The world of virtual reality headsets is exploding with options. Nic Healey reviews the latest ways to access another dimension.
In a few short years, virtual reality (VR) has gone from being the sole domain of high-tech laboratories and research institutions to a fun exercise the whole family can enjoy at home. Even the term has been given a twist, with “mixed reality” describing the combination of VR and augmented reality. There are more headset choices than ever before and they’re spread across a wide price range so you’re bound to find something that’s right for you.
Samsung Gear VR
The Gear VR harnesses the processing power of your phone rather than an external computer. You simply slip your recent-model Galaxy Note or Galaxy S phone into the headset for a wireless VR experience. Samsung worked with Oculus on the design for the latest Gear VR and that expertise shows. There’s a small handheld controller and an ecosystem of more than 800 apps.
Google Daydream View
Originally, the Daydream View only worked with the latest Google Pixel phones but the line-up of compatible mobiles has grown to include models from Samsung, Huawei and Motorola. It’s a lightweight design with a fabric finish, setting it apart from the others, while the single Daydream touch- and motion-sensitive controller works with a wide array of games and apps.
The other option at the high end of the VR world is the HTC Vive, which offers “room-scale” technology – it uses tracking sensors to map out your physical location in a room. This makes it possible to move around within your VR environment and not crash into an actual wall. The controllers are more suited to gaming than the Oculus Rift’s.
HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset
Like the Oculus and the Vive, the HP headset needs a PC but doesn’t have the same stringent power requirements as the other two. It’s also far easier to set up: just two cables go into your computer and the motion trackers are built into the headset. The Bluetooth-connected motion controllers are a genuine joy.
The Explorer has a lot in common with the HP headset, including the price and controllers. It’s also a simple two-cable set-up but the design is significantly lighter than the HP, which makes it more comfortable for many users.