Best Standalone VR Headsets 2021 (Reviews)

Valve Index VR Full Kit

Valve is no stranger to virtual reality or gaming, having collaborated with HTC to develop the Vive headset, which was one of the greatest VR headsets available when virtual reality first became popular four years ago. The Valve Index is now the conclusion of Valve’s efforts to create a standalone VR headgear. And it was successful.

With high-quality build, comfy cushioning, and smart built-in speakers, the Valve Index is a comfortable and high-end VR system. The disadvantage of this attribute is that the headset might be cumbersome to use for long periods of time. And, for some inexplicable reason, there is no USB-C cable provided to charge the components.

The Index has a lot going for it, including an LCD panel with customizable refresh rates to match the power of your PC. And the photographs it produces are clean and high-resolution. The controllers are particularly impressive, since they can be customized to fit your hands’ shape and have pressure-sensitive controls as well as hand straps to keep them from falling out of your hands as the VR action heats up.

Oculus Quest 2

Oculus Quest 2 — Advanced All-In-One Virtual...
  • Buy an Oculus Quest 2 by Nov. 29, 2021 and receive $50 digital credit towards future Amazon.com purchases...
  • Next-level Hardware - Make every move count with a blazing-fast processor and our highest-resolution...
  • All-In-One Gaming - With backward compatibility, you can explore new titles and old favorites in the...

Following up on the Oculus Quest wasn’t going to be simple, yet the Oculus Quest 2 outperforms its predecessor in every way. In fact, it’s our recommendation for the finest VR headset overall. The Oculus Quest 2 gives the finest VR experience without a powerful PC or a tangle of cords, thanks to a sleeker, more intuitive design, faster performance, and higher resolution.

It’s not the cheapest VR headset on the market, but for $299, you get an all-in-one system that can deliver room-scale VR across a wide range of games and apps. It’s also a more attractive headset than the previous Quest. The Quest 2’s light gray design is highlighted by a black face strap and a quartet of camera sensors, making it look simple, fun, and inviting all at once. It ditches the plain black of its predecessor and is 10% lighter, and the Quest 2’s light gray design is highlighted by a black face strap and a quartet of camera sensors make it look simple, fun, and inviting all at once. Improved audio and overall specs round out the VR experience.

The Oculus Quest 2 may also be connected to a PC and used with full-fat gaming computer-powered VR games; however, the cable adds an additional cost. However, if you’ve never tried virtual reality or want to go untethered for the first time, the Oculus Quest 2’s pricing, game library, and overall ease of use make it the best entry point yet.

Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S PC-Powered VR Gaming Headset
  • Top VR gaming library: Blast, slash and soar your way through the top library in VR gaming. Oculus Rift S...
  • Improved optics: Stare down the competition with next-generation lenses and a sharper display. Improved...
  • Ergonomic design: Keep your head in the game thanks to a Halo headband redesigned with speed in mind....

The original Oculus Rift was one of the greatest virtual reality headsets for connecting to a computer and playing immersive games. The Oculus Rift S improves on this. The headset is now much slimmer than before, featuring a 2560 x 1440 resolution display and a fast 80Hz refresh rate. It’s also rather light, making it great for long hours of virtual reality gaming, whether you’re seated at your desk or in a bigger space. It also features a novel innovation in the form of speakers built into the headband, which eliminates the requirement for the original Rift’s onboard headphones; the audio quality is rather good.

The Oculus Rift S can deliver room-scale VR without the use of additional sensors thanks to Oculus Insight tracking technology. It also has the amazing Touch Controllers, which almost track movements and make VR feel more energetic and immersive.

And the Oculus Rift S comes with an incredible library of games available exclusively on the Oculus Store, including Beat Saber, Superhot, and Job Simulator. Overall, the Oculus Rift S is the best VR headset for PC gamers seeking for a large library of outstanding games at a reasonable price.

HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality System

HTC VIVE Pro Virtual Reality System
  • STEAM VR 2.0 TRACKING - From seated to standing to full 22’11”’ x 22’11” room-scale. Ideal for...
  • HIGH RESOLUTION DISPLAY - Dual-OLED displays with industry leading resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels for...
  • SPATIAL AUDIO WITH NOISE CANCELLATION - Hi-res, high impedance headphones, 3D spatial sound with active...

The HTC Vive, following in the footsteps of the Oculus Rift, demonstrated what game developer Valve might achieve when collaborating with a tech business. The end product was a fantastic virtual reality headgear that allowed you to move around rather than just sitting in one location and looking around. Lightroom technology from Valve lets you draw out a space to walk, crawl, or tiptoe across depending on the game, while Chaperone keeps you from walking into a wall or tripping over a cherished pet.

