Best VR headsets 2021: Top picks from HTC Vive, Oculus, PlayStation and more

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(Pocket-lint) - The thought of virtual reality oregon VR isn't new, of course. It's been circulating successful the tech abstraction for a fig of years, but, implicit the past decade, the exertion has breached done immoderate of the long-standing barriers.

VR headsets are present much accessible, some successful presumption of terms and usability. It mightiness person started with devices similar Google's Cardboard opening the doorway for anyone with a smartphone, but adjacent the high-end headsets are present easier to usage - and much appealing, too. 

Modern gaming machines are besides much capable, helping present lifelike virtual environments successful the comfortableness of your home. This makes it a overmuch much breathtaking clip for VR.

As ever, we've been investigating immoderate of the precise champion options connected the market, experimenting with games and apps to spot however they perform. We trial a assortment of antithetic metrics, not slightest their graphical prowess, however comfy they are to deterioration for extended periods, and what level of compatibility they offer.

So, let's item the champion selections.


Our apical prime is the HTC Vive Pro 2. Other large headsets to see are the HP Reverb G2, the Oculus Quest 2, the Oculus Rift S and Sony PlayStation VR.


Our Top Pick

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HTC Vive Pro 2

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For

  • Amazing display
  • Nice and comfortable
  • Plays bully with astir games

Against

  • You'll request a fancy PC

The HTC Vive Pro 2 is the upgraded mentation of the HTC Vive Pro, and the precise champion that HTC has to offer.

It has the existent best-in-class display, which offers an incredibly precocious pixel count, large tract of presumption and a 120Hz refresh rate, too. 

Like the erstwhile Vive Pro, it needs a high-end gaming instrumentality to tally decently but delivers a superb acquisition that stands retired from the crowd. 

If you already ain a Vive oregon Vive Pro, this makes for a bully upgrade, portion the afloat bundle (including basal stations) is simply a indispensable for those caller to the Vive experience. 

VR headsets we besides recommend

Here are 4 different superb headsets that we've tried and tin recommend.

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Oculus Quest 2

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For

  • Amazing value
  • Standalone
  • Comfortable

Against

  • Facebook login mandatory

The Oculus Quest 2 is different contender for the rubric of champion VR headset, and that's not conscionable due to the fact that it's 1 of the astir affordable virtual world headsets around. 

It's a wire-free headset that doesn't request a PC to run, portion inactive packing capable hardware wrong to play immoderate of the champion VR games around

Wireless VR is glorious and gives you plentifulness of freedom. Other highlights, similar hand-tracking, inside-out tracking (meaning nary outer sensors), passthrough cameras and a clever guardian system, marque Quest 2 incredibly amusive to play with. 

Great visuals, superb audio and the quality to plug successful and play much with Oculus Link marque Quest 2 adjacent much special, arsenic well. 

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HP Reverb G2

For

  • Great solution levels
  • Works nicely with Steam
  • Solid pricing

Against

  • Not the champion controllers

It mightiness not beryllium arsenic flashy arsenic others connected this list, but the Reverb G2 is presently 1 of the amended VR headsets you tin play.

Largely, this is acknowledgment to having immoderate of the champion lenses around, combined with 1 of the highest pixel counts, too. It features 2160 x 2160 solution per eye, offering immoderate earnestly satisfying visuals. 

It was besides built successful collaboration with Valve and Microsoft, meaning it works with some Windows Mixed Reality and Steam VR, giving you the champion of some worlds. 

Inside-tracking cameras, a comfy plan and fantastic gaming experiences circular disconnected a large package. 

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Oculus Rift S

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For

  • Great resolution
  • Nice and comfortable
  • Good for glasses-wearers

Against

  • Not the newest

Despite being outshined somewhat by the Quest 2, this is simply a precise beardown headset successful its ain right.

It's a tethered virtual world headset that requires a decent gaming PC to run, but delivers a fantastic gaming acquisition with superb visuals, audio and room-scale play.

It's designed with "inside-out" tracking - meaning each the sensors are built close into the instrumentality - and, arsenic such, it's 1 of the easiest PC tethered headsets to use. 

The champion portion is the Rift S is compatible with Rift games, and you tin bargain caller experiences from Steam oregon the Oculus store. This means there's entree to thousands of games, so plenty to play. It's besides comfortable, susceptible and fantastic amusive to boot. 

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Sony PlayStation VR

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For

  • Works truthful easy with PlayStation consoles
  • Some large games to try

Against

  • Not the biggest room to telephone on

Rather than presenting a implicit VR system, Sony's PS VR is an accessory for the PS5, PS4, PS4 Slim and PS4 Pro consoles, meaning it is little costly to ain than the high-end options connected this list.

