Choosing the right headset for your VR training
As the benefits of VR training become widely recognized across industries, brands face the daunting task of finding the best VR headset for their training goals.
While most modern virtual reality headsets have impressive visual performance, body, and eye-tracking, and deliver high-quality immersive experiences, each device comes with its own set of features suited either for home entertainment, professional VR gaming, or corporate training programs.
Should the VR headset be tethered or standalone? Which head-mounted display (HMD) has the best resolution? Should it have 3 degrees of freedom or 6? And how about the field of view degree and refresh rates?
If you’re looking for an answer to these questions or still struggling to get the hang of what VR terminology means, our experts are here to help you start your VR training journey off on the right foot.
So we invite you to take a look at the comprehensive guide we’ve created for you that not only explains the most common VR terms and device characteristics but also lists our top picks for VR business headsets.
What you need to know before buying a VR headset
Before diving straight into top recommendations and product reviews, you should first get familiar with the most common VR terminology you’ll encounter when checking the features provided by various headsets.
The refresh rate illustrates how many new images the display can show within a second. Headsets with high refresh rates deliver a smoother VR experience and prevent users from feeling nauseous or developing headaches.
The resolution determines the sharpness and clarity of the visual content a user interacts with. The higher the resolution of the VR headset, the more realistic the image looks.
Field of View
The Field of View (FOV) represents how much of the virtual world you can see while looking through the headset’s lenses. A greater FOV helps create a better sense of immersion into that computer-generated environment so that you don’t feel like you’re simply looking at a screen.
Degrees of Freedom
Degrees of Freedom (DoF) refers to how a person’s movements in the real world are translated into actions within the 3D virtual world.
Based on this concept, there are two types of headsets: 3 DoF, which track a user’s head rotation as in up or down and left or right (rotational axis), and 6 DoF, which also track how that user moved about the scene as in forward or backward, laterally or vertically, and up or down (translational axis).
Generally, 6 DoF headsets offer the most immersive experiences letting users explore the virtual world by moving around the 3D simulation and performing real-life tasks unconstrained. In contrast, when wearing a 3 DoF device, the user is more or less a spectator, having limited interaction with the VR world.
Choosing the right type of VR headset
Not all VR headsets are built the same, each model serving different purposes. Here are the main characteristics that can help you better understand what each device has to offer.
Input (point and click, 3 DoF controller, 6 DoF controllers)
In the case of point and click input, users simply direct their gaze towards a virtual object and can interact with it by clicking it with the help of a VR Bluetooth controller.
3 DoF controllers offer more advanced input than Bluetooth controllers as they are able to detect hand rotation and support hold-and-turn interactions.
6 DoF controllers deliver the highest degree of interaction for VR users, allowing them to grab and push objects within the virtual environment and also train muscle memory up to a certain degree.
Content (360° video or real VR)
360° videos, also known as spherical videos, present a virtual environment created with the help of an omnidirectional camera. While users can look in all directions, they cannot move independently within that virtual space. As such, 360° videos offer a more passive VR experience.
Real VR fully immerses users in a computer-generated environment where they can move around, take a closer look at details, and interact with 3D objects as they would do in the real world. Compared to 360° videos, real VR delivers an interactive experience, enabling the user to train their muscle memory.
Hardware (smartphone, standalone, and tethered)
Smartphone VR headsets, such as Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR, represent a low-tech, affordable, and super easy option for first-time VR users. In short, wearable mobile VR headsets are no more than a plastic case where the user inserts their smartphone (Android or iOS) to power various VR apps. While these devices are great for prototyping a training program, they don’t provide a fully immersive experience and lack image clarity.
Standalone or all-in-one (AIO) headsets, such as the widely popular Oculus Quest 2, are completely wireless and highly portable, coming with their own in-built processing capabilities. Standalone VR headsets allow users to experience high-quality VR without having to purchase expensive hardware or upgrade their current PC. Although standalone devices provide users with total freedom of movement and immersive experiences, they cannot support graphically demanding content.
Tethered or PC-based VR headsets are connected to a high-performance PC via cable, offering the best immersive experiences in terms of graphics and functionality. Besides being a pricier option, operating a tethered VR headset requires the user to have a dedicated space for immersing in VR and a powerful desktop or laptop as a source. Also, compared to standalone headsets, tethered headsets offer limited user mobility due to their cable connections, with only a few brands selling wireless adapters.
