure out which models are worth it and which you should avoid, we tested four of the top options currently available on the market to see how they performed: HP Reverb G2, HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, Oculus Quest 2 and HTC Vive Pro 2. Based on the ease of setup, image quality, sound quality, tracking, comfort and value, here’s what is (and isn’t) worth the buy.
Key features to consider when shopping for a VR headset
It’s easy to get caught up in tech specs when you’re looking for a VR headset, but they aren’t as important as the actual playing experience. How does the unit look, sound, feel and function? With that in mind, here are the key features to consider when shopping for a VR headset.
- Ease of setup: Even if you have no previous experience with a VR headset, setting the system up should be an uncomplicated process that flows smoothly from opening the box to playing your first game.
- Image quality: You need to see your virtual world with clarity and in great detail.
- Sound quality: Robust audio is crucial for a truly immersive experience.
- Tracking and responsiveness: If you’ve ever played a game and there’s even a fraction of a second delay in responsiveness or your character doesn’t move the way you intended, you know how vital these features are.
- Comfortable fit: Pain or discomfort should never cut your VR session short.
- Value: If a product doesn’t meet your expectations for the price you pay, it isn’t a good value.
VR headsets worth considering
Our experience with the Oculus Quest 2
The Oculus Quest 2 emerged as our top choice for a VR headset. It’s accessible to everyone — just open up the box and everything you need is there. The setup is quick and easy, the graphics are impressive and the motion tracking is on point. However, what makes this the best option is the price. The Oculus Quest is the most affordable option, yet its performance rivals headsets that more than double the cost, making it an exceptional value.
Sold by Amazon.
Why we recommend the Oculus Quest 2
This VR headset is ideal for the individual who’s curious about the world of virtual reality and wants to have a high-quality first experience without spending a lot of money. You can have the system up and running in very little time, and the battery life is more than enough to keep you playing for hours. The standout feature of this headset, however, is its versatility — you can use it to play video games, work out, attend concerts or socialize with friends. No matter what virtual experiences you’re interested in, this model can accommodate your needs.
What is the HTC Vive Pro 2?
The HTC Vive Pro 2 offers the best VR experience. The headset fits well and the controllers offer incredibly precise tracking in all three dimensions. In short, it’s the highest-quality setup we tested. Unfortunately, it’s also the highest priced. It’s best for people who have some experience with VR and who are ready to invest in a state of the art system.
Sold by Amazon.
Why we recommend the HTC Vive Pro 2
The Vive Pro 2 is a well-built headset that’s very comfortable and fits securely on your head. To get the most out of this device you will also need to purchase controllers, base stations separately. For our testing we also purchased two tripod mounting stands, but you can also mount the base stations to the wall. The step-by-step video walks you through the setup process, making it very easy to get the hardware up and running. Once focused, the graphics are very sharp and the high frame rate prevents choppiness in gameplay. When you pair this headset with a sufficiently powered computer, the VR experience is hard to beat.
What is the HP Reverb G2?
The HP Reverb G2 is a VR headset that requires no external sensors, so you don’t need to mount any devices when setting this headset up. Instead, you simply walk the headset around the boundaries of your play space to define its limits. This makes the Reverb G2 best for use in a dedicated room. To use this headset, you also need a Windows-based computer that can run VR programming.
Sold by HP.
Why we recommend the HP Reverb G2
If you’re already familiar with Microsoft products, the HP Reverb G2 can be a gateway to the world of VR. The Mixed Reality portal feels immediately comfortable and has areas for all Windows applications so you can watch a video, browse the internet or write an email all from the portal. Instead of working at a desktop or laptop, the Reverb G2 gives the user a whole new (and futuristic) way to compute. Of course, it also has excellent audio, video and tracking, so you can play games with no stuttering or jittering, making it a solid option for all your computing interests.
The VR headset that fell short
Our experience with the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite delivered an adequate VR experience. If the set had a lower price point, it would have made this a model worth considering, but for a headset that’s twice as much as the Oculus Quest 2 yet only offers comparable performance, it’s hard to give this a thumbs-up.
Sold by Amazon.
Why the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite fell short
Many aspects of the Vive Cosmos Elite left us wishing there was just a little more. The sensors occasionally dropped tracking, but only for a second or two, and the controllers felt awkward because they were just a hair too long. The trackball inputs were not intuitive — thumbsticks are more natural — and the headset never felt fully secure. While the visuals were impressive, we couldn’t adjust the eye screens to be crystal clear, and the speakers sat just a bit too far away from the ears. Despite all these shortcomings, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite isn’t a bad VR headset, but it fell short because it wasn’t as impressive as the other models we tested.
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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