Set to launch this week, on the 2 12 months anniversary of the unique Vive, HTC’s Vive Pro reveals the progress the corporate has been capable of make on their VR headset in the identical span, although it isn’t being positioned as a ‘Vive 2’. Bringing plenty of welcomed enhancements, but additionally a steep improve in value, the headset is barely more likely to make sense to enterprise and industrial customers, and a tiny fraction of the VR fanatics which have already purchased into HTC’s VR ecosystem. Even then, with SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations and controllers nonetheless not out there to make the most of new sensors on the headset, the worth proposition isn’t but solely obvious.

HTC impressed us with its debut headset, the Vive, again in 2016. Offering a room-scale expertise with movement controllers out of the field, its $800 all-in value was a lot premium even on the time, although via competitors with Oculus and others, now you can choose up a model new Vive system for a fairly affordable $500.

So when HTC launches a brand new headset two years later and asks for greater than twice the worth (together with base stations and controllers), you can be forgiven for anticipating it to really feel like a next-generation system. Alas, the Vive Pro brings plenty of welcomed enhancements, however its awkward rollout (you continue to can’t purchase the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 base stations or controllers that the headset is optimized for) and excessive asking value make it an odd play by HTC.

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That stated, with out contemplating value, it’s a headset you’d attain for each time over the unique Vive due to its notably sharper picture, and some new options which make it extra handy and comfy to make use of.

As common, we’ll begin with a normal abstract up prime, after which broaden right into a deep dive additional down.

Vive Pro Headset Review Summary

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The Vive Pro is a hop however not a leap from the unique Vive. The elevated decision makes all the pieces notably sharper, and amplifies the stereoscopic impact. Smaller textual content is rather more legible which is nice for sure use-cases like digital desktops and text-heavy video games like Elite Dangerous. Textures are that a lot sharper and the additional decision actually stands out with extremely optimized, effectively made VR experiences which can be capable of run at full settings. The display screen door impact can also be lowered (however not invisible), which additional will increase readability.

Because the Vive Pro is utilizing the identical lenses as the unique, all the pieces (good and unhealthy) carries over. It’s the identical 110 diploma discipline of view as earlier than, identical God Rays and Fresnel ring artifacts, and sadly the identical small Sweet Spot. The latter is very unlucky as a result of the heightened decision nearly appears to make it extra noticable. It turns into obvious that the blur launched once you aren’t trying completely via the middle axis of the lens is making a lot of that additional decision ineffective. The small Sweet Spot received’t spoil VR gaming an excessive amount of, however for use-cases the place finer particulars are necessary (like digital desktop utilization, text-based apps, and design), it turns into an annoyance. Make certain to get your IPD measured and dialed in exactly to keep away from the pitfalls of the small Sweet Spot as a lot as potential.

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At first look, the Vive Pro’s design appears so much like a easy reskin of the unique Vive and Deluxe Audio Strap accent. Looking nearer, it’s truly a extra substantial redesign. The sensor placements have been tweaked, there’s now a dual-microphone, and the mechanism for adjusting the lens-to-eye distance has been considerably improved. There’s additionally now a stereo digicam pair, although its performance is sorely missing, because it doesn’t even but assist stereo passthrough video, not to mention hand-tracking, or every other attention-grabbing capabilities.

The redesigned head mount is extra comfy than ever, and I had no downside (after experimenting with the match to get it good) comfortably utilizing the headset for multi-hour VR classes. Compared to the unique Vive’s default mushy headstrap, the Vive Pro headmount is a serious enchancment particularly due to the on-board audio. Unfortunately, the Vive Pro headphones are presently crippled with a “identified difficulty” which has them lacking out on a whole lot of bass tones. HTC says a repair for that’s within the works, and you may take away the Vive Pro headphones and substitute your individual if you want. I hope the headphones get fastened sooner somewhat than later, as the amount and mic-mute buttons on the again of them are a helpful contact.

One of the most important attracts of the Vive Pro, and maybe the one ingredient of the headset that really is sensible of the “Pro” branding—SteamVR Tracking 2.0, bringing assist for a lot bigger monitoring areas—nonetheless isn’t out there since HTC isn’t but promoting 2.0 base stations or controllers. They plan to make them out there later this 12 months, however the value is unknown. In the meantime they’re asking individuals to as a substitute drop $300 on 1.0 base stations and controllers, presumably to get replaced later down the street. That signifies that they’re asking $1,100 for a not fairly fully-functional model of the Vive Pro.

The Vive Pro brings good enhancements, however once you zoom out and take a look at the (present) distinction in expertise between the unique Vive and the Vive Pro, it’s onerous to make sense of the asking value—even for the enterprise/industrial demographic, since they will’t presently make use of the headset’s (eventual) bigger monitoring quantity.

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A ‘professional’ headset ought to undoubtedly have best-in-class decision, however it must be paired with ‘professional’ lenses too. Unfortunately the Vive Pro feels held again by the restrictions of the unique Vive’s lenses (which it borrows).

Maybe I’m simply caught up within the common development of different kinds of shopper electronics gadgets, however two years after the discharge of the unique Vive, the Vive Pro seems like anticipated progress which looks as if it ought to have been priced—for the entire system, with 2.0 monitoring base stations and controllers—no larger than the unique Vive’s launch value.

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Vive Pro Headset In-depth Review

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Display and Lenses

Resolution & Screen Door Effect

The greatest enchancment to the Vive Pro is its new shows, which have been up to date to 1,440 × 1,600 per eye from 1,080 × 1,200. That may not seem to be a giant change when represented that approach, however should you take into account the figures in Megapixels, its 2.3MP per eye vs. 1.3MP, roughly a 77% improve within the variety of pixels in every eye.

