What’s the best standalone VR headset?
There are currently nowhere near as many untethered VR headsets available in the burgeoning virtual reality market, compared to PC VR (tethered VR) and smartphone VR.
Tethered VR/AR HMDs must be connected by cable to a PC, harnessing the powerful processing power of the hardware in the connected PC or console. However, mobile VR headsets use the more widely accessible and available smartphones to deliver less advanced VR.
Standalone virtual reality headsets (a.k.a. untethered, wireless, standalone VR) don’t require a PC or a smartphone to deliver a VR experience. The self-contained headsets (made popular by releases such as the Oculus Go) include built-in processors, GPU, sensors, battery, memory, displays, and more. In addition, as these VR goggles are uncabled, users don’t have to limit themselves to a restricted space. In general, they offer a more powerful VR experience than smartphone VR but less powerful than tethered VR.
Various high-profile tech companies such as Google, Facebook, HTC, and others are focusing more resources on developing additional and sophisticated HMD’s for standalone VR. At Aniwaa, we think the future of VR does exist in increasingly wireless yet powerful virtual reality experiences via standalone VR headsets.
We have provided a comprehensive overview of the virtual reality market to present the best all-in-one virtual reality headsets available.
For a comprehensive overview of the range of headsets available, read our types of VR headsets guide.
Best standalone VR headsets 2020
|Standalone VR headset||FOV||DoF||Country||Release year||Price*||Buy|
|DPVR M2 PRO||96°||3DoF||China||2016||$590||Buy|
|GenBasic Quad HD||110°||3DoF||United States||2016||$199||Buy|
|HTC VIVE Focus||110°||6DoF||Taiwan||2018||$650||Buy|
|Lenovo Mirage Solo||110°||6DoF||China||2018||$400||Buy|
|Oculus Go||-||3DoF||United States||2018||$199||Buy|
|Oculus Quest||95°||6DoF||United States||2019||$399||Buy|
|Xiaomi MI VR||-||3DoF||China||2018||$235||Buy|
*Price: manufacturer's suggested retail price in USD. These prices are subject to change over time and from one country to another (taxes, shipping fees, etc.).
Overview of the best standalone VR headsets
Furthermore, most standalone VR headsets only offer 3DoF, hence a less immersive VR experience for the user. (See our glossary of terms for VR, AR, and MR).
The inclusion of controllers has become more standard for this VR category. Handheld controllers allow for user better interaction with the content and depending on the DoF (Degrees of Freedom), the better the immersion in the VR experience.
DPVR (or Deepoon) has a few VR products available, however, this is the only standalone VR headset available from the manufacturer. One of the features is the ability to relatively quickly recharge the VR HMD. Although it has a high price-point, it doesn’t offer the same high specs as other all-in-one headsets available. Furthermore, no controllers are available.
- Low latency
- Quick battery recharge
- No controllers
- Less affordable than most products in this VR category
Find out more: DPVR M2 PRO
This untethered VR was one of the first HMDs in the category to be released, and it has good specs considering. With 110° FOV, a decent refresh rate of 75Hz and the standalone VR is compatible with a variety of OS. However, due to the age of the device, it is the least future-proofed and user feedback was negative on the comfort and content available.
- Affordable price-point
- Runs on multiple OS
- Dated technology
- Poor comfort and wearability
- Bad ventilation and can overheat
Find out more: GenBasic Quad HD
The VIVE FOCUS is one of the few standalone VR headsets to have 6DoF (6 Degrees of Freedom), hence the much higher price-point. However, this HMD does offer a range of features such as additional 2TB storage, basic gesture tracking, and longer battery life compared to other devices in this category.
- Built-in microphone and speakers
- Ongoing software updates for improvements
- High price-point
Find out more: HTC VIVE Focus
This standalone VR headset is not as affordable as other options on our list, but it has better specs compared to some of the other HMDs available. The Mirage Solo offers a more immersive VR experience than other VR headsets lacking 6DoF. On the downside is the heavy, large design making is less portable for users.
- Great storage and memory options
- High accuracy of positional tracking
- Long battery life
- Bulky design, heavy and uncomfortable to wear & not ideal for portability
- Lacks built-in speakers
- A shortfall in great content
Find out more: Lenovo Mirage Solo
The Oculus Go is arguably the most well-known example of standalone VR, therefore it is credited with increasing the visibility of VR in the mass market. The HMD is very easy to use and the plug and play setup caters for beginners and experienced users. The Oculus Go provides accessible VR of very good quality at this price-point.
- Affordable all-in-one VR
- Comfortable design and fit
- Large range of content available
- Only 3DoF
- Basic controller
- Long recharge time
Find out more: Oculus Go
- 6DoF with Oculus Touch controllers
- Guardian system that maps the environment
- Large range of content available
- No built-in earphones
Find out more: Oculus Quest
The Pico Goblin (reviewed by Aniwaa here) also sits in the affordable bracket of standalone VR headsets and is a reasonably comfortable HMD to wear. However, it suffers from a lack of quality content. The device offers 3DoF and good memory options, however, the device is likely to be overtaken by new tech quickly.
- Easy to use
- Memory options
- Lack of content
Find out more: Pico Goblin
- Platform(s): Pico Digital Store
- Country: China
- VR headset price: $749
The 2nd all-in-one headset from Pico Interactive, this follow-up to the Pico Goblin, has a much higher price point compared to most products on our list. However, the VR headset features 6DoF for the HMD and controllers, therefore offering a more immersive VR experience.
- 6DoF for headset and controller
- Hand-tracking enabled
- A high price point for the VR standalone category
- Limited content for now
Find out more: Pico Neo
- Same technical features as Oculus Go
- Comfort design and fit
- Limited content
- Only 3DoF
- Long recharge time
Find out more: Xiaomi Mi VR
Wireless adapters for PC VR
The aim is to offer more freedom in movement as well as a high-performance VR experience. Examples include WiGig (Intel’s Wireless gigabit), TPCAST Wireless Adapter (for the Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE), the HTC VIVE Wireless Adapter for their own devices, and the DisplayLink Wireless VR adapter.
All-in-one VR headset: pros and cons
Pros of all-in-one VR headsets
- Portability: standalone VR headsets are easy to carry around (wireless) and less space is required to use them.
- Affordability: these VR HMDs are generally quite affordable in comparison with PC VR.
- Ease of use: standalone headsets are plug-and-play and, therefore, easy to use for all users.
Cons of all-in-one VR headsets
- Less powerful VR: doesn’t compete with most tethered PC VR headsets.
- 3DoF: most standalone headsets only have 3DoF, offering a less immersive VR experience.
- Battery life: this needs to be improved if users want to use the device extensively.
Standalone VR price
How to choose the best all-in-one virtual reality headset?
- Battery life: a key factor as it will impact how long users can operate the device (and if portable battery packs are available).
- DoF: currently, a limited number of untethered VR headsets have 6DoF, and the ones that do are much less affordable.
- Controllers: not all devices currently available have controllers, and again there are limitations with 3DoF.
- FOV: Although standalone VR may not have as much processing power compared to tethered VR, the field of view is generally within a great range; the higher the FOV, the more immersive the experience.
Our VR headset buying guide dives deeper into technical considerations for choosing an HMD (also covers PC VR headsets and smartphone VR headsets).