If you’ve been holding out for VR hardware to mature, you chose wisely. Headsets have come a long way since the launch of the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive six years ago. The Meta Quest 2 has already been around for two years, and it’s proven to be a very capable portable VR experience. And if you’re looking for a more hands-on, immersive experience, high-end PC headsets are getting cheaper and becoming more widely available at major retailers. While the overall VR market hasn’t really changed much since last year (aside from the somewhat disappointing Meta Quest Pro), at least there are plenty of VR experiences to dive into.
So what makes a good VR headset? I tend to judge virtual reality headsets on a few basic criteria: Ergonomics, immersion, and controls. It's not that hard to shove a mobile display into a plastic headset and strap some cheap elastic headbands onto it. But it takes skill to craft something that's well balanced and doesn't feel uncomfortable after 30 minutes.
Immersion, meanwhile, comes from having high resolution screens with fast refresh rates, so the visuals are sharp and smooth. Field of view (FOV) is also a major element, as it describes how well VR screens can cover what you see in a game. Having a low field of view makes it feel like you’re looking through a pair of binoculars, which limits your sense of “presence.” The best VR headsets have a wide field of view that can make it seem like you’re actually flying over the globe in Google Earth.
And when it comes to controllers, the best options fit naturally in your hands and offer accurate tracking. The industry has basically adopted the design of Meta’s excellent touch controllers, but we're also seeing intriguing leaps forward like Valve's finger tracking gamepads.
The Meta Quest 2, previously known as the Oculus Quest 2, remains the best VR headset for the vast majority of consumers. It's completely cordless, and it's comfortable to wear for long sessions. Unfortunately, due to supply chain pressures and a worsening economic climate, Meta ended up increasing the Quest 2’s price by $100 this year, making it a $400 headset. It’s still a great device, but it’s also in the strange position of being a worse deal than it was last year. Here’s what’s still good, though: there's a lot