Virtual Reality still has a long way to go before it reaches its maximum potential, but things are already off to a great start with the options that are out there. While some consumers will still be waiting on Sony to launch their PlayStation VR headset, like myself, both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive can be purchased now. All three of these headsets are perfect for gamers and they’ll undoubtedly be offering other types of content too like movies or other forms of media. Of course, if you’re someone who isn’t really a huge gaming enthusiast and you simply want something that allows you to experience a little bit of everything that the world of VR has to offer, there are more affordable and more portable options out there, like Samsung’s Gear VR and now LG’s 360 VR headset, both of which are powered by your smartphone and can be taken with you. Between the headsets listed here that already puts the market at five different offerings. For those interested in VR even in the slightest amount, the question is which VR headset is right for you?
The answer to that really all depends on a handful of different factors. First and foremost is cost, as how much you pay for the VR headset you’re looking to pick up should be an important detail to you. How much you’re willing to pay will dictate what headset you should be looking at. If you aren’t wanting to spend a whole lot to jump into the VR space right now, then arguably, Samsung’s Gear VR is probably the best option. At $99 it’s a steal for something that not only has a decent selection of applications but is portable too, meaning you can take it with you anywhere, although because of the immersive capabilities you’re better off keeping its use to non-public places, that is unless you feel completely safe with the idea. You could even stretch your cost range a little bit and spend the extra $100 to pick up the LG 360 VR when it's available soon, which is even more compact and more portable than the Gear VR, although it doesn’t have nearly the same amount of available content and it likely won’t for a while since it was just announced back in February. If you're not opposed to waiting a little bit, Sony's PlayStation VR will cost you $399, and you'll be able to buy a bundle for $499 that comes with everything you'll need, save for the PS4, of course. The last two options, the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are no doubt the most expensive, and will set you back $599 and $799 respectively, but they also have the most advanced technology of all of them and they are sure to have some of the best content.
Taking into consideration the cost of each VR headset unit, you'll also want to think about the costs of the compatible hardware that you'll need to use any of them. In many cases the Gear VR will still be the cheapest option as the $99 headset can be picked up and used with devices as old as the Galaxy S6, which you can now generally pick up for around $479.99 for a brand-new and factory unlocked model with 32GB of storage. That's just under $600 all in to get started with a phone that supports virtual reality content and the VR headset to immerse you in the experience. If you look at LG's option, the LG G5 brand-new will cost you about $629.99 depending on your carrier selection, then you're looking at another $199 for the LG 360 VR which puts you at a total of around $830. That's a little more than Sony's option as the PS4 can now be picked up for $349.99 brand-new, and if you go with the standard PlayStation VR bundle you're looking at $399 for a total of around $750.
This puts it at the second cheapest option and is going to give you much more immersive and likely enjoyable content than the LG G5 and LG 360 VR as well as the content on the Gear VR. If you're going big and opting for either Oculus Rift or HTC's Vive headset, you're not only going to be spending a lot on the units themselves, but you'll need a pretty powerful PC even for the most basic requirements to power each unit. For the Oculus Rift starting costs for a PC that can handle the device will cost at least $949 and they can go up from there depending on how serious of a gamer you are and how powerful of a PC you want. That puts you all in for a base cost of $1,450 - $1,500. With the Vive, starting costs for PC's that can handle powering the headset are the same, but the Vive is $799 which makes your base cost to get up and running about $1,800. Of course, these prices are based on people who may not already have the hardware they need to power the VR devices, if you already have the phone, console, or computer you need, then you're only looking at prices of the VR units themselves which is going to be much less than buying everything together at once.
Whether or not money is no object, another factor in choosing or deciding which is the best VR headset for you is the content. If you're serious about content then you'll want to consider which units will have the most content available to you fro the get-go. Without a doubt this is going to be Samsung Gear VR as it has been out the longest, and the software is powered by Oculus and has it's own Oculus store that users can tap into for all their downloads and apps. While the Oculus store on Gear VR is still continuing to grow with new content consistently, it already has big-name apps on board like Netflix and although it doesn't work in HD, it's still likely to be an exciting experience. Of course, both Oculus Rift and HTC's Vive are starting out with quite a few apps and games that are compatible themselves. Although you will be able to grab games and apps from the Oculus Store on the Rift when it's connected, you'll also be able to download Oculus-ready apps through Steam, and currently there are 76 apps and games on Steam that are Oculus compatible.
When it comes to the HTC Vive, there are 151 compatible apps and games for the platform, so it's safe to say that Vive has a huge offering of content to sink your teeth into. While it's hard to gauge the amount of content that will be available for both the LG 360 VR and the PlayStation VR since they're not yet available, Sony has at least stated what their plans were for content by the time of the device's release at the end of this year, which is supposed to be around 50 titles, or rather up to 50 titles when it launches. However, there were already at least 81 games confirmed to be compatible for the platform according to IGN. This makes PlayStation VR a compelling offering as well, especially if you already own a PS4.
When it comes down to it, it's hard to say that there is any one thing that makes one VR headset the perfect fit, and ultimately it comes down to what you're willing to spend and what essentially has the content you want to experience. If you're a big PC gamer, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are what you should consider and narrow down what has the best content for you personally. If you're a console gamer and specifically of the PS4 persuasion, then PlayStation VR is likely your best choice. If you're much of a gamer at all but would be open to playing VR games, and are more interested in the whole of VR content and want something portable, than the Gear VR or the LG 360 VR are what you should be looking into. While I would personally rather own the HTC Vive and a really powerful PC to run it, I know that I would likely get more use out of the PlayStation VR which makes it more of a value for what I am spending and in the end making it the right VR headset for me. You may feel differently and that's OK as everyone's tastes are different. Whatever the right headset is, VR is definitely something that shouldn't be missed even if it's just to try it out briefly.