Implementing a VR training component to your lab can be a daunting process to the uninformed, so we’re here to help you with deciding what type of headset is right for your program.
Tethered vs. Untethered?
This is probably the most commonly asked question when purchasing a VR headset. Between VR professionals and enthusiasts it’s been a debate since standalone wireless headsets came about.
Tethered headsets (VR Headsets connected to a high end laptop running a top end graphics card) offer superior graphics, fidelity, and sheer power in comparison to their wire-free counterparts.Since the tethered VR headset is leveraging the power of a dedicated computing system, it will offer the best experience if you’re solely focused on performance, graphics, and features, albeit at a higher price point due to having the dedicated computer system to drive it, which can be an expensive acquisition.
Also, let’s not forget about the elephant in the room here… the cables. Yes cables can be bothersome and might seem cumbersome to some users, but with proper cable management this can be alleviated.
If you have questions about best practices when it comes to cable management or would like to know the tips and tricks of setting up a lab with tethered headsets, we are here to help.
Wireless VR headsets on the other hand (also known as standalone VR) do not need to be connected to a system such as a VR ready laptop, desktop PC, or even a mobile phone. They are getting more powerful by the year and are increasingly offering more bang for their buck. Compared to tethered headsets which can have more longevity due to the ability to upgrade hardware components within the dedicated computer system, wireless VR headsets are more of a generational purchase.
Think of wireless VR as you would your mobile phone, since you can’t open up the device and swap out the hardware, the experience may diminish over time as the software driving these experiences will require more processing power.
Currently PeriopSim supports both types of headsets, with the tethered HP Reverb G2 and the wireless HTC Vive Focus 3 being our flagship models. Both of these headsets offer an amazing experience. The HP Reverb G2 is a powerful tethered headset with superior fidelity and graphics compared to most other headsets on the market. Unlike the G2, the HTC Vive Focus 3 is a tetherless headset and hence is not powered by a computer with a top of the line graphics card. With that being said, it still offers an amazing experience at a lower price point. The usability with the HTC Vive Focus 3 for the virtual environment setup is really smooth.
Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding between tethered vs. wireless:
1) Will your facility be multi-purposing these VR headsets? Other health science programs may want to utilize the VR stations in your lab, and their requirements might play a role in dictating the technical parameters of your purchase.
2) Will you be using these headsets during recruitment drives around your region, if so then portability is something to consider. Also, if you plan to use your headsets in scenarios where you’re cycling many people through, having a tethered headset vs. wireless is something to consider.
3) What are your IT department requirements? Mobile device management is a much easier hurdle to overcome than having dedicated computer stations when there are strict security requirements to enforce.
The decision really comes down to what type of experience you’re looking for. If you’re wanting superior graphical fidelity, a headset with professional features and feel with longevity, tethered may be the way to go. If you’re looking for portability, comfort, along with ease of use without the hassle of cables, tetherless VR headsets might be the right choice for you.
When looking at the long term, plan to upgrade the hardware in either case every 3 years. Since VR is a newer technology there are going to be a lot of improvements to VR headsets in the coming years.