Latest XR hardware review

COVID-19 had dominated the year 2020 like no other. Most of the countries were forced to go into a full lockdown to prevent the widespread of that horrible virus. A silver lining here is that online communication tools became the sole viable method to communicate and interact with each other. Thanks to that, applications such as VR Chat gained a lot of popularity. Moreover, to substitute the missing physical presence, virtual reality technologies were used to host ceremony and conferences around the world. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay used a virtual reality solution to host a convocation ceremony.

Unlike the traditional media, to consume XR (extended reality) contents, hardware such as head mount displays or glasses are required. Fortunately, based on my research, there are many options available for various platforms with respective price ranges that fit everyone’s needs. To help fellow enthusiasts, who don’t yet own an XR device and want to experience this amazing technology, I have listed down a few latest VR (virtual reality) and MR (mixed reality) devices that are great in my opinion.

Latest VR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionRefresh RateFOVAudio
HP Reverb G$5992160×216090 Hz114ºOff-ear speakers
Valve Index$4991440×1600120 Hz130ºOff-ear speakers,
audio jack,
Oculus Quest 2$299 1832×192090 Hz90ºIntegrated stereo speakers, 3.5 mm headphone jack
Oculus Rift S$3991280×144080 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers
1x 3.5 mm audio jack
HTC Vive Cosmos$6991920×108090 Hz110ºIn-line audio speakers

If I am to buy a VR device right now, I would definitely go for an Oculus Quest 2. Despite being the latest release of the Oculus Quest product line, Oculus Quest 2 is surprisingly affordable with the starting price of only USD 299 for 64GB version, which makes it a no-brainer choice for a starter VR device. On top of that, Occulus Quest 2 is highly portable since it does not have to tether to a VR capable machine to work. It has a high resolution (1832×1920 pixels per eye) and comes with built-in audio speakers. It is also equipped with 2 non-rechargeable touch controllers that provide great comfort for gaming.

Oculus Quest 2

The downsides of Oculus Quest 2 is that you need a Facebook account to use it, and it only has access to a limited number of games on Quest Store right now. However, creating a Facebook account is free and by tethering with a single USB-C cable, Oculus Quest 2 can also function as PCVR which has access to a bigger game library. Although the controllers are not rechargeable, using rechargeable AAA batteries does the trick. All in all, Oculus Quest 2 is a solid choice for both starters and veterans who are looking for an upgrade at the start of 2021.

Latest MR devices

DevicePrice (USD)ResolutionFOV
Magic Leap One$2,2951280×196040º
Microsoft HoloLens 2$3,5002048×108052°
Nreal Light$1,0001920×108052°

Among the listed devices, my perferred choice is Microsoft HoloLens 2. Since it is a successor of the original HoloLens, it has access to the wider range of programs. Having wider field of view than most of the devices, it also support more intuitive gestures that fit around natural interactions used in day-to-day lives; think pinches, pulls and drags, unlike the original HoloLens. Being developed by Microsoft, the developer ecosystem is relatively stronger. Dynamics 365 integrations, just like office 360 integrations, will soon be available too.

Microsoft HoloLens 2

That being said Microsoft HoloLens 2 is very pricy and slightly bulkier than my confort level. It may simply because the target auidence of the devices are industry workers and the benefits for user business seems justify the cost of it. I hope that in the near future more advanced and slimer devices for mixed reality become available.

VR/AR/MR Hardware

The latest hardwares for VR/AR/MR that I think are great are:

  • Oculus Quest 2
  • Valve Index
  • Sony Playstation VR
  • HoloLens 2
  • Samsung Odyssey+

Most Preferred VR Headset: Oculus Quest 2

Image taken from TomsHardware

My most preferred VR device would be the Oculus Quest 2, as it is the most affordable and comfortable option currently on the market.

The Oculus Quest 2 is untethered, and can be conveniently used without having to create an elaborate set up. This wireless functionality not only brings convenience, but also allows for a more immersive experience, as having a cable banging against our back can distract us from the experience.

