Virtual reality continues to evolve into new mediums, but watching video has always been one of its intended uses.
There are many ways to watch movies, shows, and general video files in VR… but which apps are the best? Let’s look at some of the best VR video players for Windows.
What Does a VR Video Player Do?
There are a lot of different programs, social apps, and even games, that allow you to watch some sort of video in VR.
VR Video Players, in a general sense, play video files in your VR headset. These files could be regular video files projected through different lenses, or they could be specific 3D video files that allow the user to look around during the show. They’re usually downloaded directly off the web and do not play in their own app.
This makes VR Video Players different to some of the most popular ways to watch media in VR, because the following programs are intended to simply watch video files, and not be interactive media.
Whirligig is relatively old by VR standards, but that just means it has had time to develop a robust set of features.
This program is lightweight and simplistic. It allows the user to view practically any media type, photos included, through a VR headset.
There are some light visual elements included, such as virtual theaters, but Whirligig is by far one of the most lightweight programs on this list.
Download: Whirligig ($3.99)
2. Virtual Desktop
Virtual Desktop is a renowned VR app for its versatility. It’s shown up in our list of the best VR Windows programs for productivity, and it rightfully earned its place.
Virtual Desktop is less of a video player and more of a general desktop viewer for VR. However, its ability to project anything displayed on your monitor into your headset makes it a great alternative to standard VR video players.
It’s relatively lightweight, but it won’t give you any options for viewing 3D video files.
Download: Virtual Desktop ($14.99)
DeoVR takes the Whirligig approach, except it’s free.
It’s no-nonsense and extremely light on resources. However, the UI is quite basic, and some users will find it hard to navigate.
You’ll be browsing through text-based directories in VR with DeoVR, which is significantly less intuitive than a menu designed for native VR use.
You can’t beat the price of free, though, and DeoVR does its job well enough.
Download: DeoVR ($9.99)
4. Skybox VR
Skybox VR is another heavy hitter on this list. Skybox VR has several powerful functions that set it apart from the rest. The main one is its ability to detect your video files’ orientation and dimensions and apply them automatically.
This makes the experience of watching videos in VR significantly smoother, and you spend less time messing around in menus.
The feature set here is comparable to Whirligig, but the asking price is a bit higher. If you watch a good deal of video in VR, it may be worth the asking price.
Download: Skybox VR (from $9.99)
HereSphere is one of the most expensive offerings on this list, and as expected it comes with the most features.
Stream video from the internet, edit your files, apply post-processing effects, and emulate spatial audio on the fly, HereSphere might be the definitive VR video play on the market.
The downside of such a feature-rich program is that it’s significantly heavier on system resources than others on this list.
Thankfully, this program comes with a demo available. Be sure to try before you buy, as HereSphere costs as much as some VR games do.
Download: HereSphere ($29.99)
6. Virtual Home Theater Video Player
Virtual Home Theater Video Player (VHTVP) is another expensive option, and the features available here are much more geared towards user control than anything else.
VHTVP boasts many powerful features that other programs on this list do not, such as 4K+ video playback and complete desktop mirroring, but this comes with a considerable performance impact and an experience more similar to BigScreen than a standard VR video player.
Still, this is one of the few options available to get those high-res videos to play in VR. Much like HereSphere, VHTVP offers a free demo for users to try out.
Download: Virtual Home Theater Video Player ($29.99)
XSOverlay is not traditionally a video player. It’s a desktop overlay program, allowing you to render active windows in your virtual space.
So while this program cannot play video files directly, it can be used to watch video in VR quite easily, and XSOverlay specifically has plenty of features to enhance this.
With the ability to stretch, bend and generally distort the overlay freely, you’re able to use XSOverlay quite effectively as a way to watch video files in VR. Even better is that XSOverlay can run at the same time as other apps, making this a great tool to watch content in the background.
XSOverlay is a flexible program, so picking it up will allow you to do much more than just watch videos. For an example, check out our guide on using XSOverlay to use your Android phone in VR.
Download: XSOverlay ($9.99)
BigScreen is much more of a game or social experience than a video player.
It features heavily around virtual environments and multiplayer functionality, meaning that its ability to play a variety of 3D video files is quite limited.
However, BigScreen is an extremely popular social program, and is rather powerful when it comes to mirroring your desktop.
It will be able to play most of your videos in VR, and is also completely free. Being one of the few programs on this list that is free, this might make it a very attractive option depending on your budget.
Download: BigScreen (Free)
A Virtual Reality for Everything
Virtual reality has proven itself to be a flexible technology, and many are surprised to find out that it’s used for more than just games.
If you own a VR headset, it’s worth investing in some of these utility apps, to make sure you’re getting the most out of your hardware purchase.