After one day of use, it’s safe to say that, in many ways, the HTC Vive wins the war of the first batch of virtual reality headsets. The Vive came out a couple months ago and has received excellent reviews. As Wired UK notes, the HTC Vive is high maintenance, but worth the hassle.
“Is HTC Vive perfect? No, far from it… But if you’re not the one having to do the setting up and can just enjoy the final experience, or you do fall into that dedicated early adopter audience, it’s the best high-end VR option on the market at present.”
Indeed, setting the HTC Vive up was a hassle that outdoes any gadget in recent memory. After trying to set it up with the Microsoft Surface Book, it was a failure. Five hours of trying to download different drivers, rebooting the headset, etc. didn’t help. To be fair, the Surface Book doesn’t have the minimal requirements for the Vive, but people have been using it.
So, a Dell XPS8900 desktop was brought in and after about an hour, it worked — sort of. Firmware needed to be downloaded for controllers, software needed updating, and it all seemed exhausting. After a couple more hours of sweat and frustration, the green light on the Vive finally came on. However, there was more work to do as the Vive wouldn’t run in Direct Mode like it is supposed to. The home screen was there, but it wouldn’t launch games. There’s probably a solution to this somewhere.
However, setting the Vive to Mirror Mode worked. In this mode, the monitor displays everything that’s on the Vive. Things seemed to flicker a little too much, but it didn’t seem to matter once The Lab, a portal with games and other experiences, started. Needless to say, this experience blew away everybody who tried it, even though it’s considered one of the minor experiences of the Vive.
Walking up to a chalkboard, picking up a dry-erase marker, and writing messages is a surreal experience. The touch controllers act like your hands and you can actually see and “feel” the touch controllers in the virtual world. The game Longbow, where you use both touch controllers to simulate a bow and arrow, is one of The Lab‘s best experiences. You shoot creatures who are threatening your castle. It takes a couple minutes to get used to the controllers, but you honestly feel like you are using a real bow and arrow when you do.
Postcards is another experience in which you walk forward to pick up a glowing teleportation orb, pull it towards your face, and get transported into a photo, such as Washington’s Vesper Park. To make things even more fun, there is a robotic dog that follows you. You can even throw sticks to play with your pet. Describing the experience really doesn’t do it justice.
The Lab is perfect for demonstrating what virtual reality can do. For now, it demonstrates how the Vive is more advanced than the Oculus Rift or the mobile virtual reality set, the Gear VR. The possibilities are endless and a lot more time needs to be spent with the device in order to come up with a definitive conclusion.
The HTC Vive certainly has its flaws. Besides the excruciating setup process, the screen resolution is low enough where you have a screen door effect due to being able to see individual pixels. The device also feels clunky with wires following you wherever you walk. The headset itself becomes uncomfortable after about a half hour of use. However, the Vive’s futuristic abilities and immersive nature make up for anything else the system lacks. From one day of use though, it’s safe to say that the HTC Vive, unlike the Oculus Rift, represents the future of virtual reality technology.
[Photo via Daryl Deino]