With companies like Apple and Meta recently announcing their latest headsets, virtual reality (VR) has begun to emerge as one of the most immersive experiences available to consumers. For New Zealanders, while our shores may not see every global tech release, the experience of being transported to another world, whether for gaming, education, or exploration, is one that many Kiwis are eager to dive into.
But when you start to sit down and look at the options available, you can run into a bit of challenge when deciding which VR headset will provide the best bang for your buck. From high-resolution displays and extensive game libraries to innovative tracking mechanisms and comfortable designs, each headset brings its own strengths to the table. And with the myriad of choices, it can be somewhat daunting for the uninitiated to navigate the best pick. As the world of VR continues to expand and diversify, deciding whether to opt for a newer headset or save some dollars and get an earlier iteration can become daunting.
To guide you through this virtual labyrinth, we’ve collated insights, reviews, and comparisons to spotlight the best VR headsets NZ. And we’ve made sure to include only products that you can purchase within New Zealand, so no rediculously high shipping costs or foreign charging cables.
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The best VR headsets NZ 2023
1. Meta Quest 2
Specs – Wired/Wireless: Both | Base stations/standalone: Standalone | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Resolution: 1,920 x 1,832 (per eye) | Requires a PC?: No | FOV: 89°
The Meta Quest 2 is an incredibly user-friendly VR headset. Boasting both wireless and wired capabilities, the device presents an impressive high-resolution 120Hz, 1,920 x 1,832 display coupled with advanced controllers and a plethora of games and experiences available on the Meta Store.
The standout feature is its attractive price. For only $899 there’s a lot on offer here and its considerably more affordable than other VR headsets on this list, some of which require an expensive PC to boot.
Design-wise, the Meta Quest 2 is lightweight, ensuring comfort during prolonged use and the controllers are equipped with finger tracking and grip pressure sensitivity systems.
Performance-wise, the Snapdragon XR2 processor ensures smooth gameplay for many titles available on the Meta Store. The option to tether the headset to a gaming PC for accessing more graphically intensive games is a definite plus, though this requires an additional cable purchase.
In terms of battery life, the Meta Quest 2 offers between two to three hours on a full charge, which might be limiting for those seeking extended play sessions.
Read our Meta Quest 2 review
2. HTC Vive Pro 2
Specs – Wired/Wireless: Wired (Wireless with $668 adapter) | Base stations/standalone: Base stations | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Resolution: 2448 × 2448 (per eye) | Requires a PC?: Yes | FOV: 120°
The HTC Vive Pro 2, is an extremely powerful VR headset. Renowned for its top-tier visual quality, the headset boasts one of the market’s sharpest displays, delivering an unparalleled immersive experience, especially for those who prioritise visual fidelity.
Design-wise, the HTC Vive Pro 2 has been crafted with ergonomics at the forefront, ensuring comfort during extended gaming sessions. Its controllers are finely-tuned for precision and responsiveness, catering especially to gamers who demand the best in competitive scenarios.
One of the headset’s key strengths is its robust build, hinting at durability and long-lasting performance. This robustness extends to its performance metrics as well. Primarily tethered, it’s designed for those who seek high-end PC VR experiences, making it a top pick for enthusiasts with a powerful gaming PC setup.
While its performance, when matched with a formidable PC, offers an unrivalled VR experience, the need for such a setup and the product’s price point might be seen as a barrier for some. However, for those who are willing to invest in top-notch VR escapades, the HTC Vive Pro 2 remains a standout choice.
3. HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
Specs – Wired/Wireless: Wired | Base stations/standalone: Base stations | Refresh rate: 90Hz | Resolution: 1440 x 1700 (per eye) | Requires a PC?: Yes | FOV: 110°
The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is undeniably a strong contender in the VR headset market. The headset delivers an immersive experience through its crystal-clear visuals and accurate tracking capabilities. The hardware is robust, ensuring that users get a seamless and engaging virtual reality experience.
One of the significant advantages of the Vive Cosmos Elite is its modular faceplate design, allowing users to customise their VR experience. Furthermore, its tracking is one of the best in the industry, providing precision and responsiveness that hardcore gamers will surely appreciate.
The headset, combined with its advanced controllers, promises users an unparalleled level of immersion in their VR worlds.
However, despite its strengths, it comes with a premium price tag. Moreover, to get the most out of the Vive Cosmos Elite, a high-end PC setup is necessary, adding to the overall cost.
While the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite offers top-tier performance and customisability, its pricing and the additional need for a powerful PC make it less accessible than some other options.
4. Sony PlayStation VR2
Specs – Wired/Wireless: Wired | Base stations/standalone: Standalone | Refresh rate: 120Hz | Resolution: 2000 x 2040 (per eye) | Requires a PC?: PS5 | FOV: 110°
The Sony PlayStation VR 2 is a significant player in the realm of virtual reality. Its array of features showcases Sony’s dedication to pushing the boundaries of the VR experience for its users.
A notable strength of the PlayStation VR 2 is its seamless integration with the PlayStation gaming ecosystem. This integration means users have access to a broad and diverse range of VR-specific titles available on the PlayStation Store. Sony’s longstanding reputation in gaming ensures that VR 2 users benefit from an expansive library of both exclusive and high-quality games, a domain where the headset truly excels.