Looking via the headset, it’s a hop—however not fairly a leap—in decision. Everything appears notably sharper and clearer. Text is one place the place the development could be very tangible, with textual content changing into legible at distance the place it could beforehand appear like a shimmering mess. Jumping into Bigscreen to really feel how the decision would profit the ‘headset-as-a-monitor’ use-case, I used to be fairly impressed with how shut the Vive Pro’s decision is coming to the expertise you’d get from a 1080p monitor sitting in your desk. The decision isn’t there fairly but for a full monitor alternative, however it’s changing into more and more life like to work in VR at such resolutions.

Another place the place the Vive Pro’s new decision actually shines is on extremely optimized and effectively textured content material. I used to be tempted again into Valve’s The Lab (2016) and felt like I used to be among the sport’s refined particulars with model new eyes, just like the wall of gauges in ‘Aperture Science Robot Repair’ (subsequent to the drawers) and the birds flying excessive over ‘Vesper Peak’.

The enhance in decision doesn’t simply make textures and textual content sharper, it additionally enhances the 3D impact. Since effectively outlined edges are such a powerful queue for our stereo imaginative and prescient, and the elevated decision sharpens the perimeters of geometry, it’s simpler for our eyes and mind to see what’s in entrance and what’s behind, resulting in an elevated sense of 3D that doesn’t go unnoticed.

Screen Door Effect and Mura

SEE ALSO
Understanding the Difference Between ‘Screen Door Effect’, ‘Mura’, & ‘Aliasing’

The Screen Door Effect on the Vive Pro is lowered, however not gone. The discount feels roughly according to the rise in decision. The lowered Screen Door Effect signifies that you received’t see fairly as a lot of that black grid-like look throughout the picture, although, as all the time, it can stand out on some colours greater than others, and in dim or darkish scenes you’ll hardly be capable to inform that it’s there. Generally talking, the place you can select particular person sub-pixels on the unique Vive, they’re nearly gone now on the Vive Pro. On the Vive Pro, particular person complete pixels are about as about as troublesome to see now as sub-pixels had been on the unique Vive. That is to say, you’ll see be capable to see clumps of pixels should you look intently for them, however they’re getting more durable to see, and received’t hassle you a lot except you’re stable colour textures.

Mura on the Vive Pro is generally unobtrusive, however not invisible. It’s most seen in darker scenes. The quantity of mura feels about equal to what you see on the unique Vive, so no main regression or enchancment there.

God Rays and Sweet Spot

Given that the Vive Pro is utilizing the identical Fresnel lenses as the unique Vive, it’s not shocking that the God Rays are simply as current as ever. They appear like streaks of fuzzy gentle that stretch out of brightly coloured objects and transfer relative to your head. When seen, the God Rays additionally regularly illuminate the ridges of the lenses, worsening the artifact. God Rays are most seen in scenes when there’s a mixture of excessive distinction brilliant and darkish parts. Lower distinction scenes (both largely brilliant or largely darkish) cover the God Rays higher.

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Again as a result of identical lenses, the Vive’s notoriously tight Sweet Spot (the world of most visible readability via the lens) returns to the Vive Pro. Outside of a small space towards the middle of the lens, the picture turns into more and more blurred. If you don’t rigorously align the headset to your eye, you’ll see a blurrier picture than you must, and even turning your eye barely throughout use might have you ever trying via a blurry a part of the lens. During typical VR gaming this isn’t an excessive amount of of a problem, however for duties requiring extra element (particularly studying textual content), the small Sweet Spot turns into fairly obvious.

Keeping each eyes within the respective candy spot of every lens is especially difficult, and with the Vive Pro I discovered myself recurrently making small changes to attempt to hold my eyes in the best place. Knowing your IPD (the space between your eyes) and dialing it in on the Vive Pro’s IPD adjustment is important to reaching most picture readability, so subsequent time you’re on the optometrist, ask for a exact measurement. HTC says that the IPD adjustment vary on the Vive Pro is similar to the unique Vive (about 60mm to 73mm). If your IPD falls outdoors of that vary, you’d be particularly vulnerable to being bothered by the small Sweet Spot.

The elevated decision of the Vive Pro nearly has the impact of amplifying the tiny Sweet Spot as a result of the decision via the middle is sharper than earlier than, however the blur makes readability drop off shortly any time you’re looking off-axis (which everybody does naturally). When I used to be testing the Vive Pro by utilizing Bigscreen as a pc monitor, I used to be naturally inclined to make use of my eyes to scan alongside a line of textual content, however discovered that I needed to to show my head (to heart my eye to the Sweet Spot) to realize the readability I wished even after I was trying only a few levels away from the middle of the lens.

Field of View, Flicker, and More

Given the identical lenses, the sphere of view on the Vive Pro is unchanged at 110 levels, in accordance with HTC. If you’ve used a Rift, Vive, or PSVR—the Vive Pro is correct in that very same class. If not, you’ll be able to count on an immersive view that’s far wider than what you’d count on from a typical TV or pc monitor. It’s sufficient to get you effectively immersed within the digital world, although it received’t fully embody your imaginative and prescient.

As for flicker, I couldn’t spot any, and I by no means might with the unique Vive both. Both use a 90Hz low-persistence show, so not an excessive amount of shock there. Persistence blurring was onerous to evaluate as a result of it was overcome so shortly by the blurriness of the small Sweet Spot, although once more, on the identical refresh price and low-persistence show, count on the identical as the unique Vive. As with the unique Vive, the Vive Pro does an ideal job of sealing off all gentle coming into the headset.

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