How to choose virtual reality glasses

Choose virtual reality glasses is not easy. This market is young, but already segmented enough for the buyer to easily get confused in brands, models and characteristics. We will help you to understand all this and decide how much and what it’s worth to pay for.

To better orient you, we will divide all VR-devices into three price categories: budget, middle and premium.

1. Budget devices: 15-50 dollars

What are

The most simple VR-helmets are pieces of cardboard with a pair of lenses and a connector for a smartphone. It is enough to insert the device into it on Android or iOS – you will get a ready-made headset. This design was first shown by Google, calling it Cardboard. The company also released the same hello application.

According to the developers, these helmets are accessible enough to introduce virtual reality to all comers. Later appeared models of plastic and other materials from a variety of manufacturers, compatible with the Cardboard platform.

The Google site sells points created by the partners of the company. There is also an instruction on which Cardboard can be collected independently from improvised materials. You can also easily buy a cheap helmet, compatible with Cardboard, for example, in one of the Chinese hardware stores.


Than stand out

The main use of this type of headset is viewing 360-degree video and simple games. Cardboard (Android, iOS), WITHIN (Android, iOS), YouTube (Android, iOS) – this is not a complete list of programs for downloading and viewing 3D movies. And it is constantly growing.

Wait for the effect of a full immersion from the cardboard glasses of virtual reality is not worth it, but because of the inability to actively move with such an assembly on your head, you may need a spinning chair.

On the other hand, cardboard (aluminum, plastic) VR-headsets of this class are the most compact and often have a folding design. Let and due to less isolation from the outside world.

Cardboard helmets from Google partners. Source:

According to the standard Google, any handicraft is enough to have at least one control. Not necessarily a button or a trackball, enough pairs of magnets. This control is suitable only to select menu options or perform other simple actions. Fortunately, many applications for management use only an accelerometer.

What to look for

When choosing a budget headset, make sure that it is compatible in size with the screen size of your smartphone. In addition, some helmets are only for specific smartphone models. Check this information on the websites of shops or manufacturers of glasses.

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In order for a smartphone to become a VR-screen, it must support applications for virtual reality. You can check this by installing the Cardboard program on it. The quality and smoothness of the video will depend on the resolution of the display and the power of your smartphone.

The more durable and qualitative the material of the case, the more expensive the helmet will cost. Perhaps, this is the main parameter on which the price of budget headsets depends.

2. Average price devices: 50-200 dollars

What are

Such headsets also most often use a smartphone as a screen, but they try to attract a different category of customers. Unlike the simplest and rather clumsy Cardboard, mid-price glasses are equipped with additional sensors, more sophisticated control mechanisms, the ability to adjust the focus or even your own screens.

Samsung Gear VR

The most famous among such devices – Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View, designed for Android-smartphones. Alternatives from lesser-known developers like Homido VR, Merge VR, Carl Zeiss VR One Plus are compatible with both Android and iPhone. Recently, the list of medium-purpose devices has replenished the first offline virtual reality helmet Oculus GO, which works without any smartphones and other additional devices.

Than stand out

Thanks to additional sensors, devices from this segment track movements of the head in space more accurately. This ensures a higher smoothness of video and greater interactivity in games. Illusion becomes more convincing. But the accuracy of premium models, equipped with external sensors, from similar headsets still should not wait.

Gadgets of this segment are usually sold together with Bluetooth-gamepad or control panel. This provides new management capabilities, which is especially useful for gamers. In addition, the body of these glasses have buttons or touch panels, with which you can control the basic functions of games and programs without additional devices.

Google Daydream View

Manufacturers of mid-value glasses pay special attention to content. Gear VR, Daydream and Oculus GO are whole ecosystems with different games, programs and movies. Developers of other glasses also try to expand the range to please users.

What to look for

When choosing a mid-price VR helmet, make sure that it is equipped with additional sensors: an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a proximity sensor. Check if there is a gamepad or remote in the kit. In addition, go to the manufacturer’s website and see how many VR applications support points. If you do not need any of this, then do not overpay – you can take a simple Cardboard.

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If you are looking for a device with a built-in display, consider its resolution: the higher, the better. If you choose glasses for your smartphone or computer, check the compatibility with the model of the smartphone or the technical characteristics of the computer on the site of the store / the manufacturer of points.

If your device is too weak or old and does not support VR helmets, consider buying Oculus GO stand-alone glasses. They have a 5.5-inch display with a resolution of 2,560 × 1,440 pixels and a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor with 3 GB of RAM.

Oculus GO

You still need a smartphone (Android or iPhone) to configure the Oculus GO and install new programs on them. But you can use these applications on glasses without the help of a computer or a smartphone. The helmet is running Android 7.1. The version with 32 GB of internal memory costs 199 dollars, with 64 GB – 249 dollars.

Obviously, it is worth paying attention to the design and weight of the headset. If there is no opportunity to feel and put on the device before buying to feel it on yourself, you can at least read the reviews of other buyers.

If you have short-sightedness or farsightedness, it is better to choose a device with a focal length control.

3. Devices of the highest league: from 300 dollars

What are

The premium segment of the VR market is represented by the headsets Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Sony PlayStation VR. Unlike the previous ones, these devices are connected not to telephones, but to computers and game consoles. Such helmets have a sophisticated ergonomic design and are equipped with high-quality screens, audio systems and numerous sensors.

PlayStation VR

Price Sony PlayStation VR is 300 dollars. To use this headset, you must have a Sony PlayStation 4 console, or even better Sony PlayStation 4 Pro, which reveals the full graphic potential of these VR-glasses.

Oculus Rift and HTC Vive cost 400 and 500 dollars, respectively. For each of them you need a powerful computer with Windows on board. In 2018 Vive PRO was released – a new version of the helmet with improved ergonomics, optics and sound at a price of $ 800.

Than stand out

Headsets of this class demonstrate an excellent level of graphics and surround sound. Features of their design cause minimal discomfort. And thanks to external cameras and sensors, they accurately track the movement of the user in space. Together, these factors provide maximum user immersion in games and other interactive simulations.

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Oculus Rift

What to look for

The purchase of premium VR-glasses is appropriate only if you have a game console or a productive PC. In the case of the PlayStation VR, which is designed specifically for the console from Sony, everything is clear. But if you want Rift or Vive, be sure to read the system requirements for the computer on the site of Oculus or HTC.

It will not be inappropriate to find out the range of games available for each helmet. The catalog for PS VR is updated on the PlayStation website. Similar lists for Rift or Vive can be viewed on Steam. The more interesting games you support a specific helmet, the more weighty reason to choose it.

When choosing a headset, do not forget to pay attention to its package. Some accessories are sold with glasses, the rest have to be bought separately. For example, the base HTC Vive is sold together with sensors and controllers, and the PRO version – in general without additional devices.

If you are interested in outdoor games, make sure that you have enough free space in your home. Otherwise, advanced tracking systems, which constitute a significant share in the cost of points, will be useless. Especially it concerns helmets Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which can track the player’s movements within 6 and 20 square meters, respectively.

Buyer check-list

  • If you want to purchase an inexpensive helmet for movies and simple games, choose any model of Cardboard, the design of which you will like.
  • If you can spend a little more to buy more durable and comfortable glasses, be guided by Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR. But make sure that the selected headset is compatible with your smartphone model or PC characteristics. If the compatibility is not lucky, you can buy a standalone Oculus GO helmet.
  • If you want a full immersion in cool games and money for you no problem, buy PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. The first option – the best choice for owners of PS 4. The second and third – for owners of large apartments and powerful PCs based on Windows.

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