From a design perspective, the VR 2 exemplifies Sony’s commitment to user comfort and ergonomics. Crafted to ensure optimal user experience during extended gaming sessions, the headset’s tracking and motion sensing capabilities are commendable, offering gamers a smooth and immersive experience.
However, the necessity for a PlayStation 5 console to operate the VR 2 might be viewed as a limitation for those seeking a more versatile VR solution. Moreover, while its features are impressive, there are other options in the market offering a combination of portability, flexibility, and competitive pricing.
In conclusion, the PlayStation VR 2 remains a robust contender in the VR gaming space, especially for dedicated PlayStation enthusiasts, and its place on our list underscores its quality and performance in the ever-evolving VR market in New Zealand.
5. Varjo Aero
Specs – Wired/Wireless: Wired | Base stations/standalone: Base stations | Refresh rate: 90Hz | Resolution: 2880 x 2720 (per eye) | Requires a PC?: Yes | FOV: 134°
Sporting a sophisticated design and impressive visual fidelity, the Varjo Aero certainly carves a niche for itself in the competitive VR market.
More a professional VR headset as opposed to a personal one, its build quality is robust, and the device offers an immersive experience with extraordinary visual clarity, which is paramount for virtual reality.
The design ethos ensures a blend of aesthetics with function, giving users not just a tool, but an extension of their virtual aspirations.
However, while the Aero’s technological prowess is commendable, it’s incredibly expensive. Some of the other headsets offer a competitive suite of features at a more affordable price range, making them a more appealing option for a broader audience.
Additionally, user-friendliness and ease of setup are increasingly becoming determinants for many when selecting a VR headset. The base station and powerful PC requirements can not only make it harder to setup the headset, they also add to the price.
In conclusion, the Varjo Aero is an excellent piece of tech, offering a premium VR experience. However, it’s the amalgamation of features, price, and user experience that has determined its position in our ranking.
What to consider when choosing a VR headset
Purpose of Use
Begin by pinpointing the primary reason you’re diving into virtual reality.
If you’re an avid gamer, you’ll want a headset boasting precise tracking, low latency, and compatibility with your favourite gaming platforms.
For those mainly keen on media consumption, the focus should shift towards resolution and ensuring comfort during extended viewing sessions.
Professionals should be on the lookout for high resolution, expansive FOV, and compatibility with industry-specific software.
Lastly, if your goal is educational or training-oriented, it’s crucial to find a headset with stable tracking, an intuitive interface, and a good selection of relevant content.
Wired VS Wireless
Typically, wired headsets offer higher fidelity experiences. However, it’s important to know that for most wired VR experiences, you will need to connect the headset to a powerful PC.
Wired headsets can better handle graphics-intensive tasks and usually offer a more consistent, lag-free experience. However, being tethered by a cable can sometimes be limiting, especially when it comes to movement or immersion in 360-degree experiences.
Wireless Headsets provide greater freedom of movement, allowing for a more immersive experience without the worry of tripping over cables.
Standalone wireless headsets, which have all their hardware onboard, are especially convenient, offering portability and ease of use. However, they might not match the performance of their wired counterparts, especially when it comes to extremely graphics-heavy applications or extended play sessions.
Play area size
If you have a spacious area at your disposal, you might want to consider VR systems that support ‘room-scale’ tracking. This allows you to physically walk, jump, duck, and explore within a broader virtual space.
Systems with external tracking sensors or base stations, such as certain high-end PC VR setups, often provide superior room-scale experiences. However, having a larger space also means you’ll need to ensure it’s free of obstacles and possibly invest in longer cables if opting for a wired headset.
For those with more confined spaces, ‘standing VR’ or ‘seated VR’ might be more practical. Many VR experiences can be enjoyed without the need for vast movement, and some headsets are specifically designed with this in mind.
Inside-out tracking, which is commonly found in newer VR headsets, often works well in smaller spaces since it doesn’t require external sensors.
Resolution and display quality
When looking for one of the best VR headsets NZ, dive into the technical specifications, starting with Pixels Per Inch (PPI).
A headset with a higher PPI provides sharper and clearer images, enhancing the immersive experience.
Also look into what type of screen the headset has. Most options are either OLED or LCD screens. While both have their merits, OLED displays tend to stand out with deeper blacks and superior contrast ratios.
Field of View (FOV)
FOV represents the extent of the observable world that can be seen at any given moment. In simpler terms, it defines how wide or narrow your visual experience is within the VR realm.
A more expansive FOV, often ranging from 90° to 210° in consumer headsets, typically results in a more encompassing and immersive experience.
Tracking and Controllers
Both the tracking system and controllers are foundational to your VR experience.
Some systems offer inside-out tracking, meaning the sensors are built into the headset, while others use external sensors placed in your room. Each has its advantages.
When it comes to controllers, ergonomic design, intuitive button placement, and battery life can significantly impact your VR adventures.
Comfort and Fit
A virtual journey is less enjoyable if the headset is uncomfortable.
Consider aspects like the padding, weight distribution, adjustability, and whether it can be comfortably worn with glasses.
Software and Content Availability
A headset is only as good as the content available for it.
Ensure the platform supports a wide variety of games, applications, or any specific software you’re interested in.
Connectivity and Compatibility
Check if the headset requires a PC connection or if it’s standalone.
If it needs a connection, ensure your PC’s specifications meet the headset’s requirements.
Additionally, consider other connectivity options like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi for updates and additional content.