VR Headsets in 2020: Virtual Reality

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Virtual Reality Headsets have hit full-force in 2020 and are now commonly found in most serious gamers’ electronic arsenals. Quality hardware is available, game libraries are expanding, and prices are now “reasonable” for most early-adopting consumers. Interested in immersing yourself in the new virtual realty but unsure whether to leap? This list will show you which VR headsets are currently shipping, which are currently in development, and which have been discontinued. Virtual reality headsets are not yet a commodity, so it is important to balance cutting-edge specs against headset value until more manufacturers enter the market and prices come down. To find out how to get the best bang for your buck, read on …

What Is a Virtual Reality Headset?

A virtual reality headset is a head-mounted display (HMD) that immerses the wearer in a virtual world. Typically comprised of stereoscopic displays (a separate display for each eye), VR headsets can also include eye tracking sensors, microphone arrays for voice-control, integrated speakers for 3D spatial sound, and tracking sensors such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, magnetometers, and structured light systems. Right now, VR headsets are mostly used for gaming. However, enterprise use for simulations, medical and military training programs, and as a sales tool is advancing quickly.

History Of The VR Headset

Sega VR Headset In 1993
Sega VR Headset In 1993

The first virtual reality headset put into the consumer market was the Sega VR which was announced in 1991 and debuted at CES in 1993. However, the technology ended up being used only for Sega‘s high-end motion simulator arcade attractions because the cheaper $200 Sega Genesis console-based version caused severe headaches and extreme motion sickness. Nonetheless, Sega’s HMD was quite advanced for its time and most modern VR headsets stay true to Sega’s early designs.

Oculus Rift, Kickstarter, And The Current Age Of VR

Oculus Rift Founder Palmer Luckey
Oculus Rift Founder Palmer Luckey

The current “age of virtual reality” as we know it in 2019 really began in 2010 when American teenager Palmer Luckey created a VR headset prototype. This prototype eventually became the Oculus Rift, a $2 million success story on crowdfunding website Kickstarter and a $2 billion acquisition for social media giant Facebook. The Rift’s overwhelming praise from coders and developers, hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, and windfall acquisition by Facebook have been credited with ushering in the current Age of VR we enjoy today.

Guide To Choosing a VR Headset

Choosing a VR headset may sound like a daunting task. However, as the market is still relatively young and has yet to be flooded with a variety of quality offerings, picking the right HMD is easier than you think. You simply need to decide whether you want a VR headset that is powered by your computer or is self-contained, pick a platform that offers the games and apps you want to use, and then stick with one of the brands popular with virtual reality enthusiasts.

STEP 1: PC/Mac/Console-Based vs. All-In-One

Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, 2080, 2080Ti GPUs
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070, 2080, 2080Ti GPUs

VR headsets require a lot of computing power to run. Generally, a high-end graphics card (GPU) such as a Nvidia GTX 1080 or an AMD Radeon Vega 64 are required at a minimum for smooth full quality graphics. Therefore, your first decision in purchasing a VR headset is whether you want one that is PC/Mac/console-based or a stand alone All-In-One.

The advantages of the PC/Mac/console-based VR headsets are that they tend to be more powerful (based upon your computer’s specs), can be easily upgraded (by upgrading your computer’s GPU), are much lighter on your face (processor and GPU located in computer, not in your headset), and they are often able to be used across various VR platforms.

The advantages of the All-In-One VR headsets are that the VR system as a whole is cheaper (if your current computer is not up to the pixel-pushing task), they are easier to setup and maintain (typically designed to just put on and play), and they are mobile (dragging your desktop computer to a party just isn’t going to happen).

STEP 2: Pick A Platform – Oculus vs. SteamVR vs. VivePort vs. Windows Mixed Reality vs. Sony Playstation VR

SteamVR Virtual World Home
SteamVR Virtual World Home

The VR platform for your HMD is much like the operating system for your computer. It is the virtual world from where you will purchase, install, and interact with your VR games and apps. There are currently five main platforms for your VR world: Oculus, SteamVR, VivePort, Windows Mixed Reality (WMR), and Sony Playstation VR. Oculus, SteamVR, VivePort, and Windows Mixed Reality are all currently interoperable or will be soon. This means that you can use a Windows Mixed Reality VR headset with Oculus, SteamVR, and VivePort apps or vice versa. Sony Playstation VR is the only platform isolated on its own little island. However, it may still be a good choice if you are already invested in the Sony Playstation console ecosystem.

STEP 3: Pick A VR Headset With Good Ratings

The VR headset market is still relatively young, so there isn’t a bunch of crap that you’ll need to sift through yet … although, it’s coming. In the mean time, the are a few VR headset developers and manufacturers who have become standards in the industry: Oculus, HTC Vive, and various WMR headset manufacturers such as HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. If you stick with these tried and true VR brands and read the reviews, you really can’t go wrong.

We will continue to update the list of virtual reality headsets below as new models are released and hope that we have made your decision to jump into the world of VR a little easier.

