First time poster, so go easy on me guys. I bought a VR Feild a few years back, despite a rather problematic first run in with one on a reality show (I got a stupid deal on ebay). I think the VR/Venue series is a great concept. Any multi-cast/house reality show you watch is most likely multitracked into Metacorder via multiple Venues. The downside(s) of the "bag friendly" VR Field, as previously stated, are it's akward size and power consumption.
I've done loads of shows wearing a 788T w/ CL-8 and 8x 411's and the 788T w/ CL-8 and Octapack. Multiple 411's will always be heavier than the VR and Octopack. The Octopack's reception (sans wideband antenna) will never be as good as the VR or multiple 411's.
If you (can) ignore the size and power issues, the VR is the most feature rich and cost effective.
There are modes in which you can double up on VR modules (VRT or VRS) to increase sensativity. Another mode allows you to have a "super channel" that allows the unit to switch between two transmitters on the same talent on different blocks, to insure absolute reception, in critical applications. Its versitile in the fact that it can be used on a cart, for an install or in the bag. Then you have Lectro's Lacie Net wireless management software...which I've never used, but I've seen on bigger stage shoots and those sup's seem to enjoy...I guess.
For me, in my market (NYC reality TV and commercial), I liked the idea of being able to replicate one of my friend's bags for a shoot and only having to spend $2000 VS $8000 to match his/her existing talent TX (4xVRT VS 4x411 on a 5 channel mixer). Plus, the fact that you can go to a rental house and rent VRT's for far less than 411's or even SR's.
But...we can't totally ignore the physical/power requirements...not completely. I actually joined this forum after a buddy told me about a chasis mod to the VR Field. I had already concocted such an idea, but did not know where to start.
Upon opening up the VR Field, you can tell it was not a very well thought out adaptation of an otherwise great idea. Theres a good bit of dead space beyond the VR modules. When wearing a bag, as we all know, any added depth weighs on your back exponentially (think about how light a CL-8 actually is VS how much more it extends the bag and then all of those recievers being THAT much farther away from your body). Then you have these massive casings for the circuit board/VR card extenders...totally rediculous. Anyway, point being...poor industrial design.
Next, there's the power consumption. Its a beast. To add insult to injury, the built in NP slot (mearly an NP cap burried in the over-sized chasis) envelopes the battery to a point to where you can't use the battery's meter. Using an external NP cap can rectify the meter issue, but you still have this gaping hole in your expensive RX unit and a power hungry beast that will simply die at the drop of a hat. Also, as previously stated, you can't shut off RX units to conserve power.
So, as I mentioned earlier, there is a Mod work around for size, but unless Lectrosonics ever really re-evaluates the software/hardware design of the VR Field, it is an amazing device that has to be used with kid gloves.
In the end, you have your list of priorities for what your kit has to do for you. Cost vs Feature vs Applicable Use vs Scalability and so on.
You could spend some cash on mod'ing the chasis and buy more NP's or even switch to Hytrons and be totally cool with the VR's flaws, or just save up for more 411's and rest assure your resale value will stay good.
The few times I rent my kit, I plan ahead for the VR's failings. Once I make enough rental revenue off of it, I'll either switch to 411's or modify it. Its kinda like buying LMA's and making enough money off those to buy SM's. i'll never part with the VR though. Maybe just retire it from certain use.