Virtual reality is one of the most interesting technologies that appeared in recent years. Not only is it a delight to use, but it also brings in front a very distinct set of features, and in the end, it’s just opening up new doors in the world of technology.
VR allows you to visit new worlds, it allows you to interact with items that you never saw possible, and it also enables you to enjoy a virtual recreation of various places all over the world. However, to take complete advantage of this new technology, you will have to use a dedicated headset, and these can be rather expensive. It’s understandable, though, considering that this is a new technology and first adopters will always have to pay a premium price for it.
Even if you have mobile VR as well, the reality is that you just can’t find the same level of detail and quality there. If you want to enjoy VR in all of its glory, you will find that using a dedicated headset can be the best way to have fun and enjoy this type of familiar technology, which is exactly what you want to have in the end.
Should you opt for console or PC VR?
To avoid using your phone for VR (it wasn’t designed for that anyways), you will need to acquire a dedicated headset. This does come with its unique set of challenges for sure, but it clearly shows the fact that if you want to acquire the best VR experience, you may need to physically connect the unit to your PC. This does bring in a lot of cables, true, but it also makes the entire experience a lot more immersive and fun. It’s one of the things you want to focus on!
Is it expensive?
You will get an excellent visual experience here, but at the end of the day, you will also find that there is a trade-off, and that comes from the overall price. VR headsets are very expensive, and in the end, you will have a magnificent experience with them, but they do cost a premium. The cheapest option is PlayStation VR, and that on its own is around $400, not to count any accessories. Oculus Rift is around $600, but you will also have to get controllers separately, and that will cost you another $200. Then you have HTC Vive, which does bring in a comprehensive package, but it’s also $800, to begin with.
Plus, this doesn’t include the overall PC price that you need to run it on. If you have a PlayStation 4 or PlS4 Pro, then you can run PS VR. On the other hand, Oculus and Vive will require a very powerful computer, and that might not be exactly what you want to have in the end.
In order to run HTC Vive, you will need to have a very powerful computer. You will have to use at least a GTX 970 or R9 290 video card, an I5 4590 CPU as well as 4 GB of RAM at least. This clearly shows that there is a lot of value to be had with the HTC Vive, and the headset does have a very distinct set of features. They added earphones so you can get a complete immersion and you do receive controllers as well as a base station in the package. A thing to note here is that it does take a bit of time to install the unit, but the overall instructions are more than enough. But do be prepared for at least 30 minutes of installation, maybe more at times.
The headset has a very large plastic visor that has a shape similar to a rectangular mushroom. The curved front has 32 motion tracking sensors. You have an indicator LED and a button on the left side, and there’s also a knob that helps you focus the unit if you so desire.
Included in the HTC Vive you can find an LCD with a resolution of 2160 to 1200. You have a 90 Hz refresh rate, and there are two lenses that deliver full HD resolution to the user.
Wearing the unit is rather easy, because you have three elastic straps. These make it very easy to wear such a unit and the value you receive is more than impressive for sure. They did a nice job when it comes to allowing you to wear glasses, something that other units won’t give you.
Also, the HTC Vive has a ring of foam padding. This helps deliver a very good fit and you won’t have to deal with any adjustment issues too, which is always great, to say the least.
Some people might not like the fact that the cable is 10 feet long, so if you’re not careful, you can easily step over it. A proper installation will remove this problem, but you still have to be careful. The earphones are short at 14”, and many times they can get out of your ears when you turn very fast. Thankfully, the HTC Vive does allow you to use your earphones, which is what makes them so distinct.
The motion controls for HTC Vive are similar to a wand, and they have 8.5 inches in length. They do have positioning and motion sensors and, during tests, they behaved very well. The tracking information is shared with the utmost results, and the experience you gain from this can be very well worth it. This is certainly the best option you can focus on, and the outcome is a very rewarding one for sure.
Also, HTC Vive comes with two base stations that will help determine the controller and headset positioning. You have to configure those two units properly, but if you do you will see that they can easily detect one another.
You will need quite a lot of space when you use the HTC Vive, in fact, a lot of people consider that this unit is perfect for whole room VR. As we mentioned earlier, tripping the cables might be a problem, but overall you will find that the overall experience is a very fun one despite its minor mishaps.