The controls are also excellent, providing a more novel experience of being able to really reach out and grab things, albeit by pressing a trigger rather than grabbing with your hands, at the time. Despite competing VR headsets catching up to the HTC Vive, the virtual experience is still quite impressive.

The main caveat is that it takes external tracking sensors, a powerful PC, and a significant amount of setup and space. As a result, it may not be the greatest VR headset for people who live in small apartments.

It’s worth noting that the Vive Pro 2 has been unveiled if you want a higher-end HTC VR experience. It’s the first VR headset with a 5K display and a suite of screen capabilities, including a 120Hz refresh rate.

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR - Marvel's Iron Man Bundle
  • Bundle includes Playstation VR headset, Playstation camera, 2 Playstation move motion controllers,...
  • Using two Playstation move motion controllers Fire up iron Man's repulsor jets and Blast into the skies...
  • Face off against One of iron Man's greatest foes in high stakes, action-packed battles.

The PlayStation VR system is your best, and pretty much only, bet if you want to play VR games on a console. It combines a stylish headset that appears semi-futuristic and is surprisingly comfy with a fantastic game library that has been steadily growing. Games such as Star Wars Battlefront: Rogue One X-Wing Mission, Eve: Valkyrie, and Batman: Arkham VR, as well as Astro Bot Rescue Mission, one of the more interesting contemporary VR games, are available.

PlayStation VR is one of the most economical methods to play VR games if you have a PS4 or PS4 Pro, especially since you don’t require an expensive gaming PC. Despite this, the initiative Move controllers and movement tracking provide a high-end VR experience.

It may be utilized for more than just games; it can also be used to make watching movies more immersive. As a result, if you’re a PlayStation enthusiast who wants to delve into virtual reality games, the PlayStation VR is a must-have.

It’s also worth noting that the PS5 is compatible with PlaySation VR. The only issue is that it does not work with the Move controllers. However, there is some good news: the PSVR 2 headset is in development, and it will include a pair of new controllers.

What is the best Virtual Reality headset?

This is a big search that needs to be answered. The answer is it depends on your needs. Only you know what is best for you. You have to decide what you want. Today, modern virtual reality headsets fall under three categories.

Mobile headsets

Mobile VR headsets are boxes with lenses into which you put your phone. The lenses are two, and they split your phone screen into two images for your eyes. This turns your mobile device into a VR gaming controller. Popular mobile VR devices are Daydream View and Gear VR, and they are not expensive. The processing is done on your smartphone, so you don’t need to tether any wires to support your headset.

Although they provide a taste of experiences, these headsets don’t offer the full immersive experience. They provide three-degree-of-freedom (3DOF) motion tracking. This means they can only follow your direction, but they lack positioning. You can’t have the same immersive experience a six degrees of freedom (6DOF) dual motion and motion tracking controllers offers.

Tethered headsets

On the other hand, tethered VR headsets like the popular Oculus Rift S, the PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive Cosmos are connected to PC’s physically, or a PlayStation 4 as in the case of the PlayStation VR. The cables make theses a bit bulky. The image fidelity is a lot much better compared to mobile VR. This is because instead of using a smartphone, they have special screens for processing dedicated displays. The sensors on the headsets provide a complete 6DOF.

Asides the hardware cables, the price is a trade-off. The cheapest tethered headset goes for about $400. Keep in mind that you will still have to consider the processing issue. For instance, for the Vive and Rift S headsets to run, you have to connect a powerful PC, while you need a PlayStation 4 for the PlayStation VR to run. The cables and the price are deal-breakers.

Standalone headsets

Standalone headsets require no cables or tethering. They provide a comfortable solution to buying a powerful PC or a flagship smartphone. You will enjoy the fully immersive VR experience without the burden of a bulky headset, or unwieldy cables.

What is a standalone VR headset?

The reason most people want a VR headset is for any of these reasons; to play video games, to see movies, or to see art on a whole new level of the future. There are several options to explore to enjoy for the same purpose. There are many similarities between standalone VR headset and the tethered VR headset, like the HTC VIVE Pro, HTC VIVE, and Oculus Rift. Similar to these headsets, users can interact with a virtual world using 6DoF controllers like the Oculus Touch. The headset also offers high power performance and reliability, fueling an immersive experience.

Standalone VR headsets are very advanced with built-in screens, storage, and processors have been developed. This is great for hobbyists who don’t want to spend separately on a gaming PC and a PC VR headset. Instead, use a mobile headset that uses a smartphone as the screen.

