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The best virtual reality headsets you can buy in 2017

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Virtual reality has been a long time coming, but now it is easier than ever to get an immersive experience and take your first VR steps at home. There are a host of headsets available, from powerful, high-end ones like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift to mobile experiences like the Samsung Gear VR, the new Google Daydream View, or the do-it-yourself Google Cardboard.

But which one should you choose? There's a lot of variety in the technology, from the headsets you can buy, to the apps you can play and the platforms that support them. Some simply need a smartphone to plug in, others use video games consoles or PC software to play.

How to choose a VR headset

Virtual reality headset
CREDIT: BLOOMBERG

When picking a headset you will want to decide whether you want it for serious gaming or casual virtual reality experiences.

If you just want a device that can run through some 360-degree videos or simple interactive adventures then Google's Cardboard headset (yes, it's actually made of cardboard) is a cheapest option.

For simple games that would not look out of place on a mobile phone you could turn to Google's Daydream VR View or Samsung's Gear VR, or one of a number of third party virtual reality headsets that can work with your iOS or Android smartphone.

 

Alternatively, for a high-end experience you could splash out on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, which both have PC level gaming ability and a range of advanced games to enjoy.

What platform should I use for VR?

When buying a virtual reality headset you should consider what technology you already own. If you like the look of the Samsung Gear VR, but own an iPhone, you will not be able to use it. Similarly, if you want to use the Oculus Rift but don't have a decent laptop that is ready for virtual reality gaming you may need to buy one.

  • Mobile: You can enjoy brilliant virtual reality experiences from your smartphone. Models such as the Google Pixel, Moto Z, Huawei Mate 9 Pro, Asus Zenfone AR and the Samsung Galaxy S8 can all be used for virtual reality. Smartphone apps are more limited in power, limited to the kind of videos and games your smartphone can process, and some are exclusive to certain mobile stores.
  • Console: The PSVR is the main console gaming virtual reality experience. Sony's headset plugs into your PS4 and PlayStation Camera, you can then play a range of PlayStation virtual reality games. 
  • PC: To use the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive you will need to hook up the headsets to your PC, so for starters you will need an expensive PC rig that can power virtual reality games. This will, however, give you access to some of the most cutting edge games for virtual reality. For a list of some of the best gaming laptops check out our picks for 2017.

Do I need VR accessories?

PSVR
The Aim Controller is sold for the PSVR CREDIT: SONY

You may need extra controllers to complete your experience and play some of the more advanced titles that are available. The Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream now come with small point-and-click controllers for navigating through apps and playing games.

 

With the PSVR, you can play using your Dualshock PS4 controller, or you can splash out and pick up the VR Aim Controller, which can be used with games like Farpoint, although right now not much else. The controller can be bought for £74.99.

For the Oculus Rift, you can buy Oculus Touch Controllers. Rather than using a handset, these operate in a more similar to real life hand movements, giving the feeling that the virtual hands are actually your own. Oculus Rift Touch Controllers are £130.

How much should I pay for a VR headset?

You can get a budget Google Cardboard virtual reality headset - or a very similar device on Amazon - for just £15. Google and Samsung's mobile headsets are more advanced, rounded and comfortable and also cost less than £100.

For a more powerful virtual reality set up, the PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift both cost several hundred pounds, while you will probably want to look into picking up a few extras such as handsets.

The HTC Vive is the most expensive on this list, coming in at more than £750 - and you will need a powerful PC set up to play the headset as well.

 

Cheap virtual reality headsets under £100

Google Daydream View

Google Daydream
The Google Daydream View CREDIT: GOOGLE

Works with: Android

Google's Daydream was one of the most hotly anticipated virtual reality headsets last year. It works with the Google Pixel and several other Android smartphones. Users can play a range of games with the Daydream app, which is only compatible with some smartphones, and Bluetooth controllers.

Daydream now has a range of great apps available, making it an even better buy for an all-round mobile virtual reality experience. It doesn't have access to some of the great virtual reality experiences that are available on the Oculus Store, but does have exclusives such as Youtube VR. The Daydream is currently priced at £84.99 on Amazon.

