HTC Vive: The Complete Review with Long Details
The HTC Vive has all the components to compete and challenge the Oculus Rift, including the ability to walk around in the virtual reality space, 6DoF hand controllers, and the 100+ games for HTC Vive are on the way.
The generation of virtual reality has been started, a little more than a week ago, and the fans of virtual reality can choose the high-end experience that they prefer or like most. We covered the launch of Oculus Rift last week, and today we are looking at the first competition of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, which was designed in partnership with Valve. The Vive has come in the technology of virtual reality that we have seen already by adding the ability to walk around spaces in virtual reality and six degrees of freedom (6DoF) hand controllers. The Oculus Rift offers you to feel the presence in the virtual reality world, but the HTC Vive has taken you one step forward into the virtual reality world.
In addition to the controllers that are offered in HTC Vive that get your hands into the games, it also allows you to move around in the virtual reality world and interact with it by utilizing a high-end tracking system. Valve has given this the name of “Room-Scale” virtual reality and said it’s not a gimmick. Rather, this is what gives the HTC Vive a little more superiority over Oculus Rift. Although the Rift will have its own technology to answer and compete with the HTC’s 6DoF controllers later this year, the feature of the room-scale virtual reality of HTC Vive remains unchallenged for now.
Naturally, the room-scale virtual reality provides a distinctive group of challenges. There is safety to think about in regards to room-scale virtual reality. HTC used the Chaperone to address this, which is a system that is designed to save you from unknowingly bumping into real-world objects. This technology creates a sense of peace and safety that makes it easier to trust on the virtual reality technology without worrying about the happenings in your surroundings or in other words, the real world. There is also a front-facing camera. We will see how the developers end up using this feature. However, for now, this is another to monitor and know what is happening in surroundings in the real world with this HMD pulled over your eyes.
It sounds cool, right? There a little doubt arises that the HTC is going for a more premium and exceptional experience than its virtual reality competitors. Oculus started its voyage with an amazing idea of making virtual reality technology as reasonable as possible. This hardware ended up launching with higher a price point than many originally anticipated. However, Oculus was really working to provide lower costs. On the other hand, Valve and HTC tout Vive as the most attracting and engaging virtual reality platform out there. Oculus wanted to reach virtual reality for the masses, and they then needed to backpedal. However, HTC and Valve has made us aware by showing that this will be a purchase which has a high cost. Although, these early details have made us believe that the virtual reality technology will be worth it.
So the hardware sounds to be compelling and attracting enough, but what is going on as for the software side? Because the software side is also as important as the hardware. Each company’s library weighs severely on our thoughts, as we mull over virtual reality experiences that we like and try to decide which HMD we need to buy. But lets not forget that we are discussing the Valve now. It’s the Steam platform that speaks for itself. Steam is open for all of the developers to develop it, and you probably already have a Steam account, if you are a real gamer.
Want to get more pieces of evidence? Although there is a head start of Oculus over HTC, the Vive is releasing more titles to choose from. It’s being said that there are over 100 more titles on the way that feature support for Vive.
This is clear from where we are sitting that the HTC Vive has all of the required elements that it requires challenging its incumbent rival Rift. But does the HTC Vive make you want to clear out some space in your home, get up in the game and on your feet in virtual reality? What is in the box of HTC Vive?
The single word for the box that Vive comes packed in is Large. It is significantly larger than the Vive Pre’s container. This comes out to be as a life-saver. The box while cardboard is separated with a few inches of space between to protect the actual hardware from harm in the inner box.
HTC is all about demonstration here, covering the box up with a bow around the box. You will find a huge guide “Get Started” when you lift the top off that guides you about some of the arrangements that you will be going to need to do before configuring the Vive. The HMD is packed in an amazing amount of soft foam just below the guide to assure that it doesn’t take a careful act of sabotage to damage the headset of HTC during the shipping.