The difference between a standalone and a tethered powered VR headset is that the former is not connected to a powerful computer – hence, the name “standalone.” The headset is untethered and is usable without any sensors or wires. This makes the headset to work without, although will less functionality and power. You can say both of them are the great at what they do.

Tethered VR headsets are more powerful than its standalone art counterpart. High-end headsets can connect to a powerful PC to deliver some ultra-realistic experience. Standalone VR headsets are designed with a mobile component to make them function independently. Standalone VR headset is more like technology in the future because it’s not yet as prominent as its counterpart tethered VR headset.

Best VR headsets company

Oculus – Oculus is the best VR headsets maker. Oculus Go was released in 2018, and it was accepted with widespread applause and appeal. 2021 witnessed the release of the Oculus Quest.

Google – manufactures both high-end and low-end VR experience. We saw this in the release of Google Daydream and Google Cardboard. With Daydream, gamers can control with the 3DoF controllers, but the Cardboard comes with no control input.

HTC – in 2018, the company announced the release of the HTC VIVE Focus. HTC is renowned for the manufacture of VR’s that produces powerful experience HTC makes some of the best VR headsets.

PlayStation – PSVR, the PlayStation VR debuted in 2018.

Samsung – Samsung gear was created to give players with excellent VR experience. However, it is restricted to only phones on the Samsung Galaxy series. They make the best mobile vr headsets.

Lenovo – Lenovo mirage was released in 2018, and it received a lot of positive reviews.

We are watching these companies to release even more advanced standalone VR headsets in the coming years.

Things to consider when choosing the best standalone VR headset

Controllers

Controllers are essential to consider when choosing a standalone VR headset. This is because there are different types of controllers, and they vary in features as well. Some controllers offer 1:1 true positioning tracking, while some do not. Controllers are your passageway into the world of virtual reality.

Standalone VR controllers are excellent, but they are not as advanced as those of tethered VR. They don’t offer the same accuracy of tracking as the advanced controllers. Usually, they are limited to 3 degrees of freedom (3DOF) – it only tracks location, and is unable to track movement in physical space.

Tracking

There are two types of controller tracking: 3DoF AND 6DoF.
A 3 degree of freedom means you will stand in one place and be able to look up and down. However, any movement backward or forward cannot be tracked. On the other hand, 6 degrees of freedom will follow other movements that are untrackable with a 3DoF controller. This gives you a better immersive experience. With a 6DoF controller, you can walk physically, bend down to pick up an item on the floor, and many more in the virtual world. 6 degrees of freedom is the best vr experience.

FOV, resolution, and refresh rate

You should be concerned about the resolution and refresh rate of any VR headset before you select one to buy. These two are big determiners of your VR experience. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image that your VR headset screen will produce. It means a smoother edge, and the text will become easy to read, and generally the best possible VR experience.

All these high resolutions will be useless if you have a poor refresh rate. In the early days, a lot of tests were done to get the ideal refresh to tackle motion sickness that VR users experienced. After all the tests, the general consensus is that the minimum requirement for a fast-paced VR should be 90Hz. If the game or app is not intense, 70Hz can work fine. So, you can consider a 70Hz VR headset if you won’t be doing anything extreme But anything above, will give you the best quality.

Anything below 60Hz, and you will start to experience motion sickness when you are using your VR headset because there will be lags in the images processing. It will take too much time for images to refresh as you move. Interestingly, most of the popular VR brands are at least 70Hz, so you have no need to worry, except if you are going for an unbranded VR headset.

Finally, the FOV or field of view gives you a perception of how immersive your headset is. Generally, you should opt for a headset that offers between 100 and 110 degrees of field of view. This is the present market cap. For instance, the human eye has a FOV of 220 degrees.

Inside-out tracking

The newest VR headsets achieve 6DoF positional tracking by using inside-out tracking. They use several built-in cameras on the headset to achieve this. Some headsets need to set up one or two sensors in a room so that they can track 6DoF. External trackers make precision even better, but you have to consider their set up.

IPD range

IPD (Interpupillary-distance) is just another way of describing the distance between your eyes. You can calculate this yourself by using a mirror and a ruler. The best standalone VR headsets come with adjustable lens IPD, that can physically adjust the length of the lenses to match your face IPD. This will help you minimize VR-sickness and blurriness.

Apps

Usually, VR headsets come with two platform apps: Android phone apps and iPhone apps give for the best enjoyment. Each headset should be compatible with multiple apps. The largest apps platforms are the Oculus Rift Store and the SteamVR. There are many other separate apps stores for Oculus Quest, Google Daydream, PlayStation VR, Oculus Go, Google Cardboard, and Windows WMR store.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.