Could 2022 be the year virtual reality or VR headsets finally become mainstream? Since Facebook changed the name of its parent company name to Meta, the term metaverse has been thrown into almost every tech conversation. Of course, the ideal of a metaverse isn't new (hello Second Life) and neither are VR headsets but there seems to be a big push right now to promote them.
This year Sony is launching its new PlayStation VR2 headset to provide next-gen gaming in a virtual setting. We also expect to see a new headset from Meta (previously known as Oculus), perhaps a Quest Pro, and there's a continued buzz around whether Apple is about to throw its rather heavily backed hand into the ring.
Whichever model you look at – and our guide to the best VR headset guide is here to help that decision – there are a few commonalities. Firstly, they're not cheap. Unlike the Google Cardboard devices that helped you strap your smartphone to your head, a dedicated VR headset is a decent investment at nearly the cost of a games console. Secondly, they are more than just games machines.
Having played around with the Meta Quest for the last month, this is why I think everyone should invest in a VR headset.
1. VR is great for watching movies
When it comes to watching your favorite shows, a bigger screen is normally better. It's the reason I love my portable projector, but a VR headset opens up the potential of any size of screen you like. In a virtual world, you can set your screen size and your surroundings.
The Netflix app on the Meta Quest provides a cozy log cabin setting for your movie watching, complete with a large sofa and a giant screen on the wall. As you start your chosen Netflix show, the lights in the room dim and you can enjoy the entertainment completely distraction-free.
Other TV apps run within the home location of the Quest, which you can customize in terms of theme and screen size, and there are other apps that allow you to watch content in cinema-like settings. It certainly beats trying to watch shows on a laptop or phone.
2. VR is handy for remote working
A VR headset can provide a distraction-free environment that can even be used to work in. There are a number of apps available to create your own workspace that look a lot fancier than the back bedroom you're currently working in. Many of these apps connect to your real computer to mirror the screen and even allow you to create a virtual keyboard and mouse to operate it. you could easily spend hours in one of the calm settings with a giant screen to boost your productivity.
I found it a little difficult to type on my keyboard, even when I connected it in the Infinite Office app, which allows the real keyboard to appear in my virtual office. Though with practice, it's definitely possible to write short emails, chat on Slack and enter web addresses.
One new addition for remote workers that could become huge is Horizon Workrooms, which lets you create virtual meeting rooms where you can hold meetings with your colleagues. As with other virtual rooms, you can customize the setting and present to the room if needed.
3. VR is great for working out
Yes, the main focus of most VR headsets is gaming, and those games are a lot of fun but it also provides a far more interesting way to work out. VR headsets are paired with hand controllers to track your movements and there are a number of apps that use this to help you to exercise.
There are dedication dance, aerobic and boxing apps to help get you in shape and the Oculus Move app will even track how much you've moved. Some of my favorites though are games that give you a workout without you realizing it. Beat Saber is a rhythm-based game that has you slashing cubes that come towards you with lightsabers in time with the music. More than a few minutes of this will have you working up a sweat – you just need to make sure you have lots of arm room around you, so you don't hit anything in the real world.