Virtual reality was supposed to be the next big thing back in 2016 when the original Oculus Rift and HTC Vive launched. It was the tech whose time had finally arrived. Or so we thought. As it turned out, VR was still a little too expensive and perhaps too alienating to take over the gaming world. But now that everyone is talking about the metaversethere’s a spotlight on the VR scene. There are new apps and games, new hardware, and even new use cases.
Our top pick, the Meta Quest 2 (née Oculus), is now just as useful as a work device as it is for recreation. But things are still a bit up in the air as Meta has announced a price hike for the Quest 2, an unprecedented move that doesn’t speak well of its confidence in the platform. Regardless, it’s an interesting time to be getting into VR.
Updated August 2022: We’ve added guidance on the Meta Quest 2 and the state of VR.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you’d like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Tethered or Wireless VR?
Before we dive deep, there’s one question you need to answer: Do you want a tethered or wireless headset? Tethered VR gives you more graphical detail because you’re hooked up to a PC. The disadvantage is that you’re, well, hooked up to a PC. There’s no getting around the fact that cables are awkward to deal with, especially when you can’t see them. You’ll likely trip on them at some point too. But if you’re looking for absolutely top-of-the- line graphics, and you already shelled out for a great gaming PC or laptopthen you’ll want to go tethered.
For most people, myself included, wirefree VR is a much better option. It’s more comfortable, you don’t have to worry about getting tangled up in your own cables, and it’s totally portable. You can bring this kind of VR headset to any room in the house without having to lug around a PC. Plus, in the case of the Meta Quest 2, you can plug it into a PC if you want the extra graphical horsepower. Below, we feature both kinds of headsets. Take a look.