Moreover, the Oculus Quest 2 comes with improved screen resolution from its predecessor, decent controllers, and bundles all of these features into an affordable price point. As a student with a low budget, this makes the Oculus Quest 2 very attractive.

Most Preferred MR Headset: HoloLens 2

Image taken from Wired

My most preferred MR device would be the HoloLens 2, as it offers a mixed reality experience that is comfortable and intuitive to the user. The headset is lightweight and balanced, and the large knob at the back allows users to place the headset comfortably on ones head.

The virtual interaction can also be intuitive, as the HoloLens 2 tracks the user’s hands and is able to detect finger movement. This allows users to interact with the environment in a very natural way by pinching, pressing and dragging the user interface.

Exciting Hardware in Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR) / Mixed Reality (MR)

Many people would have heard of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) in the context of games and entertainment. While those use cases make up a large portion of the market, these technologies are also being applied in a huge variety of industries such as medicine and the military (among many others).

For example, Dr. Shafi Ahmed conducted the first surgery that was broadcasted live in VR. Traditionally, in order to view a surgery that is within such an intimate distance, observers would have to be on-site. However, fledgling surgeons and medical professionals could use this session as an effective training tool while not having to be physically present.

Evidently, VR, AR and MR present an exciting variety of use cases, some of which might not even be realized. In this post, I will share some of the most exciting hardware available for VR, AR and MR.

Virtual Reality (VR) Hardware

List of VR Headsets Considered

  • Oculus Rift S
  • HTC Vive
  • Valve Index
  • Pimax Vision 8K X

I have considered a total of 5 factors to determine which of these headsets I would favor.

Resolution (per eye)Refresh RateField of View Mass Price
Oculus Rift S2560 by 1440 (Single Display)80Hz 115º 500g$299
Pimax Vision 8K X3840 by 216090Hz 200º 500g$1299
HTC Vive 1080 by 120090Hz 110º 470g$499
Valve Index 1440 by 1600Up to 144 Hz130 º 809g$999

The winner: Pimax Vision 8K X

This headset, while being the most costly out of the four, impressed me the most with its enthusiast-grade specs. It provides a whopping 200º field of view (a human’s field of view is 210 º ). It also provides the highest resolution of 3840 by 2160. This two factors would contribute to Pimax Vision 8K X providing a greater level of immersion to the user. This headset is also compatible with SteamVR and Oculus software, meaning that it will have an access to a large amount of VR content. The weight is also relatively low at 500g which means that extended usage will not cause as much physical strain as the Valve Index (the heaviest among those mentioned).

Unfortunately, a VR headset with such impressive specs would require an equally impressive computer to support it. According to the specifications, it requires an RTX 2080 to run at native mode, which would set the user back by a further US$699. However, a user buying an enthusiast-grade VR headset would likely already have an enthusiast-grade desktop to support it.

Honorable Mention: Google Cardboard

While not on the list, I think the Google Cardboard deserves a mention. Compared to the Pimax 8K X, it seemingly lies on the other end of the spectrum, completely relying on the attached phone’s hardware (as it does not have any on its own).

While it is a far-cry from the aforementioned headsets in terms of specs and UI/UX-wise, it can be a good starting point for users who want to try out VR without having to spend anything.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) Hardware

List of AR/MR Hardware Considered

  • Microsoft HoloLens 2 – $3500
  • Epson Moverio BT-350 – $1099
  • Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 – $999
ResolutionField of View Price
Microsoft HoloLens 22048 by 1080 52° $3500
Epson Moverio BT-3501280 by 720 23° $1099
Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2 640 by 360 83° $999

The winner: Microsoft HoloLens 2

For this category, I had a hard time deciding which AR/MR headset was the best. Checking out each of their specifications, the headset with the higher price tag had a higher screen resolution, but not necessarily a higher field of view.

The Microsoft HoloLens 2 ships today for $3,500 - The Verge
Microsoft HoloLens 2 (image taken from The Verge)

Most of these AR headsets are for commercial use, and one big advantage of the Microsoft HoloLens 2 is its powerful analytics tools which make use of AI and the excellent UI/UX. Furthermore, it uses Microsoft’s own Azure Cloud, which is an open-source network that will allow developers to come up with their own frameworks to suit their needs.