In a form-fitting foam, the lighthouse and the two controllers base stations fit comfortably, and the headset also fits comfortably in its own foam-lined compartment. There is a section with the two AC-to-USB charger and sync/charge cables beneath the controllers. If you don’t have two USB ports available, these prove to be useful. HTC doesn’t suppose you should have extra phone charges laying around unlike the many other products that use USB to charge. The box for the base stations includes a sync cable that is 50-foot long and the power cable for each unit. HTC Vive also includes the hardware to affix them to the wall and a pair of speaker mounts for the base stations.
The HMD and its cables which are pre-attached are fairly loose in the large compartment of the box. To plug the system to your computer, you will require the link box, that can be found in the upper-right corner of the Vive package in a little blue container, along with a USB 3.0 cable, its power cord, and an HDMI cable that is four-foot long. You will also find in there a group of instructions for the system, packed earbuds, and a face gasket that provides help with smaller heads accommodating the HTC Vive.
With this HTC Vive, you will also get some content. Every piece of Vive comes with the codes for Google’s Tilt Brush and Owelchemy labs Fantastic Contraption and Jobs Simulator from the Northway Games. Valve also contains a group of free mini-games known as The Lab that provide you more than a dozen examples of what you can do with the virtual reality.
The HMD of HTC Vive
The Vive is a head-mounted virtual reality display that offers a fully submerged entertainment and gaming experience. You wear it like ski goggles and then you will be delivered to a new world of virtual reality. The HTC Vive lets you explore and get up off your seat as compared to the Oculus Rift.
The put on of HMD of HTC Vive, it’s not as graceful as the HMD of Oculus Rift. Oculus spent their effort, money, and time with engineering to put a special fabric on the exterior of the HMD to cover it. HTC and Valve made the shell of the HMD out of the hard molded plastic. The shape of HTC Vive is also odd. Some people have said that it seems like a golf ball, and that’s fairly true in some ways. The front of HTC Vive is mostly rounded – bulbous, and it is pockmarked with the depressions. These curved “blemishes” contain the array of sensors of Infrared Radiation that used for tracking the headset.
You will find two large Fresnel lenses, inside the HTC Vive. Their shape is somewhat strange: there are two flat sides on a lens (one for each lens) that shapes up with the overall angle of your nose. This is done for the narrow interpupillary distances (IPD) so that the lenses can be put close together without sacrificing the size of a lens. The lenses also have noticeable concentric rings throughout that HTC is using. These noticeable concentric rings look like to the dissimilar stages of focus characteristic of Fresnel lenses. The optics of Oculus Rift have also employed these, but they are less visible in Oculus Rift. This might perhaps sound more disturbing because the rings are noticeable when you look at the lenses from a distant distance. But, with the lenses adjacent to your eyes, they are not really bothersome. To make your experience as comfortable as possible, Vive is applying a number of modifications. The first change is an IPD dial near the front, on the right side of the headset. When you rotate it, then the screens and lenses move together to line up with your IPD. The headset permits the customization between 60.8mm and 74.6mm. Conveniently, you can rotate the dial of your headset at any time. When you rotate the dial, then you will see a dialog on the screen displaying the current distance in millimeters, right below up to the one decimal place. You can also adjust the IPD on the fly of Oculus Rift, but you must open a particular application to see the definite measurement.
The next feature, in addition to the IPD dial, is a length adjustment that HTC calls it as “relief” adjustment. It allows you to change the deepness of lens, more easily helpful to the gamers with the glasses. You have to turn two dials together to manipulate this relief. That can be found on the head strap swivels; there is a small gray dial that is concealed in the dial. To unlock the adjustment, simply put move the rings away from the headset, and turn them to change the screen depth. Once you find your desired spot, lock the dials up again to stop them from shifting out of place. However, the HTC recommends to alter the relief adjustments as little as possible, since moving the lens back can affect your view of the field. At best, there is an 110-degree FOV in Vive, but it narrows the deeper, the lens depth you set. If the Oculus doesn’t add the fabric inside the Oculus Rift, that covers the IPD adjustment mechanism, then there will always be a gap between the casing and the lenses of Oculus Rift. This could let the dust inside through over some time, and it doesn’t seem to be cleaned easily.
