VR headsets can do some amazing things, from enhancing gaming to letting you experience the Grand Canyon in all its 3D glory while sitting on your couch. VR headsets can also get pretty expensive, but they don’t have to be.
In fact, you don’t have to spend more than $50. Whether you want to get your VR feet wet and don’t have a ton of cash or you want to buy an awesome gift for a friend without breaking the bank, here are the best VR headsets under $50.
What to Look For in a VR Headset?
There are a lot of VR headsets on the market and even more features. Between the variety of options and techy language, it can make it difficult to figure out what the best VR headset will be for your situation.
In this article, I’ll talk about what features you need to look for as well as give you my top 5 picks for low-cost VR headsets.
You Will Need a Smartphone
First, when looking at good VR headsets under $50, you need to understand that they will not have their own screens. Your smartphone will be the screen. This means you aren’t looking into specs like resolution, CPU speed, and game compatibility for the VR headset.
All that is based on your phone. What the headset will provide are:
These Aren’t the Lamborghini of Headsets
As we look at the features of these headsets which are under $50, keep in mind that you will not be getting all the bells and whistles that you get with a $500+ headset. Don’t think, “Hey, I can spend $45 and get something that’s pretty much the same as an Oculus Rift or PlayStation VR.
There is some tracking, but it’s based on your phone’s ability to track movement, not the intricate movement tracking of the high-end headsets. There are also fewer applications and less elaborate apps for these headsets. These low-priced VR headsets are a great way to get into VR without spending a ton of money.
They are also a great way to give your kids a VR headset and not have to freak out when they accidentally drop it down the stairs. Even with fewer and less elaborate apps, there are still some great apps that you’re likely to find very entertaining.So, what, specifically, should you be looking for?
The Most Important Features
Keep these features in mind as you look for a low-priced VR headset and you should be able to find a headset that gives you a great VR experience, but I want to make it even easier for you.
So, here are my…
Top 5 VR Headsets for Under $50
TEPOINN Virtual Reality Headset
The Tepoin VR headset has soft leather, breathable face padding and adjustable lenses. It fits a decent range of phones from 4” – 5.7”, though other headsets can fit larger phones. The phone case also has built-in heat dissipating technology to keep your phone cool and the cover plate uses magnets to attach.
The case has slots for earphone cords and they even have a model available with a built-in headset. As a bonus, the headset comes with a Bluetooth remote to so you don’t have to pull your phone out to start and stop movies, etc. (It’s a remote, not a gaming controller).
Tepoinn touts their HD resin aspherical lenses as being clearer than other lenses and helping to eliminate a feeling of vertigo some people feel when using VR lenses. In reality, they are good lenses and do provide a very clear image. There’s very little to complain about with this headset, especially with a such low price tag. The only issue is that the case completely covers your phone’s camera. So, if you want to use AR-based apps, you’re out of luck. Other than that, this headset is has a solid, durable design. It’s comfortable.
The head straps use elasticity to fit your head rather than non-stretchy adjustable straps which do a good job of taking the pressure off your face and nose.
BNext VR Headset
The BNext VR Headset has a solid construction and comfortable fit. It features an adjustable strap that uses Velcro for quick and easy fitting. It has high quality, HD lenses which you are able to adjust for angle and distance and there is a slit for earphone wires.
The headset’s phone holder is adjustable for phones from 4”-6.2”. Your phone fits onto a panel that you slide into the headset. Some people have reported having issues with this phone insertion process causing buttons on the phone to be depressed, but most people haven’t had any trouble with it.
This headset does not come with any remote or controller, so you may want to purchase a Bluetooth controller. The headset also covers your phone’s camera preventing the use of AR-based apps, though they do say you can remove the entire front panel if you want to use the camera.
The BNext VR headset is a quality headset that is comfortable and has good, adjustable lenses. It fits more phone sizes than other headsets, but doesn’t have some of the extras like headphones or a remote/controller.
Element Works USA EW-VRHT1 Headset
The Element Works USA EW-VRHT1 headset has a solid, durable construction. It has comfortable, cloth face padding. The head straps are fully adjustable and do a good job keeping the headset in place without too much pressure on your nose.
The headset has a sliding, spring-loaded phone case that fits phones 4”-6”, however, the space given for the phone will generally not allow you to keep your phone’s case on when using the headset. There is not remote/controller or buttons on the headset. So, you will have to eject the phone to control it or get a Bluetooth controller.
The lenses of the EW-VRHT1 aren’t the best. They are fully adjustable, but even when correctly adjusted they aren’t always as clear as other headsets and a few people have reported headaches or dizziness.
The Element Works USA EW-VRHT1 is a good, solid headset that is comfortable, but not as good as some of the other headsets on this list. They can be a great option as a gift, especially for children.
Pansonite VR Headset
The Pansonite VR Headset has many of the bells and whistles other headsets in this price range leave off. It also has built-in headphones. It comes with a Bluetooth remote control to control audio/video and answer/reject calls. You can also play some shooting games, though some people have reported either having trouble connecting the remote to their phone or that, when connected, the remote doesn’t do much.
The headset fits phones sized 4.7”-6”. It has fully adjustable HD resin aspherical lenses which reduces or eliminates dizziness. The face padding is comfortable with a breathable leather cover. Also, the front cover comes off which both allows your phone to stay cooler and allows the use of your camera for AR-based apps.
This headset comes right at the top of our price range, but has a lot of extras that the other cheaper phones don’t have. With higher-end lenses, headphones, a remote, and the ability to use your phone’s camera, you get a lot more for those few extra dollars.
VR Shinecon Headset
The VR Shinecon headset fits 4”-6” smartphones with a magnetically secured front faceplate. It has adjustable cloth straps that do a good job supporting the headset and keeping it comfortably on your face. It has breathable foam padding around the eye cuffs.
The VR Shinecon headset comes with a Bluetooth remote for controlling your phone and can also serve as a gamepad. It has built-in headphones for audio immersion and optical grade PMMA HD aspheric lenses which help to guard against dizziness. The lenses of this headset can also be set to reflect blue light to help protect your eyes during prolonged viewing.
This is another VR headset that comes with a lot of added features. The blue light reflection, headset, and high-quality lenses set it near the top of this, but you have to pay for those features.
VR headsets have become very affordable. If you are on a budget there are several very good options you can choose from. They may not give you everything the high priced headsets will, but they allow you to take the exciting step into the VR world.
There are several lower cost VR headsets on the market. However, now that you know what features to look for and if you read some customer reviews, you should be able to find a headset that meets your needs and fits your budget.
Hopefully, my list has helped you narrow down your choices, but there are still five headsets to choose from.
So, which of the five headsets on this list would I recommend as my top pick?
My Top Pick for the Best VR Headset under $50
I recommend that VR Shinecon Headset.
It has very good lenses and a sturdy, comfortable design. The added remote makes it more user-friendly, particularly because it can be used as a gamepad. Also, the headphones and blue light filter are great bonuses. Lastly, the removable front cover allows the use of AR-based apps and picture taking which expands the overall usefulness of the headset.
As an honorable mention, if $45.99 is out of your price range, I would go with the TEPOINN Virtual Reality Headset. It has great lenses and a remote.
Virtual reality has so many great applications, from watching movies to playing games to flying drones and so much more. Now you don’t need to let a tight budget prevent you from experiencing the fun and excitement of VR.