Virtual reality has undoubtedly taken 2016 by storm. With all the buzz surrounding virtual reality and its promise of a bright future, you might be tempted this year to send a special request to Santa Claus in the hopes of getting in on the action.
So where do you start?
A headset is a great introduction to the world of virtual reality and will allow you to experience all that 360° content that is growing at a rapid rate.
To get started, you will have to answer a few questions. Are you a PC or a Mac user? Do you want to use your headset for gaming, entertainment, or other? How serious are you about VR and how much do you want to spend?
To help you choose the right option, here’s a list of top devices for Christmas 2016:
Google Cardboard – from $20
Google’s first VR headset solution is the starter kit for anyone looking to try virtual reality without digging too deep into their pocket.
As the name suggests, the Google Cardboard is precisely that – cardboard. Don’t expect this headset to last, but it’s a convenient tool for casual use. Think YouTube videos and short virtual experiences. All you need is a smartphone and you’re good to go.
Daydream View – $79
The latest addition from Google, Daydream View so far only works on the company’s Pixel phone. So while this constraint is pretty limiting, those who do own a Pixel phone will find a great entry-level experience with the Daydream View.
The Daydream app offers a growing number of apps and games so you can discover ways to enjoy virtual reality. With a sleek design, simple controller and low price-point, the Daydream View is a good contender. Provided you own a Pixel.
Samsung Gear VR – $99
The Samsung Gear is a notch over the Google headsets, but it remains a simple device. If you own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, it can be a more durable, comfortable, and convenient option than the cheaper headsets. But it remains a phone in front of your face. To enjoy a more complete virtual reality experience, you will have to shed a bit more cash.
PlayStationVR – $399
For gaming enthusiasts, the PlayStation VR may be the best option to combine an immersive experience with an affordable price point. It provides a definite step up from the entry-level options, but remains well below the $800 starting point for Vive and Oculus.
The PlayStation VR is compatible with a number of highly rated games, such as Star Wars and Call of Duty. With over 75 games today, the PS VR store guarantees many hours of immersive play.
Oculus Rift – $800
Oculus was early to jump on the VR trend, and it proved to be a winning strategy. Now owned by Facebook, the company is behind one of the most powerful VR offerings on the market. The Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch bundle will take you into an immersive world like never before, complete with advanced display technology and a positional tracking system that gives you a sense of being there. With this device, you can choose from plenty of games, apps, and immersive VR movies.
This option however is limited to PC users, and you will have to make sure your computer is top-notch before using this system. Oculus has even partnered with PC manufacturers to offer Rift-ready systems, so make sure to check the system requirements or you may unexpectedly find yourself with additional costs.
Vive – $800
If you want to let people know you’re serious about your VR, this is the system to get. With Seam VR compatibility, gamers can enjoy an impressive game library that keeps growing as the VR trend continues to expand.
More than just a headset, Vive also comes with two sensors (lighthouses), two hand controllers, and what you need to connect your headset to your computer. To create a fully immersive environment you’ll basically need to dedicate a VR room in your home or office, as you’ll need to spend some time mounting the sensors and connecting to a computer.
You’ll also need to have a powerful PC for this one. But for serious gamers, Vive offers a breathtaking experience that will satisfy the most avid enthusiasts.