Honorable Mention: Apple AR

While Apple does not have a device specifically made for AR, it has pushed AR technologies onto its mobile devices, creating the biggest AR platform with hundreds of millions of devices. This is good news for people who already have an iPhone or an iPad as they need not splurge a thousand dollars just to experience AR.

Apple AR logo

For developers, Apple even provides frameworks which developers can use to create their own AR/MR applications easily.

AR/VR/MR Analysis

List the latest HWs for VR/AR/MR

Here are some of the hardwares that I think are great:t

  • Valve Index
  • Sony Playstation VR
  • Oculus Rift S
  • HTC Vive Cosmos
  • Oculus Quest 2
  • Magic Leap One
  • Microsoft Hololens

As a student deciding my most preferred device, I look out for the price. Since VR/MR technology still isn’t as mainstream as regular gaming consoles, their prices can be extremely high. For example, the Valve Index (full kit) costs more than $3,000 (see on Amazon).

I am also concerned about convenience. As someone who prefers wireless devices, I would avoid heavy devices that require a lot of cables as they may feel bulky and messy.

Most Preferred VR Device

Oculus Quest 2

Source: Road to VR
DeviceValve IndexSony Playstation VROculus Rift SHTC Vive CosmosOculus Quest 2
Starting Price (USD)$999S$299$399$699$299
Resolution1600 x 14401920 x 10802560 x 14401700 x 14401920 x 1832
Field of View130°100°115°110°90°
Refresh Rate120hz120hz, 90hz80hz90hz60hz, 72hz, 90hz
ChargingRechargableRechargableAA batteriesAA batteriesAA batteries

The Oculus Quest 2 product is a successor to the Oculus Quest. It is slimmer and cheaper, containing all the basic features of its predecessor. Some of the significant improvements include a more responsive experience with the improved RAM (4GB → 6GB) and resolution (1600 x 14401920 x 1832) (source).

Immediately, the price is a huge plus point to me as it is one of the cheapest VR headsets out there. Although the Playstation VR comes close, you will need a Playstation console to use the Playstation VR. As someone who just wants to experience VR, the Quest 2 (which is just a standalone unit) will suffice.

Another plus point for the Quest 2 would be its convenience. As mentioned earlier, it is a standalone device which means you only require the device itself to play. On the other hand, the HTC Vive Cosmos or Valve Index, for example, requires connection to a computer which means dealing with cables. The Quest 2 offers a tethered experience as well with a $100 cable. Moreover, the Quest 2 runs on AA batteries as opposed to charging, which means you simply have to replace the batteries when it gets low, as opposed to waiting for it to charge sufficiently. This is great for someone like myself who cannot keep track of charging my devices.

Although many reviewers list the requirement of a Facebook account as a con of using the Quest 2 (this article considers this a reason to avoid using), I am indifferent to it as I already have a Facebook account and I have any qualms using my Facebook account for games.

Most Preferred MR Device

Microsoft HoloLens 2

Source: Wired
DeviceMicrosoft HoloLens 2Magic Leap One
Starting Price (USD)$3,500$2,295
Resolution2040 x 10801280 x 1960
Field of View52°50°
Refresh Rate240hz120Hz

Regarding price, despite the HoloLens 2 is being expensive, it seems that it was priced with enterprise-use in mind. For example, airline mechanics could be shown how to carry out a certain repair, or have a handsfree manual with them (source). Hence, I was not too strict on judging the price of the HoloLens 2. Given the great features packed into the HoloLens 2, the price difference from the Magic Leap One is well justified.

In terms of convenience, the HoloLens 2 is completely wireless and allows users to experience MR handsfree with the help of its 4 head tracking and 2 eye tracking sensors. This is opposed to the Magic Leap One where users have to operate the device with a hand-held navigation controller attached to the headset with a cable.

Although I do not wear glasses, one con of the Magic Leap One agreed upon by many reviewers was that it would not fit well on users with glasses. Hence, users who wear glasses might want to opt for contact lenses when using the device. Alternatively, Magic Leap offers prescription inserts for their “shortsighted visionaries”.