Price: £84.99 from Amazon

Buy now

Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR
Samsung Gear VR CREDIT: SAMSUNG

Works with: Samsung smartphones

Gear VR has been around since 2015 but remains one of the best ways to get a virtual reality experience on mobile, providing you have a Samsung device. Unlike most other virtual reality apps for Android, Gear VR uses apps made for Oculus Rift. There are some fantastic games available on the Platform such as Minecraft and Eve Gunjack. Samsung's high quality QHD screens offer a more immersive experience for their apps.

 

It costs around £20 more to add a handheld controller. The headset is now compatible with several generations of Samsung's phones, from the S6 and later, offering plenty of ways for users to get a virtual reality hit. 

Price: £99.99 from Samsung

Buy now 

Google Cardboard

Google Cardboard
Google's Cardboard headset CREDIT: GOOGLE

Works with: Android and iOS

Google's Cardboard headset is the cheapest, simplest way to experience virtual reality. It really looks like something you could knock up on Blue Peter. Just lock your smartphone into the cardboard case and download the Google Cardboard app to get started.

The set up is pretty basic and it has a small magnetic switch on the side which can be used to perform simple actions within games or adventures. The Cardboard is ideal if you want to treat your children to their first virtual reality experience without overspending. Some great apps include Google Arts and Culture or Within VR, which has a range of videos and documentaries.

Price: £11 from Google

Buy now

Homido V2

Homido V2
Homido V2 headset CREDIT: HOMIDO

Works with: Android and iOS

Unfortunately there are not too many headsets around that work with iPhones from major brands. Homido's headsets repair this gap slightly. They operate with Android and iOS and can be set to work with 4-inch to 5.7-inch devices.

 

With Homido you can play games from iTunes or Google PlayStore, which both feature virtual reality apps, even if your phone isn't compatible with some of the major headsets. You can pick up this headset for under £50, but you will need to buy an additional GamePad to make the most of some games. Homido's Android controller can be picked up for £30.

Price: £49.99 from Clas Ohlson

Buy now

Virtual reality headsets under £500

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift
Oculus Rift CREDIT: OCULUS

Works with: PC

Facebook-owned Oculus Rift offers some of the best experiences in virtual reality and has become synonymous with the technology. Oculus has some great apps in its store, from the fast-paced Robo Recall shooter, space flights in Eve Valkyrie and terrifying horror experiences in Resident Evil: Biohazard. The headset itself has immersive OLED panels with 2160 x 1200 resolution for massive immersion.

Its price has also dropped and you can now pick up the Oculus with handheld touch controllers, which are shaped to feel like you are actually using your hands rather than a clunky controller. Alternatively it can work with an Xbox One controller and you stream games through your Xbox via a PC.

Price: £399 from Oculus

Buy now

 
Playstation VR
PlayStation VR CREDIT: SONY

Works with: PS4

A long-awaited virtual reality headset from Sony arrived last year, bringing virtual reality to home consoles. It's one of the easiest virtual reality headsets for serious gamers. Most of the games for the PSVR can be played using your Dualshock controller, but to get more out of the experience you can pick up some Move controllers. You will also need to buy a Playstation Camera to work the headset.

PSVR certainly has one of the coolest appearances of any of the virtual reality kits. Some of the great games you can play on it include FarPoint, Resident Evil: Biohazard and Batman Arkham VR.

Price: £340.00 from Amazon

Buy now

Luxury virtual reality headsets

HTC Vive

HTC Vive
HTC Vive with controllers CREDIT: HTC

Works with: PC or Mac

One of the most immersive virtual reality experiences you can get, the HTC Vive is available for PC and Mac, but you will need a computer or laptop with a powerful enough graphics card to play. HTC's headset has been built to work with Valve, the online gaming corporate that runs the Steam store. Like the Oculus it has a 2160 x 1200 OLED display for a brilliant picture.

Most games cost in the region of £15 to £30, compared with many free or cheap virtual reality games that can be bought for mobile devices. It's also the most expensive virtual reality headset out there, since the Oculus dropped in price. It is set to get some great games such as Doom and Fallout 4, but Doom will also come to PSVR. Get set for the virtual reality console wars.

 

Price: £759.99 from Currys or Vive

Source: http://best-virtual-reality-headsets-can-buy-2017/

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