Back

What are the best VR headsets? How do I choose?

11 minutes to read
white V on navy background
Virti Team
August 6, 2020

What are the best VR headsets? How do I choose?

 

On the international business stages, 2020 has been the year in which Virtual Reality (VR) technology has been thrust into the spotlight. Owing to the demands of social distancing and the rapid advances in VR software and hardware, businesses are waking up to the incredible potential of this cutting edge innovation.

The myriad applications of this technology (which enables users to immerse themselves in and interact with a digitally-simulated environment) range from AI-assisted soft skills training to distance learning, remote conferencing, virtual hiring and training, and even remote sales demonstrations.  

If you’re looking to harness the benefits of VR, you’ll want to be sure that you invest wisely in the most appropriate headsets. 

However, the sheer breadth of choice might seem a little overwhelming to the uninitiated - especially as new models are constantly entering the market. 

Here at Virti, we’re working at the forefront of the industry to deliver pioneering immersive digital training - so we certainly know what a first-time buyer should be looking out for when it comes to selecting the optimum headset. 

Crucially, our training platform is tech-agnostic, which means that it can be accessed via any VR headset (or even a smartphone) - so no vested interests here! 

Read on to find our guide to the best headset models currently on the market.

OCULUS 

Oculus Quest 

Unknown 4

Release Date: May 2019

Price: from £399

This model is wireless, and the freedom afforded by it being a standalone headset makes it perfectly suited to immersive training involving the navigation of virtual spaces. Other plus points include the advanced motion tracking of its inbuilt front-facing cameras, and its hand tracking capabilities, which negate the need for cumbersome controllers. And, being portable and easy to set up, it’s convenient for travelling to clients. In general, the image quality is impressive - afforded by the Quest’s high resolution* (1440 x 1600 pixels per eye) dual OLED display screens - and you can guarantee continuous provision of support and updates from Oculus. 

Oculus Rift-S

Unknown 4 v2

Release Date: May 2019

Price: from £399

This model does not have a wireless adapter and lacks physical adjustments to alter its fit. However, it is lighter and we found it to be more comfortable to wear than the Quest. This makes it preferable for longer training sessions which require less roaming. Though it has a lower resolution* (1280 x 1440 pixels per eye) than the Quest, we find that it is still perfect for watching video content. This is due to its RGB LCD screens, which provide more subpixels and colours overall, with less of a Screen Door Effect (SDE)*.

 

HTC VIVE

HTC Vive Pro 

Unknown 4 v6

Release Date: April 2018

Price: from £599

HTC Vive Cosmos

Unknown 4 v4

Release Date: October 2019

Price: from £699

The Vive Pro comes with the same resolution as the Oculus Quest (1440 x 1600 pixels per eye) and is notable for its rich, sharp visuals, as well as its 3D spatial sound. This makes for an outstanding user experience which minimises risk of nausea. However, there is a need for additional tracking equipment to be placed around the space you intend to use it in. Though it allows for more advanced functionality, this feature also makes the Vive Pro more difficult to set up. You could avoid this by opting for the otherwise very similar Cosmos model from HTC Vive. A significant advantage this headset can claim over Oculus however, is that the lenses and straps are fully adjustable for optimum comfort. 

It’s important to note that both these models can be operated without wires if an adapter kit is separately purchased. 

HTC Vive Pro Eye

Unknown 4 v3

Release Date: June 2019

Price: from £1,299

HTC Vive Focus Plus

Unknown 4 v7

Release Date: April 2019

Price: £905

Though it looks almost identical to the Vive Pro, the Pro Eye is its higher-end counterpart, reserved for businesses wanting to invest in professional-grade equipment. Its top of the range specifications are reflected by its being double the price of the Oculus models - more than what’s needed for your average training and conferencing needs. What sets it apart, is its advanced eye-tracking technology. This allows the headset to determine what you’re focusing on and where your attention is, revealing deeper insights in VR training scenarios such as virtual meetings. One point down the price scale, you could opt instead for the Vive Focus Plus; a similarly cutting edge and standalone headset which is specifically marketed for enterprise use. Notably, multiple headset monitoring makes it perfect for teamwork-based training exercises.

 

VALVE 

Valve Index

Unknown 4 v8

Release Date: June 2019

Price: from £459 (not inc. base stations)

Hailed as being next-generation when it was released last year, this is another high-end option at twice the price of the Oculus models. Like the Vive Pro, the Valve Index also requires external tracking equipment placed around the room. And the need for these ‘base stations’ again make it less portable and easy to set up. Its main USP is the ‘index’ - known as ‘knuckle’ - controllers. If you need a model suitable for hands-on simulation training tasks, this part of the kit makes it capable of measuring physical responses and results with unparalleled detail. This will also be aided by the close positioning of its eye lenses, which allow for the widest possible Field of View (FoV)*.

 

PICO

Pico G2 

Unknown 4 v9

Release Date: 2018

Price: from approx. £237 ($299)

Pico G2 4K

Unknown 4 v10

Release Date: G2 4K: May 2019 / G2 4K S: July 2020

Price: G2 4K S: from approx. £298 ($375)

Pico Neo2 

Unknown 4 v12

Release Date: May 2020

Price: from approx. £555 ($700) 

Neo2 Eye

Unknown 4 v11

Release Date: May 2020

Price: from approx. £714 ($900) 

As its name would suggest, the Pico G2 4K marks an upgrade on the 3K display of the Pico G2 model. And the brand has just announced an updated version of the former, which will boast increased storage and battery life. 

