VR guide in 2021. Which helmet to choose for your tasks

If you go back to 1990 and start reading about virtual reality, you'll quickly realize that the term is being used everywhere from the movie The Lawnmower Man to 3D computer models. Nowadays everything has become simpler. Most often, “virtual reality” is associated with bulky gadgets on the forehead like the Oculus Rift. Unfortunately, this comparison makes us think that all devices do the same thing—both the $30 Google Cardboard and the $800 HTC Vive.

But as more VR headsets begin to hit store shelves, the differences between models become starker. Much. And if you are going to buy yourself such a thing, what should you pay attention to? There is no one perfect gadget that will suit everyone. Moreover, it is too early to recommend anything when many devices have not even been released yet. But we can give you some tips that will help you answer the main questions for yourself: what are the capabilities of different types of virtual reality, how much can you pay for a headset, and what functions do you need?

First of all, you need to decide what you expect from a virtual reality headset:

  • I just want to try, the simplest possibilities will be enough.
  • I want to experience all the possibilities of virtual reality.
  • I want something in between.

We conditionally divided all devices into three classes: “cheap”, “mid-price” and “professional”. Each class is divided into six criteria that will help you compare gadgets with each other. So, let's go.


The simplest form of headset is a cardboard box with a pair of lenses, using a smartphone as a screen. Many will immediately remember Google Cardboard, but the idea itself arose much earlier. Google just started selling its kits, and the company spends most of its efforts on unifying its product so that third-party manufacturers can receive the coveted “Google Cardboard Compatible” certificate. Not all developers follow the template, but the most popular VR headsets guarantee compatibility and therefore support for certified applications on Android and iOS.

Google Cardboard compatible headsets are easy to find. Most are made of cardboard, some are made of plastic or even aluminum. However, their capabilities are very limited; many are generally only suitable for viewing 360-degree video. In addition, they are not designed for long-term use: Google standards prohibit the installation of head straps. Cardboard boxes are quite uncomfortable, and even more ergonomic plastic models like the Mattel View-Master are only comfortable to hold for the first five minutes.

Maximum price

If you live in a major city or frequent tech shows, you can get Cardboard for free. Many companies are working with Google and third-party manufacturers to create their own headsets. For example, Verizon recently gave away Star Wars Cardboard to its subscribers. You can buy a piece of cardboard, plastic lenses, print a headset template from the official Google website and make a device. Lazy people can order Cardboard from the USA for $15. In addition, the Google website has additional options from Dodocase and Knox Labs. New design elements and improved materials will slightly increase the cost of the headset, but no more than $5-15.

Additional expenses

Almost two-thirds of Russian adults use smartphones, but that's all Google Cardboard needs. And you don’t have to buy more expensive and sophisticated phones. Cardboard will also work for iPhone users, despite Google's slow update of its iOS apps. Apple has so far ignored virtual reality, so it's hard to say when the company will create its own device. But even if your smartphone is not that old, there is no guarantee that it will support Google Cardboard applications. And if it does, it will be with reduced graphics and poor performance.


Not all Google Cardboard style headsets are portable or compact. But Google Cardboard has advantages. The basic model folds into a small box, and the smallest is slightly larger than glasses. Cardboard is primarily intended for video viewing where there is no need to track head movement, so the lack of sensors will have little impact on functionality. On the other hand, the smaller the headset, the less convenient it is to use. To immerse yourself in virtual reality, you need to isolate yourself from the world, which is why all headsets fit so tightly to your face. If the device is in the form of glasses, then there will be no complete immersion. By the way, with Google Cardboard it is advisable to sit on a swivel chair.


To be considered fully Cardboard compatible, a headset must have only one input device. Not necessarily a key. It could simply be a hole for your finger to press on the display. If the device has keys, they are usually small levers that press the display for you. What can you do with one button? Selecting menu items or performing simple and rather slow actions in games. Some headsets do without buttons at all: just tilt your head towards the desired menu section and hold for a couple of seconds. Or turn your head to change the direction of movement in the game.


The simplest VR headsets are cheap and popular. About a dozen Google Cardboard-style devices are already available on the official website, and several more - such as an improved version of the View-Master - are already on their way to store shelves. True, cardboard sets quickly become unusable, but replacing them is not difficult.

In addition, it is easy to find a lot of applications for Cardboard, even if their capabilities are limited. Vrse, Jaunt Ryot, IM360 and other programs for viewing VR videos, as well as applications worth paying attention to are Cardboard Crash and Proton Pulse. In YouTube on Android, Google has made a separate library of videos that you can watch using Cardboard. 360-degree videos are played entirely in virtual reality, and when playing regular ones, a cinematic effect is created.


