Top 5 VR Headset Alternatives To The Oculus Quest For 2021

When you think of virtual reality (VR), you may automatically think: Oculus — and it makes sense considering Oculus maintains the largest consumer market share

Although Oculus is the major player in the VR market, there are many other options that compete in terms of capabilities, resolution, and overall user experience. 

Check out the top 5 alternative VR headset options:

  1. Pico Neo 2
  2. Pico Neo 2 Eye
  3. HTC Vive
  4. HTC Cosmos
  5. Valve Index

As exciting as planning a VR program may be, you need to make sure that you’re making a wise investment and choosing the right modality that meets your learners’ needs. It’s important to evaluate all of your options and determine if VR is the right fit.

We speak with dozens of clients every week who are interested in VR training, but want to learn more about VR equipment before they commit to planning a program. For over 2 years, we’ve been helping organizations plan, design, and implement VR training programs, so we’ve been around the block with everything VR-related.  

This article will overview VR training, differentiate between the three types of VR headsets, explore different cost factors for VR headsets, and provide five headset alternatives to the Oculus. 


What Is VR Training?

Virtual reality (VR) training extends learning beyond the traditional classroom setting. VR training simulates any world you can imagine and gives learners the ability to encounter true-to-life scenarios without facing real-world risk

By putting on a VR headset, learners are transported to a new location where they can look around themselves, walk up close to computer-generated objects, and interact with items and people.

When it comes to VR technology, there are two main options: 360° VR and Full VR. 

  • 360° VR -- Creates an environment made of recorded video shot with an omnidirectional camera. Learners are in a fixed location where they can interact with their environment via gaze control or a laser pointer controller. 
  • Full VR -- Uses a fully simulated environment where learners can physically move around the simulated space. Learners can observe and interact with objects placed in the environment, just like they would if those objects were real. 

Read More: When to level up from 360-degree video to 6DoF VR


What Are The 3 Types Of VR Headsets?

Tethered Headset

Tethered VR headsets have a connection cable linking the headset to a PC or console, depending on the system. This connection allows for VR signals to be transmitted from the system to the headset itself via cables. 

Tethered headsets are considered to be the most powerful given their secure connection to the source. This connection lends to a better all-around performance and ability to handle more intense graphics, but has limitations regarding user mobility because users must stay connected. 

Untethered Headset

Unlike tethered headsets, untethered headsets are completely wireless and don’t require a wired connection to operate. Untethered headsets typically receive data from a WiFi connection or preloaded software

Untethered headsets are truly immersive because learners can move around and have total freedom without needing to be plugged into a source. Despite this major benefit, there are limitations in terms of power, as this headset may struggle to handle more graphically-demanding VR content. 

Read More: 5 Hurdles to Scaling Virtual Reality Training & How to Overcome Them

Smartphone Headset

Smartphone headsets sound exactly like what they are. Typically made of cardboard or hard plastic, learners use these headsets by placing their mobile device inside. Then, the VR content is displayed on the device itself.

Smartphone headsets are often regarded as the most affordable, convenient, and user-friendly headset option. Compared to tethered and untethered headsets, though, a smartphone headset provides more limited virtual experiences. These headsets lack the capabilities that the other two types offer, like advanced motion detection, high-quality graphics, and stereo sound. 


What Factors Influence The Cost Of A VR Headset?

There are several factors that influence the cost of a VR headset, including:

  • Screen resolution -- Screen resolution is the number of pixels arranged in a grid horizontally and vertically. Screen resolution determines how sharp images look.
  • Processing power -- Processing power is essentially the performance of a VR device. Processing power is measured by accuracy, efficiency, and speed when it comes to executing program instructions. 
  • Memory -- Memory is the amount of space on a VR headset that stores programs, data, and other information. VR headset memory is measured in gigabytes (GB). 
  • Manufacturing quality -- Manufacturing quality is the device’s design, maintenance, and overall operations that affect customer satisfaction.  

Read More: Cost of Virtual Reality Training: 360º VR [2020]


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Five VR Headset Alternatives To The Oculus Quest

1. Pico Neo 2

Key Features: 6DoF, 4K display, 101° field of view (FOV), built-in spacial stereo speakers

Price: $699

Type: Untethered, with a wireless streaming assistant option available.

Pico is known for producing devices rich in features and customizable options. Released in May of 2020, the Pico Neo 2 has a 4k resolution with a unique counterbalanced design that makes long wear comfortable. 


2. Pico Neo 2 Eye

Key Features: The same features of the Pico Neo 2 with additional built-in eye tracking.

Price: $899

Type: Untethered

The Pico Neo 2 Eye is an upgrade from the Pico Neo 2 with integrated eye tracking technology, enhanced mechanics, and data gathering. This way, organizations can collect key metrics and gain detailed insights into their learners’ behaviors. 

Read More: Training Metrics and ROI: Formulas and Descriptions


3. HTC Vive

Key Features: Single front-facing camera, adjustable velcro straps, uses an HDMI to connect to your machine, 2160 x 1200 resolution

Price: $899

Type: Tethered, but can be made untethered with upgrades.

Released in April of 2016, the HTC Vive is an older tethered VR device that has since been discontinued and replaced by the HTC Vive Cosmos. This device is known for its single exterior camera, chords that come out of the top of the device, and slow set up time. 


4. HTC Vive Cosmos

Key Features: Six camera sensors, 110° FOV, 6DoF, 2880 x 1700 resolution

Price: $699

Type: Tethered, but you can purchase a wireless adapter for cord-free access to PC content. The adapter costs $349.

The HTC Cosmos has refined inside-out tracking with six external cameras, high-quality graphics, and a flip-up headset design built for comfort. The Vive Cosmos offers a quick set up process with more ease of use than its predecessor. Vive devices are known for quality performance, but require powerful computers to get the most out of them. 


5. Valve Index

Key Features: 130° FOV, 6DoF, externalized audio, 2880 x 1660 resolution, canted lens design

Price: $999

Type: Tethered

Released in June of 2019, the Valve Index is known for its crisp display and audio that sounds like it’s coming from the environment around you. The Valve Index has a wider FOV than the HTC Vive and unique remotes that utilize individual finger tracking.  


Which VR Headset Is Right For You?

We’ve covered all there is to know about the three types of VR headsets, cost factors, and alternative options to Oculus headsets. 

Are you curious about more VR headset options or want to get started planning your VR training program? Reach out to our expert team today to learn more. 


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