Winston is a VR developer focused on creating immersive storytelling experiences. Contact him on Twitter: @VRHeavenNews
January 13th, 2020
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Ever dreamt of watching movies in your own private cinema? Now you can do just that with virtual reality headsets, the future of watching movies and Netflix!

VR immerses you into another world where you can be anywhere from on the moon to being in the cinemas with your friends.

It’s a breathtaking experience and I recommend everyone give this a try.

The 5 Best VR Headset For Movies

CategoryExpert's PickRating
Best OverallOculus Quest 24.5
Best Mid-RangeHP Reverb G24.6
Most ImmersivePimax 8K X4.9
Budget OptionOculus Go3.5
Gimmick OptionGoogle Cardboard2.7

How Good is VR for Watching Movies?

Imagine having your own private theatre where you can invite friends to join you. That’s what a VR headset enables you to have.

The best aspect of watching movies on VR is the social aspect: being able to go to the cinemas with other people. Also being able to stream anything from your desktop, Youtube or Netflix to other people.

There are Discord groups dedicated to movie viewing sessions. This is where you can meet new friends and watch your favorite shows together. There are all kinds of people looking to watch: sporting events, anime, movies, TV shows and many more.

The best part is, unlike toxic gaming culture, the VR community is extremely mature and you’ll find some very pleasant people to hang out with.

No home theatre can beat that.

With VR, you can immerse yourself in any environment: a cozy home, a grand cinema or the moon. You can spawn virtual popcorn, virtual drinks and give virtual high-fives with other people.

On top of that, you can watch 3D movies which you can’t watch on a normal TV.

So overall, watching a movie in VR is the most fun experience I’ve ever had and I 100% recommend it.

Downsides of Watching Movies on VR

Modern VR headsets all have really crisp resolution, so that’s no longer an issue.

The biggest hurdle is glares: the lenses that make up VR headsets are called fresnel lenses and they have one major drawback: You’ll notice glares whenever there is high contrast on the screen e.g. a loading screen with white text and a black background.

Some people can ignore these glares, but some get annoyed at them. You can get rid of the glares by changing the background whenever you watch a movie e.g. a black ‘space’ background will cause noticeable glares whilst a living room background won’t have any.

After hand-testing each product on this list and bench-marking them, our team of experts will show you what are the best VR headsets for movies.

Best Overall: Oculus Quest 2

The Quest 2.0 (now called: Meta Quest 2) is the real deal!

It’s cheaper than other headsets, but it’s got one of the highest resolutions in the market, making it ideal for watching movies. It’s also capable of gaming in case you want to try out fitness games like Beat Saber or social games like VRChat. The option is always good to have.

Oculus Quest 2 Key Features:

  • Portable: you don’t need to be tethered to a PC to use the Oculus Go. You can use it from anywhere you want (whilst you’re traveling, on your bed, or outside your house).
  • 2.5 hour battery life (allows charging during use). Can be improved with a power bank.
  • High resolution: 3664 x 1920 (one of the highest on the market)
  • Top-notch visual quality: with 3 subpixels per pixel. Very little screen door effect compared to other headsets.
  • 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 100° field of view
  • Supports all gaming experiences (optional)
  • Cheap

Cons:

  • Very uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. It’s recommended that you buy the ‘Elite Strap’ to make it more comfortable. Also comfort mods can help with this issue.

Why should I buy the Quest?

It’s got top tier resolution and visual quality at the best budget possible. No other headset even comes close in terms of cost-effectiveness.

It’s the best headset for 4k videos on Netflix, Youtube Videos and movies.

Since the Oculus Quest offers the highest ‘benefits to cost ratio’ it is our #1 pick for best VR headset to watch movies.

Check our in-depth review of the Meta Quest 2.

