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Selecting the Right Headset for Academic Research

As a researcher, you may be thinking about or exploring what kinds of VR headsets you should buy for conducting research studies.

Selecting the right headset for your academic research topics involving History, Environment, Psychology, Education and other areas of study starts with the prerequisites and objectives you would like to accomplish.

Consider this: before buying a smartphone, what are the prerequisites you consider? Cost, Battery Life, Camera, OS, and many others.

Similarly, before purchasing any VR headset, it is critical to consider a few factors.

What kind of headset do you want for your Research?

  • All-In-One (Also known as Standalone/Wireless): A standalone headset doesn’t require a PC or a mobile device to deliver immersive experiences. Just like a laptop, it contains an built-in processor, GPU, screen, sensors, battery, and more.

  • Tethered: A tethered VR headset is connected to an additional device like a PC or a laptop through a wire to showcase the VR experiences.

  • Mobile: A mobile VR headset requires a smartphone to be placed in front of the VR headset to view an immersive content.

How much are you willing to pay for a headset?

VR headsets come at all different pricing levels. The pricing of a headset depends a lot on its features, functionality, and usage. In this blog, we will be mentioning quite a few headsets ranging from $200 all the way to $6000.

Effects of FOV on VR Performance

FOV or Field of View, is very important for Virtual Reality headsets because it tells us how much we can see in VR. However, a higher FOV doesn’t necessarily mean a good experience. A dynamic field of view can make the target/object look smaller. A lower FOV can make the objects zoomed in and much easier to see.

Degrees of Freedom - Movement in the virtual setting

DOF or Degrees of Freedom simply means how you move in 3D space. The movement is governed by main axes (rotational) and secondary axes (translation). The former consists of Pitch, Yaw, Roll and the latter consists of Sway, Heave and Surge.

3DOF: VR headsets with 3 DOF have rotational movements. It should be used when you want your participants/users to be an observer of VR content or want to restrict movement.

6DOF: VR headsets with 6DOF have translation movements. It should be used if you want participants/users to move back and forth and interact fully in the 3D space.

Now that we have talked about the prerequisites, let’s deep dive into some of the VR headsets for academic research.

Oculus Quest 2

Over the years, Oculus by Facebook has singlehandedly driven the growth of VR headsets as the company has managed to acquire two-thirds of the global VR shipments for the first quarter of 2021, as per a recent report by IDC.

Launched in 2020, the Oculus Quest has primarily been seen as a gaming tool. However, developers have the freedom to build different experiences for anyone with an Oculus headset.

Type of Headset: Standalone


FOV: 89 degrees

Pricing: $399 for 64GB or $549 for 256GB (CAD)

Our take: The best VR headset for consumers and overall entertainment. But be wary of the mandatory Facebook login if that concerns you.


Vive Pro 2 is an upgraded version of HTC’s VIVE PRO. It comes with a HTC Steam VR Base Station for an immersive room-scale experience. Although it doesn’t support integrated Eye-Tracking just like the previous version Vive Pro eye, Vive China President Alvin Wang Graylin has announced that a new add-on device is set to ship later this year.

Type of Headset: Tethered


FOV: 120 degrees

Pricing: $1079 CAD

Our take: If you are happy with the Vive or Vive Pro then this is the headset for you. It’s reliable, durable and has all the addons. But it’s a little clunky and requires external tracking devices. However, if you want to precisely track participants/users' behaviour and attitude for your studies, then Vive Pro Eye could be a better choice.

HTC Vive Focus 3

Unlike VIVE PRO 2, VIVE Focus 3 is more inclined towards businesses, combining great audio and a great resolution.

Type of Headset: Standalone


FOV: 120

Pricing: $1,750 CAD

Our take: Similarly to the classic HTC Vive, a lot of thought went into this headset. Except now it is wireless and all the tracking is built in. Every feature is made for enterprise/academic use, including the software. The only issue is the high price tag.

Pico Neo 3

With operations in the United States, Europe, China and Japan, Pico develops innovative VR solutions which enable our users to experience the best in VR and Interactive CGI experiences.

Type of Headset: Standalone


FOV: 98

Pricing: $875 CAD

Our take: Are you looking for a headset that competes with the Oculus Quest but without the Facebook login or the price tag of the Focus 3? Then this is the perfect headset for you. The Neo works great and has an amazing customer experience. The only issue is content, so first ensure you are developing custom apps or that the software you want is available on this headset.

Pico G2 4K

Built for the enterprise, PICO G2 4K provides users with a premium viewing experience. The Pico G2 4K has a hands free control option that enables easy "look and choose" selection.

Type of Headset: Standalone


FOV: 101

Pricing: $373 CAD

Our take: If you’re looking to view 180/360 videos, this is the best headset on the market. Beyond that, you can’t use this headset for most VR experiences.

VARJO VR 3 and XR 3

Varjo pronounced as Vario translates to a shadow in Finnish. Varjo Technologies is based in Helsinki and is creating the world’s best hardware and software for groundbreaking VR/XR computing devices, merging the real and digital worlds seamlessly together in human-eye resolution. With built-in eye-tracking functionality, companies/organizations can put test subjects inside VR for research purposes. Be it analyzing consumers' reactions toward a product on a planogram and using the data to refine the product before launching it in the market.

Type of Headset: Standalone


FOV: 115 degrees


Varjo VR 3: $3195 USD

Varjo XR 3: $5495 USD

Our take: If you need the best, then look no further. These are the same headsets astronauts use to train before going to space. They’re amazing in every way, but they will cost you and you need to be tethered to a computer.

If you are currently planning to conduct a research study and looking for a right VR headset for your research, feel free to reach out to us at info@xpertvr.com or evan@xpertvr.com

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