Virtual reality is IN. Over the past several years, the technology has exploded and advanced to impressive levels and now, it’s quite common to own---or at least know someone who owns---a virtual reality (VR) headset.
These headsets completely cover the eyes and are attached around the back of your head. This setup serves to focus your eyes completely on the two screens in the headset. By simulating vision, a 3D, realistic environment can be created. This typically involves two autofocus lenses located between the screens and the eyes, which adjust automatically in response to a user’s eye position and movement. In addition, there are dynamic graphics, sound effects, and other positioning sensors that come together, to create a remarkably immersive VR experience. With a good virtual reality headset (paired with the right app), what is ‘virtual’ should feel almost as if it is real.
Want to have this experience at home? There are some incredible, top-of-the-line virtual reality headsets on the market, so you can put yourself into these virtual worlds for gaming and more. But rather than purchasing a stand-alone VR headset, which comes with a fairly hefty price tag, you could opt for one that pairs with your smartphone. Since chances are good that you already own a smartphone (roughly 88% of Australians do), you can easily pair your new headset with your device.
If you want to have a virtual reality experience right from your mobile phone, check out these great options. All you have to do is attach your device, and you’re ready to go.
Samsung Gear VR
Samsung's Gear VR seems to sit firmly in its ranking as the best VR headset for smartphones. Unfortunately, it only works with compatible Samsung Galaxy or Note smartphones. But for those who own the right devices and want to have a great VR experience, this headset is ideal.
The Gear VR offers some of the top mobile VR games such as Minecraft, as well as hundreds of others in the library. Currently, there are some 600+ apps and games available, and, due to Google’s partnership with Oculus, the library only continues to grow.
With a 101-degree field of view, the Samsung Gear VR offers a good visual perspective, but it isn’t quite as large as those found in higher-end headsets. There is a touchpad built into the headset, but most users will probably want to use the Bluetooth controller that comes with the headset. This one-handed tool has a touchpad on top and a rear-mounted trigger. It is equipped with sensors to track the positioning and motion of your hand as you use it, creating for smooth and fun gameplay. (Note, some games do still require a traditional gamepad, so you’ll want to have one of those handy as well).
The Gear VR gets mixed reviews when it comes to comfort. Some users felt that the headset fit well, but others found it too heavy. Overall, it’s a popular option that succeeds in delivering quality virtual reality at a fair price.
Google Daydream View
If you have a different Android device than those compatible with the Samsung Gear VR, such as a Google Pixel, you might want to consider Google Daydream View. This lightweight VR headset is comfortable and more cost-effective while still offering a great experience.
While the Daydream View may not be quite at the level of immersion as the Gear VR, it comes with fewer controls. This, plus it’s soft, not-too-heavy construction, makes the Daydream View very accessible to those who are new to virtual reality.
There are not as many apps or games currently available on the Daydream View, but that might be made up for by the availability of certain exclusives such as YouTube VR. Google also recently shared that support for dual handheld controllers will soon be supported. Currently, users can only utilise one with the headset.
While Daydream View is a solid, all-around mobile VR option, it’s important to keep in mind that your experience may vary depending upon the smartphone you’re pairing it with. Ultimately, your phone’s processor, resolution, and even its battery life will impact your VR experience---for better or worse.
Zeiss VR One Plus
Finally, here’s a mobile VR headset that works with iPhones and Androids alike. The only catch? Your device needs to be between 4.7 and 5.5 inches.
At a very affordable price, the Zeiss VR One Plus could be a good choice for your first VR headset. Good quality lenses with innovative optics help create that full-on experience you’re looking for with VR. Using augmented reality apps? The Zeiss has a semi-transparent front shield which will let through your smartphone camera viewfinder. Comfort is key with this option. When placing the headset on your head, you won’t need to make any lens position adjustments, and you’ll still have a good view of the entire visible area. The 100-degree field of view is great for enjoying both video and apps/games.
One special feature of this smartphone VR headset is that users can wear their own eyeglasses while using it. This is good news for those who need vision correction but still want to enjoy all the fun of virtual reality.
Pansonite VR Headset
Looking for an affordable VR headset for your smartphone that offers a great deal in terms of adjustment and customisation? The Pansonite VR headset is a best-selling option that will meet your needs.
The brand has invested extensive time, money, and effort into making an outstanding product.
This is the latest version from the brand, and the research they’ve done and the lengths they’ve gone to are immense. The aspherical lens, made of a clear HD resin, enable dynamic and sharp images and can reduce any possible vertigo effects. The position of the lens can be adjusted, enabling you to align the display with your pupils. In seconds, you can have a better viewing experience.
The headset itself is lightweight and comfortable with a soft, T-shaped strap. This allows the headset to fit snugly on your head while relieving pressure. Around the face, the Pansonite VR Headset has a faux-leather material that is both pleasant to the touch as well as breathable. This makes the Panonite extremely comfortable to wear, even for longer periods.
What to Look for in a Smartphone VR Headset
There are so many options available, it can feel overwhelming to choose the right VR headset for you. But there are several considerations to keep in mind when shopping.
With any electronics purchase, the price is a major factor for many. If you are planning to spend less than $100, you’ll absolutely want to look for a headset that pairs with a smartphone, as those that stand alone or pair with gaming consoles tend to be far more costly.
Yet for a more ‘authentic’ VR experience, it might be worth upping your budget somewhat if at all possible. For instance, the well-loved Samsung Gear VR typically runs just around $100 or a bit more.
You could own the very best virtual reality headset on the market, but if it isn’t comfortable, you’re not going to want to use it. Whether you’re buying a headset for yourself, your kids, or for the entire family, it’s a good idea to try on various options in-store. Fit can be very specific and unique to each person (and each head) so do be sure to consider this factor when shopping.
Comfort doesn’t just have to do with the fit of the device on your head, either. The visuals of the headset are vital. Sometimes, cheap and low-quality smartphone VR headsets can be lacking in the stability department. If the visuals aren’t responding properly to the movement of your eyes and controllers, you’re much more likely to experience motion sickness or other issues of pain and strain. Keep in mind that the more advanced VR headsets are better at accommodating user response, which not only feels better to the user but creates a far better, more immersive virtual reality experience overall.
Your Plans for VR
Finally, consider your intentions for virtual reality. If you’re just beginning to dabble in it, a lower-cost option is ideal. Not only will you save money as you embark on a new hobby, you’ll also likely be able to utilise a simpler device, making your entry into the world of virtual reality much smoother.
Is your family into hardcore gaming? A virtual reality headset could be a solid investment, but the source of the gaming matters. While mobile games and apps will pair with these smartphone VR headsets, for those looking to spend most of their time on Playstation, etc., it may be worthwhile to look into tethered headsets.
Will you try out a VR headset?