6 Best VR Headsets for Corporate Training [2020]

Choosing the right VR headset will benefit your learners, leadership and training team. In this article, we break down the 6 best VR headsets for training in 2020 including their price, technical specs, and how they work.

We will cover:

  • Oculus Quest
  • Pico Neo 2
  • Oculus Rift S
  • PiMax 5K Plus
  • HTC Vive Cosmos
  • Valve Index

Establishing a virtual reality training program is no joke. You have to set achievable learning objectives. You have to hire in-house Unity developers or partner with a learning technology partner to build virtual experiences. Plus, you must consider how you’ll manage virtual reality training throughout your organization. 

Faced with such overarching strategic decisions, learning and development leaders often lose sight of a crucial component: the virtual reality headset. Choosing which VR headsets to use is another vital decision tied to your VR training program. And with so many on the market, this decision isn’t easy! But have no fear. We can set you on the right track. 

In this article, we’ll call out the significant differences among VR headsets and walk through our favorites.

 

What is Virtual Reality Training? 

If you’re unfamiliar with virtual reality (VR) and how you can apply it to training, here’s a quick recap. Virtual reality is an artificial environment in which the user is fully immersed in an experience. Putting on a VR headset can transport a user to a new location where they can look around themselves, walk up close to computer-generated objects, and interact with items and people.

Virtual reality training has become an increasingly valuable tool in learning and development, allowing your education to extend beyond an eLearning course or classroom setting. VR simulates any world you can imagine, enabling your learners to encounter true-to-life scenarios without facing real-world risk. 

Read More: What is Virtual Reality Training?

 

What You Should Know About VR Headsets

When shopping for VR headsets, you’ll notice subtle yet essential differences in the tech specs, including variations in:

Refresh Rates 

The Refresh Rate tells you how fast the VR images refresh. Higher refresh rates reduce latency, which is the delay between a learner acting and the computer visualizing said action. A higher refresh rate helps prevent learners from developing headaches, eye strain, and motion sickness.

Resolution 

The Resolution tells you how clear the images are in the VR activity. The higher the resolution, the clearer the images. And the clearer the images, the more lifelike the VR training appears.

Field of View 

The Field of View (FoV) tells you how broadly the view extends to the user’s peripheral vision. A broad FoV creates a range of vision similar to that of humans. Additionally, a wide FoV is crucial for driver training, which requires learners to pay attention to the peripherals. 

Beyond those subtle differences, popular VR headsets also differ in ways that are more immediately noticeable.

READ MORE: 5 VR Training Safety Tips You Need to Know

 

Untethered vs. Tethered VR Headsets

VR headset developers tend to prioritize this distinction in their product marketing. Tethered VR headsets can operate only when connected to a PC via a cord. Meanwhile, untethered VR headsets are cordless and can run on their power or connect wirelessly to a PC. If you see marketing language like “PC-required,” that is code for a tethered VR headset. However, be sure to do your due diligence, as some tethered headsets have wireless adapters. 

 

Pros and Cons of Tethered VR Headsets

There are two main benefits of tethered VR headsets.

You can share the in-headset view on a PC monitor and cast that view to larger screens. That could be helpful if you’re designing an in-person instructor-led training session and want to include a VR component. An audience of learners could watch their peers navigate a VR training scenario and discuss it as a group afterward.  

You also get more power, as PC-connected VR headsets run on a faster machine. That yields better-simulated physics and higher-end graphics. It also allows for real-time lighting and effects, such as real-time reflection. If you’re conducting VR driver training, you may want the vehicle’s mirrors to act like real mirrors rather than remaining static images. Tethered VR headsets make that possible.

The main drawbacks of tethered VR headsets include higher costs, the need to procure VR-ready PCs, and user movement restrictions. Here’s how they compare to the alternative.

 

Pros and Cons of Untethered VR Headsets

Untethered VR headsets have a couple of primary perks.

You can use untethered VR headsets without a cord. That gives learners increased comfort and mobility while navigating a VR training scenario. They’re also simpler to set up, enabling you to get the VR training up and running more quickly. 

Untethered VR headsets typically come at a lower cost than tethered ones. That’s true with the headset price alone and the operation’s cumulative cost because you don’t need to invest in a VR-ready PC.

The gains in mobility, cost-effectiveness, and easy setup come with a loss in power. You don’t get the same quality graphics and effects that PC-connected VR headsets produce. That’s not to say untethered VR headsets deliver a low-quality experience. The quality is excellent. PC-powered headsets simply offer faster refresh rates along with more visual richness and complexity. 

Note: As you’ll see in our list, some VR headsets can connect to PCs wirelessly, gaining access to VR content that runs on a more powerful machine. 

 

Inside-Out Tracking vs. Lightboxes

Inside-out tracking or lightboxes is another crucial distinction to look for among VR headsets. With inside-out tracking, the cameras and infrared sensors that map the physical space exist within the headset. Other VR headsets track the room with the help of lightboxes. Lightboxes contain the cameras and sensors necessary to map the physical space. You have to place them around the room to use the VR headset.

