Brought to you by HTC and Valve, the HTC Vive has come to unite gamers’ passions with the modern innovation of Virtual Reality gaming.
As one of the best new tech gadgets of the year 2016, as awarded by CES, the HTC Vive has delivered the promise of a next-generation VR headset with the latest and best-in-class technology and content, for gamers.
Get excited: because the HTC Vive is virtual reality like you have never seen it.
As opposed to the Samsung VR Gear, which is a cost-effective VR Headset for mobile device users, the HTC Vive is for PC-based gamers who want the best.
This may remind you of the Oculus Rift, which we also reviewed; however, you will soon see the differences between the Oculus Rift and the new HTC Vive.
The HTC Vive is the first-of-it’s-kind in Virtual Reality.
If you aren’t excited about the best Virtual Reality system to hit the market in 2016, then you simply aren’t familiar with it. Keep reading this review, which is complete with links and photographs, and get excited for the next evolutionary step in this incredible, hands-on technology.
While in the last few years, attempts have been made (some halfheartedly and some worthwhile but not great) to provide a realistic and tactile virtual reality experience for consumers, there has been little success beyond the Samsung Gear VR for mobile phones and the Oculus Rift for gamers.
However, these headsets were not perfect and needed improvements for true VR immersion and free-moving exploration of the virtual world. This is where the HTC Vive has come onto the scene as the prodigal model that has finally succeeded where everyone else has failed: to provide an exceptional virtual reality experience that is worth the money and offers state of the art technology.
The fully immersive VR headset allows you to not only interact and experience another world in 3D, but without even taking off your headset, you can open up new apps and games quickly and easily.
With the wireless and tangible controls, VR gameplay and exploration will be intuitive and effortless.
The HTC Vive is everything you have ever wanted in VR, and now with SteamVR and the incredible, innovative design and technology by HTC, this new frontier can belong to you.
Technical Specifications and Features:
- Comes with: 16 individual components, in-box
- Comes with: VR Headset, Two Wireless Controllers, Base Stations, Link Box, Earbuds, Vive Accessories
- 2160 x 1200 combined resolution (1080 x 1200 in each eye).
- Pixel density said to eliminate the “screen door effect”
- 90 Hz Refresh Rate
- 360 degree motion tracking
- 110 degree viewing
- Room-Scale VR
- 3.5mm jack on side of headset, so user can add own headphones
- Wireless, intuitive hand controls
- Haptic Feedback for tactile immersion
- “Real-World Awareness” Front facing camera for blending the real world into VR world.
- Physical Play Area for real-life immersion into VR world
- Multi-Function Trackpad
- Interchangeable foam inserts
- User can wear eyeglasses during gameplay
- Sensors: Headset contains 32 sensors for 360 degree motion tracking; Wireless Controllers feature 24 sensors for unobstructed movement.
- Dual-stage triggers with HD Haptic Feedback for realistic touch
- Base Stations offer the 360 degree motion tracking of wearer. Pairs wirelessly with the sensors in the Headset and Wireless Controllers.
- Base Station Syncing: The Base Stations wirelessly sync and only require a power cable (not tethered to headset).
Compatibility/Recommended PC Settings/Test Your PC
For the best virtual reality experience, game play, and processing speed, this information will help you. The following information will tell you the Recommended PC Settings, Compatible Specifications, Vive Optimized PC’s that are already set up for Vive use, as well as a link to test your PC so you can see if you need to upgrade for the best Vive experience.
The Recommended PC Specs are as follows:
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater.
- CPU: Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or greater.
- RAM: 4 GB+
- Video Output: HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer.
- USB Port: 1x USB 2.0 or greater port.
- Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 or newer
It is highly recommended that you use this SteamVR Performance Test (made by Steam), to check and see if your PC is ready for the HTC Vive and is VR Ready. This is completely free: http://store.steampowered.com/app/323910
The Vive Optimized PC’s are as follows:
HP, Alienware, and MSI already have Vive-optimized PC’s that are ready to go if you plan on purchasing a new PC to use with your Vive, as well as buy an upgrade.
You can shop HP PC’s such as the HP Envy Phoenix, which is created for the future and the Vive.
Alienware (the gaming line from Dell), has VR-ready Alienware PC’s ready, such as the Area-51 and the X-51.
