Virtual reality gear right now is like computers were in the 1970s: chunky, awkward, and limited in capabilities. But perhaps like the PC, VR will refine and redefine itself in the next couple of decades until it becomes as common as the smartphone. Want to get started? We’ve selected a few headsets both high-end and beginner-friendly.
As the name suggests, this Oculus headset will outfit you nicely for any and all VR adventures. Although on the high end of the price spectrum, it provides a completely wireless experience and comes with a pair of Oculus Touch controllers for each hand. These will allow you to pick up tools, open drawers, steer cars—in short, immerse you into virtual worlds. You don’t even need to connect it to a gaming console or PC; a smartphone will do. This is an independent VR experience that allows you to explore in any environment—although we recommend giving yourself as much space as possible for your safety and the safety of pets, loved ones, and furniture.
Ease yourself into VR with the Pansonite headset. The Pansonite also requires only a smartphone for connection, and allows you to access an array of VR content. One of the things holding back VR from mass adoption is the awkwardness of the headsets themselves—and although the Pansonite is still a big black box strapped to your face, they have made efforts to improve your comfort level. Big, cushy headphones deliver enveloping audio, while the eyepiece and lenses are designed with your eye comfort in mind. Aspherical lenses provide a smoother viewing experience and help reduce the feeling of vertigo, and the adjustable pupil and focus distance make finding the right visual balance easy.
Let’s say you’d classify your VR curiosity as “mild,” and you really have had zero experience with the format in any way, shape, or form. You’re also not about to commit hundreds of dollars for something you suspect may not be your thing. Then we’d recommend the BNext headset. It’s bare-bones, but can at least satisfy your curiosity. It’s compatible with most smartphones (including iPhones and Samsung Galaxy) and is lightweight and easy to configure. Don’t expect many bells and whistles, but for the price it delivers what you need. It’s also a good way to introduce the format to kids without having to worry about them flailing around the room with expensive equipment affixed to their faces