Fortunately, HTC has accounted that its customers have different shapes and sizes of heads. HTC also includes a second face gasket that is with the thicker foam to deal with the smaller heads. To remove it, simply peel if off your HTC Vive. It is fixed in place with a Velcro strip that is easy to remove out in a few seconds.
The Vive contains the very similar panels as the Oculus Rift has. Each eye has its own AMOLED display with 90Hz refresh rate and a resolution of 1080x1200l. HTC and Valve basically take the same Oculus Rift position when it comes to a minimum comfortable use specification. John Carmack, the Oculus CTO, told the Gamasutra in 2014 that the 90 Hz is the sweet spot where about 95% of the people don’t even notice the screen flicker in an HMD.
A flying little bird had told us that the Vive’s panels are actually as same as what the Oculus has used in Rift, but we are not sure for now because the detailed information by parts is not available yet.
Big But Comfy
The Vive headset of HTC is both heavier and bulky than that of Oculus. The measure of its front is 7.5 inches across and 5 inches from top to bottom. It also roughly sticks out beyond the center of your head about 3.5 inches and with the adjustment of relief all the way out, which is roughly about 5 inches. The HTC Vive doesn’t have the built-in speakers though, so the headset’s widest point is the faceplate.
Further, the Vive weighs about 536g, when the cables disconnected while Rift weighs 470g. If someone switches from one HMD to the other, then he can notice this difference. It’s far less palpable, once the Vive is on your head. HTC Vive contains a three-point harness that helps in balancing the weight of Vive comfortably on your head. On the backside, the overhead strap, and the two side straps join together in a section that is oval-shaped. There are two purposes of this oval shape: first, it applies pressure low pressure on your head, which is same as the Rift’s harness, and secondly, the large opening of Vive allows you to wear the headset easily even with a ponytail. You can also do the same thing in Rift, but your pony hair will produce disturbance with some of the LEDs that are used for tracking. The HTC Vive doesn’t work in this sense. Instead of this, the Vive contains all the sensors, rather than the infrared radiation LEDs.
So, unlike the Oculus Rift, you won’t find anything embedded in the back strap of HTC Vive. As a result, HTC for the harnessing the entire system is able to use the fabric. HTC has also engineered the harness to control and balance the hanging weight above you to your forehead. The anchor point, which is for the head, is close to the front of the unit, to keep some of the weight of overhanging object away from your face. And the soft foam on the gasket for face keeps the pressure you feel minimum against your face. There is nothing really unusual or special about the mechanism of adjustment that the HTC uses for the harness of Vive. All the three straps feature Velcro adjustments and are made of a fabric material. The two side straps are sufficiently easy to twist on the fly, but you should be careful when you are adjusting the upper strap of Vive. The cables of video and data run over your head, right above this Vive strap, making it difficult to access quickly if you want to make an in-game adjustment. If you heave too hard on the cables, then the display may cut out briefly.
The Vive is powered by an AC connection to wall outlet, and it communicates with your virtual reality PC through HDMI and USB 3.0 video cables. All the three cables are combined with each other into a wide rubberized tether that is nearly 16 feet long and half an inch wide. Instead of plugging into your PC. HTC provides also ships a link box, which accepts all these three connections. Then, a shorter cable from the link box runs towards your PC. This box also lets you plug in a Mini-DisplayPort cable, for the case if your computer’s graphic card doesn’t have a free HDMI output. The cables of the link box are only four feet long, but these four feet gives you some extra distance from your PC and tether, making it easy for you to reach the ports when for a while, you want to put your headset away.
The Vive doesn’t sport integrated headphones, and it doesn’t have its own sound system. Instead of this, for audio, it employs a pass-through that works as the path from the HDMI cable to a 3.5mm jack extension. HTC Vive comes with a pair of earbuds that gives a fine experience; this is joined by a short cable so you don’t have to deal with the excess slack. Alternatively, you can use your own headphones that you like, but you have to deal with the extra cable.
