However there are a number of lesser-known brands getting into the space, from new names who've risen from the world of Kickstarter to established tech brands you didn't know made VR headsets. These lesser-known brands are doing interesting things with their HMDs too, whether it's eye tracking to remove the controller altogether, high-quality displays with an incredible FOV, or just packing everything we love about VR into a neater, more affordable package.
Pimax 5K Plus
Pimax 5K Plus Specs
FOV: 200 degrees Resolution: 5120x1440 Refresh Rate: 90Hz Weight: 470gPimax is one of the bigger outliers in the VR world, and one that's of special interest to gamers with its focus on a wide FOV and high visual quality. The ultra-wide display of the Pimax 5K Plus gives a diagonal FOV of 200 degrees, the widest of any existing HMD to date, to more accurately simulate peripheral vision within VR. The headset is correspondingly huge to accommodate that wide FOV, but surprisingly light for its size.The so-called 5K display comes from two 2560x1440 panels, combining for a total resolution of 5120x1440 pixels, though the panels are a bespoke LCD called custom low persistence liquid (CLCD) rather than OLED. There's little artifacting or ghosting, but color accuracy suffers as a result. Pimax does make a premium version of the 5K Plus called the XR (formerly the BE, for business edition) that features OLED displays, but it's correspondingly more expensive—$899 compared to the $699 retail for the 5K Plus.
Virtual Reality Is For Phones, Too. One of the biggest misconceptions with virtual reality is that you need to buy expensive viewing gear in order to participate. That is not true at all. In fact, the latest cell phones allow you to use it as a device for virtual reality. You might need to make or buy an additional piece to use it for that, but it is usually at a low cost. Google, for example, offers a 3D cardboard kit for your phone for less than $10.
The Pimax 5K Plus is a good option for experienced VR gamers or hardware enthusiasts, as setting it up is a lot more difficult than most consumer HMDs. It's also generally sold as a headset only, meaning you'll have to supply your own controllers and other hardware.
Best VR Headsets for Gaming and PC 2019
Pimax sells its own controllers, though the headset is also compatible with existing SteamVR lighthouse trackers and controllers for those who have an existing setup. Software-wise, it's compatible with both SteamVR and Oculus' VR platform, giving you access to a broad range of games.
Google Is Going In VR. Google has fully embraced the virtual reality experience and it is dedicating a lot of resources to it. In fact, Google Cardboard was once considered to be a side project for the company before it became a hit. Some people say that Google Maps' street view, which launched in 2007, was an early example of virtual reality. In recent years, Google hired a lot of people specifically for virtual reality and they are researching all aspects of it.
HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset
HP WMR Headset Specs
FOV: 95 degrees
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
The biggest drawback of HP's original VR headset (compared to the more recently launched, enterprise-focused Reverb HMD) is that Microsoft has slowly been withdrawing support for the WMR platform, meaning an uncertain future for its hardware. The HP HMD is no longer available from either HP or the Windows Store, however you can still find it at a good price on Amazon, if you're looking for solid VR at an accessible price point.
Lenovo Mirage Solo
FOV: 110 degrees
Resolution: 2560 x 1440
Refresh Rate: 75Hz
Google Cardboard Was a Side Project. The Google Cardboard platform was developed by David Coz and Damien Henry. The two engineers developed the project as part of Google’s”innovation time off” program in which engineers are encouraged to spend 20 percent of their time working on projects that interest them. Thankfully, Google backed the project, and Google Cardboard is now one of the cornerstones of scalable virtual reality.
When it comes to headsets doing interesting things with new technology, the Mirage Solo is at the forefront - though it may still be a little too experimental to be worth buying for most consumers, especially for gamers.The Lenovo Mirage Solo is the first standalone HMD on Google's Daydream platform, and the first to use its inside-out WorldSense tracking technology. WorldSense uses cameras on the outside of the headset to position it in space by tracking the features of the room around it without any external lighthouses or sensors. The wireless headset promises PC-quality tracking without the need to be tethered, and also has a 110 degree FOV that stands up well against competitors.The biggest problem with the Mirage Solo is its software. It's limited to the Google Daydream ecosystem, though with a bit of fiddling you can get it to run SteamVR games through apps like Steam Link or Trinus VR.
Veer Falcon Specs
FOV: 100-110 degrees
Refresh Rate: Variable
The downside, like with other mobile headsets, is always going to be the quality. You shouldn't expect the same kind of quality as you would get from an Oculus or Vive HMD if you choose this option.
Virtual reality can be used to simulate a number of experiences and enhance them.
Varjo VR-1 Specs
Resolution: 1920x1080, 2880x1600
FOV: 87 degrees
Refresh Rate: 90Hz
Varjo bills the VR-1 as the first with 'human-eye resolution', targeted at design-based industries, or training simulators that require high visual accuracy. While we probably won't be gaming on the VR-1 any time soon (despite its compatibility with SteamVR hardware and presumably software), we can still dream.The Varjo has an interesting approach to its VR display, combining separate panels for improved visual quality. The central field of view, which Varjo calls the Focus Screen, uses two 1920 x 1080 micro-OLED displays with a resolution of 3000 PPI that is designed to match the quality of images seen by the human eye. Two more 1440x1600 AMOLED panels make up the Context Screen, the broader view that provides more average quality pictures for the wearer's peripheral vision. The sacrifice the VR-1 makes for this visual quality is the FOV, however, at only 87 degrees.
The other feature the VR-1 offers that sets it apart from the rest is its eye tracking capability, one of the first headsets to use this feature until the Vive Pro Eye came onto the market earlier this year. While it hasn't yet been seen on any consumer headsets beyond the failed Fove, eye-tracking offers an advanced and interesting control scheme beyond what external controllers currently offer.