Cheap virtual reality headsets for exploring the metaverse
For businesses, finding a cheap virtual reality headset can seem impossible.
If you’re investing in VR to transform collaboration, training, or product development, you’re going to need quality. The better the headset’s screen resolution, comfort, and overall performance, the bigger the potential impact on your team.
Cutting corners on cost can increase the risk of virtual reality sickness and harm adoption. However, the rapid evolution of VR technology in recent years means you don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to get a great experience.
While there are undoubtedly plenty of high-cost solutions out there, such as the impending Apple Vision Pro, there are also some more affordable headsets ideal for beginners. Today, we’re covering everything you need to know about choosing a cheap virtual reality headset.
Plus, we’ll share our insights into some of the top options available in 2024.
How to Choose a Cheap Virtual Reality Headset
Demand for VR headsets has skyrocketed among consumers and businesses alike in recent years. By 2029, experts predict the market will be worth around $203.35 billion. This evolving market has prompted countless innovators to build VR headsets for various consumers.
While some companies focus on the high-end market, others have recognized a growing need for headsets among budget-conscious, smaller companies. If you’re looking for an affordable way to enter the metaverse and unlock the power of enterprise XR, you have more options than you’d expect.
However, even if budget is your primary concern, it’s not the only thing worth considering. A cheap virtual reality headset is only worthwhile if it can serve your specific needs. Here are some points to think about when comparing your options:
1. Immersion Options
Virtual reality headsets have come a long way in recent years. Not so long ago, if you wanted a cheap VR headset, you’d be limited to phone-based devices like Google Cardboard. Now, you can choose from fully immersive tethered and wireless headsets with incredible processing power.
Plus, there are even options to step into the world of AR/VR headsets, or headsets with mixed reality capabilities, like a “passthrough” mode. The right option for you will depend on your specific use cases and requirements. Do you want to enable and enhance collaboration, transform your product development process, or optimize training? Decide before you start searching.
2. Cheap virtual reality headset Visual Performance
While you might not be able to get the same visual fidelity with a cheap VR headset as you’d get from a more expensive, market-leading vertical, visuals are still important. That’s particularly true if you will be using headsets for long periods. The worse the visuals, the more likely users will experience VR sickness and discomfort.
Think carefully about the screens that will work best for your needs, their resolution, and even the available refresh rate. Quality visuals lead to deeper immersion and better user experiences. Avoid any headset with significant visual lag or screen blur.
3. Software Compatibility
VR headsets can’t do much without access to the right software. Today’s best cheap VR headset options will offer access to various applications and tools. Some vendors, like Meta, have their dedicated app libraries and platforms. Others, like Varjo, even provide software solutions that can help you stream content faster through the cloud.
Depending on how you plan to use your VR headset, ensure the solution you choose works seamlessly with the software you will use. For instance, the Meta Quest 3 comes with virtual keyboards and similar tools that are ideal for use with collaboration platforms like Microsoft Teams.
4. Design and Comfort
Generally, a cheap virtual reality headset will be slightly clunkier than an expensive alternative. Vendors may use heavier materials and components to save money or offer fewer accessories for comfort, like ultra-secure straps. However, you can still optimize comfort by looking for a headset with the right features.
Look for a solution that has an adjustable strap, ample padding around the eyes, and a lightweight structure. Think about the individual needs of your users, too. For instance, do you need your headset to adapt to suit people wearing prescription glasses?
5. Customization (Accessories and Controllers)
Finally, it’s worth looking at how to customize your cheap virtual reality headset with extra accessories and components. Most headsets today come with the essential accessories you need, such as controllers and straps. However, some vendors will allow you to purchase additional solutions, too.
If you want to enhance your VR experience with things like light shields, advanced controllers, charging systems, or additional sensors, keep this in mind. You might even want to look for headsets that support adding haptic tools, like gloves and body suits.