MSI is the leading computer brand for gaming, has their GT72 and GT80 series ready to go and designed for, the HTC Vive. As opposed to HP and Alienware, which are desktops, these MSI PCs are notebooks and an excellent choice for users who do not wish to purchase a desktop.
You can shop for Vive-ready PCs/Gaming Notebooks by MSI here.
Links to Recommended GPUs:
As seen above in the Recommended PC Specs, you will need a minimum GPU graphics set of either: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 (or greater).
You can shop AMD GPU’s here if you wish to upgrade your current PC.
You can shop NVIDIA GPU’s here if you wish to upgrade your current PC.
The HTC Vive uses cables on the headset for the power source. These cables run down the user’s back in a tether of three cords that plug into a breakaway box. This tether is very long, at 15 feet (4.5 meters), which is great because it allows for optimal movement in the physical play grid.
There is also a small 3.5mm headphone jack that dangles in the back in case you do not wish to use the earbuds but want to use your own headphones.
The Vive headset immerses you in a world of incredible virtual reality and three dimensions. You can walk around and explore just about everything. With the Chaperone guidance system, you can safely explore within the bounds of your physical play area (in real life). This keeps you safe as you wear your headset.
The stunning graphics will make your world surreal and extremely real simultaneously. The incredible 2160 x 1200 combined resolution and 90Hz refresh rate will deliver an eye-popping graphics experience and smooth action that is exceptionally real.
For comfort, you also have interchangeable foam inserts and nose pads that provide the wearer with customized comfort. If you wear eyeglasses, no problem–the Vive fits most eyeglasses as well, and has a curved cutout on the sides for a natural fit for eyeglass wearers so your glasses do not squish against your face.
The front facing camera discussed in the introduction, allows for the blending of real-world elements into your VR world. HTC Vive calls this “real-world awareness” and it can also keep you from running into a wall!
The Oculus Rift offers wearers up to 110 degrees field of view–however, the HTC Vive can solidly offer you 110 degrees of view (never less) for complete immersion.
With “Precision Tracking,” your Vive headset contains 32 sensors for 360 degree motion tracking.
The intuitive controls, natural motion tracking, and exceptional visuals are awesome enough–but not only do you get complete visual immersion into your virtual world, but you also have complete control.
The Vive headset contains HD Haptic Feedback and with intuitive gestures, you can play games and interact with the VR world naturally. The two wireless Vive controllers feature 24 sensors for unobstructed movement. This means you can do so much more with this VR system than any other headset out there can offer.
Navigating with the Vive has never been more fun. The HTC Vive allows the wearer to navigate naturally with the Multi-function Trackpad. This provides excellent precision and the HD Haptic Feedback.
The game play is mind blowing–there is no other way to put it. With Dual-stage triggers with HD Haptic Feedback for realistic touch and interactivity, the Vive gear truly brings virtual reality experiences to a completely new level.
The Base Station on the Vive offers the 360 degree motion tracking that wirelessly pairs with the sensors in your headset and two wireless controllers to track your movements and transform them live, into your virtual world.
This breakthrough base station technology track your headset and controllers’ exact locations in your space. You can interact to your heart’s content and explore your VR world or game like never before. The Room-scale VR also puts you at the center of it all.
The Base stations wirelessly sync and only require a power cable. This is not a problem to plug these stations in, since they are freestanding and are only connected to power it. They do not connect to the headset or controllers, so you remain wire-free from the base stations.
However, you will have three wires that are bundled together into a tether that is 15 feet long, that plugs into a breakaway box. This powers the headset and allows you to move about in your physical space as you interact with the virtual reality world.
The Vive is not all unicorns and rainbows, despite its excellence. As with any product, there will always be issues people do not like, such as cables or comfort.
The Vive uses earbuds for auditory immersion, These earbuds are joined to yet another cable and have to be fiddled with once the headset is in place.
As opposed to the Oculus Rift, the Vive also has a greater potential of getting tangled up in the tethering cable as you wander around the playing area. The Rift has a seated position, which the Vive should have also included.
Installation Blues: Not Always Fun but Always Worth It
This may not be a negative aspect to gamers, but for those short on space in their household, this next issue may concern you. One of Vive’s coolest features is the room-tracking ability and the ability for the gamer to not only interact with hands and the headset, but to actually move about the room to immerse themselves into the virtual world. This mean one thing: space.
