HTC Vive Pro Review: Better in every way, but it is not for you

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HTC Vive Pro

The HTC Vive Pro is projected as an expensive VR headset designed only for the financially well off VR enthusiasts. If you have the required hardware for the HTC Vive, then you should go for this beauty.The HTC VR headset offers a higher resolution than the standard Vive and can transform a game from a regular good looking one to something very gorgeous and beautiful. The new HTC Vive incorporates everything that you would expect from a VR headset and all this is achieved from learning and adapting from past mistakes and drawbacks. Improvements to the weight distribution and addition of the built-in earphones has aided the Vive pro sound and feel, which is similar to reality. At $799 with no controllers or sensors, this VR headset is very much for enthusiasts and professionals who have deep pockets.

Hardware

The main feature that attracts your attention to the HTC Vive Pro is the use of deep blue color instead of the original all black design. The color difference though helps in distinguishing the both, but the blue color looks pretty cool and attractive. Even though the headset looks large, surprisingly it is light weight. The plastic case and design don’t distinguish from other VR headsets, but the current Vive users will notice any of the differences.

This new HTC Vive looks like a nice refined and finished product.The other most crucial thing of the HTC Vive pro is that there is a new head-strap system. It is very similar to the Deluxe Audio accessory that HTC released a year after the Vive’s debut, which replaced the original head straps with headphones. This new system may look a bit complex making the headset much longer than before. You just have to place the eyepiece over your face and rest the back strap against your head and rotate the dial to straighten it. There is an adjustable band at the top.This is a big change from what HTC has launched with two years ago, which involved three Velcro straps to secure the HTC Vive to your head. It was functional, but very clunky and imagine wearing it with the additional weight of the original headset, making it tough to wear comfortably for extended periods. The Vive Pro on the other hand, balances the weight of the headset pretty well, which is quite similar to the Sony’s Playstation VR.The built-in headphones are also good. They have a good amount of padding and can be adjusted easily. The headset may look a bit overstuffed, but are more convenient to use compared to the ear buds on the vive. It is a big relief from the extra wire that one had to manage. It is certainly better than handling the large headphone with an oversized VR headset. A built-in design makes more sense in a VR. Brands like Oculus Rift and Samsung HMD Odyssey makes it clear that it is a better option for enjoying the immersive effect and feels the presence, which should be the primary goal of the VR headset.

HTC Vive Pro

The HTC Vive Pro also has a notably plusher cushioning around the entire faceplate and some more at the back of the head strap. After use, you may feel sweaty, but you will not experience any pain around the face. Maintaining the headset is also easy. You can clean it on a regular basis and even replace it when it wears out. The Vive on the other hand had a basic foam face protection, which is hard to maintain and tough to wear. This may be a small issue, but it is crucial considering the amount of time there is skin contact with the VR headset.The major technical upgrade is the higher resolution. The Vive Pro has OLED display that runs at 1,440 by 1,600 pixels per eye. This is 78 percent higher resolution than the original Vive. It keeps the same 110 degree field of view though. This is standard specification for high-end VR headsets like the Samsung HMD Odyssey and the Oculus Rift.

Since the HTC Vive Pro is sold as a standalone headset, you will have to buy two of HTC’s Lighthouse sensors and VR controllers separately. HTC is offering all of these accessories together in a $299 bundle, which is pretty less than buying them all separately. But, if you look at the price of the Vive Pro, this is a big cost overall.If you have already invested in the equipment, then setting up the Vive pro is pretty easy. It is as simple as connecting its breakout box to your computer’s USB 3.0 and Display port connections and plugging in the headset itself. If doing this for the first time, then you will have to decide space at two opposite corners of your room to mount the Lighthouse sensors.The best place to mount the sensors is the walls of the room. A wireless adapter for vive is coming this summer, which is one of the most awaited accessories.

Usage

HTC Viva pro
  • First time you may take a few minutes to figure and adjust the head strap properly. But, once you figure it out, you will find it very comfortably and how securely it fits compared to the original. It is not that front heavy as the Vive. It is more like the Playstation VR, which is a large headset, but still pretty comfortable to wear, all due to the smart designing.


As expected, the Vive Pro has improved screens, which makes everything look superior, from the text in Viveport to enemies in Superhot. Guessing your distant targets in Duck Season is easy. Flying around the globe in Google Earth VR is more immersive than before. The experience is better than the original, but the difference is not that great so much so that you would want to upgrade to the expensive VR headset if you have one already.To make full use, you will have to ensure you have a computer that can run the Vive Pro at its best. According to HTC, it has the same minimum system requirements as the Vive, an Intel Core i5-4590 CPU or better and at least an NVIDIA GTX 1060 card or an AMD Radeon RX480. For better visuals you will require faster hardware. These are the simple system requirements, which is not surprising. If your system doesn’t run the Vive properly, then you will have to consider the above requirements before even considering getting the new Vive Pro. The Vive Pro didn’t slowdown in an Intel Core i7-8700K CPU and a GTX 1080. It performed without hiccups across a wide variety of VR titles. The visuals were slightly better. There are a few disadvantages of adopting the Vive Pro early as you will have to replace your controllers and trackers later on this year.

Pricing and Competition

The standard Vive kit costs $499,while the Vive Pro kit comes at $799, which is comparatively very expensive. It includes the original headset, two base stations and two motion controllers. Purchasing the bundle, which comes in $299, makes life easier compared to spending $530 to purchase each of them separately. But, if you add this to the cost of Vive Pro, then the whole Vive Pro setup cost will go up to $1,098.There are other brands that come cheap like the Oculus Rift at $399, with all the sensors and superior controllers, but the only drawback is the low resolution. If you compare the cost, you would still prefer the low resolution headset, which comes at a deal. Windows mixed Reality headsets are also an option, especially the Samsung’s $499 HMD Odyssey, which is closer to the Vive Pros resolution and has great motion controllers.Another advantage with the mixed reality headsets is that they don’t require setting up of the sensors and they support Steam VR, giving you access to same games and apps as the Vive.

Verdict

The original Vive had some problems and the team of HTC has done a good job of ironing out those issues in the new Vive Pro VR headset. At present you need not upgrade your Vive as there are a few accessories lacking. The main factor that goes against upgrading to the HTC Vive Pro is its high price tag. It is designed for professional designers and VR developers with the best hardware equipments.Others can remain better off with the Vive or wait for HTC to announce the whole Vive Pro kit with new accessories later this year. Don’t hope for the prices to drop anytime soon.

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