Mid-priced headsets come with more features than Google Cardboard. If Cardboards are just funny boxes for smartphones, then cooler headsets can have motion sensors, additional controls, a focus wheel, and even a built-in display. The most famous headset in this class is the Gear VR from Samsung. But there are also less popular devices, for example, Zeiss VR One or French Homido. LG demonstrated its gadget at MWC 2016. And Google, if rumors are to be believed, will also make an announcement in the coming months.

Russian entrepreneurs have also decided to enter the VR device market. In 2014, domestic virtual reality glasses Fibrum Pro were presented for the first time. The headset does not have its own display or sensors. They are replaced by a smartphone running iOS or Android with a diagonal of 4 to 6.5 inches.

Unlike the cheapest and most expensive devices, the range in quality and functions among mid-price headsets is very large. At the moment, Samsung Gear VR is in the lead. The LG 360 VR has a mediocre design and weak specifications. The appearance of Homido, Zeiss and Fibrum is generally similar to Cardboard.

Maximum price

If you're looking for a durable headset with a strap, expect to shell out $75-$125. For example, the Russian Fibrum Pro headset costs about 7,000 rubles. The company is already ambitiously announcing that in the future it will begin producing glasses with its own screen and sensors. But there is no information yet about the cost of such a model. When you buy the Gear VR, you're paying for software optimizations, better controls than Google Cardboard, a separate app store, and attention to detail. But the Gear VR is also priced higher than the Homido or VR One, which are more like a Cardboard with high-quality lenses (Zeiss) or a focus ring (Homido). The cost of the LG 360 VR is still unknown, as is the price of the Google headset. However, you can get Gear VR for free: Samsung often gives a headset when purchasing or pre-ordering smartphones.

Additional expenses

If you are planning to sell your old smartphone, consider continuing to purchase a headset. Gear VR and 360 VR only work with the latest flagships from Samsung and LG, respectively. When Google introduces its development (not Cardboard), the latest Nexus smartphones may also be required. And other headsets, although they support iPhone, do not have special functions. And it’s unclear when Apple will create its own device.


Mid-price headsets found themselves in an incomprehensible niche. In a sense, they have the best of both worlds: compact, portable, but at the same time more convenient than Google Cardboard. Devices like the Gear VR or Fibrum Pro don't have tangled wires. But virtual reality, too interactive and fast for Cardboard, can cause nausea and dizziness here. Position sensors, which measure not only the rotation of the head, but also the movement of a person in space, slightly mitigate the negative consequences. However, at the moment, virtual reality systems require an external camera to track movement, which means tethered to wires.

In the future, mobile headsets will be able to use a smartphone's camera to create a virtual map of space (called "inside-out tracking"), but there's nothing like it on the market yet. Maybe Google will take on this?


Mid-price headsets have several controls. But some, for example, Homido or Zeiss VR One, do without them altogether. In LG 360 VR, only 2 buttons are responsible for controlling virtual reality; with Fibrum Pro, a gamepad is used. Gear VR has the most convenient control system - a touch panel on the side, similar to a laptop trackpad. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it replaces several functions at once: swipe, scroll, tap, hold, “Back” action.


Gear VR is the first headset to hit store shelves en masse and is still on sale. So finding it is not a problem. Headsets that are suitable for all smartphones, not just Samsung, can also be found in large online stores. But it's better to wait. The start date for sales of the LG 360 VR is still unknown, and a device from Google is looming on the horizon. Fibrum Pro can be easily found and ordered in the Madrobots.ru catalog.

The best option at the moment remains Gear VR. This headset has hundreds of games, applications and several experimental programs that use an unusual control system. While apps like Jaunt or VRSE work on both Google Cardboard and Gear VR, only Samung Milk offers unusual video options. For example, the series Gone from the creators of The Walking Dead, where the viewer is immersed in virtual reality. There are many games in development that are tailored for Gear VR. Considering that the giants Samsung and Oculus are responsible for them, we will see something cool. And although they cost more than regular games - from $5 to $10 - they can be purchased at a discount on sales.


The last but not least important factor is the price of the device. Do you want to choose cheaper 3D glasses for your smartphone? Pay attention to Google Cardboard and its derivatives, as well as models from Chinese manufacturers. These glasses are ideal for people who have not used virtual reality devices before.

More expensive models are generally not only more convenient for everyday use, but are also equipped with additional features - focal length adjustment, anti-reflective lenses, and anti-fog protection.

Manufacturers of expensive virtual reality glasses are usually interested in offering unique VR content to their users. For example, games for the Samsung Gear VR helmet are installed from the Oculus brand store, where you can find such hits as EVE: Gunjack, Hitman Go: VR Edition, Land's End, Darknet and others. Fans of 3D films and TV series can download the official Netflix application.


