VR headsets can be used for more than scaring your dog as you wave your hands around playing BeatSaber. VR headset users have realised that another excellent use of their devices is for watching movies. There are now a dozen or so video apps for VR headsets that allow you to mimic the cinematic experience in a VR environment. Image watching your favourite YouTube series in an IMAX theatre or even a Broadway show recorded in 360 degrees. There are even apps where you can watch movies and TV shows in a shared VR environment with friends or random strangers. Let’s take a look at some of the best headsets available now and see which ones are best deigned for watching movies.
Best VR Headset for Watching Movies
One of the newest and most innovative VR headsets is the Oculus Quest. This is the fourth VR headset released by Oculus and one of the most exciting. The Oculus Quest is a full 6DOF headset (full VR experience) and the first to be completely wireless, so no getting tangled up when moving around. While the Quest is primarily designed as a gaming system it also has some impressive features that make it awesome for watching movies. The screen is among the best of any VR headset, featuring OLED technology for deeper blacks and a high resolution for sharpness. The Oculus Store is also full of 360 video apps made by the likes of National Geographic and the BBC. You can also use apps like Bigscreen to replicate the cinema experience.
The Quest is one of the cheaper VR headsets because you don’t need anything else to use it, but it’s . You should only really get it if you are also interested in playing VR games as well as watching movies otherwise you’ll be spending money on features you’re not using. You’ll also find that the Quest lacks a memory card slot so you’ll only be able to fit a certain number of movies and other apps before you run out of space.
- Excellent Screen
- No External Hardware Required
- In Built Audio
- Non Expandable Memory
Sony entered the VR market with the PSVR, an accessory to the Playstation 4 which allows users to play full VR games and download VR apps. While you need to own a PS4 to use this headset that hasn’t stopped the PSVR from becoming one of the best selling VR headsets ever. The PSVR features full 360 tracking as well as an impressive array of exclusive games and experiences. The PSVR is also one of the cheapest headsets out right now, having been cut in price several times since its release. While the PSVR is a great deal for PlayStation owning VR enthusiasts, it’s low resolution screen doesn’t make it the best headset for watching 360 videos and movies.
You’ll also have to stay connected to a PlayStation 4 in order for it to work, limiting where and how you can use the headset. For watching movies you want the freedom to sit where you want and not be limited wires.
- Lots of Content and Apps
- Plenty of Memory
- Built in Audio
- Low Resolution Screen
- Wired Connection Required
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One of the first, and cheapest, VR headsets to be released was the Gear VR. Samsung’s VR accessory allows you to use your phone as a VR screen and the Gear acts as the lens. Thanks to its low price and Samsung’s huge marketing machine the Gear VR is the best selling headset ever. The Gear VR is only compatible with Samsung phones and the experience will depend on which phone you have. The Gear VR has been updated several times and the latest generation features a more comfortable design.
The Gear VR is actually a great choice if you just want to watch YouTube or other videos in a VR environment. By using your phone as both the screen and processor the Gear VR is fully wireless and very portable. The quality of the screen will depend on which phone you have, with newest phones providing a sharper image. Phone screens can only provide so much clarity though and you will likely notice some pixelation. You’re also limited by your phone’s battery and ability to keep itself cool; many people report a huge battery drain when using the Gear VR with their phone.
If you are looking for the cheapest VR experience for watching movies then you can’t go wrong with the Gear VR, just don’t expect the highest quality visuals or the best audio.
- Cheapest Option
- Requires Samsung Phone
- Screen Quality Dependant on Phone Model
- Battery Issues
- Lower Quality Audio
- No Access to Social VR Apps
Oculus Rift S
The Rift S is the latest flagship hardware from Oculus; it represents an incremental upgrade to the Oculus Rift which was released in 2016. The Rift S is designed to work with Windows 10 PC’s and will require a wired connection at all times to work. The headset has an upgraded screen and higher resolution than its predecessor, perfect for watching movies, and it has access to several social video apps which allow you to watch TV shows and movies as a group in a VR space.
The Rift S did face some criticism for having a lower refresh rate than the original Rift, but this won’t have much of an impact when you’re watching movies or videos on the headset. The Rift S is among the more expensive headsets and also requires a pretty powerful windows 10 machine to work. It’s not really worth getting the Rift S just for watching videos, but if you are also interested in playing the most advanced VR games then this system would be a good choice.
- High Quality Screen
- Lots of Video Apps
- Wide Field of View
- Required Powerful PC
Widely considered the best overall VR headset since its release, the Valve Index comes fitted with best in class screen, finger tracking and high quality in built audio. The makers of Steam surprised the VR world with one of their first hardware releases and it’s an absolute beast. The Vale Index features the highest resolution screen of any headset out now allowing it to provide the sharpest, most immersive experience for both gaming and video watching.
The most exciting innovation is individual finger tracking which allows for more realistic feedback in the VR world; this won’t effect how you watch video’s, unless you really want to feel yourself pressing the play button on a VR remote.
What will effect the quality of your video watching experience on the Valve Index is the built in headphones which provide amazing quality audio. The near field speakers cancel out all external noise and can provide surround sound immersive audio. Watching a movie on the Valve is about as close as you can get to replicating the cinema/IMAX experience in a VR world. While the Valve is technically the best VR headset for videos it’s also by far the most expensive and hardest to set up. You’ll really have to be serious about wanting to play the latest VR games as well as watching movies to get the most out of this expensive device.
- Best Quality Screen
- Excellent Audio
- Access to Steam Ecosystem
- Requires Powerful PC
- Overkill if You Just Want to Watch Movies
My recommendation for the best VR headset for watching movies has to be the Oculus Go. It balances screen quality with portability, audio and access to a decent library of experiences, it’s also one of the cheaper VR headsets around. The Go features a high resolution screen, providing a sharp and focused video watching experience. The device is completely wireless and doesn’t require a phone or any wires. There are build in microphones in the body of the Go that provide high quality surround sound audio and you also have the option of plugging in your own headphones. The Go features apps from YouTube, Netflix, National Geographic and many more, all of which provide both 360 immersive video as well as standard video in widescreen format.
One thing the Go lacks is access to social VR experiences, so you won’t be able to watch shows and movies in a group VR experience. Otherwise, the Go has every other VR cinema and theatre app as its more expensive counterparts. The Go is practically designed to be a movie watching device and its low price makes the best value option on this list by far.
- Great Quality Screen
- Good Built in Audio
- Large Library of Experiences
- No Social Movie Apps
- Smaller Field of View