The cross-reality (XR) headset market has matured over the years. There are many big players in the industry with each offering headsets with their own set of pros and cons.
Virtual Reality Headsets
Regarding Virtual Reality (VR) headsets, I have shortlisted a few of the more notable headsets that have stood out to me in various ways and are headsets that I may personally use for media consumption and/or gaming purposes.
|Oculus Quest 2||Valve Index||Sony PlayStation VR|
|Field of View (Horizontal, Vertical, Diagonal)||92°, 90°, 129°||107°, 104°, 149°||96°, 111°, 147°|
|Refresh Rate||60/72/90 Hz||144 Hz||120 Hz|
|Retail Price (USD)||299||999||299|
Oculus Quest 2
Oculus Quest 2 provides an all-in-one experience and can be used on its own without requiring a powerful PC or a console to play games with, which is a huge plus, making it easy for those without an expensive PC setup or console at home to be able to enjoy VR games as well. Being a battery-powered headset, it allows you to walk around freely in your physical room without being restricted by wires or tripping over them. It also has a high resolution, even higher than the Valve Index, considered to be one of the best high-end VR headsets in the market. On top of that, if you do have a PC suitable for VR gaming, the Oculus Quest 2 comes with the feature to connect to your PC via the Oculus Link cable (which costs an additional 79 USD), allowing you to play PC VR titles as well.
Next, the Valve Index is one of the most expensive VR headsets in the industry but the higher price also brings with it some premium features that may not be found in other headsets. It comes with a larger field of view and a higher refresh rate of 144 Hz. More notably, the Valve Index Controllers offer a full individual finger tracking built into its grips, which can provide a more immersive experience.
However, one of its downsides is that with the use of external base stations for tracking purposes, setting up the Valve Index may be more troublesome and take a longer time than other VR headsets. Though this makes for better tracking capabilities, it could be difficult and frustrating for new VR users and may prevent them from quickly being able to start playing VR games.
Preferred Choice: Sony PlayStation VR
My personal preferred VR headset would be the best-selling PlayStation VR (PSVR) headset by Sony that is designed for use with its consoles, the PlayStation 4 and 5. As the headset requires only the console to run, an expensive PC setup is not needed. Given that I already have a PS4 at home, I would not need to worry about my desktop not being capable enough to run VR games. Another benefit that the PSVR has that the other headsets might not have would be that Sony already has a huge catalogue of games to choose from, providing a wider variety of games for users.
PSVR definitely comes with its disadvantages as well. It loses out to other headsets in terms of tracking. As it uses the PlayStation Camera for tracking, the tracking space becomes more restricted and does not provide true-room scale VR. The space the player can move freely within without venturing out of the boundaries is quite limited and thus, most PlayStation VR games recommend playing the game in a stationary position, either while standing up or sitting down.
Nonetheless, what really caught my attention about the PSVR and ultimately the reason for why I chose it as my preferred VR headset, is their PSVR aim controller. As a huge fan of first-person shooters (FPS), it looks like the aim controller could really elevate my experience of playing FPS games and create a more engaging experience. I never got used to playing FPS games using the PS4 DUALSHOCK 4 controllers as it never felt natural to me. But seeing the aim controller used with the PSVR made me feel excited to play FPS games on the PS4 again. Additionally, although not many games are currently supported on the aim controller, Borderlands 2 VR and Doom VFR are titles that I would be very interested to try playing in VR and would most likely to be sufficient enough for me to spend all of my free time on (which, in the first place, I do not get a lot of). That being said, I do hope to see more VR titles compatible with the aim controller.
Mixed Reality Headsets
As for Mixed Reality (MR) headsets, I will also cover a few options that seem more attractive to me personally.
|Nreal Light||Zappar ZapBox|
|Field of View||52°||–|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 px||–|
Made by a Chinese startup, the Nreal Light MR headset is probably the headset that looks and feels most like normal sunglasses, allowing users to wear it in various settings without standing out too much. Despite its ordinary design, it comes with a variety of features. The 52° field of view is larger than some other MR headsets, including the Microsoft HoloLens and Magic Leap One, which are notably much more expensive. It is also lightweight, which means users can wear it for prolonged periods of time without feeling too uncomfortable. Additionally, the headset offers built-in speakers with spatial sound, providing a seamless mixed reality experience.
Preferred Choice: Zappar ZapBox
Inspired by the Google Cardboard and fully funded on Kickstarter, ZapBox by Zappar is the most affordable MR head-mounted device to date, priced at just 40 USD. It works with Android and iOS smartphones compatible with Google Cardboard and has display sizes between 4.5 and 6 inches.
Due to its unbeatable price, this is definitely my preferred MR headset. As I personally do not see much use for MR in my life currently, I would not be willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on just to experience MR without it adding much value to my present lifestyle. However, if I ever wanted to try out MR for the fun of it, investing 40 USD into a MR headset for its basic features would not be a bad idea at all. Furthermore, as the headset is affordable, it could mean having your friends play the same games with you as well, allowing the experience to be more enjoyable.