You don’t have to drop half a grand on the Oculus Rift to experience virtual reality.
The Oculus Rift finally hit public retail Monday, but if you didn’t pre-order the highly anticipated virtual reality headset months in advance, expect to spend upwards of $1200 if you’re not willing to wait until July for one to ship. Even then, you’re looking at a $600 pricetag.
Unfortunately, not everyone can drop half a grand on the headset so popular, Mark Zuckerberg bought the company that made it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t experience the VR world for less. Many more affordable VR headsets use your smartphone as a screen instead of the Rift, which is the first that’s powered by PC. (Plus they’ll ship to you much sooner.)
The Samsung Gear VR is powered by Oculus, so it’s pretty much the next best thing—at least, for those who have an Android device. (Sorry, iPhone users.) For a fraction of the Rift’s $600 pricetag, you can enjoy movies, chat with friends and check out breathtaking 360-degree views available via the free Samsung Milk VR app. The headset requires a separate controller for optimal gaming.
Price on Amazon: $99.99
2) Merge VR
These bright purple goggles are made of a soft, hygienic foam material that’s comfortable and easy to clean for shared use. Some VR headsets require a dedicated controller, but the Merge VR has dual touch inputs that allow built-in control. Download the free app on your phone for a curated collection of the best apps and videos compatible with your headset. It’s compatible with just about any Android- or iOS-backed device.
Price on Amazon: $99.99
3) NOON VR
The NOON VR headset also provides a controller-free experience, but instead of buttons, it uses an interface that you tap to control, similar to your phone. The NOON is compatible with Android and iOS, fitting any smartphone between 4.7 and 5.7 inches. With the app downloaded to your smartphone, you can watch any video in the most immersive form, including ones that other NOON users have uploaded and shared.
Price on Amazon: $89.99
The Luxebell headset lets you dabble in the VR world on a budget, while still having some significant features. It comes with a Bluetooth-enabled remote control so you never have to take the mask off to adjust your phone or browse the app for movies.
Price on Amazon: $35.99
5) Atill 3D VR
For slightly more money, you can get all the functions of a cardboard VR set, but more comfortable. The Atill headset is lightweight, with foam goggles and an elastic strap that can be adjusted to your preferred fit. The high-quality lens is also adjustable to accommodate pupil and object distance.
Price on Amazon: $29.99
This is as budget-friendly as it gets in the VR world, but it’ll still provide an exceptional experience for the cost. Google’s cardboard VR headset lets you test the waters at the most affordable price. For that, you get a DIY headset made of the toughest quality cardboard, featuring biconvex lens with a 45mm focal length for immersive 3D viewing and gaming. It works with many Android/iOS devices, but the range of compatibility is dependent upon which phone you’re using.
Price on Amazon: $16.99
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Photo via Amazon