There is a USB 3.0 port available inside the headset, but exclusively it is not useful. With the Vive Pre. We received a special extension with a perpendicular end that fit properly inside the slot. This cable is not available with the retail version, and for a standard USB cable, the slot is too small. Without this extension, it will not possible to use a headset with an extra tether. That will also make it tough to use a Leap Motion controller with the HTC Vive.
A Camera is Included
You will see a camera, facing down at a small angle, on the front of the Vive. This can be let you see what is in your surroundings in the actual world by working as a pass-through. There is no depth perception because there is an only single lens, but at least, you can see your surroundings with the headset giving cover to your eyes. This camera also triggers a part of the safety system of Chaperone.
HTC is a well-known player in the market of mobile phones. The Vive in the market of virtual reality is its first attempt at an entertainment device. But the company gets some advantage here due to its experience in other sectors. For example, the HTC Vive has necessities to interact with your phone. There is a built-in Bluetooth radio in the Link Box that is able to receive the incoming calls when it is on your head. You don’t have to remove the Vive from your head to check your phone because it can also show you text messages on the screen.
During our evaluation period, this feature was not enabled. But HTC plans to enable this feature by the time when you read this.
Use Your Hands
The HTC Vive is very different device than Oculus Rift, despite their theoretical resemblances. For now, the Rift is limited to seating experience only using a gamepad as input. However, the default control technique is one or both of the included track controllers for most of the games, but it can be technically used like Rift. These are the devices like the magic stick that can be used to experience an amazing number of interactions that feels natural. They offer some buttons that can be used in a number of different ways and they also feature six degrees of freedom (6DoF). There is a trackpad on the front side of the controller that is in easy reach of your thumb. You will easily a small menu button above this trackpad and a slightly bigger button below it. The button below the touchpad is used to get access to the Steam VR interface during the game; it is also that how you turn the controllers on and off.
On both sides, there are two grip buttons on the controller. Both of these buttons are placed on the same controller, so you don’t have to concern about which one to press. The back side of the controller has a pressure sensitive trigger switch and a beautiful textured finish. In the light of our experience, this is the most often used input button for the games of Vive. It is frequently used to simply grab items in the virtual world or as a trigger for a gun. The controllers of Vive also contains force feedback motors that vibrate to give a subtle haptic effect. Each controller has an LED light that is located on the top side. The light turns blue when the controller is on, but not being used to track, and it turns green when it is being used for tracking. The light turns to orange when the batteries are charging.
On top of each controller, there is a doughnut-shaped structure, which contains the sensors that are used to find the position/orientation relative to the two base stations and to detect the infrared light. Initial incarnations of the controllers of HTC Vive connected directly through a receiver with a PC, but the HTC has changed the design for the HTC Vive final and Pre retail version. Now the controllers connect wirelessly with the headset, and all of the tracking data is sent through the HMD’s USB connection to the PC. The controllers of HTC Vive are much bigger than that of the Oculus Rift’s touch prototype, but we’re not saying that they are massive. The controllers are about a little more than eight inches long from tip to tip, and the sensor is about four inches wide. The controllers are designed and evenly balanced to fit comfortably in your hands. Each controller of Vive weights 217g while the weight of the controller of the Xbox One that Oculus bundles with the Rift are 236g.
Tracked controllers of Vive are thrilling, and they give an unbelievable experience that wouldn’t be possible without them, but they are not restricted to the Vive. The Rift is planning to bring out its touch controllers this year, and the Sony is also going to provide Move controllers with its new upcoming PSVR system. It seems that every platform is going to support the track controllers and they will go hand in hand with the virtual reality evolution. The ability to move around with one-to-one tracking sets the Vive apart from the other Head Mounted Displays (HMDs). HTC is selling the depth of immersion to its customers, such that you can dodge bullets by moving away from them and walk up to something for getting a better-detailed view. HTC and Valve call this idea of moving around as “room-scale VR,” and they also said that and the key to this room-scale VR is occlusion free tracking using IR sensors.