Best Mid-Range Option: HP Reverb G2

Sale
HP Reverb G2 VR Headset with Controller, Adjustable Lenses & Speakers from Valve, 2160 x 2160 LCD Panels, for Gaming, Ergonomic Design, 4 Cameras, Compatible with SteamVR & Windows Mixed Reality
  • THE NO COMPROMISE VR HEADSET - Realistic visuals, soundscapes, and superb performance come together to form a more immersive experience
  • IT’S ALL INSIDE - Packaging includes HP VR Headset, 6m headset cable for desktop and mobile PCs, 2 motion controllers, 1 DisplayPort to mini-DisplayPort adapter, 1 Power Adapter, and easy set up instructions
  • EXCEPTIONAL VISUALS AND SOUND - Seeing and hearing is believing with high-quality resolution and fully immersive spatial audio with mura-free 2160 x 2160 LCD panels per eye
  • A HEADSET THAT ADJUSTS TO YOU - Flexible material, increased cushion size, and lenses that adjust to suit different eye distances, allow you to bask in your virtual world comfortably
  • MORE CAMERAS. BETTER TRACKING - With 4 built in cameras, and ergonomically designed controls, tracking more movement with the VR headset just got a whole lot easier

The Reverb G2 has extremely high resolution: 2160 x 2160 (one of the highest on the market)

When it comes to visual quality, it beats all other headsets – even the new HTC Vive Pro 2 despite having lower resolution. There are problems with the HTC Vive Pro 2 which we’ll discuss later.

The HP Reverb G2 is also capable of gaming, but the main difference between this headset and the Quest 2.0 is you need to be tethered to your PC to run this headset, whilst the Quest 2.0 is wireless.
If you want to play VR games, you’ll also need a very powerful PC – you can choose one from this list.
Who Should buy the HP Reverb G2?
If you’re willing to spend a bit more money to get the best resolution VR headsets have to offer, then the HP Reverb G2 is for you. It’s also more comfortable than the Oculus Quest 2.0.
I consider the HP Reverb G2 to be the best VR headset for movies if you have a computer to run it and aren’t a heavy gamer.

Most Immersive: Pimax 8K X

Pimax 8K X

When it comes to immersion – this thing is insane. Not only is the resolution ridiculous, but where it shines most is in it’s FOV.

FOV means how far you can see horizontally and vertically. A low FOV will feel like you’re watching a movie through a pair of binoculars, and a high FOV is like normal human vision.

Other headsets offer similarly low FOV. The Pimax is the only headset that’ll grant you human vision FOV.

Unfortunately, this thing comes at a very high cost and requires a very powerful computer to run. If you can afford it, then this is the most immersive experience you’re going to get.

Best Budget Option: Oculus Go

Oculus Go Standalone Virtual Reality Headset - 32GB
  • Personal Viewing: The littlest, big screen. Crystal clear optics and state-of-the-art 3D graphics make your headset feel more like a personal theater
  • Viewing with Friends: Watch with friends. Meet up in VR with friends and fans from around the world to catch live sports, concerts, or just your favorite TV show
  • Portable & Easy to Use: Ready when you are. Experience portable, all-in-1 VR. That means no PC, phone, wires or hassles
  • Controller: Effortless control. Whether it's navigating to your favorite shows or to a far-off land, the intuitive controller makes getting there a cinch
  • Built-In Audio: Surrounded by sound. Spatial audio drivers are built right into the headset, providing dramatic, immersive sound without the need for bulky or tangled headphones. Oculus Go also features a 3.5 millimeter audio jack

Every other headset on the market was designed for gaming, but the Go was specifically designed for movies and it suits the purpose perfectly.

This headset has been discontinued, but you might find someone selling a used one for a cheap price ($50-$150).

Since it’s an outdated headset, the resolution is only 1,600 x 1,440 per eye), and you’ll notice some screen-door-effect (where you can see the individual pixels). Most people get so immersed they end up forgetting about this though. A few years ago, all headsets had poor resolution like this and people rarely complained about it.

