Which is the best VR headset? Prices, specs & release date comparison

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR was the last of the big three VR HMD manufacturers to blink by announcing its $399 pricing at GDC 2016, following announcements from Oculus and HTC/Valve that the Rift and Vive will cost $599 and $799, respectively. On the surface that seems like a striking disparity in pricing that puts the PlayStation VR streets ahead and has the unfortunate PC user paying a huge premium

Whichever headset you go for, you’ll still want to be playing the best VR games on PC.

But it doesn’t tell the whole story – that $399 pricing Sony announced doesn’t include the required camera (sold separately for an adiitional $59.99) or Move controllers. The more expensive Vive, however, includes two haptic controllers and three games. The Oculus Rift, priced between the two, does include a tracking camera and Xbox controller, but not haptic controllers – they’re available later down the line, priced separately.

The messaging’s already getting confusing, then, and none of these headsets are even commercially available yet. To clear up the confusion, let’s look at exactly what you get with each headset for the stated price, and whether it really does cost more to buy into VR on PC. 

HTC Vive

HTC Vive

Price: $799

Included:headset, 2 x controllers, 2 x infrared base stations, 3 games

Controllers: motion-tracking haptic hand controllers

Sensors:accelerometer, gyroscope, front-facing camera, laser sensor

Resolution: 2160 x 1200

Field of view: 110 degrees

Refresh rate: 90Hz

Release date:April 2016

The Vive’s launch lineup has been announced, and contains no exclusives. “I don’t think a customer ever thinks a platform-exclusive game is a good thing,” says Valve’s Chet Faliszek on the matter. Here’s the full list so far:

  • #SelfieTennis
  • Adventure Time
  • Altspace
  • Arizona Sunshine
  • Audioshield
  • The Brookhaven Experiment
  • Budget Cuts
  • Cloudlands Minigolf
  • Elite: Dangerous
  • Envelope Eve
  • Everest
  • Fantastic Contraption
  • Final Approach
  • GiantCop
  • HoverJunkers
  • Job Simulator
  • John Wick: The Impossible Task
  • La Peri
  • Marble Mountain
  • Modbox
  • Pool Nation
  • Raw Data
  • Roadside
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • The Gallery: Call of the Starseed
  • The Lab
  • The Rose and I
  • The Wave
  • Thunderbird
  • Tilt Brush
  • Time Machine
  • Universe Sandbox 2
  • Unreal Editor
  • Unseen Diplomacy
  • Vanishing Realms: Rite of Steel
  • VirZoom
  • Waltz of the Wizard

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift

Price:$599

Included:headset, 1 x Xbox controller, sensor, remote, 2 games

Controllers:Xbox One controller. Haptic hand controllers due for release later in 2016, sold separately

Sensors:accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer

Resolution:2160 x 1200

Field of view:110 degrees

Refresh rate:90Hz

Release date:28 March 2016

The Oculus Rift launch line-up has also been revealed, with each game receiving a ‘comfort’ rating, ranging from ‘comfortable’ to ‘intense’.

Oculus Rift games

PlayStation VR

PlayStation VR

Price:$399

Included:headset (camera sold separately for $59.99)

Controllers:PS Move controller, DualShock 4, both sold separately

Sensors:accelerometer, gyroscope

Resolution:1920 x 1080

Field of view:100 degrees

Refresh rate:120Hz

Release date:October 2016

When you lay the specs of each VR headset out like that, it becomes clear why their prices differ. PlayStation VR is a barebones package compared to Vive, which offers literally all you’ll need. Oculus fits somewhere in the middle.

There are also the bundled games to consider, with Eve: Valkyrie and Lucky’s Tale arriving with the Rift and Vive offering three titles in its own bundle – Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption and Tilt Brush. Admittedly they’re not big hitters, but they offer more for the money. PlayStation VR by contrast offers no bundled games.

It’s Sony’s decision not to include the required camera that really sticks out against the approaches of their competitors, though. Pricing the PlayStation VR this way gives Sony clear space between their product and the Rift, but it’s a bit of a sneaky move.

So are we being screwed on PC? Should be be jealous of the PlayStation VR? In reality, it looks like Sony’s is the less advanced HMD of the three, built with fewer sensors and offering a slightly smaller resolution. It’s a mirror image of the console/PC market disparity, really. It’s cheaper to buy into the former, and it benefits from being a walled garden that its platform holder can control to benefit the end user experience, but the latter has the benefit of higher specs (for a price) and open development.