Best VR Headsets 2016
The virtual reality age is here and while the current headsets may not be what most imagined, at least not yet, they do provide a unique, immersive experience that’s not really possible with the traditional display setups.With that said, here are the best VR headsets for 2016 and by best we mean the premium ones, not entry-level, mobile VR headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View VR.
Developed by HTC and Valve, the Vive is one of the premium VR headsets that got released this year. Its first prototypes surfaced back in 2014. However, it wasn’t until Mobile World Congress in March 2015 that the Vive got officially unveiled.HTC and Valve showcased a near-final iteration at CES 2016 back in January. Pre-orders for the Vive began late in February. It was officially released in April with selected developers getting a headset for free.
The Vive headset employs two screens (a screen for each eye). Each screen is calibrated to function at 1080 x 1200 resolution (2160 x 1200 for both) and 90 Hz refresh rate. The display for each screen is in portrait and not landscape, which is quite interesting. Included in the package is two wireless controllers and two Lighthouse base stations that emits pulsed IR lasers to precisely track the user’s movements – we’re talking millimeters here – within a 15 ft by 15 ft space. Interacting with the Lighthouses is a laser position sensor, which only one of the Vive’s over 70 sensors. It also has a front camera for tracking objects within the room.Of course, all these sensors and technologies come at a premium and weight. The Vive costs $799 and comes in at 555 grams, which is quite heavy compared to the Sony’s PlayStation VR.
Weight aside, the Vive also requires a high-end rig, which won’t come cheap. Moreover, most of the titles available for the Vive are also pricey and they aren’t even official versions yet. Basically, Vive users are paying to beta test titles.Note that more than a hundred titles are confirmed to be coming to the Vive.However, the hefty price tags seem to be of little concern for VR enthusiasts. According to a Road To VR article, roughly a hundred thousand Vive headsets were shipped from the time it was released in April until July 2016.
Arguably, the Rift is what started the modern VR headset wave. The first prototype came in 2011 by Oculus founder Palmer Luckey. In 2012, a Kickstarter Campaign was launched for the Oculus VR. Several more prototypes and a couple of years later, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion.
When it was released in March 2016, the Rift packed 2 OLED panels running at 90 Hz and a 1080 x 1200 for each – 2160 x 1200 for both. Unlike the Vive, comes with a pair of integrated headphones, which doesn’t sit well with audiophiles since they already have their chosen headphones that are much better than the integrated ones.For input, it has a 6DOF, which basically means 3-axis rotational tracking and 3-axis positional tracking, via an InfraRed (IR) sensor the connects through USB. The package comes with Xbox One game controller. Oculus will also offer a touch controller, which have been shown in a number of demos. However, be prepared since it will probably retail for a higher price.
There are plenty of titles to be played on the Rift. Some worth mentioning are Lucky’s Tale, Chronos, The Climb and Edge of Nowhere.However, to play every content available, an updated gaming rig is needed. Users will need at least a GTX 970, a fourth generation Intel i5 processor and 8 GB of RAM. Moreover, this headset needs to be at least three USB 3.0 ports.The Oculus Rift retails for $599, which is cheaper than the HTC Vive but still on the pricey side of the consumer spectrum. Furthermore, the Rift offers a less mobile experience than the Vive with Lighthouses. It’s quite stationary.
Sony’s interest in virtual reality dates back to the mid 90’s when it introduced the Glasstron line of portable head mounts. Almost two decades later, in 2014, Sony announced the existence of “Project Morpheus,” which was officially renamed as PlayStation VR in September 2015.A couple of months after, Sony announced that the PlayStation VR will come in the first of 2016. However, the launch schedule was pushed back and it wasn’t until October 13 that the headset was released.
The same with the Vive and the Rift, the PlayStation VR has 2 screens. However, both functions on a smaller resolution. Each screen runs at 960 x 1080, both of them equates to 1920 x 1080. One of the things it has over the other two is the higher refresh rate at 120 Hz, which it achieves using asynchronous reprojection. It also has a wider viewing angle at 100 degrees.The PlayStation VR also features stereoscopic 3D, 6DOF head-tracking and unwarped display output.For controllers, users can choose between the DualShock 4 controller, PlayStation Move and PlayStation Aim. It also offers positional tracking capabilities using the PlayStation Camera. Albeit, not as advanced as the Vive’s Lighthouses and room scale technology.
The only real limitation of this VR is headset is that it’s tied to the PS4 console line. Even the latest Sony console, PS4 Pro, won’t be able to stand in the shadow of a proper gaming rig running the latest GPUs from Nvidia and AMD. Hence, as far as performance goes, it will always be behind PC-based VR platforms.The good thing is that it’s cheaper. At $399, it’s half the of the Vive’s price tag.