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Best VR Headsets 2023
According to a recent WSJ report, the best VR headsets are about to change. After years of conjecture, Apple is reportedly aiming to release a new mixed-reality headset in the coming year, and if the iPhone manufacturer has its way, it will dominate the industry.
I say it with a note of irony because the article claims that Apple hopes to ship 10 million units in its first year, which is something that most headsets have struggled to manage in their life cycles to date. After years of failing to break into the mainstream, 2023 has already proven that VR is coming into its own.
If you want the best technology available, we believe a grand is well spent on VR. Remember that if you currently have one of the top gaming PCs, you may not need to invest as much money.
So, what constitutes a good VR headset?
I typically evaluate virtual reality headsets based on three basic criteria: ergonomics, immersion, and controls. It’s not difficult to stuff a mobile display inside a plastic headset and slap on some cheap elastic headbands. However, it takes expertise to create something that is well-balanced and does not leave you feeling uneasy after 30 minutes.
Immersion, on the other hand, comes from having high-resolution screens with fast refresh rates, resulting in clear and smooth graphics. The field of view is also an important consideration because it specifies how well VR screens can cover what you see. A small field of view makes you feel as if you’re staring through binoculars, limiting your sense of “presence.” The finest VR headsets feature a broad field of view, making it appear as if you’re soaring over the world on Google Earth.
When it comes to controllers, the finest selections are those that fit naturally in your hands and provide accurate tracking. The design of Meta’s great touch controllers has mostly been embraced by the industry, but we’re also seeing exciting leaps forward, such as Valve’s finger-tracking gamepads.
PSVR 2’s strong technical specifications add up to a remarkably coherent VR solution. This is headgear that screams value for money, especially when you consider the costs of VR gaming on a PC. A high-end PC capable of exploiting the other VR powerhouses on this list will almost certainly cost more than a grand. When you consider the thousands of dollars or pounds you’ll spend on just one of those headsets, you’re looking at a substantial expenditure. Meanwhile, a PS5 will cost roughly $500, while the PSVR 2 will cost $549. For that money, you get an amazing VR platform that far outperforms its pricing.
- Resolution: 2,000 x 2,040 per eye
- Display: OLED HDR 102 Hz
- FOV: 110 degrees
- Connection: USB-C
The Meta Quest 2 (formerly the Oculus Quest 2) improved on the original Quest’s specs sheet and offered it for less money. At the same price, the Meta Quest 2 loses some of its prowess, but it remains the greatest VR headset available right now.
However, that may not last long since the likely-named Quest 3 is planned to come later this year. Meta has recently invested heavily in its VR business, Reality Labs, and its next-generation gear is sure to make a mark. The headset will also be priced “affordable for many people,” so you can make a compelling case for waiting to see what’s new with that gadget before making any purchases.
However, that is still a few months away. If you want a VR headset today, the Quest 2 still has a lot to offer. The Quest 2 boasts remarkable clarity at 1832 x 1920 per eye for a headset that is priced like an entry-level headset yet is much more than that.
- Display: LCD
- Resolution: 3664 x 1920
- Refresh Rate: Up to 120 Hz
- Field of view: 100 degrees
- Connections: USB Type-C, 3.5mm headphone
Meta Quest 2
The headset, however, is only one component of the VR experience, and the Valve Index really shines because of the other important component: the controllers. They’re groundbreaking, capable of tracking individual finger movements and making games that use the feature far more immersive than normal trigger grips on other controllers. It’s incredible to watch your fingers wriggle in Half-Life: Alyx.
While not amazing, the headset provides sharp, fluid graphics with a fast refresh rate. The system interfaces with Valve’s Steam store via SteamVR, so there’s an enormously vast library of VR games available, even if only a small percentage will use the finger support.
- Resolution: 1440 x 1600 per eye
- Refresh rate: Up to 144Hz
- Field of view: 130 Degrees
Valve Index VR kit
The HP Reverb G2 isn’t on many people’s shopping lists, but HP’s $600 VR headset is a hidden hit. It’s worth mentioning that this is much simpler to buy in the US, and if you’re looking in the UK, you’ll most likely be limited to special versions costing more than £1,000. With a focus on resolution but some good quality-of-life features baked in (how has nobody else thought of flipping up the display to see your surroundings?) There’s a lot to like here, even if this collection doesn’t quite match up to some of the higher-ranked selections on the list.
You won’t need any external tracking sensors here because the HP Reverb G2 handles it all using cameras. There is also a very minimal setup to get out of the way. Because this is a Windows headset, connecting it to your PC is as simple as plugging it in and allowing Windows 10 or 11 to finish your installations and programme modifications.
- Resolution: 4320 x 2160
- Display: LCD
- Connection: DisplayPort, USB 3.0
- Field of View: 114 Degrees
HP Reverb G2
With 2,448 pixels per eye, this powerful, semi-consumer VR headset is aimed at both amateurs and professionals. It easily provides the greatest images we’ve seen in VR thus far, but at a high cost: The headset alone costs $799, not including the base stations and controllers (although you may use the Valve Index controllers with it).
It, like the Oculus Quest 2, integrates with SteamVR and has its own VR software store called Viveport. Rather than buying apps separately, the store offers the subscription-based Viveport Infinity (opens in a new window) service, which enables infinite access to VR experiences. Outside of SteamVR, that’s a wonderful extra.
- Resolution: 2448 × 2448
- Refresh rate: 90/120 Hz
- Field of View: 120 Degrees
- Connections: Bluetooth, USB-C port for peripherals
HTC Vice Pro 2
Modern virtual reality headsets are categorized as either tethered or freestanding. Their cords make them a little cumbersome, but putting all of the visual processing in a box that you don’t have to strap directly to your face means your VR experience may be a lot more complicated.
There will be two more significant headsets to look forward to in the future. Apple has just revealed the Vision Pro, a $3,500 AR/VR headset that will be available early next year. It appears to have at least iPad Pro-level hardware and features like eye-tracking and iris scanning. However, it is prohibitively expensive, and whether or not developers will support it remains an open topic.
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