While 2018 could very much be the year that tethered cables come off the increasingly popular virtual reality (VR) headsets, these devices won’t necessarily be completely hassle-free. Granted there are phone-connected VR platforms that are already (and have always been) wireless, these setups have some distinct limitations. Some early tether-less VR examples were released in 2017, being connected wirelessly to PCs, while others had the necessary hardware built into the actual headsets.

The best VR experiences are traditionally on higher-end PC and game consoles, however these involve those thick tethered cables and setting up room sensors to give a user the full VR experience. There was some slight progress made in mitigating this setup when Microsoft’s VR headsets did away with room sensors, but still featured the tethering cord from the headset to PC.

Going into 2018, it appears the options for VR technology will be better, broader, and finally incorporated into hardware that consumers can actually purchase. Granted we’re closer than ever to a world of more advanced fully wireless VR technology, there are still staggering limitations on their capabilities. HTC is releasing a wireless VR accessory that’s backwards compatible with the original Vive headset or upcoming Vive Pro. Despite its wireless capabilities, this won’t be a completely PC-free VR experience.

The room where the Vive is used will still need to be rigged to track motion properly, making the setup process lengthy. One drawback about the headset, however, is the added weight and bulk due to the extra clipped-on adapter. An additional power supply rests in a clip-on box wired to the headset that the user can clip to their pants. There’s also a separate wireless dongle and adapter to plug into a PC.

WiGig is a super-high-bandwidth way of streaming audio and video over short distances. If this works as promised, this could mean a permanent goodbye to HDMI cables. Using this wireless adapter will still require setting up AC-powered sensors at the corners of the room you’re in, to track headset and controller movements. The adapter means wearing the little clip-on for the battery, which in turn leads to limited battery life before needing a recharge—an apparent tradeoff that will happen with these devices.

This type of gear could potentially become problematic to repeatedly keep charging the device. Users who tried the wireless adapter report they could freely move anywhere, however still required the light-emitting boxes attached to the walls for tracking movement. Despite this degree of free roaming, some users still worried about getting tangled in “phantom cables.”

While mobile VR has always been wireless, its more restrictive features don’t match the capabilities of high-end VR, and phones are still required when using. Genuine wireless self-contained VR lies in Lenovo's Google daydream-ready Mirage Solo headsets, which run off Snapdragon processors, but also have their own limited room-aware cameras for tracking a small degree of motion. Miraga Solo’s freedom of motion does have its limits, with users able to slightly lean, duck, and turn. “Inside out” tracking is built-in, much like Microsoft’s mixed-reality VR headsets.

Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR currently lack this technology, and require extra wired boxes or sensors for handling tracking, in addition to the users not being able to walk very far. These kinds of mobile setups are advancing quickly that could eventually challenge and replace PC-connected VR.

Oculus has a fully self-contained wireless high-end VR product still in development code-named Santa Cruz. Being untethered is a significant step forward in this field, but seeing your surroundings without tripping over wires and other obstructions is another. The HTC Vive headset mentioned has limited room awareness for obstacles like furniture, but companies like Occipital are brainstorming ways to mix full-room tracking into VR. This might not come immediately, but will be essential for longer-range VR walkabouts.