Reality is moving from being tethered or reliant on a mobile phone into the
wide open world of stand alone.
Mobile Phone Virtual Reality
Mobile phone VR is the lowest tier of virtual reality viewing. The headsets are among the cheapest on the market, and need a mobile phone to be slotted into them in order to work properly. The most basic of these headsets is the dirt-cheap Google Cardboard, named for the material it is made from, and quality goes up to that offering a very good VR experience. However, the VR is only as good as the phone and headset allow it to be, and problems can include lagging, light leakage (when light escapes into the headset, making it harder to see the images on the screen as well as breaking the illusion of being somewhere else) and poor quality imaging which can cause headaches and stress.
Tethered Virtual Reality Headsets
Tethered head sets are usually connected to a powerful gaming PC, which means that the graphics are top of the range. The footage is clear and lag-free, using the might of the PC’s processing power to transport the user into the virtual world. However, you are literally tethered to your PC, and this can restrict motion, both as regards walking around the virtual world and as far as sweeping hand motions are concerned. There is little more disconcerting than having the world around you break up as you get thrown out into the real world from your favourite fantasy adventure. While it is possible to have a good, immersive experience with a tethered VR headset, it is also something of a constraint and users may find themselves instinctively constraining their own movements or flinching in anticipation of disruption when they move a bit further or wave their hands more extravagantly than usual.
Standalone HeadsetsStandalone headsets are still quite new to the party, but already they are showing promise of offering the best of all VR worlds – great graphics, real time play with no lagging, little in the way of light leakage and full freedom of movement within the room – and proximity warnings should vigorous gameplay bring the player too close to the real world physical walls in which they are playing. They will be devices in their own right, connecting to Wi-Fi or containing a sim card just as tablets and smartphones do, and they will contain all the necessary software and links to VR sites to give the player as much content as possible. Obviously, being new items, standalone headsets are somewhat pricy at the moment, but as the technology is perfected the quality will improve even more and the price will come down to reasonable levels.