According to the results of a still ongoing poll we published yesterday, the vast majority of our readers still haven't tried out Virtual Reality, or VR for short. In fact, a relatively small portion of participants actually own a VR headset. And while the new platform is still, objectively speaking, in its early days, there are already dozens of different headsets that you can buy right now
and join the future.
Affordability, obviously, is a major factor when talking about the propagation of a new technology, and we're happy to see so many VR headsets sold as cheaply. Sure, with the more expensive solutions you're getting a more robust product that both looks better and offers better ergonomics, but if you're not yet sold on the new paradigm, there's a cheap way into it that won't leave you in regrets should you conclude that virtual reality is not quite there yet—or just isn't your thing.
So we'll be going through our own list starting with the cheapest solutions out there, slowly climbing up to the most expensive ones. The best part? These headsets are almost all compatible with both iOS and Android devices, so it doesn't matter if you've got an iPhone or not.
7 VR headsets to join the new age with
7 VR headsets to join the new age with
Yep, you read that right: for just $14.95, you can begin your journey with virtual reality. Made to Google's specifications, the UC (stands for Unofficial) Viewer is among the very cheapest solutions on the market. As can be expected, this particular viewer is compatible with all kinds of Android devices, plus iPhones. Regardless of how large or small your device is, it should fit somewhat comfortably, while still having a cutout for you to tap on the screen to interact with apps.
For just 4 cents more, you can get one of several I AM Cardboard viewers, all of which identical except in color. And the choice of color, precisely, is why we've decided to include this one, as it's virtually the same as the UC 2.0 FLAT Cardboard VR Viewer from the previous slide.
If you're looking for something a tad more stylish, but still affordable, the Powis Viewr 2.0 is the answer you're searching for. For the price of two standard Cardboard viewers, you're getting a fancier viewer with some extras, such as an air vent for better smartphone cooling, a rubber lining to protect the cardboard from sweat (and therefore deterioration), and adjustable lenses that can correct for various vision problems.
If you're looking to game in VR and own an Android device, the Freefly VR is likely the perfect fit for you, as it comes packaged together with a wireless controller that certainly seems handy to have when interacting with the virtual world. Unfortunately, one of the latest iOS updates broke the controller's functionality for iPhones, so you should skip over this one if you're part of camp Apple.
If you own a Samsung Galaxy S6, S6 edge, S6 edge+, or Note 5, you should consider grabbing Samsung's Gear VR viewer. We have a few of these at the office, and we can attest to the quality of construction and the lenses. Obviously, if you're planning on getting the Galaxy S7 or S7 edge in the coming weeks, those will work with the Gear VR too.
A nice extra of the Gear VR is that it was created in collaboration with Occulus, so you get automatic access to the Occulus store where you can discover a ton of awesome VR experiences, including games.
A competitor to the Samsung Gear VR, the Zeiss VR One is a bit more expensive at $129, but is far more inclusive in that you can fit any phone between 4.7 and 5.2 inches. A phone tray is included in the price ($9 less if without), though it's only intended for use with the Galaxy S5, Galaxy S6, or iPhone 6. If you have a different phone, you'll have to get a tray on your own, or try work the thing without one.
The VR headsets on this list so far have all been centered around smartphones. It's the brain of the operation. But we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the Oculus Rift, undeniably the most popular VR headset out there. Instead of hooking up to your smartphone, however, the Rift is designed to work in concert with your desktop computer—and you need a rather potent PC—and therefore provide a much, much more immersive and robust VR experience. If you plan on gaming with it, you might also want to pick up one (or several) of available Oculus Rift accessories.