Virtual reality can no longer be called a nascent technology. Three years later, it's been around long enough for us to have a pretty good idea of how the market is going and where it's going.SummaryThe virtual reality market has grown in 2019VR games are getting betterMore choices than everPC:Oculus Rift ($300) | Oculus Rift S ($400) | HTC Vive ($500) Standalone/Wireless:Oculus Go ($199) | Oculus Quest ($400-$500) | HTC Vive Focus ($600 – Enterprise) | HTC Vive Focus Plus ($800 – Enterprise) High end:HTC Vive Pro ($1100) | Valve Index ($1000)Mobile:Gear VR ($100) | Google Daydream ($100) | Pansonite 3D VR Headset ($31) | Much moreConclusion
The good news is that VR continues to grow, with growing revenue, growing game catalogs and more choices at different price points than ever thanks to new headsets like the Oculus Quest wearable and the Valve Index high. range.
Here we'll tell you everything you need to know to help you decide if a VR headset is worth buying in 2019.
2017 was not a bumper year for VR, but things started to pick up speed in 2018 and 2019 continued the strong market momentum. An IDC report earlier in the year found that shipments of AR and VR headsets reached 1.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 – a 27.2% year-over-year increase – the vast majority of them being in virtual reality rather than augmented reality.
Standard VR headset options for PC users have now reached fairly reasonable prices. At this point, the Oculus Rift S seems like the most enticing option, considering it's $100 cheaper than the HTC Vive and overall just as powerful a piece of kit. .
The main differences between the Rift S and the Vive are that the Rift S has a higher resolution at 2560 x 1440 compared to the Vive's 2160 x 1200 but an 80Hz lower refresh rate than the Vive's 90.
Negating the need for a decent gaming PC, Oculus and HTC now have their own standalone headsets. Curiously, HTC headsets are currently aimed exclusively at the enterprise market rather than consumers and gamers, leaving Oculus the opportunity to have the whole market to itself.
The main options for consumers here are therefore the Oculus Go and Quest. Is the Quest worth twice the price of GB or more? The Quest has a higher resolution of 2880 x 1600 to 2560 x 1440 for the Go, and higher refresh rates of 72Hz to 60Hz for the Go. The Quest's Snapdragon 835 processor also packs more "oomph" than the Go.
So the Quest is definitely a more powerful and better designed piece of kit, but you'll pay a bit more for it. It's worth considering that the Oculus Rift S is the same price but uses your PC hardware and full PC game library.
New to the high-end VR block is the Valve Index. With an impressive combined screen resolution of 2880 x 1600 pixels, with refresh rates up to 144Hz. The screens are also LCD, which offer more clarity than the OLED screens of the regular Vive Pro, Vive and Oculus Rift .
The HTC Vive Pro offers a spectacular experience with its 2880 x 1600 (615 dpi) resolution at up to 90 Hz and improved ergonomics. You'll need a very powerful PC to hit those high frame rates though, and at this point the price makes it hard to recommend over the cheaper and more powerful Valve Index.
The cheapest way to enjoy VR is to get one designed for mobile platforms, where you insert your phone into the headset and use your phone screen as a VR display.
These options may seem off the cuff, but with many phones featuring 2560 x 1440 displays featuring AMOLED, IPS, and LCD screens, there's really nothing to be ashamed of.
The Samsung Gear VR is still the best option in terms of specs, but there are also some surprisingly good 'off-brand' headsets on the market at less than half the price. Our pick is the Pansonite 3D headset if you're on a tight budget.
Virtual reality is evolving. Developers are getting savvier about designing games that really complement VR support, and the variety of options — from increasingly affordable PC-connected headsets to completely standalone headsets — means you're more likely to find something for you.
Above all, the market is expanding, with helmet sales and investments increasing. This means that if you get started now, you won't find yourself falling prey to the virtual reality market crash.
Virtual reality is still kind of a fringe technology, but it's a more interesting fringe than ever in 2019, and at this point, there really is something for everyone.