Oculus Go Key Features:

  • Portable: you don’t need to be tethered to a PC to use the Oculus Go. You can use it from anywhere you want (whilst you’re traveling, on your bed, or outside your house).
  • 2.5 hour battery life (allows charging during use). Can be improved with a power bank.
  • Decent resolution: 2560 x 1440 pixels
  • Top-notch visual quality: with 3 subpixels per pixel. Very little screen door effect compared to other headsets.
  • 60 Hz refresh rate
  • 100° field of view
  • Supports light gaming experiences
  • Cheap

Cons:

  • 3 dof (degrees of freedom) which means you can rotate your head to look around in 360° but you can’t move side-to-side or backwards/forwards. This doesn’t matter if you’re just watching movies.
  • Can’t play intensive games

Why should I buy the Oculus Go?

The only reason to get this headset over the Quest 2.0 is if you’re on a tight budget. In this case, grab the 32 GB version.

You’ll get lower resolution and less gaming potential, but movies still look pretty good on this.

Gimmick Option: Google Cardboard ($15)

Google Cardboard

Want to just give VR a test run? You can do so with the Google Cardboard.

You put in your phone into the cardboard, and the lens will split the image into two (stereoscopic vision).

How good is it for watching movies? Not great… It works okay for 2D movies, but when you start talking about 360° experiences, that’s where it starts to feel gimmicky because the motion isn’t as smooth as other headsets and might cause motion sickness when you turn your head.

Google Cardboard Key Features:

  • Dirt cheap
  • Works with most smartphones including all recent iPhones and Android models – the best VR headset for watching movies on iPhone
  • It gives you a good “theatre feel” in movies, despite the price.
  • Good for watching Youtube videos.
  • Allows you to look around in 360°, but turning motions aren’t as smooth as other headsets.

Cons:

  • Allows you to look around in 360°, but turning motions aren’t as smooth as other headsets.
  • Feels gimmicky
  • Can only handle mobile VR experiences
  • Uses your mobile phone to run
  • Poor resolution
  • Mainly used to watch 360° Youtube videos

Why Should I buy the Google Cardboard?

The Google Cardboard gives you a taste of what immersion feels like at a cheap price. Get it if you want to test our VR and play 360 Youtube videos. Honestly, it’s worth the $15 just for something cool to show to your friends.

If you’re planning on getting another headset, then you won’t be needing this.

VR Headset Resolution Comparison

HeadsetResolution (Pixels)Pixel Density (PPI)FOV (º)Refresh Rate (Hz)
Oculus Go2560 x 144053810060
Oculus Quest2,880 x 1,60010072
Valve Index2,880 x 1,600598130144
Oculus Rift S2560×144060010080
Google CardboardDepends on phone8060
Pimax 5K5120x1440400200120
Pimax 8K7680 x 216040020090
Samsung Odyssey+2880 x 160040411090
Playstation VR1920 x 1080110120
HTC Vive Pro2880 x 160040411090
Samsung Gear VRDepends on phone9660
Destek V5Depends on phone11060/90
HP Reverb G22160 x 2160105713090

Important Features to Consider

Here are the most important features when looking for the best VR headset for movies:

  • Field of view (FOV): is the angle of how much you can see in front of you. Normal human vision reaches 220° field of view and most headsets are around 100-110°. The higher the FOV, the most immersive your experience will be.
  • Comfort: most headsets can be made comfortable by using comfort mods, but are you willing to pay the extra price for them?
  • Resolution: higher resolution and pixel densities will result in better image clarity and less screen door effects.
  • Price: How much do you want to spend?
  • Tethered or Wireless? If tethered, can your PC support the headset?
  • Gaming: How much gaming do you plan on doing?
  • Refresh rate – determines how smooth motion will be. A good feature to have for watching movies, but it’s more important for gaming.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How much memory/space do I need?

The size of most movies are 1-4 GB. 32 GB or 64 GB should be enough for 99% of people just looking to watch movies. If you’re looking to play games, get 64 GB, unless you like to hoard a lot of games. In that case go for 128 GB.