The base stations of the HTC Vive are mostly set in the opposing corners of the room, in front of each other with a slight angle towards the ground. One base station emits a vertical array in one direction and the other emits an array of horizontal infrared light in the other direction. The sensors of the both Vive controllers and on the headset detect these networks of light and send the data to the computer, which is then used to map your position in the three-dimensional space.
There are a status light and a channel indicator LED behind the window on the base station that shows if the stations can see each other. If the lights are green, then they can see each other. If any of the light is blue, then they can’t see each other. There is also an optical sync cable available that you can use if this type of condition happens.
The base station of the Vive has two tripod/speaker mount threads, one on the bottom and other on the back, enabling different options for placement. On the rear side, you will find a jack for the optional sync cable, AC power port, a USB port used for the updates of firmware, and a channel select button.
The Vive base stations do not record or transmit any data except communicating with each other. They are plugged simply into the power. All the heavy lifting is done by the headset.
System Recruitment and Setup Procedures
The HTC Vive also stresses on the similar system requirements as the Oculus Rift. It seems that they have the same display specifications. Both of the HMDs require a Core i5-4590 or better processor. Oculus have not specified any model from the AMD, but HTC and Valve say that you can also use an FX-8350 or better.
The virtual reality system of HTC also recommends a GeForce GTX 970 or better graphic card just same as the Oculus Rift’s virtual reality demands. For some reasons, this graphic card is a little familiar to the AMD’s graphic card. However, you can go out with a Radeon R9 280, which is quite similar to GeForce GTX 960. We are not sure about the performance of these two cards, but we hope to find soon.
We noted that it really comes down to the simple math. A lower-end GPU can’t give us the desired number of shared pixels at 90Hz for 2160×1200 resolution, especially in the case when you consider the 1.4x scale to use correct spatial distortion. Then you will be really talking about the 1512×1680 pixels at 90Hz, which would be going to be more than 400 million shared pixels.
In 2015, Alex Vlachos, a senior graphic programmer at Valve software, gave a talk called “Advanced virtual reality rendering” wherein he described that how for the more performance, a scalar can be dialed. We have been informed that the is working dynamically to make virtual reality titles scale quality to keep up the steady rendering performance. You are able to see the examples in the SteamVR Performance Test of this graphic scaling technique. This utility is free to use and runs a benchmark on your system and gives your system a grade of Capable, Ready or Not ready based on the overall performance of your system. Capable systems come under the section of systems that are just below the minimum specifications, but the graphics quality back as needed in order to keep a steady frame rate of 90 FPS or above it. In our testing, an R9 389 is rated as Capable, so it looks that an R9 280 would suffice.
Good chance you have enough space
The three main virtual reality systems have many things in common, but there is one thing that sets the Vive apart from the others: that is the ability of Vive to offer room-scale virtual reality right out of the box. The Rift has really the ability for this, but actually, it was not designed with this in mind. Until Oculus Touch come out, it is a moot point display. However, there is everything in the Vive that you need now.
The two base stations that we have already discussed sit in the opposite corners of the room in front of each other. The maximum space should not exceed 16.4 feet between them diagonally, which allows the trackable space of 15×15 feet. That sounds to you scary, but it should not be. You are able to easily scale the space down to fit into a more realistic size office or bedroom, and you can still derive much more enjoyment from it. There is so much attention given to the maximum size by HTC because it had a hard time explaining this aspect of Vive. The fifteen square feet is enough space, and you will not find many homes with the empty rooms larger than fifteen feet. This large space doesn’t matter; you can set the Vive for a small room as small as 6.5×5 feet. Most of the living rooms can allow this small space by moving a coffee table temporarily to a corner, and many of the offices can also be organized accordingly. You can still reach your arms beyond the obstacles like the couches if you want to use a space smaller than 15×15 feet. If you are still unable to clear that much open area, don’t order the Vive for now. The HTC Vive is fully compatible with the standing and sitting experiences too. There are many games in Vive that also have a tabletop mode for seated gaming.
