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You don’t need to blow hundreds of dollars on a VR (Virtual Reality) headset to get a compelling, immersive experience. Each of the headsets on this list puts the world of virtual reality into your hands comfortably and affordably. And they all cost less than $100!
Note: VR headsets, especially cheap ones, are tricky. Most come with bugs, lag too much and cause VR sickness, or aren’t comfortable. We tested dozens of headsets and these 5 scored the highest in comfort, durability, usability, and overall experience. Go with a sure thing to save yourself the hassle of returning one.
#1 – Google Cardboard – The Best VR Headset on a Budget
You’re reading this because you’re on a budget and you want an AWESOME VR headset, right? 90% of you can stop reading right here. There’s no better budget VR headset than Google Cardboard. It brings virtual reality to life for less then $20!
It’s a quality viewer that works easily with your smartphone apps and assembles in 3 easy steps. Explore the wonders of deep space, dance on stage with Bieber (Despa – SHUT UP FOR THE LOVE OF GOD), and tour the ruins of Machu PIcchu all from Google’s crystal clear lenses.
On our end, we were instantly obsessed with how fun and interactive Google Street View was. If you’re anything like us, you’ll love aimlessly wandering famous landmarks, far flung cities, and your own neighborhood yelling “HEY THAT’S MY DAD’S CAR!”
- Price is ridiculously low
- Awesome lenses
- Lots of content
- No head strap!
- Comfort is decent but not high-end
#2 – Google Daydream View
It might sound futuristic but transporting from anywhere to anywhere in the world now costs less than dinner for 2 at Chili’s.
Google’s Daydream View experience is a step up from Cardboard, and comes with a ton of and exciting apps/games. We truly felt like we were actually experiencing the world, not just seeing it. Just download the Daydream app (which puts you into an immersive environment where you can download Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, etc.), drop your phone into the headset, and you’re ready to go.
The controller is the best on the market in this price range, giving you the best possible interactive experience with your apps. Download the right apps and it instantly transforms into a sword, wand, or whatever else you want it to be.
Since we’re spoiled brats that can’t stand a minute of discomfort, we really loved the breathable head strap. Unlike most straps that irritate the skin or feel like you’re wearing a boa constrictor, this felt equivalent to wearing a hairnet.
- Simple and high-quality
- Breathable head strap
- The gap between the headset and nose gave some of us trouble
- There’s a bit of a setup process (email needed)
#3 – Homido VR Headset for iPhone and Android
We loved the Homido headset for 2 reasons: The adjustable distance was perfect for our eyes, and the ergonomic head strap felt like melted butter on the back of our heads (not sure that’s a good thing, now that we think about it…).
A lot of other headsets we tried made it difficult to watch movies. This one lets you adjust til you find the sweet spot, so your eyes don’t get strained. Pretty awesome.
That’s enough to make this list but it also costs pretty much nothing. It’s basic, but if you’re reading this that’s probably what you’re after. It doesn’t come with a controller or any bells or whistles. It’s just a simple, straightforward headset.
Endless immersive entertainment in ergonomic comfort for less than a decent haircut? Sounds good to us.
- Super cheap
- Adjustable distance is easy on the eyes
- Ergonomic headstrap
- Doesn’t do much….just the basics
#4 – Samsung Gear VR
If you’ve got a Samsung phone and are on a budget, the Samsung Gear VR is a no brainer – but it’s not as cheap as other models on the list.
The headset is packed with functionality and the controller is super intuitive, you won’t ruin your purchase by RAGE SMASHING it against the wall. You can point, select, and drag with a flick of your wrist, making it easy to choose which show to watch while laying in bed (and saving your neck from getting stiff).
Comfort, functionality, and durability all score high (and it looks freaking awesome!). The only thing we don’t like is that it’s only compatible with certain Samsung models.
The best models for compatibility:
Galaxy Note9 (Additional Adapter needed), Note8, Note FE, Note5 / Galaxy S9, S9+, S8, S8+, S7, S7 Edge, S6, S6 Edge, S6 Edge+ / Galaxy A8(2018), A8+(2018), A8 star.
- High functionality
- Price is still low (under $100) but higher than other models
- Fingerprints easily show up on the screen
#5 – Merge VR Goggles
What’s the one thing that kids want to do more than anything else these days? No, it’s not live stream themselves eating for their whole class to see. It’s learn about math and science.
OK, not really, but if it were, the Merge VR Goggles headset would be exactly what they needed. This headset gives kids access to 300+ educational STEM activities and experiences. Our favorites were:
- 3D Museum Viewer
- Rubik’s Cube
- Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road Farewell Tour!!!!!
- 360-Degree Grand Canyon Tour
- Panda Playtime
It’s good for everyone from kids to professionals! Keep a lookout for the next Soda PDF app for kids (not really). You can download Soda PDF and get a great app to manage your documents.