A friend recently contacted me with an issue he was facing at work. He needed help coming up with an idea that might help special needs children have fun and perhaps learn at the same time. Some people, myself included, recommended the use of Virtual Reality. Some might wonder about the benefits of using VR to entertain and teach special needs children. Well it’s quite simple, VR is already being used in Healthcare, clinical therapies, and anxiety disorder treatments. Nevertheless, each case is different, and we should be careful when using VR with children (I’ll leave that to specialized personnel/therapists). But when considering virtual reality and all the options out there, one is left pondering and confused in front of all the possibilities out there. The article is not only meant for my friend, but for anyone looking to try out Virtual Reality. The question to ask is a simple one with many possible answers. Which VR headset should you buy?
There are many VR headsets out there, many cheap ones that could offer some fun here and there, headsets that you shouldn’t really expect much out off. With these headsets, there are many VR content (both free and paid) available that are both fun and educational for everyone. In this article, I will mainly focus on the best Virtual Reality options that are commonly available in our region.
Oculus Rift ($500 – $600) and HTC Vive ($800)
The Oculus Rift works with both Oculus and SteamVR platforms. Controllers are available that aid in the whole VR experience. On the other hand, the HTC Vive is the most expensive of all, and for good reason. The headset includes motion controllers and sensors that help set up a whole-room VR experience. Those two options provide the best VR experience, but they are quite expensive and require a lot to be set up. Both headsets require connecting them to PCs for them to function. In this case, users should factor in the price of a PC with a good graphics card to fully enjoy their VR experience. So if a PC and a high budget isn’t really a problem for you then one of these two headsets is what you are looking for. For more info, check out this article by PC Mag.
Neither the Oculus Rift nor the HTC Vive is suitable for my friend’s project. Both headsets should be tethered to a PC, which could be quite annoying to use, especially for children. Mobile VR is simply a better option.
Google Daydream View (Includes a Controller – $79/found in Lebanon for $100+)
The Daydream View runs on Google’s own Daydream VR platform. Daydream compatible devices are limited at the moment, but increasing by time. For example, Samsung’s new Galaxy S8 device is soon said to be Daydream compatible. An advantage the Google Daydream View has over the two VR headsets mentioned earlier is that it’s entirely mobile. This simply mean that all you need is your Daydream compatible mobile phone and you’re set to go. Google Daydream compatible smartphones, for now, are:
- Google Pixel and Pixel XL
- Huawei Mate 9 Pro
- Porshe Design Mate 9
- Moto Z
- Moto Z Force
- ZTE Axon 7
- Asus ZenFone AR
Gear VR (Original Price $120 – $80 at the time of this post)
The new Gear VR includes a controller. Yes, that is pretty important to mention when it comes to this particular headset. The problem with Samsung’s previous VR headset (personal opinion) is the lack of a controller. You could buy a Bluetooth controller to use, but it is just great that the 2017 version of this headset has a controller already included. The Gear VR runs on Oculus, and is compatible with the following Samsung devices:
- Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge Plus
- Galaxy Note 5
- Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
- Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
It is worth mentioning here that not many apps natively support the Gear VR controller, When it comes to Mobile VR, I give the edge to the Gear VR. This is simply due to the superb displays on Samsung phones. Of course, when considering the budget required for mobile VR, you also need to factor in the price of the phone (if not already owned).
When deciding between the two mobile options mentioned above, make sure to consider the VR platforms and compatible smartphones. The Gear VR will restrict you to Samsung mobile phones, while the Google Daydream View is compatible with a range of smartphones. You can learn more about Google’s Daydream here.