Table of Contents
What is a VR Headset exactly?
Virtual reality headsets, also known as VR goggles, are devices for visualizing virtual environments in three dimensions. They make it possible to reproduce images created by a computer on a screen located at very close range. They can even project the images directly onto the eyes’ retina.
One of the standout features of VR headsets is that as you move your head, the images that appear on the screen change in tandem. Modern VR headsets also attempt to create a field of vision that is as close to your normal field of vision as possible. The objective is a completely immersive experience that looks and sounds real.
What are the types of VR Headsets?
Two types of VR goggles can be identified: high-performance devices, and devices that require a mobile phone. The former have their own display and sensors and require some sort of external equipment, either a computer or a console. This allows you to enjoy an immersive experience of very high quality.
Devices that require a smartphone offer much lower quality because they don’t feature their own screen. Naturally, mobile phones also have much less powerful processors and graphics cards. However, their price is much lower, so it is a more accessible option for the general public.
They have their own screen. They need to be connected to a very powerful device, either a computer or a game console. They offer great image quality. They provide much more immersive experiences and their price is much higher. They need cables to connect, although wireless equipment are being developed.
Devices that require a mobile phone
They use a mobile phone screen. They offer lower image quality and experiences are much less immersive. Their price is far lower. It is not difficult to find equipment from reputable brands for prices of around 30 dollars.
Advantages and disadvantages of VR Headsets
Virtual reality offers a series of advantages that make this technology very attractive. In addition, it has an increasing number of uses in very diverse fields. However, VR still has some drawbacks today. In the following table, we briefly summarize the main advantages and disadvantages of using VR goggles.
Shopping Criteria for VR Headsets
There are a number of shopping criteria to consider when buying a virtual reality headset. Don’t forget that not all VR goggles offer the same features. This is why, in this section, we answer the most important questions that buyers of virtual reality gear ask themselves.
Practically every model of virtual reality headsets has been created specifically for a particular device. This forces you to first decide what equipment you want to buy them for. Then only can you make your final choice. This means that you will have a smaller product selection to pick from.
So far, the device that has best suited virtual reality headsets has been the PC. This is particularly true in the field of video games. This is also the case with video consoles, especially with Sony’s Playstation 4. Finally, mobile phones can also be used with VR.
If you are buying virtual reality goggles for your mobile phone, you need to make sure that they are compatible with your device, both in size and with the operating system. In addition, your mobile phone must absolutely have a gyroscope, which is what will enable you to watch 3D videos.
The use you will make of virtual reality headsets is another criteria you have to consider upon purchase. You won’t need the same model to play video games or to take virtual tours of museums. Your frequency of use of the VR headset is another aspect you need to take into account.
Depending on the type of VR goggles you want to buy, you may or may not have to consider this aspect. If you are buying a smartphone device, you don’t have to worry about this criterion. Otherwise, we recommend you to pay special attention to the technology with which the screen is made. Your best options should be OLED or AMOLED.
The resolution tells us how many pixels a screen can display. A pixel is the smallest part into which an image is divided. The resolution is therefore determined by the product’s width by height, giving us its aspect ratio. However, the resolution should not be mistaken for the screen dimensions.
This is therefore a fundamental parameter, as the image quality will depend on the resolution. As a reference, the highest quality virtual reality headsets offer a minimum resolution of 1980 x 1080 pixels. As you can imagine, cheaper equipment will not offer this quality.
Field of vision
The field of vision is the width of the visual field taken up by the virtual image of your VR goggles. Logically, a bigger field of vision means a deeper immersion for you. The best VR headsets offer a 110º field of view that even covers peripheral vision.
The latency is the time difference between the movement of the user’s head and the readjustment of the image. Manufacturers try to reduce this phenomenon as much as possible. It is important to keep in mind that excessive latency can lead to dizziness and a decreased sense of realism.
The audio system built into the virtual reality headset is an aspect you can’t overlook, especially if you use it to play video games or watch movies and series. It is therefore essential that your VR goggles have built-in audio – better yet if they offer 3D audio.
Regarding connectivity, you must first decide whether you want a wireless model or one connected via cable. Wireless goggles usually require a mobile phone to act as a screen. That being said, autonomous wireless equipment are already in development and are starting to be available on the market.
Cable-connected VR headsets work with a computer or game console. These are understandably devices with much better features and, therefore, their price is also much higher. Moreover, computers need very powerful hardware to be able to run VR programs.
If you want to buy virtual reality headsets to play video games, this is an absolutely key factor that you cannot overlook. You will need remotes, controllers and even gloves to interact with the games you play. So you shouldn’t only think about the accessories that come directly with your VR goggles, but also the ones that can be compatible with them.
