Price Wars: The Best Virtual Reality Headset to get this Summer [Updated]

Price, weight, comfort and content: which is the best deal following the Oculus Rift price promotion?

Summer is here and it’s beautiful weather, time to relax and transport yourself into another world. If you’ve been keeping up to date with the latest virtual reality (VR) business but not yet taken the plunge, maybe it’s time to sit down and treat yourself. Here VRFocus will be discussing the top high-end head-mounted displays (HMDs), the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, breaking down which might be right for you, with the latest price drops.

VR HMDs have always been extremely expensive. When the Oculus Rift was released in March 2016 it retailed for $599 USD which included an Xbox One controller and Lucky’s Tale plus CCP Games’ Eve: Valkyrie on pre-orders. Oculus VR started introducing the Oculus Touch controllers in December 2016 and bundled them with a second sensor for $200 totaling up to $799, before dropping the price in March. Now if you go online to Oculus’ retail store you won’t be able to purchase a HMD without the touch controllers. The HTC Vive retailed for $799 when it arrived and still hasn’t budged much in price, however on Black Friday as well as anniversaries there are occasional promotions and deals. Talk about a hefty price tag, and all this without a laptop or PC. What’s changed since then and what are their differences?

HTC Vive and Oculus Rift

Let’s discuss the HMD’s that need a PC or laptop first.

  • You need a VR ready PC or laptop (hardware) which will set you back around $700-$800 (depending on factors such as GPU) to use either the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift.
  • Why? You need 90 frames-per-second (FPS) on average for VR to work smoothly without judder (this can lead to nausea).
  • You can check if your PC or laptop is VR ready by downloading Steam and do a SteamVR performance test. It’s free.

Why would you want a Vive or Oculus over a PlayStation VR?

  • These are higher-end HMDs. A PC is always better at performing with higher frame rates, graphics and overall performance.
  • The HMDs are lighter and more comfortable to wear for longer durations of VR fun-ness.
  • You don’t own a PlayStation 4/ PlayStation 4 Pro and don’t want one.
  • You’re a gamer and part of the elite PC Gaming race.

VRFocus has already covered the different technical specifications and price differences as well as general history of both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. However this chart gives a general overview of price, weight, comfort and content available for both platforms.

HTC VIVE (BUNDLE)
OCULUS RIFT with TOUCH
PRICE: $799/£759.00 PRICE: $399 /£399 limited time offer. $458/£458 GBP with three sensors and limited summer offer.
  • Vive is more expensive but includes everything you require for roomscale VR. That includes Lighthouse sensors, controllers and cables, all in one box.
  • Oculus has released a juicy summer deal for both the HMD and touch controllers for $399 instead of $598 for a limited time only.
  • Additional sensors cost $59/£59 and a USB 2.0 or higher port. As Oculus Rift with Touch already comes with two sensors, you’ll only need one more for 360-degree roomscale..
WEIGHT
WEIGHT
Medium weight: 563g Lightest of the three HMDs: 470g
COMFORT
COMFORT
The Vive HMD and controllers are comfortable and this HMD is very snug. Add audio strap for added comfort. Personally the Oculus Rift is extremely light and I believe the most comfortable out of all headsets.
CONTENT
CONTENT
For a monthly fee of $6.99 you’ll be able to experience various rolling content and videogames through Viveport Subscription (the first month is free). When you buy the HTC Vive you also get two free games, which have changed a couple of times since launch.

Most content is accessed either via Steam or through HTC’s own platform Viveport.

Although Vive has the most content – there is perhaps a lot of content that is not of the best quality. VRFocus has covered that topic here.

The free games that are available

  • Robo Recall
  • First Contact
  • Dead and Buried
  • Oculus Medium
  • Quill
  • Toybox
  • Lucky’s Tale
  • Farlands
  • Henry
  • Lost
  • Dear Angelica
  • Facebook Spaces
  • Dragon Front
  • Oculus Video
  • Oculus 360 photos
  • Ripcoil
  • Echo Arena

Some of these games are exclusive to Oculus Rift as the manufacturer helped fund them, such as Robo Recall and Echo Arena.

The Oculus Rift is definitely the cheaper option with this limited time offer, however the price is likely to spike back up to $598 for the HMD, bringing it closer to HTC Vive’s price if you were to get the headset, as well as Oculus Touch and a third sensor for $657. In any case this still means Oculus Rift is the cheaper option for PC-based customers.

PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift

Now let’s talk console and PlayStation VR. If you already own the PlayStation 4, it would be the most logical step to buy a PlayStation VR. This is probably why Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has been doing so well seeing as the units sold have well surpassed anybody’s expectations. Here’s a quick run down.

PlayStation VR (PSVR)
PRICE: $399/£349.99 (Standalone), with PlayStation Camera £394.98, or with Camera and PlayStation Move Controllers £464.97 (prices are standard, excluding offers)
Once the cheapest of all the HMDs, even with additional accessories, PlayStation VR now comes in more expensive than Oculus Rift. Plus it doesn’t do full 360-degree roomscale. But a PlayStation 4 is still cheaper than a VR-ready PC.
WEIGHT
The heaviest of the three: 610g
COMFORT
With an adjustable side and top, this is probably the easiest HMD to put on various people without continuously adjusting straps. It does get heavy after playing for a long time.
CONTENT
The content available is not as extensive as the other headsets – and cannot compete to what Oculus and HTC Vive have. Nevertheless there are several good games available for the PlayStation VR that should be a great introduction to VR for fans who want to access it, plus it has exclusives like Resident Evil 7 biohazard.

 

If you have a PlayStation 4 available and do not want to spend too much money on purchasing a new VR-ready PC or laptop, this is definitely the best option. There is however less content available and you won’t have true roomscale VR. Meanwhile if you already have a PC or laptop that is capable of 90FPS and VR-ready it looks like this summer deal for the Oculus Rift should be a definite yes. The Oculus Rift has a lot of high quality content available and its a lot lighter than the HTC Vive. If you want loads of content and a rolling subscription with ever changing content available through the Viveport subscription – it may be the one for you.

To find out more watch the video below and let VRFocus know your thoughts on the top three VR headsets in the comment section down below.

Update: VRFocus wrote that an Oculus Rift setup with three sensors would cost $576/£576 with the headset at its new sale price, and that the PlayStation VR was $299/£230. This was incorrect and the article has been amended. VRFocus apologises for the mistake.

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