If you’ve been thinking about getting a virtual reality headset but aren’t exactly sure where to begin or what you might need, today’s blog will attempt to help you out by exploring a few specific VR headset models based on the different types available. There are 3 basic types of virtual reality headset available at Best Buy that we’ll be considering: Light Mobile, Premium Mobile, and Tethered Premium. Hopefully, by the end of today’s blog, you’ll have a better idea of what to expect from each type of headset and which one might be right for you. You might even find that a specific headset model jumps out at you as the one you’ll want to possess. Read on to begin the process.
Light Mobile Virtual Reality Headsets
If all you’re looking to do is enjoy virtual reality videos without a lot of extra bells and whistles, you can very easily do so with a basic VR headset from the Light Mobile category. You don’t necessarily need built-in headphones, top notch lenses, or other high end features and materials to get the most out of watching VR and 360 degree videos. Included in the Light Mobile category of VR headsets are a variety of different models, including some that are themed or specialized. These range from sets like the View-Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack (shown at right) to the ReTrak Utopia 360° 4D Dinosaur Experience, which is a great VR starter bundle for kids, as well as being a highly educational resource on the subject of dinosaurs.
The first set that I want to look at in some detail comes from within this category and is called the Insignia Virtual Reality Viewer (pictured below). This virtual reality headset is so basic and straightforward that it’s literally made of cardboard, yet it’s as capable as any other of providing you with a thoroughly entertaining VR experience. Simply place your existing Android or iOS based smart phone in the designated cradle and watch whatever virtual reality or 360 degree content you like. Such content is getting easier to find by the day, and you’ll find free, dedicated apps in both Apple’s App Store and through Google Play.
Just make sure that your smart phone’s screen/display measures somewhere between 4.7 and 6 inches first, and that your phone is running either Android 4.2 or iOS 7 and above, and you’re good to go. No built-in earphones are to be found here, but there is foam cushioning on both the forehead and nose contact areas of the set for added comfort. The Insignia Virtual Reality Viewer is fully compatible with Google Cardboard and certified for use with thousands of Cardboard apps, so you’re sure to get vast quantities of enjoyment for your very modest investment.
Premium Mobile Virtual Reality Headsets
If you prefer to reside in the middle ground, where materials are strong and features more plentiful, you’ll want to look at VR headsets within the Premium Mobile realm. Here you’ll find such models as the NOON VR Pro (pictured both above and below), which I reviewed myself just under a year ago and absolutely loved.
This VR headset allows you to fully immerse yourself in VR and 360 degree videos in up to 11K resolution with an impressive viewing range (angle) of 101 degrees. It’s fully compatible with most late model Android and iOS based smart phones (provided their screen size measures from 4.7 to 6 inches), and it even comes with its own free app (the NOON VR App), which features a large video library of content for you to engage with.
Additional features of the NOON VR Pro include anti-blue light lenses (to relieve visual fatigue and enhance your viewing experience), built-in stereo headphones (with 118db/mW sensitivity) to further immerse you in a cinema quality VR experience, and a focus dial to sharpen up the image quality for those of varying eyesight capabilities (the focus adjustment runs between -6.2 and +4 diopter).
Of course, most sets at this level (including this one) don’t include many of the other bells and whistles that are available at the highest end of the VR headset spectrum (like handheld controllers). Even so, there’s more to this set than I can reasonably cover here, so you might want to check it (and others like it) out at Best Buy for a more comprehensive look.
Tethered Premium VR Headsets
If you want to get into virtual reality in a really big way, with all of the extra bits and pieces (such as game controllers) and high end components and materials, the Tethered Premium VR category is the one you’re going to want to explore.
In this category you’ll find, among other models, the Acer Windows Mixed Reality VR Headset with Controllers (shown below). Provided you’ve got a PC that meets the minimum requirements of this set (check the Best Buy listing to be sure), you’ll be able to enjoy over 20,000 different Windows apps and 360 degree videos via this tethered headset that plugs directly into your computer. Featuring a total resolution of 2880 x 1440 across a 95 degree field of vision and with a refresh rate of 90Hz, this set allows you to blend elements of the real world with those of virtual reality. This technology is known as Mixed Reality (MR), and is a hybrid blend of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality.
In effect, MR allows you to interact with the various games and videos you’re enjoying while navigating freely in your own home environment. Built-in sensors within the headset provide ‘inside-out’ tracking in 6 different positions (known as 6 Degrees of Freedom, or 6DoF). These include forward/backwards, left/right, up/down, pitch, yaw, and roll, which together allow you to move about freely as you play or interact with your MR content. Essentially, your play space won’t be limited or restricted by external sensors placed on your walls or floors, so everything feels more free and realistic. This is the sort of technology and functionality that you can only expect to find at the premium headset level.
As with their more entry level or mid tier cousins, tethered premium headsets feature adjustable straps and other elements pertaining to comfort, as well as (many times at least) handheld controllers for interactive gaming. The big difference here, aside from how much these high end sets can do, is the initial investment required to get one, and whether or not you have the existing PC/computer hardware to make the most of it. Of course, there are a number of different sets available even in this category, so features and prices will vary. However, if you want to be assured that you’ll make the most of your VR experience, Tethered Premium is definitely the category you’re going to want to look at.
By now you should have a pretty good idea which classification of VR Headset is the right one for you. If so, it may be time to begin the process of selecting your own perfect VR headset model. Check out Best Buy Canada’s complete selection of Virtual Reality Headsets now to continue the hunt.