Best cheap VR headset

Headphones

The first VR headset, the Sword of Damocles, was so heavy that it needed to be supported by mounts and hung from the ceiling.

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Which cheap VR headset is best?

Ever since the advent of video games, there has always been the desire to one day create technology where games are not just played but experienced. Virtual reality games allow the player to fully immerse themselves into the worlds of their favorite games by utilizing a headset and motion tracking, giving players a direct hands-on experience entirely from the comfort of their own homes. 

With VR, players can explore interactive landscapes, play their favorite next-generation or AAA games and transform into fully actualized digital versions of themselves. Because the technology is still relatively new, many quality VR headsets are pretty pricey. However, thanks to the work of Oculus and other VR-dedicated companies, VR technology is becoming more and more accessible to consumers. 

A brief history of VR

Many people do not realize that VR, as it is known today, is technically in its second generation. Historically, VR was first invented as far back as the 1950s. Its first appearance came in the form of The Sword of Damocles head-mounted display, developed by computer scientists Ivan Sutherland and Bob Sproull. However, the term “virtual reality” was not popularized until the 1980s by computer scientist and philosopher Jaron Lanier. 

Throughout the ’80s and ’90s, VR was primarily used for training and simulation by the U.S. military and NASA. It was not until the early 1990s that mass production of VR systems began, led by Virtuality, which started opening VR-dedicated gaming arcades.

The second generation of VR started around 2010, with the PC-connected Oculus Rift prototype. Since then, VR technology saw a boom in popularity, and its technology has continued to be developed up through today. Untethered headsets are the most recent VR innovation, allowing users the freedom to jump into virtual reality without cumbersome cords attached. 

What to consider when buying a cheap VR headset

Tethered headsets

The most important question to ask yourself when buying a VR headset is whether you want to find one that is tethered or untethered. There are pros and cons to both: Tethered VR headsets require either a computer or game console to provide most of their gaming power and must be connected via cables and wires to support their system. They generally have built-in screens attached to the goggles, allowing high-resolutions to come through thanks to the assisted supporting hardware. The primary downside to these kinds of headsets is their sometimes unwieldy cords, which could easily get tangled.

Untethered headsets

Untethered VR headsets come wire-free and often boil down to two types: smartphone wireless and true wireless. Smartphone wireless headsets make your phone the screen for the goggles, allowing you to play your favorite apps and phone games through your phone’s VR function. However, this will only work with certain kinds of phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S10. True wireless headsets have all the functionality of tethered headsets, coming equipped with their screen and the complete portability and convenience of a handheld device. 

Positional tracking

Positional tracking allows a VR headset to estimate its position relative to its environment, meaning the more precise the tracking is, the more immersive the VR experience will be. Many high-end VR headsets will offer 1:1 positional tracking, offering the user the purest experience of traversing through virtual space while in games. 

The best cheap VR headsets

Best of the best cheap VR headset

Oculus Quest All-in-one VR Gaming Headset

Oculus Quest All-in-one VR Gaming Headset

The Oculus Quest is the next level of VR headsets. With access to Oculus’ expansive Quest library, you can play hundreds of games with more releasing every month. It does not need a PC or a console for setup and works right out of the box when paired with the smartphone app. You can also enjoy a fully immersive gaming experience without being encumbered by pesky wires. However, it should be noted that Facebook is required to play the system, and the headset itself may feel heavy after playing for extended periods. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best bang for your buck cheap VR headset

Google Cardboard POP!

Google Cardboard POP!

For a very modest price, turn your smartphone into your own personal VR machine with Google Cardboard. Made with high-quality print and colors and finished with a protective layer, the Google Cardboard ensures durability while also being the most sustainable VR headset on the market. This headset can support phones of all types up to 6 inches. One downside of this headset is that the lenses are made of less durable quality than most standard VR headsets and can scratch or be damaged easily. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Honorable mentions

Sony - PlayStation VR The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR Bundle

Sony – PlayStation VR The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim VR Bundle

Exclusive for Playstation, the Playstation VR headset allows players to immerse themselves in Sony’s incredible virtual reality games fully. With backward compatibility, you can play an extensive back catalog of supported PS VR games. With its 3D audio and built-in microphone, you can discover a full and rich sonic landscape without compromising the experience. One thing of note is you must have a Playstation 5 to utilize the Playstation VR system. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Oculus Rift S PC-Powered VR Gaming Headset

Oculus Rift S PC-Powered VR Gaming Headset

The original Oculus Rift PC-Powered VR headset comes with a custom LED display for a crisp and stunning VR experience. The halo headband is ergonomically designed to ensure top performance and is built with comfort in mind. Before purchasing, it is essential to note that this tethered VR headset will require minimum specs on a gaming laptop or computer to ensure the highest quality gameplay. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Virtual Reality System

HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Virtual Reality System

HTC is another leading brand in virtual reality gaming. Their Vive line of VR headsets delivers a rich gaming experience that rivals other VR headsets like the Oculus. With lighthouse tracking, their gaming station provides up to 160 square feet of play space. That, paired with crystal clear graphics and unlimited access to hundreds of VR games and apps, makes the Vive Cosmos a gaming powerhouse. One downside of this VR headset is that it is more expensive than many of its competitors.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Jared Lindsay writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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