Few technologies have inspired the genre of zeal over the past decade as virtual and mixed reality. While the technology’s initial hype cycle began in the ’80s, it didn’t properly “happen” until the Oculus Rift launched on Kickstarter in 2012 (funded to the tune of $2.5 million ). Shortly after this success, Facebook bought Oculus for $2 billion; what followed was nearly a decade of massive investment in space, by the likes of many of the biggest companies in the industry. Meta was perhaps most important, with Mark Zuckerberg remaining optimistic in his belief that technology represents the future of computing. Gaming giant Valve Software has partnered with HTC on several VR headsets and has released its own as well; Apple, meanwhile, is expected to announce its much-talked about mixed reality headset in the near future – a bold step for the company, and one that took many years to prepare.
While VR and especially XR technology is still in its infancy – manufacturers are still making massive strides in the quality, comfort and size of their headsets, while software developers are still figuring out how to get the most out of them. of the power of this nascent format – it seems almost certain that technology will be a major factor in the future of how we interact with computers. We’ve rounded up a host of the most exciting VR and XR headsets on the market today.
Meta Quest 2
As the first true “all-in-one” headset, meaning one that didn’t need to be connected to a PC to power it, the original Oculus Quest was a game-changer when it came to its release in 2019. The Quest 2 upped the ante in almost every way: most importantly, an improved processor and a sharper display, resulting in a resolution of 1832 by 1920 per eye, compared to the original Quest’s 1440 by 1600 , as well as a 90Hz refresh rate. It’s lighter and more comfortable than the original, and the standalone nature of the experience makes it easy to carry or use outdoors. (Where most tethered headsets require external sensors, the Quest 2’s “upside-down” tracking does a great job on its own.) For those who want a premium VR experience, it’s also flexible: in Connecting the headset to a gaming PC using Oculus Link and a compatible USB Type-C cable, you can harness the power of a beefy computer, rather than being limited by an onboard processor.
Lenovo ThinkReality A3
While most current headsets are focused on virtual reality, immersive experiences and gaming in particular, Lenovo’s ThinkReality A3 adopts a different tact. The glasses connect to a laptop or smartphone and are clearly aimed at the business market. The principle is quite simple: replace a productivity setup involving multiple screens with a single pair of smart glasses, which can project multiple virtual screens for portable and more flexible virtual workspaces. Not only is it more convenient than setting up multiple monitors, but it also allows you to work privately, even in public spaces. Powered by Qualcomm’s XR-1 SmartViewer technology, the glasses feature 1080p resolution for each eye, an 8MP RGB camera, three noise-cancelling mics and stereo speakers. It has head/eye tracking and even a barcode scanner for quick product scanning.
When it comes to the current VR headset market, the Valve Index is most likely the crème de la crème. Valve is a company familiar to gamers (it’s the company behind the famous Steam storefront) and was an early mover in the VR space, teaming up with HTC on the original Vive headset. In terms of specs, its index is a heavyweight: the 2880 by 1600 display resolution is one of the highest on the market, and it’s paired with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and field of view. equally impressive 130 degrees. It’s built from significantly higher quality materials than most VR headsets, with excellent weight distribution and great stability. The controllers, which attach to the user’s hands, function both as typical VR motion controllers, as well as hand/finger trackers. with a crowd of robots or give them a boost. Finally, the built-in near-field speakers provide a more three-dimensional sound space than typical headphones, and less ear fatigue. It’s one of the more expensive VR headsets, sure, but in many ways it’s also hard to beat.
As the only major game console maker to dabble in virtual reality, the original PlayStation VR was Sony’s biggest bet in a generation. And it turned out to be a good one, as evidenced by the fact that Sony will launch its successor in early 2023. It’s a major leap beyond the original in almost every way: the headset itself has an OLED display, offers an impressive 110-field of view and 4K HDR, and supports 90Hz and 120Hz frame rates for smoother gameplay. Unlike its predecessor, users won’t need to set up external cameras around their gaming space; instead, the helmet has four cameras built into the helmet for reverse tracking. The new PSVR2 Sense controllers include adaptive triggers and haptic feedback (much like the PS5 DualSense controllers) and can even detect individual finger touches. Finally, rather than the slew of cables required by the original, you’ll only need to plug it into your PS5 with a single USB-C cable.
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