Performance-wise, HTC Vive has a very crisp picture, and the movement is very smooth. The resolution and refresh rate are the same as in the case of Oculus. Obviously, the overall performance you get is in direct connection to what computer you use. The performance and visual experience are pretty much the same when compared to Oculus. What makes the difference here is the software.
Valve did an excellent job at allowing you to use VR and it does manage to bring in front a very distinct experience because of that. The interface is solid, and the attention to detail is second to none. Plus, you connect it to Steam, which has a ton of VR games for you to play. Some are full VR games, others are experiments, but you’re not going to have any shortage of games to play, that’s for sure.
We tested Virtual Desktop, Adventure Time, Job Simulator as well as Project Cars and many other VR supported games, with amazing results. Again, you need to have a very powerful computer, but the experience will be very nice.
Oculus Rift has the same requirements as HTC Vive, however, its design differs quite a bit. It has a rectangular visor which is black; it also features a small visual flair and rounded edges. The front panel for this unit is flat, in fact, you can only see the Oculus Logo. You will note the fact that they added a security strap, which is very important if you want to secure the device to your head.
Just like Vive, Oculus Rift does allow you to wear glasses, but this can turn into an uncomfortable experience during prolonged sessions as it can feel quite tight in the longer term.
You connect the Oculus Rift to your PC via a cable that will split near the end into HDMI and USB 3.0. A strange thing here is that you have to wind down the cable on the left strap, so it can be rather awkward to use. On the other hand, you will see that this is focused on working even if you walk in a set area. It’s a very nice experience for sure and one that will impress you with the value as a whole.
The controllers are an optional purchase of around $200, but they do make the experience complete. So while you aren’t required to use them, the reality is that you should get them to get the best experience here. That’s a bit disappointing because you do want a much better VR experience as a whole and the Oculus Rift doesn’t provide that without the controllers. Yes, you can use the Xbox One controller included in the package, but adding VR controllers at this price would have helped Oculus Rift in its battle against Vive. If you add the controllers, you get the same $800 price that Vive has, so it’s a matter of choice at this point.
Unlike Vive, you will find that the Oculus Rift will be easy to set up. You need to add the headset and sensor into your computer, then you have to sync your remote, and then you have to pair the Xbox gamepad. It’s all good if you do this and the experience will be quite impressive, to say the least.
If you want to get games for the Oculus Rift, you can either use the dedicated Oculus Store, but some games also support Oculus on the Steam store. Not as many games as Vive has, but it clearly shows that there’s a lot of value to be had here and you can use two stores to get the games you want. A thing to note here is that they will set up as Vive motion controllers on Steam, and it will bring you quite the interesting experience and result in the end.
The 90 HZ refresh rate and full HD imaging are exactly the same when compared to Vive and you get a crisp picture all the time. The motion speed is very good, and head tracking is second to none as well. The graphical fidelity will depend on how powerful your computer is, but overall you will have a magnificent experience if your computer has at least the minimal requirements.
There are lots of good games for Oculus Rift, with EVE: Valkyrie, Lucky’s Tale and Farlands, not to mention that they also have games with VR support which are not full VR and you get some exclusives like Climb as well. There are lots of great games to play, with both Vive and Oculus delivering an excellent experience as a whole.
Which is the best?
Although the Oculus Rift is only $600, it lacks the controllers that will cost you $200 more. So, it has pretty much the same price as HTC Vive if you count the entire package. Performance-wise, both options are rather similar since they have the same refresh rate. If you have a powerful computer, you will find the overall experience to be great, and none of the two headsets came with any lag or anything like that.
Installation is more challenging for the Vive, and Oculus Rift does require you to wrap the cable around the headset a bit, which may seem a bit uncomfortable. Still, the Vive does an excellent job at bringing you a solid gameplay experience and so does the Oculus Rift. It all comes down to you to make the right pick. Usually it depends on which one will be on sale in your area.
Either way, the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are amazing VR headsets, and they come with a plethora of games. New games are developed all the time, with Vive having a tiny advantage here because it’s created by Valve and thus it has more games on the Steam store. They are both great options, and you may want to check them out regardless of the situation!