In a world where people are more distant from each other than ever, VR has taken on a completely different meaning in recent months. VR is still not the gathering place or workplace I would like to be, but it is closer. Oculus Quest became the closest a home VR console which was ever available. But VR is also currently changing, as technology is constantly evolving.
VR games have been better than ever this year, thanks to Valve’s VR masterpiece Half-Life: Alyx and more recently Star Wars: Squadrons. But you still have to decide if you want headphones that plug into your computer or console, or when playing a VR game, choose a standalone option like Oculus Quest. Currently new Oculus Quest 2 is the best, most affordable option for VR, but it requires a Facebook account to work.
More changes will come. Companies like Qualcomm (which produces chips in most standalone VR headsets, including the new Quest 2) are making new chips indicating a wave better standalone headphones at lower prices – including those that plug into your phone.
Meanwhile, mobile VR headsets and phone-based VR headsets – like Samsung Gear VR i Google Daydream – It is basically dead. A good number of current iPhone, Android and VR app options don’t even work with old mobile VR glasses. If the smartphone-based VR comes back, it will most likely be in the form of small headphones connect to phones via USB-C for VR content, VR games and other purposes.
Read more: The best gaming computers for 2021
Whether you’re a PC gamer, solid VR headphones connected to a gaming PC offer the most versatile software collection for an immersive VR experience and let you use those headphones for creative and business tools. Keep in mind that a more powerful VR system will still be largely tied to the desktop or laptop, and PC VR headsets may require external sensors, so it may not be the best option for everyone.
And what about playing consoles? Aging PlayStation VR it’s still fun if it’s for sale and if you have a PS4, mostly because there are a lot more great games for this device than you think. The PlayStation 5, while works with PSVR, needs older controllers and adapters and there aren’t many graphically enhanced VR games yet.
Just know that VR is still here, but it is evolving. Augmented reality headphones and mixed reality headphones you’re not ready for everyday home use yet, so solid VR headphones are your best bet to escape to other worlds in the meantime. Read on to find out what’s best for you. We update this from time to time, but keep in mind that prices are subject to change.
Read more: Want to play Half-Life: Alyx? Here’s VR equipment that works
Sarah Tew / CNET
Good: Standalone and wireless; excellent touch controllers; comfortable game design; also a PC VR headset.
Bad: Requires a Facebook account.
Priced at $ 300, with nothing else needed, the Oculus Quest 2 offers virtual reality games and an impressive VR experience anywhere. It’s faster, smaller, cheaper, and more comfortable to carry than the original Quest, but to use it, you have to sign in to Facebook.
Quest 2 is reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch in its versatility and fun, and it only takes a few seconds to start up and fit really well on the glasses. The standalone VR headsets have standalone motion tracking and a full-motion six-degree of freedom (aka 6DoF) VR controller equal to those on a computer needed by the Oculus Rift, plus a surprisingly great high-resolution display and built-in speakers. Applications are downloaded right to the built-in memory of standalone headsets. Its more limited mobile processor still plays extremely well games like Beat Saber, Moss and SuperHot VR, and can even connect to a computer if you want, using a single USB-C cable.
Facebook of Quest 2 is suddenly creating its own VR headset, discontinuing its own PC VR headset, the Oculus Rift S, next spring. For this reason, Quest 2 is currently the best option for Rift, but keep in mind that VR computer users have a lot of other options for headphones. Read our review of Oculus Quest 2.
Sarah Tew / CNET
Good: Incredible futuristic controllers; high quality headphones; works with Vive hardware.
Bad: Expensive; requires room adjustment and mooring cable.
Valve’s new headphones could be the most interesting virtual reality experience for PCs this year, just for his fancy new controllers. Valve “joint” regulators are pressure sensitive and can track all five fingers, making them almost like gloves. There aren’t many apps yet, but Valve’s hardware is mix-and-match compatible with the HTC Vive, which is also built on the Steam VR platform. The Index headphones have great sound and a really sharp, wide viewing screen.
The index uses the outer boxes of the “lighthouse,” which means you have to place them in the room first. It’s not as self-effacing as the Oculus Rift S, which can monitor a room with headset cameras or the HTC Vive Cosmos. It’s also definitely not wireless, but if you already have some Vive hardware, you can add parts of the Mix and Match Index. Read our review of the valve index.
Sarah Tew / CNET
Good: Plenty of games; lower price; works with many PS4 controllers like DualShock and Move.
Bad: The resolution is not top notch; Sony has yet to make great VR controllers to match the competition.
Three more than three-year-old Sony PSVR headphones are still the only screen on the head for gaming consoles, and its screen still offers a surprisingly impressive experience. Even better, it often sells for as little as $ 200, sometimes with in-game games. Sony has shipped (and continues to ship) many great virtual reality games, many of which are exclusive. All you need is a PSVR and PlayStation 4 and you can start playing. (Here are a few good games to start with.) This VR system, however, shows its age compared to alternative versions. And, the new PS5, although it will work with the PSVR, you will need the old PS4 controllers and camera, as well as a camera adapter. Best Buy is currently selling it in a package with Iron Man for $ 350. Read our review of Sony PlayStation VR.
Good: Really sharp high resolution screen, great sound, comfortable design
Bad: Central controllers
If you want to work in VR or just want the best picture quality, HP’s latest VR headsets win. A resolution of 2,160×2,160 per eye and a 114-degree field of view are the best in this price range, and the lightweight, comfortable headphones also feature fantastic drop-down speakers designed by Valve. These are technically Microsoft’s mixed-reality headsets for Windows that prefer to run Microsoft’s native Windows 10 VR ecosystem, but connect to Steam VR and work with those games and applications. Built-in camera-based room tracking is easier to set up than external Valve Index base stations, but more prone to tracking errors. The included controllers, based on Microsoft’s VR controller design, feel more awkward than the Oculus Touch controller or the Valve Index controller.
Angela Lang / CNET
Good: Modular front panels for extra features; built-in tracking; folding visor, works with Steam VR.
The wild card for PC VR is the Vive Cosmos, a sequel to the 2016 HTC Vive. The Cosmos has stand-alone tracking like the Oculus Quest 2 and Reverb G2, and also has interchangeable front panels that will add more mixed-reality cameras and external sensor tracking (for greater holodeck-type experiences). You can combine and match Vive and Valve Index add-ons with it, but we currently prefer the Reverb G2 and Valve Index over the Cosmos. Read more about HTC Vive Cosmos.