Since I’m a gadget geek, I collect a lot of odd unusual gadgets and one of those happens to be HMDs (head mounted displays), and its important to separate the distinction of HMDs from VR headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive because those are meant primarily for gaming and have a much wider field of view to accomodate for that. HMDs are mostly designed as mobile home theater experiences, they may or may not include headphones and generally are designed to be used in a small apartment or for people who don’t have room to put a large projector or TV.
So I’ve tried a bunch of HMDs over the years, here are my experiences with each:
This was my first HMD. Way back in 2008.
Pros: It was probably the best HMD for video quality at the time (now it sucks). Built in earphones. Portable size.
Cons: It’s outdated and it’s not very immersive, low resolution by today’s standards.
Pros: Best image quality for the time by far. Stereoscopic SBS 3D support. OLED display so good contrast ratio. Still holds up somewhat today. Sound from built in headphones is decent.
Cons: Not very comfortable. Due to needing separate processor, not portable at all. Light shield needs to be attached separately. Only 720p.
Pros: Still great the best image quality of its time and still passable even today. OLED display so good contrast ratio. Stereoscopic SBS 3D support. Somewhat more portable than the first 2 generations due to being “wireless” and slightly less bulky.
Cons: Still not that portable and even though its “wireless” still needs to be in range of the signal processor. Light shield needs to be attached separately. Only 720p. No built in headphones anymore.
Vuzix is one of the oldest HMD makers and have been around for decades.
Pros: Its cheap (only $99 at this time), and quite immersive with the light shield. Stereoscopic SBS 3D support. Sound from built in headphones is decent.
Cons: LCD display. Picture quality looks very washed out, resolution not very impressive, contrast isn’t very good. Big and bulky. Light shield needs to be attached separately.
Pros: Very compact and portable. Stereoscopic SBS 3D and frame packed 3D support. Sound quality from built in headphones is decent. Visual quality is very sharp due to retina projection technology.
Cons: Not very immersive, suitable more for drone racing or outside usage rather than an actual home theater experience. Lots of light leakage. Virtual display is not very large.
Pros: Great for drones. Picture quality is surprising decent considering the main purpose was not for home entertainment use. Virtual display is quite large although the edges might be a little obscured for some people.
Cons: Big and bulky. No built in headphones. No support for any 3D formats (due to its main purpose being for FPV drone usage). Not being able to see the edges clearly due to big display (its both a pro and a con depending on your preference).
Pros: Very comfortable. Picture quality is on par with the old Sony HMZs which is quite good and virtual display is also on par with the old Sony HMZs. OLED display so good contrast ratio. More portable than the old Sony HMZs. Built in noise cancelling headphones have surprisingly good sound quality. Stereoscopic SBS 3D and frame packed 3D support. Built in OS so you can play youtube or load videos onto it.
Cons: Not as portable as the Glyph still. The virtual display isn’t as large as the DJI Goggles or Cinera are.
Pros: More portable than the Royole/Cinera/Sony, picture quality is in between the Royole Moon and the Sony HMZ headsets, its acceptable. OLED display so good contrast ratio. Stereoscopic SBS 3D support.
Cons: No built in headphones. Not as immersive as the Royole or the Sony HMZ or Cinera. Some light leakage.
Pros: Highest res per eye (2560×1440) out of all the HMDs I have tested. Stereoscopic SBS 3D support. Comes with arm mounting bracket, so its more comfortable by way of not having to support the headset with your head. USB and SD card support. Virtual display is quite large although the edges might be a little obscured for some people.
Cons: Using it without the arm mounting bracket is uncomfortable. Not being able to see the edges clearly due to big display (its both a pro and a con depending on your preference). No built in headphones. Not portable – no battery unless you buy the FPV Mount.
Best video quality: Cinera HMD
Best audio quality: Royole Moon
Best comfort: Cinera HMD because its not strapped to your head… Royole Moon in second place
Best portability: Avegant Glyph
Best immersiveness: Cinera HMD has the largest ‘virtual’ display size, Royole Moon / Sony HMZT3 with light shield have less light leakage