How do I watch movies together with friends on VR?

You’ll need to download an app called Bigscreen VR (or Bigscreen Beta). If your friends also have a VR headset, they’ll be able to join you in watching movies in whatever environment you want. Best of all: it’s completely free.

How good are the ‘adult’ stuff on VR?

Let’s just say… You can’t go back.

Do I need the Oculus Link Cable for the Quest?

Not unless you plan on playing PC-VR games. The cable allows you to use your computer’s GPU to run intensive games it can’t handle on it’s own.

Is it better to buy a VR headset over a home theatre?

A home theatre will always trump VR headsets in terms of picture quality. You’ll also feel more comfortable not wearing a VR headset, but on the flip side: you’ll be spending thousands of dollars on a home theatre system as opposed to hundreds of dollars on VR.

VR allows you to watch movies in 3D and 360° which makes it worth having alone. The immersion you get from 360 videos is just spectacular and you won’t be able to go back.

So my answer: if you can afford a home theatre system, then get both. If you can’t afford it or don’t have the space, then get VR.

What 3D movies are available to watch?

There are two types of 3D movies: ones that were made in 3D and ones that were converted from 2D to 3D.

The ones that are converted don’t look as good, but you can find a list of them here:

https://realorfake3d.com/

My personal favorites are: Alita: Battle Angel and Blade Runner 2049

What are some cool videos to watch on VR?

Try Skydiving in 360 degrees:

Youtube has plenty of good 3D, 360° and 180° videos – ranging from rollercoasters to hotel tours to VR dates (yes that’s a thing now).

Can I watch movies lying down?

Absolutely. The great thing about VR is you can adjust the screen wherever you want, so you can have it front of your eyes whilst you’re lying down.

Will I get motion sickness from VR?

No you won’t. Movies don’t cause motion sickness.

You only get motion sickness when there’s artificial movement going on e.g. when you’re playing games and using the controller to move. The reason for that is your eyes detect motion, but your body is stationary and this sensory conflict confuses the brain and causes motion sickness.

But for 2D and 3D movies – you won’t get motion sickness.

What is the best VR headset for Netflix?

The Oculus Go by far, because it offers the most benefit for cost. Samsung Gear VR is a good budget headset for those who already have a Samsung phone.

Can I use headphones or earphones with these VR headsets?

Yes you can. All these headsets come with integrated audio speakers, but if you got earphones, they’ll fit into these headsets. Most headphones on the other hand won’t fit, you’ll have to buy custom sized ones.

Headsets to AVOID:

HTC Vive Pro 2: Despite it’s high specs, you should avoid this headset because there are alot of issues with it. Namely:

  • The FOV makes it feel like you’re looking through a letterbox. It doesn’t feel like normal “circular” human vision.
  • It causes eyestrain and distortion due to the design of its lenses and how they overlap
  • It overheats like crazy.
  • It’s heavy and uncomfortable
  • It’s also very expensive – there are much better options out there at similar price ranges.

Valve Index: The Index is still a very solid choice, but if you’re only planning on watching movies then there are several drawbacks:

  • Pricing
  • The headset is very heavy and uncomfortable for long movie viewing sessions
  • Requires a powerful PC

Other VR Headsets to Consider

These are outdated headsets. They’re much worse than the modern headsets outlined above.

However, if you’re on a budget and can find a pre-owned one for cheap, then it might be worth pursuing.

Most Comfortable: Oculus Rift S

Oculus Rift S

Comfort can be important if you watch a lot of movies and the Oculus Rift S does this best. You want to be able to wear your headset for hours at a time.

Without any mods, the Oculus Rift S is the most comfortable headset out there apart from the Valve Index which I excluded because of it’s price ($1000).

The Rift S is basically the wired version of the Oculus Quest. They’re both the same price and are very similar in all regards.

