What parents should know about VR equipment that kids want


With this guide, you can find out what makes sense for your family's interests, needs, and budget – from the inexpensive Cardboard VR viewer from Google to the new PlayStation VR from Sony. Here are your options if you want to dip your toe in the water, wade knee-deep, or really want to swim with the big VR fish.

Remember that virtual reality is a rapidly changing technology. So always look at the companies 'websites, the professional reviews on websites like CNET and the users' reviews before taking the plunge.

Virtual reality viewers are low-cost handheld devices that offer three-dimensional views and the feeling of being somewhere else. The viewers' lenses expand the depth of static images or animations, but do not allow interaction with their surroundings. To do this, download an app called "VR" in iTunes or Google Play, start the app and insert your smartphone in the viewer. Most viewers use your phone's button or other basic input to control the action.

main features

• Inexpensive

• Compatible with most smartphones and iOS or Android apps called "VR" (with the exception of the View Master, which uses specially developed apps)

• More like a 3D movie than real VR

• Best suited for educational content and games

• The selection of high-quality apps is currently quite limited. Try out the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

Products in this category

Google Cardboard saved the baby's life
• Google Cardboard ($ 14.99)
This cardboard handheld device you put together is a fun, novel way to experience virtual reality. Use VR apps with any smartphone and iOS or Android. Google offers many different viewers, including the steampunk-like Google Tech C-1 Glass VR Viewer ($ 14.99).
• SmartTheater Virtual Reality Headset ($ 19.99)

This is a comfortable viewer with adjustable lenses, a head strap and a user-friendly trigger input. Comes with a boxed, hand-held motion controller that gives the games some momentum. Works with most smartphones and all iOS or Android VR apps.

• View-Master's virtual reality ($ 29.99)

The View Master is designed to learn and not to play. It comes in a number of packages that let you explore dinosaurs, space, wildlife, and more. Each pack contains insertable image coils (your phone provides the performance). Works with most smartphones and specially developed View Master iOS or Android apps.

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VR headsets improve price and features. They resemble viewers in that you download VR apps from the App Store and insert your phone into them. Headsets work with exactly the same apps as viewers (with the exception of Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View), but offer an even more intense experience.

The advantages of headsets are longer wearing comfort, a better fit (avoiding light leaks), better lenses and often headphone connections. That's why some people like to use them to watch videos. They don't make the videos three-dimensional, but they do offer a personal cinematic experience. They usually also have built-in game controllers in the headset itself or work with handheld controllers, giving you more options in apps than with a simple viewer.

main features

• More expensive than the audience

• Compatible with most smartphones (except Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View) and iOS or Android apps called "VR"

• More credible, you are there, but only able to interact with your surroundings to a limited extent

• Good for games, learning content and watching movies

• The selection of high-quality apps is currently quite limited. Try out the New York Times VR Virtual Reality Stories and these recommendations.

• The minimum age requirements set by the manufacturer apply to headsets. Check the age before you buy.

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Products in this category

• Merge VR glasses ($ 79)

This large purple headset is made of flexible foam and has audio ports and two input buttons for easy control of the game. Works with most VR apps for iOS and Android.

• Google Daydream View ($ 79; shipping November 2016)
This lightweight plush fabric headset is specially designed for Google's brand new Daydream VR platform. The platform includes Daydream-compatible phones (such as the company's Pixel phone), apps, and controllers. Daydream View is delivered with a controller. The company says 50 apps will be available at launch, including games, educational content, and streaming services.
• Samsung Gear VR ($ 99)

The Gear VR was developed exclusively for Samsung phones and has an input field on the side of the headset. It works with Bluetooth controllers that allow you to easily navigate through games. Works with Gear VR compatible games (including Minecraft Gear VR Edition).

• VR Kix Virtual Reality headset ($ 49.99)

Individually adjustable lenses, a comfortable fit and a smartphone shelf that you can adapt to your phone make the Kix a good option for high-quality VR on any smartphone. Works with most VR apps for iOS and Android.

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Consoles: Best for 12 and more

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The only VR game console from Sony is currently available. The company's Just-in-Time-for-the-Holidays PlayStation VR headset works with the PlayStation 4. If you don't already have a PS4, you can play the PlayStation 4 Slim or a PlayStation 4 Pro (also brand new for Windows) buy the holidays) and the PSVR. The headset and the power provided by the console ensure a comprehensive, interactive VR experience.

main features

• Expensive

• Limited to Sony PlayStation

• Totally immersive and interactive; Potential for motion sickness

• Games are usually mature, but there are many, including Batman Arkham VR, 100-foot robot golf, Final Fantasy XV VR, Battlezone, and Resident Evil 7.

• The minimum age recommended by Sony is 12 years.
Ride a roller coaster in virtual reality

Products in this category

• PlayStation VR starter pack ($ 499.99)

Contains everything you need to turn your PS4 into a VR machine, including a headset, camera, two motion controllers, a game and cables.

• PlayStation 4 Slim ($ 299.99); PSVR available separately

This newly revised, slimmer version of the PS4 has improved graphics, an illuminated controller and is quieter.

• PlayStation 4 Pro ($ 399.99); PSVR available separately

Better graphics, faster actions and optimization for certain "Pro-Enhanced" games

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Super powerful headsets: Best for teenagers

You may have heard of Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. These are the extremely powerful VR headsets that offer a comprehensive experience. Some call it "the holodeck" based on the alternative reality of Star Trek. Both require powerful high-end PCs (which cost over $ 500).

main features

• Super expensive

• Compatible games (e.g. Everest VR is an exclusive Vive computer) and powerful computers are required

• Full interactivity with your environment

• Games are generally mature, including The Assembly and Deus Ex Mankind Divided.

• Best for families with teenagers; The minimum age of the Oculus Rift manufacturer is 13 years. Valve says the Vive is "not for children".

Products in this category

Offers a "spatial experience". If your kids are playing on the Steam gaming network, they have surely seen ads for HTC Vive as it is made by the same company, Valve, that owns Steam. Steam offers some pure Vive games that are designed to take advantage of the unique features of this headset.

Comes with everything that makes VR a reality – except the computer: a headset, a sensor, a remote control, cables, an Xbox controller and a game.