Setting up the Vive
To setup the HTC Vive for room-scale virtual reality, first, you need to clear the obstacles out of the way. You need to clear the whole floor of play space from anything that may hit your face while using the Vive. When you have figured out the extents of your virtual reality area, you just need to download and run the software setup package of HTC Vive. It will provide you the step by step process of how to set the HMD. This utility says that you can complete the process of setting the HMD in less than 28 minutes, but unlikely it will take more time if you want to wall-mount the base stations.
The software package of Vive weighs in at 524MB, but you are asked to log in or create an HTC account once you have downloaded 18% of this software package. If you don’t do this, the download will not continue. The install also checks if you have installed Steam. If not, it will also install that for your system. It lets you move to the hardware setup as soon as the download reaches 50%. The first thing that it promotes to you is to set up the base stations. HTC recommends to set up the base stations to wall from the ground at least 6.5 feet, but it is better to go higher than this. The package also includes a pair of wall mounts so there is no need to buy anything extra to get started with Vive.
Wall mounting is necessary because tracking may be affected by the vibrations. But if you are unable to drill holes in the wall because you rent the house or game setup is in a concrete basement, you can elevate the base stations in a different way. Each station includes two threaded points that house tripods. HTC says you can use clamps to attach the stations to a bookshelf. The key point behind all this is to secure them properly. You have to make sure that a power outlet from the wall is available near your base stations wherever you want to pace them. They do not require a connection to your system, but a power source. The given 10-foot power cables are a little short according to the recommended 6.5-foot elevation for the base stations. It will be useful to get an extension cable with an inline power switch for the AC adapters. As they come, you have to disconnect the stations to shut them down between the users. There is a silver lining which is the thing that base stations support power management when the Bluetooth is enabled in the settings panel in Vive. The stations also shut down when the headset does, when the power management is enabled. Plug in the power once the base stations are mounted. You will see a light indicating the status of the station; a group of lasers behind the screen; and a light representing the channel A, B, and C. The status light will turn green if you have positioned the base stations where they can easily see each other.
If the base stations are showing purplish blue light, then it means that the base stations are facing difficulty in seeing each other and they require a position adjustment or a sync cable that comes with the HTC Vive package. The sync cable is 50-feet long so you will face no difficulty running it around the perimeter of any room. If your room have a drop ceiling, then it will be easy to run the wires above the tiles of the ceiling. If you require the sync cable in your setup, then you need to change the channel manually of one base station using a button that is on the back of the unit.
Headset and Controllers
Once the base stations are in place and they are communicating with each other, you are promoted to find the link box and headset. The link box needs to be plugged into the computer before you are going to plug it with the Vive. You should first plug in the power source, then USB 3.0 and HDMI in the last. The process is same for the headset: power, USB, HDMI. You can also use a mini DisplayPort-to-DisplayPort cable, in the case if you don’t have an HDMI port available on your PC. However, you have to buy that cable separately.
HTC has taken further steps to make the setup as easy as possible. For example, all the cables are labeled, that clearly indicates which type of cable is it and where it needs to go.
Furthermore, the link box and its cables are color-coded to avoid any wrong connection.
Now comes the controllers. Press the system button that can be found below the trackpad to turn the controllers on. The status indicator will show up the blue light, which means that the controllers are on. This light will turn to green when the controllers start to sync and tracking. You don’t have to worry about charging the controllers in the start because HTC ships the controllers enough charged at least to complete the setup process and play a few games.
At this point, if the download process of the Vive software is complete, Steam VR will open and you will be asked to choose between the standing-only and room-scale setup procedures.
