The Hidden Cost of Virtual Reality (HTC Vive)

Have you been anxiously awaiting the arrival of virtual reality for your very own living room? If so, you are not alone. Many people around the world have yearned to get a more immersive experience when playing their favorite games. Now, the long-standing barriers have finally been broken down. Some of the most popular devices including the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Sony Playstation VR, are truly reinventing the world of gaming.

Are you thinking you are ready to step into the realm of virtual reality? Hold on….not so fast. It’s not as easy as just putting on the headset and playing. There are some hidden costs you may still need to consider.

Not to worry, we will cover the basics you need to know here.

Do You Have Enough Space?

The first thing you will want to consider is if you have enough space. Most people don’t just have an extra room which isn’t being used and furniture can get in the way. In the case of the HTC Vive, its IR sensors map your location in a physical space that measures at least 6.5 ft. x 5 ft. Sounds awesome until you are chasing after a zombie or something and trip over your coffee table. So you need to have a space which can be opened up for gaming. Here are a few options to allow you to play freely.

Option 1: The Temporary Fix

The simplest solution, and also the cheapest, is to remove all objects that pose a potential danger each time you play. This means moving furniture, decorations, etc., and ensuring pets won’t wander in. One suggestion is to place a rug under the coffee table so that you can easily move them at the same time. However, this can be tedious and annoying which might deter you from using your new technology. Your family or roommates also might not appreciate a regularly dismantled living space.

Option 2: Re-Purpose a Room

Another solution may be to rethink the spaces you have in order to convert a room into a permanent gaming space. Think of a room that you rarely use such as a garage, guest bedroom, office, or basement for example, and equip it for your gaming. Depending on the current state of the room, the task can vary from rather painless to a big project. If it’s leaning more towards a big project consider hiring some help. Here are some services you may need:

  • A cleaning service which costs $25-$40 per hour.
  • A junk removal service to take away broken furniture, useless appliances and trash that you have accumulated costs $165 for a medium load.
  • An electrician for $65-$85 per hour to install electrical outlets or wiring.

Option 3: Add on a Brand New Room

Thirdly, maybe you are ready to invest in a dedicated new gaming room. After all, you have been waiting years for this experience! Not only can you make the room according to your needs, but it can help to improve the resale value of your home. What does a project like this cost?

Option 4: The Separate Room Solution

The last option we will touch on here is the separate room solution. What if you want your computer in one room and the base station and headset in another? This may be the case if you have the space for playing in one room but want your computer to remain in another. All you need for this set up is two extension cables: one for HDMI and one for USB. If you would like to learn more about the cables which have worked best for the HTC Vive specifically, click here and here. You can also check out this USB cable ($64) and HDMI cable ($43) which have some of the best reviews at the moment.

Are you someone who can’t stand the appearance of cables running through your home? Or maybe you are concerned about the safety of having cables exposed. Not to worry, you can run them behind the walls or can install new outlets. If you aren’t sure how to do this on your own, it is best to hire a professional. Hiring an electrician will cost an average $65-$85 per hour.

You may also want to consider a wireless keyboard and a mouse so you can operate your computer from the other room (in case the Virtual Desktop is not enough). Wireless keyboards cost anywhere from $10 to $250 and a wireless mouse can range from $6 to $150.

What You Should Know About The Base Stations

Once you have chosen where to play the HTC Vive or other headset of your choice, you will need to install the base stations. On HTC Vive’s official website, they say that the base stations need to be located in opposite corners of the room. They need to be above your head, so you will need either to mount them on the walls with the mounts that come with the system or place them on top of a structure such as a bookshelf. If you aren’t sure how to mount them correctly, a handyman to attach the mounting brackets to the wall charges on average $60-$90 per hour. You may also need an electrician to run cables through the base stations, or to connect them and the link box to a power strip with a switch so that you can turn the system off if not using it.

The base stations, or lighthouses, may also need a cable to connect them to each other if they don’t see each other (the cable is provided by some sets such as the Vive). Cheap bookshelves can be found at Ikea (such as this one for only $69.99 with more expensive options costing $100-$500.

Do You Have the Right PC? Last but not least, it is is important to think about PC requirements. At the moment, PC gaming is a luxury hobby and, as you may or may not know, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require very well equipped gaming PCs that can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, and beyond. If you don’t have one with the adequate capabilities, you will need to consider this in the total cost of your VR system. If you’d like a more affordable option, the release of PlayStation VR doesn’t require a gaming PC but just the PlayStation 4.

What's next?

Now we have covered the underlying costs that come along with the joys of the virtual technology available today through the HTC Vive, let us ask: What does the future of VR technology hold? 2016 has been deemed the year that VR goes mainstream and we are seeing that come true with VR headsets growing in popularity. Along with the HTC Vive, we also have the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR leading the way, but other developments using the technology have surfaced. Microsoft has their Hololens which blends real life with holographic images. Intel is working on their Alloy project which aims to introduce a mixed reality in which your hands and other objects are brought into the virtual world with the use of 3D sensors; and the Gear VR is another interesting device which may elude to the future integration of mobile devices with VR.

Just as with the development of other types of technology such as computers and mobile devices, rapid development and innovation looks to be on the horizon. It is an exciting time for not only gamers, but all consumers who may be able to incorporate virtual reality technology into everyday life. However, you need to take into account that final costs will include more than just the product itself.