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They're the real deal among virtual-reality headsets

Sharp visuals, great motion controls and full-room sensing

Sharp visuals, great motion controls and full-room sensing make HTC Vive one of the best virtual-reality headsets. Credit: CBS Interactive

Virtual-reality headsets come in a few different forms. There's the cheap headset that works with your phone and there's the much more expensive option that requires a powerful PC or gaming console and some space to move around. In between are stand-alone headsets that are cord-free and don't require additional external hardware to run them — something we're sure to see more of in 2019. These are CNET's favorites, spanning all three categories of VR goodness.

The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editors Joshua Goldman, Scott Stein and Laura K. Cucullu. For more reviews of personal technology products  visit cnet.com.

HTC Vive

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The HTC Vive offers a flat-out amazing virtual reality experience with sharp visuals, great motion controls and full-room sensing to walk around in virtual space. Vive hardware can help indicate where your walls are, and an in-helmet camera can be used to see your space with the headset on.

THE BAD It requires a high-end PC to run, which means long wires and lots of equipment to set up.

THE COST $499 to $699.98

BOTTOM LINE It’s like having a holodeck in your home.

Oculus Rift

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD The Oculus Touch controllers add impressive finger and hand movement, plus physical buttons for traditional games. The Rift headset is well-designed and compact.

THE BAD The motion tracking lacks the HTC Vive’s full-room scale. It takes a while to adjust to the controls. Total cost of headset plus controllers is expensive — and that doesn’t include the pricey gaming PC you need, too.

THE COST $675

BOTTOM LINE It offers a great combination of controls and apps for next-level VR.

Oculus Go

CNET rating (out of 5)

4 stars (excellent)

THE GOOD This completely self-contained, standalone, no-phone-or-PC-necessary VR system has a comfortable design and feel. It also boasts a sharp-looking display, effective built-in speakers with spatial audio and hundreds of apps. The Oculus setup app works with iOS and Android phones.

THE BAD It only has a two-hour battery life, there’s no room tracking, and it lacks expandable storage, kid-safe settings and multiple account options.

THE COST $199

BOTTOM LINE A self-contained, standalone virtual reality headset that’s portable, affordable and delivers a great experience for the price.

Samsung Gear VR

CNET rating (out of 5)

3.5 stars (very good)

THE GOOD It’s affordable, has a large app library and the remote is comfortable and easy to use. Samsung’s new Gear VR updates work with older phones and Gear VR headsets, too.

THE BAD It’s locked into Oculus’ mobile Gear VR software library, requires a Samsung phone and lacks any ability to track movement in a room.

THE COST $64.99 to $69

BOTTOM LINE Its impressive library and software design make it great for entry-level VR viewing on the go.

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