The best VR headsets in 2023
Despite Meta’s huge investment (and investment losses) in the “metaverse”, virtual reality is still much more niche than marketing makes it seem. Of over 215 million games in the US, only around 7% said a VR device was their preferred device for playing games. In 2022, VR headset sales fell 2% year-over-year.
GO AHEAD The best VR headsets | Frequently asked questions about VR headsets
While VR isn’t your next social platform (yet), it’s great for delivering unique gaming and exercise experiences. “At the end of the day, VR is still primarily for gaming and exercise right now,” said Avi Greengart, president and principal analyst at Techsponential, a market research and technology consulting service.
To help you get past the marketing buzz and tech specs, we spoke with Greengart about the best VR headsets currently available on the market.
How to buy a VR headset
There are a handful of VR headsets on the market today, and many big tech companies like Apple are developing all-new headsets, Greengart said. When buying a VR headset, the most important thing to consider is what you are trying to do in VR. “You need to at least have an idea of what you’re going to use it for,” Greengart said. Do you plan to use your VR headset standing up, sitting down, or both? In which room of the house do you plan to install it? Does this room have a lot of open floor space? These are all important questions to consider, as they will help you decide which VR headset is right for you.
The best VR headsets
The best VR headset on the market largely depends on what you’re trying to do in VR. All of the most popular headsets excel in very different ways, deciding more on what you want than what the hardware offers. To choose the best VR headsets, we focused on expert-recommended options from seasoned tech brands. We prioritized headsets with stable performance and a history of software support.
Best Ensemble: Meta
If you’re in the US, the easiest recommendation for VR is still Meta’s Quest 2, Greengart said. Of all the VR headsets on the market, this is one of the easiest to use. “It’s completely standalone, you don’t need a PC or game console to use it. You can use it standing up, sitting down, in small spaces – it’s very portable,” said Greengart.
Greengart said the key to the Quest 2’s success is its reasonable price and huge software library. Greengart particularly recommended “Beat Saber”, a rhythm game that mixes exercise elements to create a very fun experience.
The Quest 2 is more affordable than many other top-notch VR headsets. It comes with a VR headset, charger, and two battery-powered touch controllers.
Best for PC: Valve
Valve’s Index VR headset is one of the most powerful on the market. It needs to be plugged into a powerful laptop or gaming PC to use. Unlike the Meta Quest 2, the Valve Index is capable of playing graphically intense games like “Half Life: Alyx”.
What sets it apart from the crowd are its controllers. Each controller individually detects each of your fingers. This is unique in the VR space and enables immersive gaming experiences.
Valve Index can be purchased on a piecemeal basis, but we recommend purchasing the complete Valve Index VR Kit, which includes everything you need to take full advantage of the system.
Best for PlayStation: PSVR 2
If you own a PS5, the new PSVR 2 is one of the best VR headsets to buy. It must be plugged into a PS5 to use. Reviewers have noted that the PSVR 2 is extremely adjustable and very comfortable. Like the best gaming monitors, it has a high refresh rate 4K HDR display. Advanced features like eye tracking are built into the headset, which most other VR headsets lack.
PSVR 2 is exclusively for video games, and according to reviewers, titles like “Horizon: Call of the Mountain” and “The Last Clockwinder” are great games to start with.
The PSVR 2 includes a VR headset, two VR2 Sense controllers, a charger, and wired headphones.
Frequently asked questions about VR headsets
Does virtual reality cause motion sickness?
Motion sickness is absolutely a problem in VR, according to almost everyone (Greengart, myself, most reviewers, and most users). If you get motion sickness while driving a vehicle or playing first-person video games, chances are VR will affect you in the same way.
Fortunately, VR technology has improved over time, with plenty of ways to help alleviate motion sickness. “For people particularly prone to motion sickness, try increasing the refresh rate,” Greengart said. Refresh rate is basically “how often images hit your eyes and how quickly those images update,” he said. -movement and movement of the world.
Is VR just for games?
Greengart commented that while there have been advancements in making virtual reality a more robust space, it’s still best for gaming and playful fitness activities. He mentioned games like “Beat Saber” and exercise programs like “Supernatural” as standout titles that provide an experience that can’t easily be recreated outside of virtual reality.
Which is better: wired or wireless?
Wired VR headsets tend to be very powerful, while wireless headsets are often more accessible and easier to use, according to Greengart. Wireless headsets, like the Quest 2, can be just as responsive as wired headsets because they tend to use simpler graphics. Wired headsets, like the Valve Index and PSVR 2, meanwhile, take advantage of their powerful specs to run high-fidelity games like “Half Life: Alyx” and “Resident Evil Village VR.” Which one is right for you depends on what you’re looking to do in VR.
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- Avi Greengart is president and principal analyst of Techsponential, a market research and technology consulting service.
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