Cheap Virtual Reality Headset Options for 2024
Ultimately, business buyers have fewer cheap virtual reality headset options than consumers. The chances are you have more advanced requirements regarding visuals, tracking technology, comfort, and even durability. However, there are still plenty of options to choose from.
Based on our reviews of affordable VR headsets over the years, we’ve created this quick list to help guide you. Notably, we’re focusing only on true VR headsets, so we won’t be covering headsets that use your phone as a screen or AR glasses.
1. Meta Quest 2
Right now, Meta’s Quest 3 headset is the most exciting latest release from the metaverse-focused brand. However, Meta Quest 2, its predecessor, is still available and an excellent option for business leaders. The Quest 2 might not be as advanced as the Quest 3, with its black-and-white passthrough mode, lower field of view, and reduced display quality.
However, it’s still packed with excellent features, ideal for beginners in the metaverse. The Quest 2 features a fantastic refresh rate of up to 120 Hz, fast-switching LCDs with a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye, and an excellent ergonomic design.
It also delivers about the same battery life performance as the Quest 3. Plus, Meta has announced that the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro will receive massive performance updates this year. The Quest 2 could be an excellent cheap virtual reality headset option for beginners, and you always have the option to upgrade in the years ahead.
2. Meta Quest 3
While the Meta Quest 3 is a lot more expensive than the Quest 2, it offers a significant upgrade in performance for a relatively small price. The latest headset in the Meta Quest range, this device even outperforms the Enterprise-focused Quest Pro in some areas.
With this headset, you’ll get a fantastic 2064×2208 pixel-per-eye resolution and a cutting-edge Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chipset. There’s also a full-color passthrough for true mixed-reality experiences and integrated sensors and trackers for total immersion.
The Quest 3 comes with ultra-ergonomic controllers, which are much more user-friendly than the controllers you get with the Quest 2. Plus, it can access various unique apps for business users, including Horizon Workrooms. If you’re looking for a powerful processor, comfort, and unique mixed reality, the Meta Quest 3 is a great choice.
3. Meta Quest Pro
Although a price tag of just under $1,000 might not qualify the Quest Pro as a “cheap virtual reality headset” for some, it’s still a reasonably affordable enterprise-focused choice. The Quest Pro was designed for business users, offering incredible haptics, full-color passthrough, and more.
It might not be as powerful as upcoming alternatives like the Apple Vision Pro, but it still features a fantastic Snapdragon XR2 chipset and a resolution of 1832×1920 per eye. You’ll also benefit from a rapid refresh rate of up to 90Hz.
The Quest Pro is highly adjustable for user comfort, and it comes with some of the most advanced controllers offered by Meta, the Quest Touch Pro controllers. This innovative headset works with various business-focused apps, from Adobe Acrobat to Horizon Worlds.
4. Pico G3
One of the few cheap virtual reality headsets on this list specifically designed for the enterprise is the Pico G3. This impressive headset is powered by the phenomenal Snapdragon XR2 platform and comes with an HD display, excellent refresh rate, and a longer battery life than most alternatives.
A resolution of 3664×1920 offers an ultra-clear visual experience to beginners. The Pico G3 also includes 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for running multiple applications simultaneously. You can even adjust the refresh rate from 72 to 90Hz.
One of the best things about this cheap virtual reality headset is its design. The ergonomic and lightweight design is excellent for long-term comfort. What’s more, the Pico G3 comes with its own “Business Suite app” to help you access enterprise-focused apps in an instant. Of course, the Pico 4 Enterprise is a significant upgrade if you have the extra cash.
5. DPVR P1 Ultra 4k
If you’re looking for a cheap virtual reality headset that’s a little more advanced, the DPVR P1 Ultra 4K could be the perfect choice. It’s only a slight downgrade from the Shanghai-based VR vendor’s P1 Ultra, costing $300 less. This wireless headset is lightweight and ergonomic, with a state-of-the-art strap system for exceptional comfort.