Virtual Reality and Mixed Reality Technologies

Before we dive right into my top headsets list, let’s explore the relevant metrics that aided me in sieving these few choices out. Since the program or game used for the headset is not inclusive in this comparison, we will not be able to compare how each headset provides `Experiences` or its corresponding fidelity levels. Instead, we will be comparing how each headset is able to support these experiences through its technical specifications and unique features. As all I can see are through Youtube videos, my opinions may be swayed by the reviewers I watch.

Here are my favourite headsets shortlisted from the youtube videos I could find.

VR Headsets:

1. HTC Vive Cosmos
2. Playstation VR from Sony
3. Quest 2 (Oculus)

AR Headsets:
1. HoloLens 2
2. Google Glass
3. Magic Leap

MR Headsets:
1. HoloLens 2
2. Samsung Odyssey+

There are certain metrics used to evaluate my favourite Headset; albeit amateur ones.
These are field of vision, resolution, refresh rate, modularity, auxiliary modules (such as earpieces), how comfortable it looks, its I/O options, how independent the set is, its software support, tracking capability, etc.

Which is my favourite? (as a consumer)
Oculus Quest 2!

– Integrated Speakers
There is no need for additional speakers or headsets, which may interfere with the headset itself. This means zero latency while providing an enclosed environment and quality sound. This may not be ideal for users with specific audio preferences, but works perfectly for me, or the majority of users. Tangle-free, fuss-free.

– Doesn’t require additional modules / Oculus Link
The Oculus is stand-alone and does not need another device like the PlayStation VR. This means lower costs and ease of upgrade. (no need to upgrade PC, or graphics card) — however, this may not be ideal for users who wish for modularity.
Oculus Link allows users to link with a PC. This allows for choices.

– Aesthetics
It looks clean, modern and not too daunting to the regular consumer (e.g as compared to the Hololens with industrial looks)

– Controllers
This is one major factor as to why the oculus is one of my favourites. With an easy entry from console controllers, your hand can rest on the controller, with the thumb be the only moving limb. This provides intuitive and fast controls. The grooves look ergonomic as well.

What's new with the Oculus Quest 2 controllers? | Android Central

– Price
The price of the Oculus compared to its counterparts is much more affordable for a similar level hardware specs.

– Software Store / Software Support
One feature is its safe playing area, which may be important especially now where many stay at home.
There is also robust support and a huge game store. This is valuable as nobody would want to buy a headset with no software supported.

– Specifications
I shall not repeat these, but here are the specs:

Oculus Quest 2 review: Facebook's $299 VR headset is one of my favorite  game consoles - CNET
Facebook's reveals Oculus Quest 2, which starts at just $300 - Business  Insider

HW1 – Headset reviews

Favorite VR headset: Oculus Quest 2

As I’ve had some experience with VR, I think that the Quest 2 is the best option for me. I’ve used VR primarily for games. There were several instances where I used the headset for watching movies or for surfing the web, but I still feel like that pales in comparison with what VR can bring for immersive gaming.

SpecsOculus Quest 2HTC Vive ProValve IndexOculus Rift S
Starting price (USD)$299$599$999$399
Screen resolution per eye (pixels)1832 x 19201440 x 1600 1440 x 16001280 x 1440
Field of view (degrees)90110~130110
Max refresh rate (Hz)909012080
Weight (g)503470809500
TrackingInside outLighthouse Lighthouse Inside out
Playtime (Battery capacity in hrs)2 to 3
GraphicsSnapdragon XR2PCPCPC
GamesOculus Quest Store (Android-based games)Steam VR & ViveportSteam VROculus Store & Steam VR
ControllersOculus TouchVive ControllersValve Index controllersOculus Touch


Right off the bat, the Oculus Quest 2 falls short when it comes to tracking. Arguably, lighthouse tracking solutions are way more accurate as they are powered by external LiDARs and IR cameras. This ensures that hand movements are picked up even if they are behind the headset, unlike inside out tracking solutions which would rely on the IMUs to guesstimate the position of your hands when it is out of view of those tracking cameras.  Although this is a known limitation, I still find that tracking on the Oculus Quest 2 is adequate for most games.