Certain devices require a battery; it is therefore an important aspect to consider, especially if you plan to use your VR set intensively. Nothing is more frustrating than having to stop right in the middle of your favorite game just because your battery died. Remember that the unit of measure of a battery’s capacity is the milliampere-hour (mAh).
Some goggles come with elastic straps that help maintain the lenses in place. Their goal is to provide a greater sense of immersion. Unfortunately, these can sometimes be so uncomfortable that all you can think about is how much you want to rip those VR goggles off of your face.
You definitely need to be comfortable and relaxed in order to fully enjoy the experience, especially if you plan on spending a lot of time playing your favorite video game.
Size and shape
This aspect is directly related to the previous criteria. Our first advice regarding the shape is to check that the nose bridge is sufficiently wide. You should also make sure that the straps are adjustable and that they are made from a soft, elastic material.
The part of the goggles that rests on your face should have some sort of padding; it should be made from elastic plastic rather than hard plastic. Don’t forget to take into account the weight, as you will wear them on your head. You certainly don’t want to end up with discomfort in your neck. In short, the key is to find a VR headset that is both comfortable and practical.
When the time comes to buy your VR goggles, our advice to you is to opt for a model from a renowned brand. This will guarantee you a quality product and good customer service. Although there are brands that offer very cheap virtual reality headsets, their performances tend to be quite poor.
The most reputable brand in the sector is probably Oculus VR, creator of the famous Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles. Other important and prestigious brands include HTC, Samsung, Razer, Asus and Zeiss, among others. We obviously cannot forget Sony and its Playstation VR glasses specifically developed for its famous gaming console, the PS4.
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What are the main uses of virtual reality headsets?
Their main application is in the field of video games, for both computer and console. Sony has particularly developed VR for its PlayStation 4. However, VR goggles have many more uses. One of the more recent ones comes from the real estate industry, where it is used to virtually visit properties. In addition to gaming and entertainment, VR headsets are becoming more and more common in museums, in education, and throughout the healthcare industry. It is now common for VR headsets to be used to train doctors for surgery, and to help treat people suffering from various phobias. Industrial design is another area where VR technology is being relied on heavily.
How do virtual reality headsets work?
Virtual reality headsets combine digital technology with optical techniques. Their goal is to adapt the image produced by an electronic device to the human eye, so as to to create a feeling of immersion. They want to make you feel like you are completely part of the reality generated. The function of the goggles is to increase your viewing angle and offer you a three-dimensional image. You therefore feel like you are within the reality created. Different accessories have also been developed to further increase that feeling, as well as to take advantage of the movement of the body and its reaction to stimuli.
What are the main accessories for virtual reality headsets?
If your objective is to find a VR headset to enhance your gaming experience, you will likely need to invest in some additional equipment. One of the most important additions will be a point-and-click controller. Some headsets come with their own controllers, or are compatible only with a certain kind of controller – such as PlayStation’s Dualshock contollers. Some virtual reality goggles are sold with a small remote. The Oculus Touch controllers are another interesting accessory, as they give you the feeling that the virtual hands are your real hands. Some computers use mobile phones as accessories for certain virtual reality applications.
What adapted multimedia content is available for virtual reality headsets?
A few years ago, there were only very few virtual reality games for consoles. Luckily, this is now quite different. First of all, the list of compatible games has considerably increased. In addition to this, there are now games and applications for consoles, computers and smartphones. Some of the most interesting games are: Star Child, Far Home, Fallout 4 and Resident Evil 7. There is also an increasing number of educational content that takes advantage of virtual reality. One of the most popular apps is Titans of Space, with which you can take a guided tour of our Solar System.
For whom are virtual reality headsets tailored?
Virtual reality headsets may interest you if you often play video games and want to experience gaming differently. They also allow you to watch movies or series in a new way. VR goggles may even be useful to you if you run a real estate business and want to offer a new kind of service to your customers.
How much do virtual reality headsets cost?
The market for VR headsets is quite large, and you can find products at a range of different price points. At the high-end (such as the Oculus Rift), you can expect to pay sometimes in excess of 500 dollars. State-of-the-art equipment can cost upwards of 1,000 dollars. The price of the Playstation VR is around 400 dollars. There are of course VR equipment available at lower prices. Virtual reality devices for mobile phones tend to be much cheaper. You can find them for around 30 dollars. However, the cheapest option of all comes from Google and its cardboard virtual reality glasses. Yes, you read us correctly: cardboard. Google Cardboards are sold for less than 10 dollars.