The difference between the two methods in terms of impact on VR training is negligible. Just know that if you opt for light-box dependent headsets, you must account for additional costs, setup, and power to support them.

 

Degrees of Freedom

If you’re shopping for VR headsets, you may already be aware of degrees of freedom (DoF). If not, here is an overview.
DoF describes how a learner can move in a virtual space. There are two DoF classifications. 

3DoF (Three Degrees of Freedom)

With 3DoF, learners are fixed to one location. They can look left and right, up and down, and pivot left and right, but they cannot move throughout the virtual space. Additionally, learners can interact with the environment via gaze control or a laser pointer controller.

6DoF (Six Degrees of Freedom)

With 6DoF, learners retain the three types of movement that 3DoF enables and gain more movement freedom. They can move forward and backward, up and down, and right and left. Learners can observe and interact with objects placed in the environment, just like they would if those objects were real. 

6DoF allows learners to practice tasks that require more robust and dynamic movement, such as adequately stacking and wrapping pallets in a warehouse. 3DoF can be useful for practicing job duties that are significant yet sedentary, like navigating difficult conversations with coworkers. 

Our list of the best VR headsets includes only those that offer 6DoF. If you’re interested in 3DoF VR headsets, you can consider the Pico G2 series, cost-effective cardboard headsets, or others on the market.

READ MORE: When to Level Up From 360-Degree Video to 6DoF VR

 

Best VR Headsets of 2020

We hope that you’ll get more out of this list by understanding the significant differences and their practical implications. Without further ado, here are the best VR headsets for corporate virtual reality training programs, ranked in no particular order:

Oculus Quest

Untethered or tethered: Optional. Oculus Quest is built for untethered use and the flexibility that comes with it. However, you can also connect to a PC via a cord, accessing more PC-powered content.

Room tracking: Inside-out tracking

DoF: 6DoF

Controllers: Two controllers

Refresh rate: 72Hz

Field of View: Uses fixed foveated rendering (FFR), which means the highest-resolution pixels are at the center of your vision, and the lower-resolution pixels are at the peripherals. 

Resolution per eye: 1440×1600

Eye Tracking: No

Cost: Starts at $399

Of note, major retailers sold out of the Oculus Quest.

 

Pico Neo 2

Untethered or tethered: Untethered, with a wireless streaming assistant option available.

Room tracking: Inside-out tracking 

DoF: 6 DoF

Controllers: Two controllers

Refresh rate: 75Hz

Field of View: 101°

Eye Tracking: No. The Pico Neo 2 Eye does boast eye-tracking capabilities (and an increased price of $899)

Resolution per eye: 1920×2160

Cost: $699

 


Oculus Rift S

Untethered or tethered: Tethered

Room tracking: Inside-out tracking, with five cameras in the headset, compared to four in the Oculus Quest

DoF: 6DoF

Controllers: Two touch controllers, same as the Quest

Refresh rate: 80Hz

Field of View: 110°

Eye Tracking: No

Resolution per eye: 1280×1440

Cost: $399

 

PiMax 5K Plus

Untethered or tethered: Tethered

Room tracking: Lightboxes required

DoF: 6DoF

Controllers: Headset only 

Refresh rate: 144Hz

Field of View: 200°

Eye Tracking: There’s an eye-tracking module you can add

Resolution per eye: 2560×1440

Cost: $699

 

HTC Vive Cosmos

Untethered or tethered: Tethered, but you can purchase a wireless adapter for cord-free access to PC content. The adapter costs $349

Room tracking: Inside-out

DoF: 6DoF

Controllers: Two controllers 

Refresh rate: 90Hz

Field of View: 110°

Eye Tracking: There is an eye-tracking add-on available. 

Resolution per eye: 1440×1700

Cost: $699

The HTC Vive Cosmos also comes equipped with a flip-up front, allowing learners to switch to reality and virtual reality without adjusting the entire headset.

 

Valve Index

Untethered or tethered: Tethered

Room tracking: Lightboxes

DoF: 6DoF

Controllers: Two controllers 

Refresh rate: 120Hz, with a mode for 144Hz

Field of View: 130°

Eye Tracking: No

Resolution per eye: 1440×1600

Cost: $999

 

How to Manage VR Headsets

Selecting the best VR headsets for your training program is the first challenge. Training organizations also must determine how to manage VR headsets across the business. That includes how to order headsets in bulk, keep the devices updated, and access technical support. Some VR headset developers have addressed those concerns.

Then there’s the training content to consider. Organizations must find a way to deliver virtual reality training onto geographically dispersed headsets. They also must easily update that training and assemble KPI reports. Our contribution to those efforts is Mercury XRS, which leverages our cloud-based API technologies to streamline VR training management.

As the worlds of virtual reality and corporate training continue to blend, VR providers are growing increasingly aware of organizations’ needs, and there are sure to be more robust options for VR headset management available in the future.

READ MORE: 5 Hurdles to Scaling Virtual Reality Training & How to Overcome Them?

 

Have a VR Headset in Mind? 

Did any of the VR headsets in our list stick out to you? Still on the fence? At the very least, we hope you’ve come away with an understanding of how to assess the best VR headsets on the market and find the most appropriate ones for your training needs.