Alternative Low Budget VR Headsets

Cardboard-like VR Headsets

By Sam Smith

Headsets Tested/Examined:

  • Google Cardboard:

    • Weight: 3.36oz.

    • Internet Reception: very positive (4.4/5 on Amazon with 177 reviews, 6/10 on Tom's Guide).

    • Price: $15 from Google, potentially less if you do it yourself (Google published assembly instructions online--you can find them here.

    • Phone Specs: Android or iOS, sizes from 4 to 6 inches.

  • VR Shinecon:

    • Weight: 13.4oz.

    • Internet Reception: semi-poor (2.9/5 stars on Amazon with 22 reviews).

    • $14.

    • Phone Specs: 4-6 inch smartphones.

  • Destek VR:

    • Weight: 13.4oz.

    • Internet Reception: very positive (4/5 on Amazon with 368 reviews, 8/10 on Tom's Guide).

    • $26.

    • Phone Specs: 4.5-6 inch smartphones

  • VOMA VR Glasses:

    • Weight: 8oz.

    • Internet Reception: average (3.1/5 on Amazon with 50 reviews).

    • $15.

    • Phone Specs: 4.7-6 inch smartphones.


Average Tester Ranking:

  1. Shinecon

  2. Destek

  3. Voma

  4. Cardboard

Amazon Customer Rating Ranking:

  1. Cardboard (4.4/5)

  2. Destek (4/5)

  3. Voma (3.1/5)

  4. Shinecon (2.9/5)

My Personal Ranking:

  1. Voma

  2. Shinecon

  3. Cardboard

  4. Destek

Takeaways from Testing:

  • People were given the four headsets above, used the headsets to view VR pictures, and were then asked to rate each headset (out of 10) in terms of comfort and overall experience. They were also asked to estimate the price of each headset.

  • People disagree strongly with me about which headset is best. (I preferred the Voma headset, which most people ranked third, just above the no-frills Cardboard.)

  • But people do agree with me that the Cardboard is uncomfortable. Specifically, people dislike the Cardboard’s “lack of strap” and stiff, sharp corners. (It might be the brand recognition that allows Google Cardboard to thrive over and above headsets that are as affordable and more comfortable.)

  • People disagreed with the Amazon consensuses on Google Cardboard and VR Shinecon.

  • People agreed with the Amazon consensuses on the Destek and Voma headsets.

  • The knobs used to pull focus were described as “trippy” but helpful. Their absence in the Destek and Cardboard headsets was commented on.

  • People “liked the padding” in the Shinecon and Destek headsets.

  • People have widely varying ideas of how much a headset costs. For example, estimates for the Cardboard ranged from $1 to $150.

    • Corollary: Some people (the $150 people) think even Cardboard-level VR technology is prohibitively expensive.

  • Sample size was small. Also, respondents only tested out the headsets for viewing VR pictures, so results might not extend to use for VR video viewing, VR games, etc.

  • People reported positive experiences overall with the VR headsets, even though they might have certain gripes with comfort or viewing quality. (The overall experience ratings were consistently higher than the comfort ratings.)

  • Skull size + spectacles: possible factors in headset preference. The Destek was too small, even at the headband's most stretched, to fit both my large head and my glasses. The Voma headset's size was one of its good points for me, but someone else might disagree.

Other Low-Budget Headsets:

  • Vivitar VR Headset

  • Onn VR Headset

  • Alta 3d VR Headset

  • Insignia VR Headset

  • Art+Vision VR Headset

  • Vrit V2 VR Headset

  • Topmaxions 3D VR Glasses

Low-/mid-budget ($30-$50):

  • Pansonite 3D VR Headset

    • $43

  • Canbor VR Headset

    • $30

  • VeeR OASIS VR Headset

    • $36