In terms of weight, the Rift S is slightly lighter than the Quest (1.2 pounds vs 1.25 pounds) and the weight is distributed better, making it feel lighter.

Oculus Rift S Key Features:

  • Good for gaming and watching movies – same tracking quality as the Quest
  • Image quality very similar to the Quest and Go
  • Decent 2560×1440 resolution (same as the Oculus Go)
  • 100° field of view (same as the Quest and Go)
  • 80 Hz refresh rate – slightly higher than the Quest, but the difference isn’t noticeable

Cons:

  • Requires a computer for VR
  • Wired
  • You might notice god rays in games or loading screens

Why Should I Get the Rift S?

Get this as an alternative to the Oculus Quest if you like the features the Quest has to offer, but want greater comfort at the sacrifice of being wired to your PC. Other than that, they’re pretty much the same headset.

Samsung Odyssey+

Samsung Odyssey is a windows mixed reality headset that’s perfect for those on a budget and looking for a mixture of watching movies and playing games.

This headset plugs into your computer and allows you to watch movies from it (or play games). It can handle all PCVR gaming experiences and requires a VR ready PC.

It’s in-between the Oculus Go and the Oculus Rift: great for watching movies because of it’s high resolution and higher FOV, but the tracking isn’t as good as the Rift for playing games.

Samsung Odyssey+ Key Features:

  • 110° FOV
  • 2880 x 1600 resolution (same as the Quest)
  • On-par with the Go and Quest for image quality
  • 90 Hz refresh rate for smooth viewing experience
  • Slightly poorer tracking than the Quest and Rift S

Playstation VR

The PSVR allows you to watch movies from a Playstation 4 console. It launched at $549, but now it’s incredibly cheap! A decent option for PS4 owners looking for a mix of gaming and movies.

Playstation VR Key Features:

  • Great for console gaming, but can’t run PC VR games
  • Allows you to watch movies straight from your PS4
  • You can stream 3D movies from the Playstation Network
  • 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 110° FOV
  • 120 frames per second
  • Plenty of PS4 exclusive titles which other headsets can’t play
Valve’s headset which was designed for gaming, but has good specs to watch movies as well. Get it if you’re a heavy gamer and film watcher.
It’s quite expensive compared to the other headsets though, but suits both purposes of watching movies and gaming.
HTC Vive Pro Key Features:
  • 2880 x 1600 pixels (same as the Quest)
  • 90 Hz refresh rate for a smooth viewing experience
  • 110º FOV
  • Comfortable
  • Near 100% perfect Lighthouse tracking for competitive games (best tracking on the market)
  • Renders graphics better than the Quest/Rift S
  • Wired and requires a powerful computer to run
  • Expensive

Samsung Gear VR

Already have a Samsung mobile phone? Then an alternative to the Go is the Samsung Gear VR which is the cheapest option for watching movies (apart from the gimmicky Google Cardboard).

It actually performs really well as a movie headset, but the downside is it drains your phone’s battery really fast and can overheat it.

Supported phones: Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+, Samsung Galaxy Note 5, Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 Edge, Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, Samsung Galaxy Note Fan Edition, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, Samsung Galaxy A8/A8+ (2018) and Samsung Galaxy S9/Galaxy S9+

Samsung Gear VR Key Features:

  • FOV: 96º – a bit lower than other headsets
  • Resolution will depend on your phone – which is usually similar to the other headsets
  • A cheap option for movies and light gaming by using your phone’s GPU

Destek V5

Want a slightly more expensive alternative to the Google cardboard? You got yourself a Destek V5 – one of the best low budget VR headsets for watching movies.

These VR goggles allow you to experience a phone VR experience using almost any phone out there whether it be iPhone or Android phones like Huawei, Pixel or Galaxy.

Destek V5 Key Features:

  • 110° FOV
  • Resolution depends on phone
  • Impossible to be disappointed considering its price
  • Can play mobile games and 360 Youtube Videos
  • Can watch anything that’s on your phone