Your 2018 guide to VR holiday gifts

If you’re tempted to buy a virtual reality headset for someone this Christmas, you might make a huge mistake.

You’ll find lots of VR headsets in the big box store. They’re cheap – as low as $5. But those plastic headsets are not very good, in fact they’re bad. Some require special apps, and the quality just isn’t worth the money. With most of them, too much light is allowed in to the glasses, which totally ruins any chance at a good VR experience.

The PlayStation VR is great if they have a PlayStation 4. It does a good job of blocking out light. There are lots of games and they can add hand controllers and buy other games in the future. It’s about $250 just for the headset.

The Samsung Gear VR is one of the best I’ve tried. It’s immersive, blocks out light and comes with some games included. The knock on it is that it only works with certain Samsung phones and phablets (phones with screens between the size of a typical phone and a typical tablet). If you have an iPhone, you’ll have to look elsewhere. The Samsung Gear VR is around $130.

For kids, the Merge AR/VR is a great choice. It’s made out of a squishy material, so it won’t break. Download the free Merge apps for educational games and other arcade type games. Some schools have begun using the Merge to be used in the classroom.

There’s also the Merge Cube, which is pretty cool. Hold it in front of the glasses as you look at the cube turns into a 360-degree view of a human heart or lungs. Of course, there are other games to play with the Cube. The Merge headset and Cube are very affordable — about $40 for the headset and $15 for the Merge.

If you want to go all out, look at the Occulus Go. It doesn’t need a phone or computer. It’s as immersive as you’ll get. Not only can you play Rock Band and other games, but you can watch shows and movies.

You should also check out Google’s Daydream headset. It works with most phones and has a controller. The downside is the phone gets really hot playing games and will shut down. It’s around $100.

The crème de la crème is the HTC Vive. Nothing compares to the virtual world in the Vive. It does require a powerful computer, and you can add hand controllers. Many dedicated gamers have built entire rooms in their home for gaming VR using the Vive. The Vive is around $700. Gamers will think it’s worth every nickel.

A virtual reality headset will be a hit around the Christmas tree, but if you want to keep them playing after Dec. 26, spend a little more money and get a good one.

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