PC-based virtual reality (VR) headsets offer the ultimate experience but they also require considerable investment. Buying a PC, the headset, and accessories can run to £1,500 or more. For those that have yet to even try virtual reality gaming, there is a more affordable option. Mobile headsets use a person’s mobile phone or mobile device as the processor and viewer. While they do have their drawbacks, they also represent a viable introduction to VR. Below are some of the best mobile headsets currently available on the market.
1. Google Cardboard Viewer
The list starts with the cheapest of all options – the Google Cardboard Viewer. Although Google’s headset isn’t actually available directly from Google any more, it can still be bought. The Cardboard costs less than $10, although you can also download the blueprint from the Google site and make one yourself, for free. The paid Cardboard model includes lenses and a control knob to improve the experience, but you have to hold the device in front of your eyes and the cardboard material is less than comfortable. If you have no idea about VR, want something cheap and gimmicky, or you’re handy with a craft knife and have a spare cardboard box, then this could be your best option.
2. Samsung Gear VR
We go from one extreme to the other with the Samsung Gear VR. It is the most expensive option on the list, but is also the best headset, apart from one fact: the Gear VR is only compatible with Samsung mobile phones. Samsung collaborated with Oculus to create the Gear VR, and it shows. Lenses split the high-resolution display between both eyes. It also has a head strap which makes wearing the headset much more convenient and comfortable. The Gear VR from Samsung will set you back approximately $100, and you will have to pay an extra $75 for the optional controller, but it is worth the money if you have a Samsung handset.
3. Bobo VR Z4
The Bobo VR Z4 makes the list thanks to its built-in speakers. Plug the speakers in via the minijack on your phone and you can enjoy a more immersive experience. The speakers aren’t the best quality, but that’s hardly surprising considering the $40 price tag. It also sports an ice white design, and the inclusion of a capacitive control button means that it is compatible with iPhones, albeit with limited functionality.
4. Merge VR Goggles
Virtual reality is not for the type of person that worries unduly about their appearance while using tech. Donning a headset means that you sacrifice any hope of being covert, although most headsets will be used in an indoor setting anyway. The Merge VR Goggles take this overt appearance a step further with a bright purple design. The $80 headset will work with 7″ handsets, which is an unusual feature, and has two joystick-type controllers for in-world control. Despite their appearance, the Merge VR Goggles are lightweight and good quality; definitely worth the money.
5. View-Master Virtual Reality Glasses
This list ends on a note of nostalgia thanks to the View-Master Virtual Reality Glasses. The View-Master headset has the same design as the child’s bright red View-Master toy. Sliding the button on the side acts as a controller, and the discs that would have once held pictures now offer AR markers. The VR glasses cost $20 and you can buy additional software discs for $8 each.
Virtual reality is increasing in popularity. The launch of the new PlayStation VR will further increase this popularity and when Oculus launch wand-style controllers, there may be greater uptake for PC based headsets too. The mobile headsets listed above can act as an introduction to VR, but they also provide an enjoyable and even educational way to spend a few hours in the company of your mobile phone.