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The best 2016 Virtual Reality Headsets: Which one should you buy?

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2016 has seen some amazing advancements in Virtual Reality, with some amazing tech being released.

With so many options out there, it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. This decision can become even harder when you discover the cost of the product. One tested piece of advice that has stuck true with Virtual Reality Headsets is: "You get what you pay for".

With that said, the biggest competitors on the market at this moment are The Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. All three are, unsurprisingly, the most expensive. The top three boast unbeatable immersion, super-fast refresh rates and sky high resolutions.

Every headset has its own strengths and weaknesses. Without knowing these first, purchasing the ‘wrong one’ could be a very costly mistake to make. Which is why this article is here to help!

Here is our guide for the Top Five virtual reality headsets.

5. Google Cardboard

Existence: Available

Price: Free - £15 (Depending on the model)

Compatibility: modern phablet-sized device

Quality: Good/cheap

Functionality: Limited

Google Cardboard could be seen as a somewhat ironic and insincere approach to Virtual Reality. However, it makes for a great mini project if you’d like to see what all the fuss is about. You may either download the instructions and create your own headset, or kits are available to buy online from a variety of sites.

Once your headset has been bought or constructed, Google Cardboard apps can be downloaded to your iOs or Android device through the appropriate app store. Once apps have been installed, simply drop your device into the holder and start playing!

It is certainly not the best Virtual Reality experience on the market, but if your device is equipped with a hi-res screen, the device can be a lot of fun.

 

4. Samsung Gear VR

Existence: Available

Price: £50 - £160

Compatibility: Most 2016 phones

Quality: Good

With borrowed technology from Oculus, Samsung Gear VR was essentially the first Virtual Reality headset on the market. Using it is simple. Grab a Samsung phone, download virtual reality apps from the Oculus store and clip your device into the headset.

The first model only supported the Samsung Note 4, but newer models have begun to extend the compatibility so that a number of Samsung phones (including the Note 5 and later Galaxy models). Due to the high number of devices that are compatible with the Samsung Gear VR, the quality of the Virtual Reality experience can vary. Older devices produce a lower quality image due to the limited pixel density they possess. The newer devices offer a much higher pixel density and therefore better quality experience.

This particular product is not the best in terms of quality, but it is one of the easiest headsets to set up and play.

3. Oculus Rift

Existence: Available

Price: £499

Motion controls: none

Room-Scale: None

The Virtual Reality race to be the very best and huge advancement in Virtual Reality technology is all down to one man, the founder of Oculus, Palmer Luckey. Palmer Luckey collected Virtual Reality technology as a teenager and was instantly fascinated by it. His fascination caused him to create his own headset in his home garage. With a huge number of prototypes and a $2 billion Facebook backing, Oculus is still the biggest name in Virtual Reality.

The consumer version of the Oculus headset was released this year, meaning fans can finally get their hands on the headset that started it all.

With no room scale technology, the Oculus Rift limits the player to a more static Virtual Reality experience. The Oculus Rift does not (yet) come with any handheld controls to deepen the Virtual Reality experience, meaning that users have to play using the standard keyboard or traditional game controller. Oculus handheld controllers are currently still in production and have yet to be released.

The Oculus Rift redeems itself slightly with a retail price that’s almost £300 cheaper than the HTV Vive. Oculus Rift offers itself as the mid-range option for those of us with less space to spare.

 

2. PlayStation VR

Existence: Available

Price: £350

Selection of games: Wide range

Unlike the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR headset does not need a gaming PC to run. The PlayStation VR simply needs a PlayStation 4 game console to run. Bearing in mind, the huge difference between the PlayStaion 4 and a PC in terms of power, the PlayStation VR headset is surprisingly capable. It has a good refresh rate and has had little to no problems with its head tracking.

With backing from Sony, this headset has an impressive range of different games.

The biggest problem with the PlayStation VR is its accessories, which are not included in the headsets box. To use this particular headset the player will need to separately purchase a PlayStation 4 camera and a pair of PlayStation Move controllers.

If these accessories were included with the PlayStation VR headset, the product would be amazing value for money. However, you must be aware of the additional charges involved at this time.

 

1. HTC Vive

Existence: Available

Price: £770

Software Partner: Valve

At this point, the HTC Vive offers the most ‘complete’ Virtual Reality experience on the market. Along with the headset, the HTC Vive comes with two base stations which track the headsets movements and two motion controllers. The accessories are important as they allow the HTC Vive to produce a more immersive Virtual Reality experience than using a keyboard or traditional game controller.

The HTC Vive headset contains two 1080p screens which produce a very crisp image. It is also the highest resolution headset on the market, alongside the Oculus Rift.

One feature of the HTC Vive makes it stand out from the crowd. The HTC Vive has a room-scale feature which allows a player to wander about a space of 4.5 x 4.5 meters. This adds another dimension to the Virtual Reality experience. That’s if you have enough space in your real room.

One downside to the HTC Vive is its price. It’s expensive. But as pointed out at the very beginning: you get what you pay for.

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