If we’re being completely honest, aren’t always comfortable. Popular products like the and use elastic straps to pull the goggles toward your face and often mess up your hair, and provide no easy way to give your eyes a break without taking the whole thing off.
So, after all this time, I was surprised to discover that Dell (yes, the PC company from the 1990s) has managed to create one of the most comfortable VR headsets I’ve ever put on my face.
Dell’s VR Visor is one of a handful of new “mixed reality” headsets designed for Windows 10 computers coming this fall.
Unlike the Rift or Vive, these headsets will be affordable for even casual hobbyists and don’t require any external cameras or sensors to track head or body movement.
The Visor alone costs $359.99 and both hand controllers are an additional $99.99 when it ships in October. Dell is also going to sell a bundle with both the controllers and headset for $459.99, but we’re not sure why it exists since you won’t really save any money if you choose to buy it.
The bundle is a great VR package for the price, but with recent discounts on the Rift and Vive headsets, both of which cost $599 with bundled controllers, the cost advantage has narrowed.
Which brings us to the only real reason you’d want to buy Dell’s Visor: comfort. The headset reminds me a lot of Sony’s PlayStation VR.
The sleek, all-white Visor design fits comfortably on your head and is more sci-fi than than ski mask. Headsets like the Rift and Vive are worn on the face, which puts pressure around your eyes and nose.
The Visor, instead, has a padded crown that distributes the weight across your cranium, making it easier to wear during longer sessions. A single dial on the back of the headset is used to easily adjust the fit, kind of like a bike helmet. Dell’s even tidied up the cable management so that it snakes towards the back instead of dangling at the sides.
It’s a really well-designed headset, and even though Dell didn’t have a working model for us to test the image quality, it certainly seems capable. The goggles contain two 1,440 x 1,440 LCDs that are compact and flip upwards so that you can easily take a break from the virtual wolrd.
On the front of the Visor, there’s two inside-out cameras that track the hand-based motion controllers.
The motion controllers are a cross between the Rift’s Touch Controllers and the Vive’s hand controllers. Each one has a clickable touchpad, analog stick, and several buttons including triggers. Again, I didn’t actually get to demo any software, so I can’t say how good the screens look or how well the motion-tracking works.
Last year when the Rift and Vive launched, VR was expected to shake up the world for the better, but neither has become a popular mainstream product. It’s easy right now to dismiss VR as a niche product (or even a fad), but that would be jumping the gun.
Dell proves there’s still plenty of reasons to get excited about future VR headsets. The price of a good headset is finally coming down, they’re getting way more comfortable, built-in motion tracking makes setups less complicated, and more developers are building experiences than ever.
Oculus and HTC’s VR headsets may have been the first out of the gate, but Dell’s Visor and similar products from the likes of Acer could be the VR products that finally become mainstream successes.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll still need a powerful PC to to use these newer headsets. But even expensive VR-ready PCs are seeing price declines as beefy graphics cards get cheaper. So if you’ve been patiently waiting, this holiday season may finally be the right time to start shopping for a VR headset.