It has a Snapdragon 845 processor and a 3840×2160 resolution for phenomenal visual clarity. You also get immersive surround sound, 3 degrees of freedom, and a smart fan to help reduce power use and keep your battery running longer.
The great thing about this headset is it’s specifically tuned to different business needs. Thanks to customizable hardware modules, you can adapt the solution to suit your needs, whether in a medical, corporate, or enterprise environment. Even SDK kits are available for integrators and developers so that you can create your own apps.
6. HP Reverb G2
Developed in collaboration with Microsoft and Valve, the HP Reverb G2 is designed for training, gaming, and business collaboration. It has a fantastic resolution of 2160×2160 per eye and industry-leading lenses for visual immersion. You also get phenomenal speakers that give you immersive sound with minimal discomfort.
This customizable headset has IPD adjustment options for the perfect fit. Plus, you get a customizable face mask for added comfort. The HP headset also comes with various sensors, enabling exceptional tracking during fast-paced VR scenarios.
Although the motion controllers aren’t the best on the market, the overall experience is excellent for companies searching for cheap virtual reality headsets. You can also upgrade your experience with Valve’s finger-tracking controllers and sensors.
7. HTC VIVE Pro
HTC VIVE offers a vast selection of high-quality headsets designed for business users. There’s the VIVE XR Elite, with mixed reality capabilities. Plus, the VIVE Pro 2 is one of the most popular business-level headsets on the market, winning numerous awards.
Although the HTC VIVE Pro is slightly more simplistic, it’s worth considering if you’re low on cash. You get 3D spatial audio built into this headset for a more immersive app experience. Plus, there’s a fantastic tracking system and a powerful active noise-cancellation feature.
The HTC VIVE Pro offers a resolution of 2880×1600 per eye, and it’s designed for user comfort, distributing weight evenly across the user’s head. We also love the 360-degree controller and headset tracking that make interacting with training content and business apps easier.
8. Varjo Aero
If you’re looking for an extremely cheap virtual reality headset, the Varjo Aero may be a little out of your price range. However, it is a relatively affordable option for companies combining exceptional quality with low cost.
The lightweight, ergonomic headset features incredible visual fidelity, a 115-degree field of view, and variable-resolution aspheric lenses. You can expect a phenomenal 2880×2720 resolution per eye and refresh rates of up to 90hz. Plus, the Aero has built-in eye-tracking at 200Hz for an exceptional bespoke experience for each user.
From a comfort perspective, the Varjo Aero stands out as one of the most ergonomic headsets we’ve tried. The premium lightweight wearable has a 3-point precision fit headset and active cooling capabilities. It also works alongside SteamVR content and professional 3D software like KeyVR and Gravity Sketch.
9. Valve Index
Once again, the Valve Index is a little more expensive than some of the options on this list, but it’s still relatively affordable when considering the functionality you get. The headset cost is a little higher because you need to purchase Valve’s tracking solutions alongside it.
This headset isn’t quite as cutting-edge as it was first introduced in 2020. However, it still offers a fantastic 1440 x 1600 per-eye resolution and an impressive refresh rate of up to 120Hz. You also get access to off-ear speakers for long-term comfort and a phenomenal set of controllers capable of tracking your fingers and knuckles separately.
The device is wonderfully ergonomic, with a cradle adapter for smaller heads and an interchangeable face gasket. Plus, it has the added benefit of exceptional movement tracking to increase your immersion when exploring metaverse environments.
The Best Cheap Virtual Reality Headset for Business Users
Finding a cheap virtual reality headset doesn’t have to be an impossible task. Even if you have a lot of specific requirements for your VR wearable, there are plenty of great options out there. As the VR landscape evolves, vendors find new ways to create headsets that deliver fantastic performance without the high price tag.
Plus, you can permanently save a little extra cash on your metaverse exploration by purchasing one or two headsets, to begin with before rolling out more options to your users.