A Guide to Selecting an Oculus VR Headset
Not so long ago, most people would associate virtual reality with something from the 1999 movie, The Matrix. But the technology to give you an immersive audio-visual experience has existed for decades before that, even though it was primarily used for computer simulations for training pilots. From 2014 to 2018, the company Oculus produced a series of affordable consumer VR headsets that you can hook up to a computer game, to allow you to enjoy a movie, or pretend that you’re visiting some exotic location on the other side of the globe.
Oculus recently became a subsidiary of Facebook-Meta, so their newest VR offerings will have the name “Meta” in them, such as “Meta Quest”, or “Meta Quest Pro”. Since the headsets are linked to Facebook-Meta, you’ll notice that a Facebook account will give you access to many more VR apps and games. By looking over the products in the Best Reviews Guide list of Oculus VR headsets, we’ll learn a little about some of the types of VR headsets available nowadays, what limitations they have, and help you decide which one is right for you!
Types of Oculus Vr
You can find a number of Oculus VR headsets on Amazon. The most current models are the Meta Quest 2 and the Meta Quest Pro. There are also previous products that have been discontinued and are no longer in production, but you can still purchase them on Amazon.
We can divide VR headsets into three categories: 1) inexpensive models that work with just your smartphone, 2) stand-alone headsets, and 3) tethered headsets, which have a cable connection to a computer or game console.
Headsets that work with a smartphone: One example of a VR headset that works with a smartphone is the Samsung Gear VR, which was a collaboration between Oculus and Samsung. You have to verify that it is compatible with your specific Samsung Galaxy.
Samsung Gear VR
The Samsung Gear VR was discontinued in 2020, so presently you can only buy used versions. But there are also clones of the Samsung/Ocular Gear VR, such as the Longlu 3D Virtual Reality VR Headset.
Longlu 3D Virtual Reality VR Headset
Stand-alone: These offer you the freedom and convenience of just slipping on the headset, and enjoying VR without a wired connection of any sort. A previous Oculus stand-alone VR headset was the Oculus Go, which is still available on Amazon. It is considered a good entry-level VR headset, because of the simplicity of operating it with an intuitive controller. But it’s limited in storage space, with either 32 or 64 GB of storage. You’ll need a smartphone initially to create an account and hook it up to Facebook, and if you want to download additional games, apps, and video content. (The Facebook account will allow you to log in and communicate with friends, as well as access additional apps.)
A more recent standalone device is the Oculus Quest All-in-One Virtual Reality Gaming Headset. It has significantly more storage capacity than the Oculus Go, with 128 GB. Also, it allows you the option of hooking it up to your PC or laptop, giving you also the advantages of a tethered VR headset.
Oculus Quest All-in-One Virtual Reality Gaming Headset
The most recent editions are the Meta Quest 2, and the Meta Quest Pro. The Meta Quest 2 can enhance playing video games or exercise sessions, while you immerse in virtual reality. It comes with 128 or 256 GB of storage. The Meta Quest 2 weighs only 503 grams, versus the 571 grams of the Meta Quest. It has a greater resolution, greater pixel density, and faster response time than the Meta Quest. It also has speakers built into the headband.
Meta Quest 2 with controllers
However, the Meta Quest Pro is a “mixed reality” or “augmented reality” headset, by overlaying 3D visuals onto your actual surroundings. Also, the Meta Quest Pro requires special controllers with tracking cameras and haptics, or 3D touch technology, where you feel vibration and forces in your VR experience.
Tethered VR headsets: These VR headsets are meant to be coupled with a PC by means of a physical cable. Tethered headsets will provide you with more gaming options, and will be better at tracking your movements. One of the first was the Oculus Rift. It is compatible with a computer running Windows 7, 8, and 10.
What reviewers say
We went over some customers’ impressions of the Oculus VR that they bought:
Freedom of a standalone unit: We noted that a standalone unit is not tethered by a cable to a game controller or PC. That’s an advantage when you’re exercising or dodging something in a game. Despite all of your genuflections, there isn’t any risk of yanking the cord out of the computer!
Less expensive games than with a game console: Customers noticed that the games that you can enjoy on your VR headset generally cost between $15-$30, which is usually half the price of a game for a gaming console.
Use handstraps on the controllers: Customers say that it’s important to put the handstraps on your wrists when using the controllers. Otherwise, you may forget that you need the controllers to continue to watch the action, and accidentally drop them. Also, it’s best to wear the headset where there is carpeting or a padded surface. That way, if the headset should ever slip off, the carpeting will soften the fall.
Here are some features that are worth looking for when selecting an Oculus VR, as well as how to care for your VR headset:
Sensors: When you wear a VR headset, the immersive quality of the audio and visuals can make you forget about your surroundings. For your safety, the Oculus VR goggles have sensors on the sides of the visor that perform “inside-out tracking”. That means that the scenery in front of your eyes will change as you move your head. You set up a circular safe zone in your room, and if you go outside the circle, the screen in the visor will go blank. This ensures that you won’t bump into something.
Sensitivity to sunlight: Manufacturers warn that the cameras and lenses of your VR headset should never be exposed to direct sunlight. Too intense light can cause dead spots and discoloration on your screen. Also, VR headsets are sensitive to water as well. The headset is best for use indoors, and away from any sunlight entering the room.
Adjustable headsets: You’ll notice that headsets can be adjusted. It’s important to set the interpupillary distance (PD, or IPD), which is the distance between the centers of your pupils. If you don’t have it set properly, you may feel eye strain, especially if you watch for hours at a time. Also, many headsets will have special features to allow someone who wears eyeglasses to still wear the headset comfortably.
Casting: You’ll be amazed by what you’re able to see in a VR headset. But, you may want to share it with someone else, whether it’s an immersive game or movie. They can’t look inside the headset with you. But, there is the possibility of casting, where you can show what you’re seeing on a cellphone, TV, or computer screen. Your friends can see what you’re seeing, as long as they’re on the same network. Also, the handheld controllers also have the ability to take a screenshot and save it for later viewing.
The capabilities of VR headsets have grown exponentially in the past decade. Even though the most cutting-edge product, the Meta Quest Pro, is quite expensive, there are still previous generations of VR headsets that can be ⅓ the price or less! Some work with your smartphone, others with your PC, and others are completely standalone–just put them on, and enjoy! Enter the amazing immersive world of virtual reality!