But for the majority of enterprise needs, we would suggest the Pico Neo2 from this brand. Whilst the tracking technology on the former allows only for 3 Degrees of Freedom (DoF)*, the Neo2 comes with 6 DoF*, rewarding users with intuitive responses to body as well as eye movement.  

The Neo 2 is a wireless headset which claims to be built with business in mind. And we can see why. Its 4k display lends it excellent image quality, alongside processing speed and storage capacity which better the similarly sharp Oculus Quest. However,  for virtual reality training exercises measuring pace, its otherwise impressive 360 tracking technology is unfortunately hampered by lag. If you’re ready to upgrade, integrated eye tracking comes with the Neo2 Eye. As with the higher end HTC model mentioned, this feature allows businesses to obtain key insights into subtle behaviour. 

 

VARJO 

Varjo VR-2 

Unknown 4 v13

Release Date: October 2019

Price: from approx. £3,963 ($4,995)

VR-2 Pro

Unknown 4 v14

Release Date: October 2019

Price: from approx. £4,755 ($5,995) 

Varjo pride themselves on the human-eye quality of their image display. In fact, the resolution* of the VR-2’s Bionic DisplayTM is the same as that of most headsets on the market (1440 x 1600 pixels per eye) and it actually has a smaller FoV* than the Valve Index. But something else sets apart its screen: the fact that there are two of them. A second microdisplay is responsible for its astounding clarity. This makes it well suited to safety-oriented training scenarios requiring minutiae detail. 

To draw out equally in-depth business insights during those scenarios, it also has what it calls Integrated 20/20 Eye TrackerTM. Essentially, this means it has eye tracking technology - it's not the only one (see the HTC Vive Pro Eye and Pico Neo2 Eye). Upgrade to the VR-2 Pro however, and you also get UltraleapTM hand tracking technology. This is significant, since it removes the need for the controllers which come with the Valve Index.

Varjo XR-1

Unknown 4 v15

Release Date: May 2019

Price: from approx. £7,914 ($9,995)

The Developer Edition, as its name suggests, is primarily for the use of designers and developers. This is because its Mixed Reality mode allows professionals to interact with virtual 3D models, blended against the backdrop of live views. It can also be suited to training scenarios which require collaboration with teams in real life alongside virtual elements, and additionally supports full VR experiences. Ranking with the same 20/20 Eye TrackerTM and Bionic DisplayTM as the other Varjo headsets, the XR-1 stands out as a more versatile option. 

 

SONY

Sony PSVR

Unknown 4 v16

Release Date: October 2016

Price: £349

This offering from PlayStation caters more towards the consumer market, specifically gamers. But it’s still a great option for businesses beginning to experiment with VR for the first time, due in part to its affordable price tag. Its case is also helped by the high subpixel and refresh rate* of its LCD screen, which compensates for its resolution* being lower than others (1080 x 960 pixels per eye). The setup process is surprisingly difficult considering the fact that it’s contingent upon such a common console. But if you can get past that - that and its wires - the user experience is overall very good. And, importantly, very comfortable. The main pitfall of this headset is that its tracking technology relies on bringing a PlayStation console into the office, alongside a very limited set of controllers. 

 

HP

HP Reverb G2

Unknown 4 v17

Release Date: September 2020

Price: £525

Due to come out in Autumn this year, the most marked difference between this headset and others is its significantly higher resolution* at 2160 x 2160 (pixels per eye). Like the Oculus Rift-S, it also has RGB LCD screens with more subpixels; in fact, HP claims to have eliminated the SDE* entirely. Considered adjustment capabilities also promise to make the experience of wearing this headset as natural as possible. A disadvantage is that it does not come with eye or hand tracking. And though its inside-out tracking cameras make it more portable, this is limited by its controls and the lifespan of the batteries which they depend on - worth bearing in mind for business trips or conferences. 

 

APPLE

Apple VR Headset 

Release Date: TBC (expected 2022)

Price: TBC

Details around this upcoming release, expected in 2022, are all speculation currently. But our final mention goes to the tech giant, Apple, since its debut into the world of VR will certainly shake up the headset market.

 

VR Headset Glossary 

 

  • Fields of View (FOV) which are broader produce a greater feeling of immersion.
  • Tracking which enables six degrees of freedom allows the headset to respond to the movement of your body as well as your eyes; by contrast to three degrees of freedom, which responds only to your gaze.
  • Low latency minimises the delay between the user’s input and headset’s display response, and the feeling of nausea which can otherwise result.
  • High refresh rates mean that the headset displays a greater number of images per second, reducing the appearance of stuttering.
  • High resolution displays ensure greater image quality 
  • The Screen Door Effect (SDE) is the mesh-like appearance of pixels viewed at close range, which results from a low resolution image display.

 

If you have any specific questions about how your business could integrate VR technology into everyday practice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of the Virti team. 

 




Related News