Published: Tuesday, 10 August 2021 14:34
PC, console or neither? Oculus Quest 2 or no? It depends on who you are, how much you want to spend and how long you can wait. Sarah Tew/CNET
Good: Self-contained and wireless; great touch controllers; comfortable design for gaming; doubles as PC VR headset.
Bad: Requires Facebook account.
At $300 with nothing else needed, the Oculus Quest 2 delivers virtual reality games and an immersive VR experience anywhere. It's faster, smaller, cheaper and more comfortable to wear than the original Quest, but you have to log in to Facebook in order to use it.
The Quest 2 reminds me of the Nintendo Switch for its versatility and fun, plus it takes mere seconds to start up and fits really well over glasses. The standalone VR headset has self-contained motion tracking and a full-motion six degrees of freedom (aka 6DoF) VR controller that is the same as the ones on the PC-required Oculus Rift, plus a surprisingly great high-resolution display and built-in speakers. Apps are downloaded right to the standalone headset's onboard storage. Its more limited mobile processor still plays games such as Beat Saber, Moss and SuperHot VR extremely well, and it can even connect with a PC if you want to, using a single USB-C cable.
Facebook discontinued the Oculus Rift S, so the Quest 2 is the best and only option over Oculus VR right now. But PC VR users have lots of other headset options.
Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.
$299 at Amazon
HP Reverb G2
The highest-resolution PC VR headsetHP
The good: Really sharp high-res display, great audio, comfortable design
The bad: Mediocre controllers
If you're looking for the best image quality in consumer VR, HP's newest VR headset wins. For serious gamers (or VR racing sim fans), this VR technology may be your best choice. The 2,160x2,160-per-eye resolution and 114-degree field of view are the best at this price range, and the lightweight, comfy headset also has fantastic drop-down speakers designed by Valve. It's technically a Microsoft Windows Mixed Reality headset that prefers to launch into Microsoft's native Windows 10 VR ecosystem, but it bridges with Steam VR and works with those games and apps, too. Built-in camera-based room tracking is easier to set up than the Valve Index's external base stations, but is more prone to tracking errors. The included controllers, based on Microsoft's VR controller design, feel clunkier than either the Oculus Touch controllers or Valve Index controllers. Also, the over-ear speakers are your only audio choice: there's no headphone jack.
The Reverb G2, reviewed as a sim racing peripheral.
$600 at HP
Best PC VR to explore the future of VR controllersSarah Tew/CNET
Good: Amazing futuristic controllers; high-quality headset; works with Vive hardware.
Bad: Expensive; requires room setup and tethering cable.
Valve's headset might be the most interesting PC virtual reality experience this year, just for its fancy new controllers. Valve's "knuckle" controllers are pressure-sensitive and can track all five fingers, making them almost like gloves. Not many apps make the most of them yet, but Valve's hardware is mix-and-match compatible with the HTC Vive, which also is built on the Steam VR platform. The Index headset has excellent audio and a really sharp, wide field-of-view display.
The Index uses external "lighthouse" boxes, meaning you need to set those up in a room first. It's not as self-contained as Oculus' Rift S, which can track the room with in-headset cameras, or the HTC Vive Cosmos. It's also definitely not wireless, but if you already have some Vive hardware, you could add on parts of the Index to mix and match.
Read our Valve Index review.
$999 at Steam
Sony PlayStation VR
Still worth it for the gamesSarah Tew/CNET
Good: Plenty of games; lower price; works with many PS4 controllers like the DualShock and Move.
Bad: Resolution isn't cutting-edge; Sony hasn't yet made great VR controllers that match the competition, but a new version may be coming next year.
Sony's years-old PSVR headset is still the only head-mounted display for gaming consoles and its screen still offers a surprisingly immersive experience. Even better, this tethered headset is often on sale for as low as $200, sometimes with games thrown in, too. But Sony's confirmed it's working on a next-gen PSVR headset for the PS5 (with a new set of controllers) that could be coming in 2022, if you want to wait. In the meantime, Sony has delivered (and continues to deliver) many excellent virtual reality games, many of them exclusives. All you need is the PSVR and a PlayStation 4 and you can start playing. (A few good games to start with are listed here.) This VR system is showing its age, though, compared to the alternatives. And, the new PS5, while it'll work with the old PSVR, will need your old PS4 controllers and camera, plus a camera adapter, to work.
Read our Sony PlayStation VR review.
$350 at Target
More for gamers
- Most anticipated gaming laptops of 2021
- Best gaming PCs for 2021
- Want to play Half-Life: Alyx? Here's the VR gear that works
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