As far as techy buzzwords go, the term “virtual reality” is thrown around a lot these days. But the truth is, not all VR is created equal, with different products capable of dishing out dramatically different experiences. So if you’ve given the tech a shot and felt a bit “meh” about the whole thing, chances are pretty good you didn’t use the HTC Vive: Our pick as the gold-standard for the current batch of consumer VR headsets.
The reason: The Vive is one of the few VR headsets that can pull off a seemingly magical trick called “roomscale”. With roomscale VR, you don’t just look up, down, and around—you’re also able to physically walk through virtual terrain by moving your legs. The effect is Matrix-level transportive, with an uncanny ability to make you forget you’re actually in a living room or office. With a normal computer or game console, you’re jamming buttons on a keyboard or controller. With roomscale VR, you’re literally walking through a whole new world—at least until you trip over a coffee table. (We recommend a spotter.)
BUY: HTC Vive, $799; amazon.com
VIDEO: The Most Expensive TV Shows of All Time
And while set-up is a bit of a pain (you need string a couple of sensors around the room and also access to a fairly powerful Windows PC), it’s worth it: Once you put on that headset, you’ll finally understand what the VR buzz is about.
Wins for: Quality of experience
- “Roomscale” capabilities allow it to measure your movements and translate them into the virtual world
- Comes with controllers that let you interact with objects in the VR world
See the rest of InStyle's 2017 Best of Tech picks here.