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Guide to virtual reality systems
Lose yourself in an immersive entertainment experience. That's the promise of virtual reality (VR) headsets. What was once almost mythical is now widely available to those interested in experiencing VR for themselves. From standalone headsets to VR gaming bundles, the gear you need is at the Every Day Low Prices you want. With all the options available, you might find yourself wondering which one is best for you. We have you covered with this quick guide to everything you need to know about VR.
Mobile vs. tethered VR headsets
Today's VR falls into two categories: tethered and mobile. Mobile VR headsets use your smartphone as the processor. The design allows you to pop your smartphone into a slot in the shell. These headsets have lenses that split the screen into two different images, transforming your phone into your VR device. The biggest benefits of these headsets include the relatively low price and the lack of cumbersome wires.
If you want the most accurate position tracking, which allows you to follow the direction you face as you turn, and you want to easily see when you move up, down, backward or forward, you need a tethered headset. These VR devices have cameras that face out or sensors on the outside of the shell. They're connected to a PC or gaming system with a cable, which restricts your freedom a bit but allows for more complex viewing experiences.
There's also a third category: standalone headsets. This alternative VR option lets you have all the freedom of VR headsets without having to use your smartphone. These devices essentially have Android smartphones built into the headset without any cellular function. You don't need extra hardware, and they're a good option if you don't have a compatible phone.
The importance of VR resolution
Looking for the most immersive experience possible? Then you need a VR headset with the highest resolution available. Some of the top VR headsets have resolutions of 2160x1200 pixels or higher, and many experts predict that the future may be in 4K. While you might not necessarily need a big budget headset with the highest display resolution, this underscores the importance of taking pixel counts and the sharpness of the display into account when you're buying VR. It's also worth noting that low-resolution models with displays that lack sharpness can leave users feeling motion sickness after experiencing the lifelike virtual environment they immerse themselves in.
Considering VR price points
There are lots of brands out there. And lots of price points too. VR headsets typically fall into three classes: budget-friendly, mid-range and high-end. Can you get away with a low-priced model, or do you need to splurge on a souped-up, swanky headset? Ultimately, while your budget is always an important consideration, the answer depends on what you want from the technology. Here are a few tips to help you navigate between the three categories to find the model at a price point to meet your needs.
- Budget-friendly: VR headsets at the lowest prices offer the most simplified design, lowest up-front prices and minimal hidden costs. These headsets are ideal as an entry into the world of VR, particularly if you're interested in watching 360-degree videos. They're also among the most widely available headsets out there. On the downside, these models are typically intended for short-term use only and simplified controllers that aren't ideal for playing fast-action video games.
- Mid-range: Mid-range VR headsets give you a few more bells and whistles. Instead of simply holding your smartphone, these headsets often sport additional sensors for tracking, more complex controls and built-in screens. There are several mid-range headsets that work with specific phones, making them a good option if you're in the market to trade in your old phone for a new model. Sophisticated controllers give you more options to input your actions.
- High-End: If you're a serious gamer, consider investing in a VR headset with high-resolution screens, accurate motion tracking and awesome graphics. Because they're more comfortable, these headsets are also better for using for longer periods of time. On the downside, you may need to invest in a high-end computer or a gaming console with the processing power needed.
The world of VR is developing, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution for shoppers looking to experience the technology. It helps to consider the type of VR system that works best for your purposes, your budget and the features you most want. While you're shopping, carefully weigh your options between single headsets and bundles, which often include games and accessories to augment the experience.