Versions is the essential guide to virtual reality and beyond. It investigates the rapidly deteriorating boundary between the real world and the one behind the screen. Versions launched in 2016 at the eponymous conference dedicated to creativity and VR with the New Museum’s incubator NEW INC.

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The definitive ranking of VR headsets (by looks only)

The definitive ranking of VR headsets (by looks only)

It’s a slow news day (or rather week) around here, but we could always use a good listicle.

This year has seen an upswing in virtual realitywhether in terms of products released or just in general chatter around the new technology. It’s dominated a lot of conversation, both good and bad. But with the release of so many headsetsof the mobile, console, and PC varietythere have also been a lot of bad stock photos floating around. And the general question of: is it even possible to look cool to the outside world while you’re in VR? (Mostly no, aside from a few modding instances.)

But let’s imagine for a moment that VR headsets are the future of modeling and looking cool. Now imagine me, the Tyra Banks of VR modeling. What headset will land you on top? Let’s find out in this edition of America’s Next Top VR Head-Mounted Display.


6. HTC Vive

While maybe the best headset for high-end VR (because of two hyphenated words: room-scale), the HTC Vive fails miserably in the style category. What are those indents for? It’s so large and obtuse. The HTC Vive needs a design make-over, stat. It hurts my eyes.


5. Samsung Gear VR

The Samsung Gear VR might be the most inoffensive of the bunch: but it’s bland and lacks a basic understanding of color theory. It has three different shades of black, and none of them complement each other. The pearlescent side clashes, when it should make the color scheme of the Gear VR sing in harmony. The Gear VR gets a low ranking because of its misguided hues, not necessarily the structure of the device itself.


4. Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift looks fine for being a higher-end headset. It’s sleekly designed, despite still making you look like a doofus when it’s strapped to your skull. The Oculus Rift falls in ranking because, frankly, it’s a bit uncomfortable to wear, and the wild-looking straps detract from its otherwise simple design. But at least it knows to keep a uniform shade of black or grey though (depending on the eye of the beholder).


3. Google Cardboard

Is the Google Cardboard even really VR? That’s an argument for another day (but I mean, it really isn’t). The Google Cardboard ranks high as a 360-degree viewer because of its DIY-qualities. You can build your own Cardboard by other means—as in, you don’t have to pay $15 for it. And heck, even McDonalds made their Happy Meal boxes outfitted with a Cardboard-esque DIY kit, so that you could enjoy 360-degree videos while whiffing those delectable french fries. So in a nutshell, Google Cardboard is an aesthetically nice way to spin around and watch 360-degree videos.


2. Playstation VR

Sony’s Playsation 4-compatible headset looks good as hell. Those neon blue lights shining; that cushion-y strap for the back of your head. The Playstation VR is a prime example of gaudy, higher-end headsets done right. It’s a giant plastic shell to encase your face that doesn’t look entirely like a joke. If only the headset itself could rival the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, and didn’t have abysmal tracking.


1. Google Daydream

Ah, the Google Daydream crept up on us this year. Released in November 2016, the Google Daydream has obliterated all stylish competition to make a good-looking headset for VR. There’s something soothing about its heathered grey coloring; its seatbelt strap to stay still on your eternal thinking cap. While I’m not typically a fan of Google’s design sensibilities, the Daydream shows a narrowed, singular focus. Google dared to make a VR headset that doesn’t make you look like a goofball while experiencing the virtual world in 360-degrees, and succeeded.

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