For the HTC Vive, you will need a minimum of about 6 ft 6 inches (2 meters) by 5 feet (1.5 meters) of clear space–ideally, more. You can expand the play area to a maximum supported size of 3.5m to 3.5 meters, so this is great news to those who have plenty of room. However, if you are short on space or are using the Vive in a small bedroom or a crowded living room or den, this may bum you out as you smack into a wall. You will also need a maximum of 16 feet between base stations and these stations need to be able to see each other.
Again, not necessarily a “bad” or negative aspect to the Vive at all–in fact, this is an incredible addition–but if you are short on space, it could be disappointing.
You will have to take out the Link Box and Link Box power adapter and connect them during the installation process. Then, you will have to plug in the HDMI and USB cords into the back of the box and your computer. The Back is on the non-orange side.
From here, you plug in the VR Headset’s cords into the front of the Link Box. Charge up your two Vive controllers as they are wireless.
Plug the Headset into your computer, follow the prompts, and then you will have to trace the playable area (the physical area in which you will move) with the controller. Then, you will be set to download games from Steam.
If you do not have the confidence or know-how to set up the Vive; or you want the installation to be perfect, or alternatively, just do not want to set up your HTC Vive yourself, you can follow the link to the HTC Vive website, where you can check for availability of a specialist to set up your Vive for you. This is in select cities; you can search via ZIP code to see if there is a specialist near you.
Check to see if there is a specialist in your area: https://www.htcvive.com/us/vivespecialistsetup/
Gamers everywhere will be thrilled to hear that the HTC Vive is not only a first-of-it’s-kind Virtual Reality (VR) system, but with SteamVR, this incredible headset has everything you love about Steam, now available in Virtual Reality.
You can keep an eye on the newest released so you will never run out of games to play in the new world of tangible VR.
Among the great features include automatic download game updates, the ability to share content and even create content with millions of other users on Steam.
The Vive is even equipped with Bluetooth so you can take calls when you are gaming.
Also a huge highlight is the front facing camera. This camera blends the physical world and elements around you and can integrate them into your virtual world..
With room-scale experiences, this headset does not limit your world, but in fact, it expands it to an impossible degree. With absolute tracking, Steam, and full-room scaling during gameplay, this HTC Vive headset is the beginning of what is going to be a revolutionary future in technology.
The functionality of the HTC Vive has been hailed as innovative, futuristic, and close to perfection with today’s newest technology.
With all parts of this new VR Headset improved upon other models from the Oculus Rift, for example, HTC fixed the shortcomings of other VR Headsets and improved upon them.
Everything from wireless capabilities, full motion sensors, complete immersion, haptic feedback for tactile realism, and the integration of the real world into the virtual world, the HTC Vive has done an excellent job of being the best functioning VR Headset in the world.
For all of the impressive and state of the art technology, we were genuinely shocked at the price tag for the HTC Vive.
A product like this would surely cost over a thousand dollars–especially when compared to the Oculus Rift, which will set you back over a half of a grand.
However, this is not the case at all.
**You can pre-order the Vive for $799 on the HTC Vive website, with 2-day shipping!
Here is what is included for this price:
- VR Headset
- Two Wireless Controllers
- Two Base Stations
- Link Box, Earbuds
- Vive Accessories
- Safety Guide
- Your Warranty Card
The HTC Vive is expected to begin shipping in June 2016–this is right on our doorstep!
*Orders can be cancelled any time prior to shipment. You can also return your product within 14 days of the date the product was shipped to you. You can pay using a debit/credit card, as well as via PayPal, direct from the HTC Vive website.
The overall impression of the HTC Vive is one of giddiness and excitement. Being able to finally get one’s hands on the closest thing we have seen to a Star Trek Holodeck is incredibly exciting.
Seeing how far this technology has already come in the last few years makes the HTC Vive worth the price and worth playing.
The power source to the headset is not very intrusive, and being able to finally move around and engage in your virtual world while in your physical space, is a first for the VR world and an incredible option that makes the Vive special.
Since the headset contains SteamVR, Steam players can download and receive automatic game updates so you can play your favorite Steam games with this incredible VR headset.
With wireless controllers that look like a bisected Steam controller, most gamers will find this to be a very intuitive, natural, and quickly-learned gaming system that will bring their gaming to the next level and the next dimension.