One of the issues that prevents a lot of people from trying VR experiences is the price of virtual reality headsets. Most top-of-the-line, standalone devices cost in the range of hundreds of dollars, and this is way too much for some – especially if they are not even sure whether they will like the experience.
The Rise of Cheap Virtual Reality Headsets—A Sign of the Growing Adoption Rate
The evolution of consumer-oriented virtual reality headsets is parallel to the one of smartphones. At the very beginning of the technology, there were only a handful of brands and the devices were very expensive. Now there are hundreds of smartphone manufacturers and their offerings range from complex and expensive flagships to very cheap phones for basic communication and internet browsing needs.
The same thing is happening to virtual reality headsets: beside the top brands you may know of (Oculus, HTC) there are newcomers on the market, and they are offering mobile VR headsets for under $50.
We want you to enjoy both an affordable price and a quality VR experience, so we have selected a few devices which offer a good cost/value ratio:
Looking at this device and experiencing VR content with it, it is hard to believe that it costs only $31.99. However, this is one of the cheap virtual reality headsets which combine high-quality materials and technology without breaking your piggy bank.
Pansonite 3D VR is made of soft cloth and has an adjustable headband for maximum comfort. The headphones of the device have a built-in aux input—a useful accessory for mobile phones with headphone jacks.
The device performs well both for VR games and movies—for example, check out this 360-degree shark experience:
Priced at $35.99, EKIR VR Shinecon has the look and feel of a high-end VR headset: it is made of elastic non-sweat-absorbent foam and leather for maximum comfort. It also features an ergonomic nose buffer and anti-fatigue resin lens for superior image resolution.
It works both with iOS and Android smartphones and it has a wide field of vision, as well as precise head-tracking and low latency. Comfort in wearing the VR headset is further ensured by the adjustable head belts and the lightweight of the device—only 14.4 ounces.
For $24.99, you can opt for a very light weight device—only 13.4 ounces—that offers the comfort and the image quality of more expensive virtual reality headsets. Pansonomi is one of the few affordable headsets that can accommodate large smartphones with screens over 6 inches.
The downside to this VR headset model is that the lenses are focused by adjusting the eyepieces inside the headset before you put it on. Thus, you cannot make further adjustments once you start the VR game or movie. This may result in muted colors and a less than clear image if you do not take the time to perform an accurate adjustment at the beginning.
It costs only $19.99 and weighs 11.4 ounces—but this is one of the cheap VR headsets that have sacrificed image quality for comfort. The Drocon UDI VR headset is comfortable to wear and offers openings for AR experiences (a plus), but light leaks in through the sides.
Nonetheless, it has quite good image quality, if you can ignore the less than immersive experience caused by interference from the world outside.
When you are willing to dispense with comfort for the sake of a good deal, Google Cardboard is the answer—currently, you can buy two items for $25. This is one of the first virtual reality headsets and requires a special (free) app to turn your smartphone into a VR device.
There are no straps, so you have to hold the device in front of your eyes all the time. But if you want a very first taste of VR before committing to purchase a more elaborate device, the Google Cardboard is a very affordable choice.