Framerate and Screen

The Quest 2 also falls short in frame rate. However, a recent software update saw the bump of the device’s framerate to a whopping 90Hz. This puts it on par with most VR headsets in the market except the Valve Index. However, the Quest 2 does have a physical limitation when we compare the field of views among the other headsets. This reduced FOV is noticeable.


It is true that the Oculus store can be somewhat lacking when we compare it against a bigger player like Steam VR. The Quest 2 is mostly a standalone VR headset with its own version of the Oculus store. Graphics for these are definitely toned down as they had to be optimized to run on the Snapdragon XR2 chipset. That being said, game graphics are still pretty decent especially for someone who is new to VR. For those who wish to play Steam VR/ PC VR games, fret not the Quest 2 can be linked to a PC via Oculus Link or Virtual Desktop streamer.

This opens more options for the headset as users can choose between using the Quest 2 in standalone mode or tethered to a PC. With these options available and a close similarity in terms of specs with the Oculus Rift S, I would say that it is better to get the Quest 2 if you’re deciding between the Quest 2 and the Rift S.


The things which appeal to me in a VR headset are its portability and flexibility. The Oculus Quest 1 was my first headset as I wanted to carry a headset wherever I go and play it anywhere (similar to the Nintendo Switch). It was also extremely affordable, and it became really worth it when Oculus Link was released sometime later.

Favorite AR headset: Magic Leap 1

I would not be able to throw my personal experience into the mix as I have never tried any of these headsets before. My preferred headset would be the Magic Leap 1 after comparing between the Avegant Lightfield and Microsoft Hololens 2 (mostly based on the specs and online experience).

Lenses/ Field of view

One of the biggest limiting factors about AR headsets is the field of view due to limitations in waveguide technology. Light emitted from tiny projectors in the headset reflect off of tiny wave guides on the lenses so that the user can still see past the lenses into the real world. This technology is implemented in both Hololens 2 and the Magic Leap 1 and they share similar field of views of about 40 degrees. However, the Avegant Lightfield seems to have achieved a better FOV performance. This is due to the bird path optics they’ve implemented instead of relying on waveguide.


Since AR headsets are still in a developmental phase, I wouldn’t expect them to be extra comfortable or easy to set up. They are probably not made to target the consumer market yet and still require quite an extensive support from the company responsible to ensure that the headset functions properly. With that being said, the Magic Leap 1 certainly takes the cake when it comes to headset comfort. It is easy to put on by simply stretching the headband and fitting it on your head. The headset is also the lightest among the three and that’s also partly because the miniature computer is detached and can be mounted elsewhere instead. This means that the headset will be wired but it’s a reasonable sacrifice.

Developer support

As AR is still in its infancy, it is extremely important for the headsets to have good developer support. That means being available on well-known developer tools such as Unity, WebGL and Android SDK. The Magic Leap 1 and Hololens 2 have really well documented API references and they’re also both available on Unity. This creates equal opportunities to develop apps for it. Having a strong base of applications is important before hitting the consumer market as apps help AR headsets realize their use cases.

My VR/AR/MR Device Review

I will be explaining my choices with respect to the following factors ranked from highest to lowest. These are based on my experience and preferences.

  1. Ecosystem/Support – This is very important. Without the proper games/software/applications to accompany the product, the AR/VR headset is little more than an expensive paperweight
  2. Hardware/Performance (Graphics, Resolution, Latency) – I value resolution and frame-rate a lot because it really adds to the user’s experience.
  3. Price – VR/AR is currently expensive tech, there’s no avoiding it. If I had the option, I would pay more for a more complete/legitimate experience. It’s that, or just wait until the price/performance ratio evens out.

VR Devices

I’ve picked out 3 VR headsets from all price points (Expensive, Affordable, and Budget). 

