Virtual reality is on the leading edge of developing technologies. Because of its gaining popularity, it has seen billions of dollars invested in tech startups by major technology corporations like Meta, Microsoft, Google, PlayStation, and others.
With such a wide range of products, you may find yourself in an overwhelming position when buying a VR headset as there are so many to choose from. Not only do they differ in materials (from cardboard to plastic), colors, and design, but they may also serve different purposes. There is not one VR headset that is ideal for everyone. But when you understand what various types of headsets provide and which features to look for, your choice will be made easier.
Types of Head-Mounted Displays
Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) is another name for VR devices, and they come in different shapes and sizes. As there are so many different models available on the market right now, it is important to divide them into separate categories.
There are three main types of VR devices:
- Tethered VR headsets (PC VR, or desktop VR)—connected by cables to a “VR Ready” type of computer.
- Standalone VR headsets (all-in-one VR or wireless VR) that can be used without a computer system or a smartphone.
- Smartphone VR headsets (mobile VR, or VR viewers)—headsets that use a smartphone as their display.
Buying a VR Headset: How to Choose?
When buying a HMD, there are three simple questions you can ask yourself. Do you simply want to hit the ground running with the most basic tools available? Are you hoping for the greatest experience possible? Or are you somewhere in the middle?
To make things easier for you, let’s dive deeper into what different HMDs can provide you with.
There are three general technical specifications you should look into before swiping your credit card. The order in which these criteria are important depends on what the user wants and needs. Whether you want to use virtual reality for business or just for fun, your choice may be different.
Either way, three factors may determine what kind of HMD is the perfect choice for your needs, and they are:
You may already know that immersion is when you feel like you are “really there” in a virtual world. This effect can be achieved with different tools such as music and controls inside a game or application, but VR needs to pull you completely inside a digital environment so that you can experience everything with ease and comfort.
Five variables may have an impact on immersion quality:
Tracking determines the VRs and users’ position. The more exact the tracking, the higher the VR immersion. In that sense, different VR headsets offer different tracking systems, such as external sensors or cameras.
- Degrees of Freedom (DoF)
The amount of movement that the user may experience is referred to as degrees of freedom. 3DoF gives users freedom of rotation to move their heads, while 6DoF lets them use the movement of their whole bodies (up, down, left, right, forward, and backward).
- FOV: Field of View
The human FOV may reach a maximum of 220°. The horizontal FOV of most VR headsets is roughly 100 degrees, but some HMDs may reach up to 200 degrees. If the field of view is too small, the feeling of immersion will be weaker as the user cannot fully experience their surroundings.
Audio is essential in letting people feel immersed, much as it is in movie theaters, where high-end systems are placed to provide the audience with the greatest possible experience.
Entry-level VR headsets usually have speakers built-in, while higher-end VR headsets may have headphones built-in.
The ability to use suitable controllers could make a VR experience much better, especially when it comes to gaming. Those interested in VR gaming should look at headsets that have suitable controllers. High-end 6DoF controllers have a trackpad, trigger, and buttons that help you control the game better.
Another critical element to consider is headset comfort. Even if a headset has the best immersion, it could ruin the virtual reality experience if it is too heavy, too uncomfortable, unbalanced, or just doesn’t fit well.
So, manufacturers develop VR headsets trying to balance their designs so that they put less weight on the face. Even with balance, it’s recommended to go with a lightweight headset. Users who use glasses should also verify whether there is adequate space beneath the headset for them.
Some VR users may get sick because the refresh rate is too slow or because of a certain VR experience. It is similar to motion sickness, in which the eyes and brain inform the body that it is moving, but it actually remains still.
It is known as simulation sickness, virtual reality illness, or even cybersickness in business. In order to avoid it, look for HMDs that have refresh rates of 60Hz to 120Hz.
The importance of content can not be overstated. Indeed, professionals are more likely to use their VR headsets to get their own tailored material, and that’s why most brands have their own content platforms, such as the Oculus Store or SteamVR.
The most frequent application domains for VR are gaming and entertainment, but there are other businesses that profit from this technology as well:
- Medical and healthcare
- Digital marketing
- Design and engineering
- Training and education
Your Choice Is Based On Your Own Needs
Immersive technologies are used by both professionals and regular people. There are many different kinds of HMDs, each with its own features, uses, and limits. But, as we already mentioned, there is no perfect choice when buying a VR headset. The choice itself should be made according to your needs.
A desktop VR headset is a way to go if you want to have a fully immersive experience with cutting-edge technology. It’s also important to note that they require powerful machines, space for all the equipment, and a bigger budget to perform their immersive tasks.
On the other hand, standalone or smartphone VR headsets can be used in business as they perform intermediate virtual reality operations with ease. Their downside may be their battery life, or how much energy they use from the device they’re attached to, but they serve as a perfect solution for many entrepreneurs. Not to mention, they are more affordable than tethered HMDs.
So before proceeding with your payment, ask yourself what exactly you need, but try to stay informed as technology is still evolving and new (and better) solutions are yet to come.