Which Is Better for VR: Mobile or Tethered Headsets?

All VR experiences are identical, correct? Wrong! Your virtual reality experience is highly dependent on the headset you use, and there are significant differences.

As virtual reality technology advances, mobile and tethered headsets enable everyone to experience virtual reality. Both types of headsets are capable of completely immersing you in the viewing or gaming experience, but they do not deliver the same level of quality.

VR Headsets

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between mobile and tethered headsets and why you might prefer one over the other for VR enjoyment.

Mobile vs. Tethered VR Headsets: Features

VR Headsets

VR headset on grass Mobile headsets have a more pared-down style and function set. Google Cardboard, the most well-known, is constructed from a single piece of cardboard and includes two plastic magnifying lenses. Google even gives step-by-step directions for creating your own at home.

However, not all mobile virtual reality gadgets are as simple to construct. Certain mid-range headsets feature enhanced materials as well as additional tracking sensors, integrated controls, and focus wheels. They even come with straps, so you don’t have to continually keep the headset up to your face.

Tethered headsets are slightly more sophisticated and incorporate a plethora of features that distinguish them apart from mobile headsets. To begin, they do not require the usage of a mobile device. Rather than that, each one features a connector for connecting straight to your computer or game console.

These premium virtual reality headsets have motion tracking, integrated high-resolution displays, and high-quality visuals. As a result, they are more comfortable on the face and effectively block out more of your external environment, completely immersing you in the experience.

Additionally, tethered headsets reduce motion sickness as a result of the higher-quality images and panels. While any VR video can be seen, they are most typically used in the gaming community.

Mobile vs. Tethered VR Headsets: Cost

On the lowest end of the VR spectrum are mobile headsets such as the Google Cardboard, which retail for between $9 to $40. The low-cost materials and low-tech design do not necessitate a large price tag. While these are the simplest to replace, they are also the most prone to break.

Mobile headsets with straps for convenient viewing and more robust materials are the next tier of possibilities. These range in price from $50 to $200. These fees may appear excessive, but when compared to the cost of a dedicated VR app store or a more advanced management system, they make sense.

Tethered headsets are significantly more expensive due to their superior build quality and included technology. Low-cost tethered headsets start at roughly $300, but for the crème de la crème, expect to pay well into the four figures.

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One of the hidden costs associated with purchasing a tethered headset is the purchase of a powerful processing machine. Without one, you risk experiencing substantial lag, which will spoil the entire experience. If you own a gaming console, you can circumvent this issue by using a headset that is compatible with your system. Additionally, headsets like the Playstation VR will include an attached box that assists in the processing of your video.

The Viewing Experience of Mobile vs. Tethered VR Headsets

VR Headsets

There is a minimal comparison between the viewing experiences of mobile and tethered headsets. Ten times out of ten, tethered VR sets prevail, whereas mobile VR headsets fall short in every area of the viewing experience due to insufficient technology.

With mobile headphones, the viewing experience is provided by your mobile phone. Due to the enhanced magnifying lenses on some smartphone headsets, you can boost the VR experience, but not the video quality.

On the other hand, tethered virtual reality headsets include integrated LED and OLED displays and do not require a phone. The screen is sharper, and the viewing experience is overall improved.

Low-cost mobile virtual reality headsets require you to hold the device in your hand. However, a tethered VR headset includes built-in straps and face cushions to keep you comfortable for extended periods of time.

A tethered VR headset includes built-in speakers, which eliminates the need to listen through phone or external headphones, as well as effectively covering your face and preventing outside light from ruining your viewing experience.

Mobile vs. Tethered VR Headsets: Hardware Requirements

VR headsets are relatively simple to use and only require a smartphone. Once the phone is inserted into the mobile VR headset holder, you may begin viewing.

You will, however, need to navigate to the appropriate virtual reality films or apps on your phone prior to viewing. By turning on a standard video and wearing the mobile headset, the video becomes unwatchable.

To play VR videos and games at a high quality, tethered virtual reality headsets require a significant amount of computing power. Most VR tethered headsets demand a refresh rate of 90Hz, which means your computer’s frame rate must be as near to 90 as feasible. Anything less puts you in danger of motion sickness due to the lack of smoothness required for a 360-degree experience.

For instance, the HTC Vive (2016) and Vive Pro (2018) require a minimum of an Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX-8350 CPU to operate effectively, however, a more powerful processor provides a superior virtual reality experience. Similarly, while 4GB RAM is a minimal need for the majority of tethered headsets, you should aim for 16GB RAM. Additionally, each tethered VR set has a unique minimum requirement due to the unique technology incorporated in each device, so consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the most accurate requirements.

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Mobile vs. Tethered VR Headsets: Uses

When you’re on the road and want to enjoy a video in VR, a mobile headset is your best bet, especially if you’re only planning on watching one or two films at a time. Strapless headsets, on the other hand, such as the Google Cardboard, can become unpleasant when used for extended periods of time.

If you’re not comfortable watching VR videos with your hands, you can get a mobile VR headset with a strap. Several of these incorporate a button on the side of the headset for selecting a menu item or proceeding to the next film.

Not all, but some mobile headsets contain apps that let you play simple games. Complex games demand the use of a controller, and the majority of mobile solutions lack the necessary technology.

Due to the integrated audio and video, tethered headsets are ideal for any VR scenario. Additionally, you’ll receive a controller to assist you in playing more complex games and interacting with films and apps.

The primary disadvantage of tethered headphones is that they cannot be used when traveling. There is no way to ride in a lengthy automobile and keep entertained with your connected headset (obviously, when you are a passenger, not the driver!).

Tethered Headsets Provide a More Pleasurable and Thorough VR Viewing

Experience Tethered headsets provide a more enjoyable and comprehensive VR viewing experience. They have improved graphics, more durable materials, and audio and video capabilities. Of course, they are useless if you need to travel while using VR, but once you’ve experienced them, it’ll be difficult to view a video or play a game without a connected VR headset.

Are you considering purchasing a virtual reality headset for the first time for gaming purposes? Acquaint yourself with everything you need to know to provide the best possible VR experience.