Tracking (inside-out or outside-in)
With inside-out tracking, the VR headset and hand controllers are tracked via sensors or cameras integrated into the headset itself. Conversely, outside-in tracking employs external base stations placed within the room to fully track the movements of the user and their controllers. Although inside-out tracking involves a much easier setup, the outside-in alternative offers much more accurate room-scale tracking.
Our top favorite headsets for VR training in 2021
To help you find the best VR headset to bring your brand into the VR realm, we’ve gathered our top 5 picks, taking overall performance specs, user comfort, and price range into account.
Oculus Quest 2
Oculus Quest 2 is an all-in-one, fully wireless, 6 DoF consumer headset that offers the best overall VR experience on the market at an attractive price point of only $299 for its 128 GB storage option. Showcasing a high resolution of 1832×1920 pixels per eye and a next-generation Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor paired with 6GB RAM, Quest 2 provides users with an impressively smooth visual performance.
Similar to its predecessor, this lightweight headset has four in-built cameras and two Oculus Touch controllers with advanced 6 DoF hand-tracking capabilities that allow users to explore 3D virtual environments freely. On the whole, Oculus Quest 2 is an excellent VR headset suitable for basic-level business users interested in training and collaborating within VR environments.
HTC Vive Pro 2
For those looking for the highest-resolution desktop VR experience, HTC Vive Pro 2 is one of the top choices available on the market. With 2,448 x 2,448 pixels per eye (5K screen), a 120Hz refresh rate, and a 120° field of view, the PC-tethered HTC Vive Pro 2 headset was designed to provide business VR users and consumers with unprecedented visual clarity and high-grade immersive experiences.
While its ergonomic design with built-in Hi-Res headphones is similar to the original Vive Pro, Vive Pro 2’s impressive VR performance comes with a price to match, at $799 only for the headset. To leverage the full capabilities of Vive Pro 2, users also have to get the full kit, including the base stations and controllers, and ensure that their PC meets minimum GPU requirements (GeForce GTX 1060 or Radeon RX 480).
Pico Neo 2
Pico Neo 2 is a lightweight standalone 6 DoF VR headset from Pico Interactive, armed with an impressive 4K resolution, a powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, and built-in spatial stereo speakers. At first glance, its minimalistic design reminds users of Oculus headsets, except for the addition of the hygienic all-PU facial interface.
Despite having a 101°field of view and only a 75Hz refresh rate, the Neo 2 headset does a great job at displaying vibrant and sharp visuals. Also, the Neo 2 Eye version comes with stunning eye-tracking capabilities and dynamic foveated rendering, which reduces image quality in peripheral vision and creates adaptive VR experiences.
Valve Index is a PC-tethered VR headset that delivers impressive motion and visual performance thanks to its 1,600 x 1,440 pixels per eye paired with a 120 Hz refresh rate and a 130° field of view. However, believe it or not, the fame of this headset is mostly based on its individual finger tracking controllers that provide users with a more realistic, immersive experience than any other model.
Some people might find the multi-step setup of this SteamVR-compatible headset challenging, especially when compared with devices such as Quest 2, where, in just a couple of minutes, you’re ready to go. But Valve Index remains superior in terms of visual clarity, long-session comfort levels, and surround-audio experience; hence the high price tag of $999 per headset.
HP Reverb G2
Developed in collaboration with Valve and Microsoft, the tethered HP Reverb G2 offers the best of both worlds, creating one of the most comfortable, immersive VR experiences. Unlike other 6 DoF PC-based headsets, HP Reverb G2 doesn’t require additional external sensors thanks to its four tracking cameras built within the headset.
Apart from the more user-friendly setup experience, the headset’s ultra-sharp, realistic visuals, which at 2160 x 2160 resolution per eye are no surprise, can’t fail to impress. And since Reverb G2 is compatible with both Windows Mixed Reality and SteamVR platforms, users have access to a wide range of VR content.
How Flint Tech can help you create custom VR training solutions
We hope this article has given you a better understanding of how to assess the most popular VR headsets on the market and find the best fit for your training needs. But your journey into the virtual reality world doesn’t stop here.
Finding the best VR headset is just one step in the complex process of deploying a successful VR training program within your organization. There’s also the development of realistic VR training scenarios that will help trainees practice their skills and improve their real-world performance.
With the right VR software partner, creating a customized VR training app is an easy, stress-free experience. The team at Flint Tech is passionate about turning our clients’ ideas into innovative VR solutions that align with their business goals.
Ready to take your training program to the next level? All you have to do is reach out to us and we’ll take care of everything.