If you have chosen the room-scale option, then the Steam VR will again ask you to make sure that the virtual zone is clear of obstacles and you have at least the minimum-sized zone. Then, the software starts to detect the controllers and the headset. If it faces any problem in this process, then you cannot proceed further.
The next step is to calibrate the position of your monitor. Steam VR will ask you to stand in the center of the room, point the controller towards your computer monitor, and then press and hold the trigger button. The position of the monitor is used by the Steam VR to get help in orienting the room. You can see the tracing preview of the screen in the next step. There is a helpful feature in the Vive that is known as Chaperone, which helps you to keep yourself safe as you can navigate the room with the headset over your eyes. What a thoughtful feature, but you need to set up the barriers manually because the system is not able to detect the space automatically in which you want to play. To set your boundaries of Chaperone, take one of the controllers, push and hold the trigger, and trace around the edges of your open area. When tracing the boundaries, avoid getting too close to the objects like the wall and other furniture. If you have good space available in your room, I will suggest you stay a foot or more from the edges.
While tracing the area for the virtual zone, make sure that you use all the open area that you want to access, not just a little square. You can also trace around the objects like the bookshelves and couches to create a randomly shaped virtual zone. You can walk outside the minimum space to increase the size of your virtual zone as long as the base stations can locate the controllers and headset. The 6.5×5 foot area will be enough to start your work. However, the objects that you traced should be outside the green or safe zone to avoid any causalities. Steam VR determines the largest possible square or rectangular space and it calculates the best orientation within the given area. If you don’t trust on what the SteamVR has suggested, then edit the orientation according to your requirements. Even you can shrink the size of your virtual zone to provide a buffer around the obstacles to getting more secure from the obstacles.
Health and safety concerns
The new health and safety concerns are produced, whenever the new technologies are introduced. Sometimes those concerns seem to be baseless, but there are clear issues with the virtual reality that need to be solved. In this regard, there is no difference between HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. So it is not shocking that the HTC Vive comes with the same warnings. The safety and regulations guide warns you that if you have a past of anxiety, disorders, photosensitive seizures, heart conditions or post-traumatic stress, then before using Vive, you should consult a doctor. A pregnant woman and elderly should exercise caution.
This guide of Vive also warns you of repetitive use damages. HTC suggests that you should keep good posture during using the headset, and you should grip the controllers lightly. You should also avoid the continuous use of the Vive because it may affect your hand-eye balance and coordination. It may also cause obvious physical exertion that may result in joint and muscle pain.
The experiences will feel very real to you while using the Vive. Your brain may react to the conditions in virtual reality same as the conditions of the real world outside the virtual reality. HTC warns you to avoid Vive if you have the past of reacting violent, emotional, scary and high adrenaline content experiences with the virtual reality.
Not for Kids
HTC has not imposed any age limit for the use of Vive, but it warns that the product is not for children. However, the Oculus is very clear about a recommended age for Rift, due in part of available IPD modifications. HTC have not cited the same issue though Vive offers a range of minor adjustments. The cautions outlined in the safety booklet revolves more around hurting others, children being hurt or damaging the hardware. It does say that they should be observed during and after for the serious effects if the children are allowed to use the Vive.
When you put HMD on your head and walks around, then bumping into the things is a clear worry. As mentioned, the Chaperone is designed to help you dodge the accidents involving your wall or furniture. It uses the combination of the camera system that is placed on the front of your headset and barriers that you set up in the process of adjustment.
When you come too close to the barriers that you defined in your virtual area, then a virtual wall will appear to let you know what is going on in the form of a colored grid. This feature is greatly helpful for gaining the trust of users in the technology, and it really put you in ease by lessening your worries of banging into something during walking around. If the grid lines do not seem helpful to you, then take a further step in security by enabling the front camera on. There are three different features in the headset that you can toggle when the camera mode is enabled. The first feature gives you a full-color screening when the StreamVR interface is opened and it is placed on the left side of your controller. This can let you reach your keyboard and take a sip of your drink.
