7 Things You Should Know Before Buying A VR Headset

VR - Head Mounted Display
VR - Head Mounted Display

As it is evident by now, a number of virtual reality (VR) Head mounted displays are already available in the hand of users. In addition, there are more companies planning to launch their VR in the coming months. With so many options and more yet to come, what should you really look for in a VR HMD? Which VR headset should you buy? Will you go for Samsung Gear VR or Oculus Rift? Do not worry. We have got you covered with this list of features that a typically good VR headset has:

1. Field of View

A greater field of view offers a great sense of immersion. Although human field of view is 180 degrees, most headsets do not offer that much.

2. Resolution

VR headsets can list their resolution in two ways, either the full resolution of the screen or as the pixel density, expressed in pixels per degree or arcminutes per pixel. 60 pixels per degree or 1 arcminute/pixel is considered eye limiting resolution.

3. Binocular Overlap

This is the basis for stereoscopic vision, and it allows sensing the difference between near and far. Humans have an overlap of about 100 degrees, half on each side of the nose.

The larger the overlap, the greater the sense of depth. The overlap on VR headsets is mentioned in degrees or in percentage.

4. On Board Processing

VR headsets that provide on-board processing or allow a device to be used locally within the setup allow more freedom of movement during their usage. Similarly, an VR headset that needs an external device limit your movement as you have to be always within the range of the device.

5. Dealing with VR sickness

Although VR sickness is something that everyone goes through, having a bad VR headset could make things worse and bring down all the fun in using the technology. A lot of specific techniques have been implemented by specific manufacturers to reduce VR sickness and it is certainly worth it to have a look at which one feels the best.

6. Latency

Latency refers to the delay between your actual movement and its effect being visible on the head mounted display. Shorter the delay, less sickening the experience is. A high latency often leads to nausea and disorientation.

7. Comfort

Some VR headsets come with additional casing and eye panels so that people with glasses or even kids can use them without solely having to rely on the head-strap of the device. Lends adjustment is also becoming popular to accommodate different vision corrections.

Pros and Cons of Popular VR headsets

Here are some of the pros and cons of popular VR headsets to help you decide which one you want.

VR Headsets Pros


Gear VR Easy to use with glasses

Easy navigation

Very Sensitive Head tracking

Not too expensive

Growing VR app store

Limited Phone support

No Positional Tracking

Visible Screen-door Effect

Oculus Rift 1080p Display

Positional tracking

Less motion blur

Some visuals are still low quality

The demos are limited in area

Narrow field of vision

HTC Vive Larger work area

Lighted and fits best

Partnered with Valve

Noticeable screen door effect
Google Cardboard Very inexpensive

Can be built literally by anyone

Designs are open source

Motion detection is not always accurate.

Heavily depends on phone

Not really a VR headset

Project Morpheus / PlayStation VR Intensive Motion Tracking

Sony’s Platform backing

Exclusivity to Sony PlayStation

Virtual Reality headsets are still a niche products. Although companies are rushing them to mainstream, it will be some time before they are common and useful. However, initiatives like Google Cardboard are helping the VR ecosystem to look much richer. With the rate at which this technology is being developed and progressed, it would not be a surprise if pretty soon VR headsets become the new televisions.

Amarnath Natarajan

I am a freelance programmer and tech enthusiast. In my spare time I contribute to this website.

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