Valve Index
Oculus Quest
Nintendo Labo
Valve Index Oculus Quest 2 Nintendo Labo VR
Type Tethered Standalone Standalone
Field of View(Degree) 130° 100° 110°
Resolution(pixels – per eye) 1440 x 1600 1832 x 1920 1280 x 720 (Total)
Refresh Rate(Hz) 120Hz (up to 144 in experimental tests) 90Hz 60Hz
Software Support SteamVR, PC SteamVR, PC, Oculus Store Nintendo Store
Degrees of Freedom 6DOF 6DOF 3DOF
Price (USD) $999 $299 $79.90

Winner: Valve Index

The Nintendo Labo is a very unique VR headset, it is essentially Google Cardboard on steroids. The entire VR set is made of DIY, foldable cardboard objects such as a camera, a giant blaster, animals, a wind-blowing foot pedal, and the goggles themselves. It has very niche and unconventional approach to VR, and provides very casual, simple fun for people looking for that kind of experience. It doesn’t remotely match the performance level of the other 2 headsets, with only 3DOF, and a 60Hz display on a much lower resolution of 1280×720 pixels, which strips away much of the immersion. As it uses the Nintendo Switch for hardware, the VR set itself is cheap, and the games are limited to what is on the Nintendo Store. This ranks last as I prefer greater immersion, performance, as well as a wider library of games to choose from.

The Valve Index and the Oculus Quest 2 compete in the same category of VR, offering both 6DOF and similar game libraries to choose from. However, the Valve Index offers something very unique that isn’t found on other VR devices – its ability to track individual finger movement and grip strength. This allows for a much higher level of immersion in the VR experience, it allows users to pick up objects by gripping the controller  instead of pressing a button, allowing for greater immersion, and pushing the boundaries of user agency in the simulated environment. Unfortunately the Valve Index is a tethered device, which means less freedom of movement. 

In terms of performance, the Valve Index offers 130° compared to 100° FOV in the Oculus Quest, it also boasts higher refresh rates than the Quest. The only shortfall would be resolution, with the Oculus Quest sitting at a whopping 1832 x 1920pixels per eye (Nearly 4K resolution!) vs 1440 x 1600pixels per eye for the Valve Index. However, there is smaller perceivable difference the higher you go, so that’s not as important.

Overall, the Valve Index wins. It is pricey, but the most impressive amongst the lineup of VR headsets.

MR Devices

There weren’t many well-known options in the MR space, so I chose to compare these two.

Hololens 2
Magic Leap
Headset Name Microsoft HoloLens 2 Magic Leap One
Type Standalone Standalone (Connected to lightpack)
Resolution(Pixels – per eye) 2048 x 1080 1280 x 960
Field of view (degrees) 52° 50°
Refresh Rate (Hz) 120Hz 120Hz
Price(USD) $3500 $2300

Winner: You guessed it – Hololens 2

The Magic Leap One is no doubt an impressive MR device that offers a respectable resolution of 1280 x 960pixels per eye, a standalone device, and hardware that is able to handle most graphical tasks seamlessly. It also allows for 6DOF, and hand-tracking via the in-built cameras. Furthermore, Magic Leap has numerous entertainment partnerships which are clearly directed at consumers rather than enterprise users, and therefore seems more appealing for the casual user.

In terms of raw performance, power, and features however, whatever the Magic Leap 1 can do, the Hololens 2 can do better. It has the best resolution out of all MR devices, at 2048×1080pixels per eye. Not only does the Hololens 2 have more powerful hardware, the Remote Rendering feature allows the device to utilise cloud computing to overcome hardware restrictions.

While Magic Leap can only recognise a limited number of fixed gestures and utilises a controller. The Hololens 2 does away with a need for controllers entirely, as the on-board cameras are capable of tracking up to 25 points of articulation with both hands in space, allowing natural touch and grasping to move holograms without the use of any additional hardware, which makes for a more intuitive and immersive user experience. 

The HoloLens 2 also has more advanced eye-tracking technology and voice recognition, which greatly increases the range of control a user can have in a Mixed Reality environment.

To top it all off. Hololens is backed by Microsoft, one of the world’s largest tech companies. With all the talent, money, and enterprise partners that a tech company can afford, there’s a lot more potential in the growth and development of Hololens compared to the Magic Leap.