HTC Vive Professional evaluation: Higher in each means, however it’s not for you


What if HTC might recreate the Vive VR headset, however with higher ergonomics and the next high quality display screen? That is principally Vive Professional. It is not a sequel – it is extra of a remaster. One that comes with the whole lot VR headset makers have discovered through the years. (Spoiler: Consolation issues. Loads.) At $799 and not using a sensor or controller, nevertheless, it is strictly for fans and professionals with a whole lot of disposable earnings.

Gallery: HTC Vive Professional , 12 pictures


Vive

professionals

  • extremely superior ergonomics
  • excessive decision display screen
  • built-in headphones

Shortcoming

  • excessive value
  • Equipment One other $299. Huh

{hardware}

The very first thing you may discover with the Vive Professional is that it is in a deep blue coloration as an alternative of the full-black design of the unique. Whereas it’s useful to distinguish the 2, the blue coloration would not add a lot aesthetically. The headset appears large, however satirically, it is also fairly mild. Its plastic case and humdrum design do not actually set it aside from different VR headsets, however present Vive customers will discover the variations. Reasonably than a relentless work in progress, this new headset appears like a completed product.

Most essential, there is a new head-strap system. This deluxe audio accent is much like the one HTC launched a yr after the Vive’s debut, including headphones and changing the unique head strap. Whereas this new system appears a bit of difficult at first and makes the headset look longer than it was earlier than, it is simple. You merely maintain the eyepiece to your face, relaxation the again strap in your head, and twist the dial to straighten it. There’s an adjustable band on prime, however that is one thing you may solely should take care of the primary time you set it on.

Devendra Hardawar / Engadget

It is an enormous enchancment over what HTC launched two years in the past, which incorporates utilizing three separate Velcro straps to safe the Vive to your head. He was practical however extremely clunky. And with the added weight of the unique headset, it is onerous to put on comfortably for prolonged intervals. The Vive Professional, alternatively, balances the load of the headset properly, much like Sony’s PlayStation VR.

Its built-in headphones are onerous to overlook, too. They’ve a beneficiant quantity of padding and will be adjusted simply. Whereas they may make the headset a bit of extra stuffy, they’re additionally way more handy than the earbuds on the Vive, which had been only one extra wire to take care of. And so they’re actually higher than attempting to pair giant headphones with an already outsized VR headset. Audio purists might disagree (we get it, you actually like your Grados), however a built-in design makes extra sense for VR. Each the Oculus Rift and Samsung’s HMD Odyssey make it clear that it is a greater choice in terms of sustaining immersion and presence, which must be the first targets for each headset.

The Vive Professional has considerably extra plush cushioning round its complete faceplate, and much more so on the again of the top strap. It made an enormous distinction after a number of hours of testing – I nonetheless had a bit of sweat in my brow, however no lasting ache left round my face. It additionally feels simpler to wash than earlier than, and as all the time, you possibly can substitute it when it goes dangerous. In the meantime, The Vive had some fundamental foam face safety, which was robust to take care of and onerous to put on. This will likely look like a minor distinction, however it’s important given how a lot pores and skin contact VR headsets make. Aside from headphones, we do not fear about most devices.

I additionally have not gotten the largest tech improve but: the higher-resolution display screen. The Vive Professional’s OLED show clocks in at 1,440 by 1,600 pixels per eye – 78 % extra decision than the unique Vive. Nevertheless, it maintains the identical 110-degree area of view. That is the usual for high-end VR headsets just like the Oculus Rift and Samsung HMD Odyssey, however it will have been good to see HTC push issues a bit additional. For instance, the Large Star VR headset has a 210-degree FOV.

Because the Vive Professional is being bought as a standalone headset, you may must buy HTC’s two Lighthouse sensors and the VR controller individually. HTC is providing all of these equipment collectively in a bundle of $299 (that is $231 lower than shopping for all of them individually), however it’s nonetheless a big expense on prime of the Vive Professional’s $799 price ticket. Is.