PlayStation VR uses the aforesaid technologies arsenic the others, though its surface solution is little than those utilized by HTC and Oculus.

It tracks the question of your caput and uses the PlayStation Camera, successful operation with your regular PS4 controller oregon PlayStation Move question controls, to contiguous the VR experience. This is an hold of the console, which makes it a precise earthy acceptable for many.

There is simply a hearty line-up of contented available, too, with Resident Evil 7, Driveclub VR, Skyrim VR, Doom VFR, Gran Turismo Sport and others each supporting PS VR. It's not the astir complete, but it's surely not bad.

Other products we considered

The Pocket-lint editorial squad spends hours investigating and researching hundreds of products earlier recommending our champion picks for you. We see a scope of factors erstwhile it comes to putting unneurotic our champion guides including physically investigating the products ourselves, user reviews, marque quality, and value. Many of the devices we see don’t marque our last champion guides.

These are the products we considered that yet didn't marque our apical five:

How to take a VR headset

There are plentifulness of questions that you'll privation to inquire yourself earlier you instrumentality the plunge connected what could astir apt beryllium a rather pricey acquisition to participate the satellite of VR. Here are immoderate of the things you should beryllium asking:

How overmuch should you walk connected a VR headset?

This is simply a question that tin use to fundamentally immoderate acquisition successful the satellite of technology, but that doesn't marque it immoderate little apt erstwhile we're talking astir VR headsets - you request to acceptable your budget!

Work retired however overmuch you'd beryllium blessed to spend, and that volition spell a agelong mode toward deciding what headset is champion for you. This is much existent for VR than different areas, too, since the hardware we're dealing with tin get earnestly pricey.

And support successful caput that it doesn't ever person to beryllium the astir costly option, since determination are present plentifulness of VR headsets that are disposable for a comparatively inexpensive price.

Do you privation to spell wireless?

A immense question astir VR headsets comes down to whether they necessitate a tether oregon not - successful astir cases, they bash request to beryllium plugged into a PC oregon console to work. Some, similar the Oculus Quest 2, person the quality to enactment standalone, with reduced graphical prowess, but tin inactive beryllium plugged successful for tethered amusive erstwhile you request a boost, which is arguably the champion of some worlds.

Others, similar astir HTC Vive headsets, tin beryllium converted to enactment wirelessly utilizing accessories that volition adhd a spot of outgo and could instrumentality a small portion to acceptable up, but erstwhile you bash truthful you'll person astonishing graphics without worrying astir wires. If you've ever tried VR before, this volition beryllium an country to determine connected earlier buying.

Is solution the cardinal for you?

Another cardinal adaptable betwixt antithetic VR headsets, and, successful fact, 1 of the main ways to archer the quality betwixt them, comes down to what level of solution they tin connection you. This is astir the fig of pixels successful their displays, arsenic adjacent to your eyes arsenic they are, and the higher the fig the crisper the visuals volition beryllium capable to look.

However, it's not the be-all-and-end-all, truthful it mightiness beryllium that you attraction much astir what games you'll beryllium capable to play than precisely however crisp they'll look portion you bash so.

What are you going to usage VR for?

That leads to our last constituent - what bash you privation a VR headset for? There are plentifulness of astonishing videos retired determination to research successful VR, arsenic good arsenic superb productivity tools and coworking spaces to assistance you combat isolation. Of course, there's besides a full satellite of gaming, too.

So, it's worthy figuring retired what your precedence is successful bid to prime the headset that champion fits your aims. This is the surest-fire mode to guarantee you don't accidentally prime 1 that isn't truthful ideal.

More astir this story

Every merchandise successful this database has been tested successful real-life situations, conscionable arsenic you would usage it successful your day-to-day life.

That means utilizing each VR headset extensively to guarantee that we've enactment it done its paces, not conscionable for gaming but besides for wide tasks and useability. We're ever definite to see comfort, too, fixed that galore headsets connected the marketplace aren't bully to deterioration for agelong stretches.

VR has been an country of expertise for Pocket-lint for years, since the clip erstwhile it was a niche thought that was lightyears distant to being the consumer-friendly merchandise it is today. We've tracked its maturation into a mainstream option, and person been reviewing and investigating headsets that full time, gathering up a slope of comparisons and judgements to telephone on.

In the supra summaries, we've kept things brief, avoiding jargon and numbers, but if you click done to a headset's idiosyncratic reappraisal you'll find much granular breakdowns.

As ever, determination is besides plentifulness of models we've considered that didn't marque the chopped successful each of our buyer's guides.

Writing by Chris Hall and Adrian Willings. Editing by Conor Allison. Originally published connected 27 February 2015.

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