High-quality virtual reality cannot be transmitted through a mobile phone screen. The Oculus Rift, HTC and Valve's Vive, and Sony's PlayStation VR are three professional headsets we're looking forward to, all running on external computers or gaming consoles. They are equipped with motion tracking sensors, high-resolution displays and provide maximum graphics quality. These headsets are more comfortable, better isolate your eyes from external light sources, and are less prone to motion sickness. But they will not come out soon, and their price will be considerable.

Maximum price

Oculus Rift will cost $599, but the price of additional motion controllers is still unknown. HTC Vive costs $799. The only headset we don't know anything about yet is the Playstation VR. Preliminary cost estimates for the Rift and Vive turned out to be far from reality - buyers underestimated the first device and overestimated the second - so we will refrain from making predictions. But we know for sure that the system will cost several hundred dollars and will not be limited to just a headset: the kit includes a unit that helps the Sony Playstation 4 process video. All prices will gradually decrease, but it is difficult to say how long this will take.

Additional expenses

Most people have a desktop computer or laptop. But only the computers of video editors, e-sports athletes and other people who have to work with enormous computing power can handle virtual reality processing. Of course, your computer will be enough to play some VR videos or run simple games. However, for the ultimate experience, expect to spend $1,000 on a new PC. With PlayStation VR everything is a little simpler - you only need a PlayStation 4.


The main advantage of professional headsets is the ability to move and even walk in any direction. Oculus and Sony use a relatively simple method: diodes or other markers are installed in the helmet, and an external camera tracks their movement. This method is quite effective, but is limited by the camera’s coverage width. PlayStation VR allows you to crouch, bend, and move in circles. Rift allows you to walk a few meters in any direction, but to do this you need to install several cameras.

HTC Vive uses a laser tracking system that allows you to move as you please within a 15x15 meter room. The headset provides the greatest freedom of movement compared to competitors. The tracking system prevents you from crashing into a wall: as soon as you approach the border of the zone, the camera will turn on and show your position. But at the same time, you will have to find a free place to put a powerful computer. Yes, Vive can be used in small enclosed spaces, such as an apartment. But the less space, the less sense there is in such an expensive toy.


The main purpose of professional VR systems is video games, so gamepads are mainly used to control Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR. The Rift comes with an Xbox One controller, which you'll need during the initial stages of launching the system. PSVR only uses the PS4 controller for some functions. But the main feature of the headsets is motion sensors, which allow you to do almost everything, from playing virtual ping-pong to 3D coloring.

Sony already has Move motion-tracking joysticks, and the PlayStation 4 gamepad has light strips that are detected by the camera. Rift and Vive use proprietary controllers, and it’s difficult to give preference to someone: it all depends on personal feelings. Besides, both have the same capabilities. But there are also general disadvantages: controllers for the Rift have not yet been released, and the Vive only works with branded joysticks from HTC and Valve.


April could be a big month for professional VR headsets. The Oculus Rift will begin shipping at the end of March, followed by the HTC Vive shortly thereafter. Although many will receive their orders closer to summer. Demand for the Oculus Rift is high, so the next delivery is scheduled only for July. But if you buy a headset bundled with a computer, there is a chance to snatch the system early. Pre-orders for the Vive have just opened, so we can’t yet judge the number of potential buyers. The Rift (and possibly the Vive) will be available in stores, but in small quantities.

If you decide to buy a PlayStation VR, you will have to be patient. Most likely, Sony will begin shipping headsets this fall. We can find out the exact date during the annual Game Developers Conference (March 14-18), where a year ago the company announced the device itself. Sony has already presented 17 games for the console, little is known about other developments. The remaining manufacturers will add several free games to the headsets: the Rift will come with the platformer Lucky's Tale (for everyone) and EVE: Valkyrie (for those who pre-order). Vive buyers will get Tilt Brush, Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator.

If you're not planning on buying VR headsets before everyone else, wait a few months. Oculus and Valve are preparing dozens of games for the Rift and Vive, but we won't know the full list anytime soon. In addition, early releases will definitely have a lot of bugs, which will take time to eliminate. On the Oculus Rift, many interesting applications will not work at all without controllers, for example, the sculpting simulator Medium. And they will go on sale much later. And most importantly, after some time the cost of the headsets themselves will decrease.

The Verge

PlayStation VR

This helmet stands apart in the diagram for a reason, because it only works with the PlayStation 4. It has its own ecosystem of applications and exclusives, not available to ordinary mortals, and the good old “movies” are used as controllers:


However, if you have a fourth Sonya, it is likely that it will be the ideal choice for you.

Yes, I know that somehow people connect it to a PC via Trinus VR, but as for me, this is still a rake, like fencing positional tracking from tennis balls and PS cameras, in general, we’ll leave this moment to enthusiasts...

The topic of this helmet is on w3bsit3-dns.com, you can ask all questions about it there.

( 1 rating, average 5 out of 5 )
Did you like the article? Share with friends:
For any suggestions regarding the site: [email protected]
Для любых предложений по сайту: [email protected]