If you have already got that system, establishing the Vive Professional is so simple as connecting its breakout field to your pc’s USB 3.0 and DisplayPort connections, after which plugging within the headset itself. In the event you’re doing this for the primary time, you may must discover a place on two reverse corners of your room to mount the Lighthouse sensor.

I used to be capable of put them on my bookshelf, but when there’s nothing prefer it round, you might have to place sensors in your partitions. It is also a disgrace that HTC’s SteamVR 2.0 sensors will not be accessible till the tip of the yr as a result of they will be capable to monitor your motion over a lot bigger areas. However I assume it will not be very helpful till we see the Vive’s wi-fi adapter coming this summer time.

Brian Oh / Engadget

In use

The primary time I used the Vive Professional, it took me a couple of minutes to determine easy methods to correctly alter its new head strap. As soon as I obtained it sorted, I instantly observed that it match extra securely (and extra comfortably) than the unique. It is not front-heavy just like the Vive, which is able to damage the bridge of my nostril once I put on it too lengthy. It is just like the PlayStation VR—an enormous headset that is nonetheless comfy to put on because of some sensible ergonomics.

As you may count on, the Vive Professional’s improved display screen makes virtually the whole lot higher, from textual content to enemies within the Viveport. Tremendous scorching, whereas taking part in duck season, I used to be capable of find the place my distant targets had been extra simply. And flying around the globe in Google Earth VR felt much more immersive than earlier than. However whereas the expertise is best than the unique, it is not precisely an evening and day — it actually is not sufficient to justify upgrading to a brand new VR headset if you have already got one.

You additionally must just remember to have a pc that may run the Vive Professional at its finest. HTC says its minimal system necessities are the identical as these of the Vive—an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU or higher, and not less than an NVIDIA GTX 1060 card or an AMD Radeon RX480. However at CES, the corporate additionally acknowledged that you will want sooner {hardware} to reap the benefits of higher visuals. This should not come as a shock, however it’s one to remember in case your system might already be barely operating the Vive.

On my not too long ago refreshed rig, which is powered by an Intel Core i7-8700K CPU and a GTX 1080, I did not discover any hiccups or slowdowns in all kinds of VR titles. However, it is the identical video card HTC was utilizing at CES, so it is a protected wager for optimum Vive Professional efficiency.

Whereas I appreciated the marginally higher visuals, utilizing my authentic Vive controllers with a brand new headset nonetheless felt a bit antiquated. They’re larger and heavier than Oculus’ wonderful Contact controllers, which had been launched in 2016. Valve’s personal fashionable VR controllers are coming to SteamVR, that are considerably smaller and provide personalized-finger monitoring, however there isn’t any phrase on availability.

There are many downsides to leaping on the Vive Professional bandwagon early, as you may be tempted to exchange your controllers and trackers later this yr.

Pricing and Competitors

At $799 by itself, the Vive Professional is much more costly than the usual $499 Vive Package, which incorporates the fundamental headset, two base stations, and two movement controllers. Usually you’d should spend one other $530 to snag all of them, however HTC is now providing a $299 bundle to make life a bit of simpler for brand spanking new customers. Nonetheless, because of this a whole Vive Professional setup will price $1,098. If that sounds loopy good… it’s.

After all, the Oculus Rift continues to be a stable competitor, particularly as a result of it is now simply $399 with all of its sensors and bundled with higher controllers. At that value, the low decision actually would not look like an enormous deal. Home windows blended actuality headsets are an alternative choice, particularly Samsung’s $499 HMD Odyssey, which roughly matches the Vive Professional’s decision and has nice movement controllers.

One other plus with blended actuality headsets, they do not require any annoying sensors to be put in. And so they assist SteamVR, which provides you entry to the identical video games and apps because the Vive.

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Brian Oh / Engadget

I give HTC some credit score for fixing many of the issues I had with the unique Vive. However in the mean time, the Vive Professional is not a obligatory improve, particularly with out its equipment. Its dear value cements the truth that this headset is not for most individuals—it is actually one thing for VR builders and designers who instantly need one of the best {hardware} in the marketplace.

Everybody will probably be higher off with the Vive, or wait till HTC declares a full Vive Professional package with new equipment later this yr. Simply do not count on it to be low cost both.

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