PC/Mac/Console-Based VR Headsets

HP Reverb VR Headset ProHP Reverb VR Headset Pro
SteamVR, WMR • Dual 2.89″ LCD (4320×2160 @90Hz) • 114˚ FOV • Built-In Headphones • MIC Array • Internal Sensors • $649 • Rated 2.5/5 stars on Amazon
HTC Vive VR SystemHTC Vive VR System
SteamVR, VivePort • Dual 3.6″ AMOLED (2160×1200 @90Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Earbuds • MIC • External Sensors • $499 • Rated 3.9/5 stars on [Amazon]
HTC Vive Pro VR SystemHTC Vive Pro VR System
SteamVR, VivePort • Dual 3.5″ AMOLED (2880×1600 @90Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Hi-Res Headset • MIC Array • External Sensors • $1,399 • Rated 3.4/5 stars on [Amazon]
Oculus Rift S VR HeadsetOculus Rift S VR Headset
Oculus App, SteamVR, VivePort • Dual 3.5″ AMOLED (2880×1600 @90Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Hi-Res Headset • MIC Array • External Sensors • $1,399 • Rated 3.4/5 stars on [Amazon]
Pimax 5K Plus VR HeadsetPimax 5K Plus VR Headset
Oculus App, SteamVR • Low-Persistence LCD (5120×1440 @90Hz) • 200˚ FOV • Audio Jack • MIC • Internal Sensors • $699 • Rated 3.5/5 stars on [Amazon]
Pimax 8K VR HeadsetPimax 8K VR Headset
Oculus App, SteamVR • Low-Persistence LCD (7680×2160 @80Hz) • 200˚ FOV • Audio Jack • MIC • Internal Sensors • $899 • Rated 3.5/5 stars on [Amazon]
Samsung HMD Odyssey VR HeadsetSamsung HMD Odyssey+ VR Headset
SteamVR, WMR • Dual 3.5″ AMOLED (2880×1600 @90Hz) • 110˚ FOV • 360˚ Spatial Sound • MIC Array • Internal Sensors • $499 • Rated 3.9/5 stars on [Amazon]
Sony Playstation VR HeadsetSony Playstation VR Headset
Sony Playstation • OLED (1920×1080 @120Hz) • 100˚ FOV • External Headphones • MIC • Internal Sensors • $219 (Controllers Not Included) • Rated 4.3/5 stars on [Amazon]
VRgineers XTAL VR HeadsetVRgineers XTAL VR Headset (Enterprise)
XTAL App, SteamVR • Dual OLED (5120×1440 @70Hz) • 180˚ FOV • External Headphones • MIC • External Sensors • $5,999 • Not Rated

All-In-One VR Headsets

Lenovo Mirage Solo VR HeadsetLenovo Mirage Solo VR Headset
Mirage Solo App • Snapdragon 835 • 4GB RAM • QHD LCD (2560×1440 @75Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Audio Jack •Dual MIC • Internal Sensors • $399 (64GB) • Rated 3.6/5 stars on [Amazon]
Oculus Go Standalone VR HeadsetOculus Go Standalone VR Headset
Oculus App • Snapdragon 821 • 3GB RAM • Fast-Switching LCD (2560×1440 @60Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Built-In Speakers • MIC • Internal Sensors • $199 (32GB) • Rated 4.1/5 stars on [Amazon]
Oculus Quest All-In-One VROculus Quest All-In-One VR
Oculus App • Snapdragon 835 • 4GB RAM • Dual OLED (2880×16000 @72Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Built-In Speakers • MIC • Internal Sensors • $399 (64GB) • Rated 4.6/5 stars on [Amazon]

VR Headsets Currently In Development

HTC Vive Cosmos VR SystemHTC Vive Cosmos VR System
VivePort • Unknown Display Resolution • Unknown FOV • Unknown Sound • MIC Array • Internal Sensors • $Unknown • Shipping 2019
Valve Index VR KitValve Index VR Kit
SteamVR • Dual RGB LCD (2880×1600 @120Hz) • 130˚ FOV • Balanced Mode Radiators • MIC Array • External Sensors • $999 • Shipping September 2019

Discontinued VR Headsets

Lenovo Explorer Mixed Reality HeadsetLenovo Explorer Mixed Reality Headset
SteamVR, WMR • Dual 2.89″ LCD (2880×1440 @90Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Audio Jack • Internal Sensors • $249 • Rated 3.8/5 stars on [Amazon]
Oculus Rift VR Development Kit 1Oculus Rift VR Development Kit 1
Oculus App • 7″ LCD (1280×800 @60Hz) • 110˚ FOV • Audio Jack • Internal Sensors • $299 • Unrated
Oculus Rift VR Development Kit 2Oculus Rift VR Development Kit 2
Oculus App • Dual 5.7″ Low Persistence OLED (1920×1080 @75Hz) • 100˚ FOV • Audio Jack • Internal Sensors • $350 • Unrated
StarVR One VR HeadsetStarVR One VR Headset (Enterprise)
StarVR App • Dual 4.77″ AMOLED (3660×1464 @90Hz) • 210˚ FOV • Audio Jack • Internal Sensors • $3,199 • Never Shipped

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Colin is and editor at Wear Guide and writes about wearable technology On Your Head.  With a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from SDSU, Colin presents a unique point of view in his articles, offering both technical expertise and extensive user experience with wearables. Colin also writes for our sister publication Electric.guide. Send tips and story ideas to Colin at: colin@wear.guide