You can also open Room view that will allow you to get a blue overlay of the room at any given time. To turn the camera on just double tap the edges and you are done. There is not any depth perception in this camera mode, but it will allow you to see the cable on the ground and the objects near you. This feature is useful if you want to interact with someone in the room, or for placing a chair into your space if you want to switch it from the standing mode to the setting mode. The camera that is used for the Room View can also be connected to the Chaperon walls. However, this view is even a little less. You engage the Chaperon walls, whenever you come enough close to an obstacle or barrier. In this mode, Room view seems to be more similar to a wireframe outline than the standard room view. In the practice, it comes out to be more annoying than helpful. You don’t need to go close the barriers to engaging the Chaperone, so unless I was directly in the middle of my small virtual zone, Room View always needs to be on. This feature worked well when HTC demonstrated it in a much greater area in CES. Your experience in this feature depends on the size of your room and virtual zone.
HTC has not provided many guidelines on cleaning the HTC Vive. The booklet that HTC provided says not to expose headset to liquids, but it fairly doesn’t explain the reason. We had found better documentation in the case of Vive Pre, which explains that the sensors of the headset can be damaged by liquid including the water. It says to use a dry cloth to clean the headset. The controllers also have the same sensors as the headset so the same care is needed for them as for headset.
HTC also provides a microfiber cloth to clean smudges off and dust from the lenses of Vive. HTC recommends using the same microfiber cloth to avoid any kind of scratches on the surface of lenses.
When you are choosing a place to store or set up the Vive, try to avoid the areas that receive direct sunlight. The sensors on the base stations, controllers and headset can all be damaged due to the direct sunlight.
Most of the games that are available for the Vive are very active or energetic. Other games may leave your nervous. Either way, you are surely going to sweat, which will ultimately get on the foam material of headset. Thanks to the HTC that the foam is easily removable, but HTC does not provide any guidance on how to maintain it. If you are planning to let the other friend or family members to use you Vive headset, then purchasing a washable cover for the foam gasket will be a wise choice.
What you’re able to do and what you’re not able to do with the Vive
The Vive is launched with the amazing number of content. Though the Valve is a direct partner with HTC in developing Vive, its involvement primarily involved is to provide the developers everything that they require building great games. Valve has done this by releasing a free title called as The Lab, which consists of several experiences and mini-games. But the real thing comes from the other companies that took the tools of Valve and ran with them.
One of the first experiences that were ever showed on Vive was the Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives. The game took many revolutions in the past year, and the past release is one of the titles that you get with the HTC Vive. The idea of all this is that you are in the future where robots do all of your jobs. The company has created a simulator that you can use to “remember what it was like to job.” These are one of the silly small scenes where you can play as an embellished version of a chef, mechanic, office worker and clerk of a grocery store
Fantastic Corporation title also comes up with each Vive system. This is a puzzle game that was first released as 2D title years ago. Radial Games teamed up with Northway Games to convert genuine ideas of a room-scale virtual reality title so that you can life-size gadgets in the ease of your own home.
Google’s Tilt Brush is the third piece of content that comes with the kit. This is one of the first “killer apps” for me on which people will spend hours in. I am pleased to see that it bundled with the hardware because this is a must-see thing for everyone; there is something that cannot be described for drawing in the 3D space.
There are how many launch titles?
The three above mentioned titles are going to be a great start for any person who want to explore virtual reality, but you want something that has a bit more visceral excitement, especially in the case when you get familiar with really being in the virtual environments, instead of observing them. Fortunately, there is no shortage of experiences to try on the first day.
Room-scale tracking opens up a completely new world because it is paired up with the six degrees of freedom (6DoF). Suddenly the old games present marvelous capacity like the gallery shooters. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Space Pirate Trainer VR, and Hot Dogs are all great. While Hover Junkers is another example of a virtual reality shooter game, though it is not a gallery shooter. In this game, you have to fight with the other player in epic gun battles.
Vanishing Realms and A Legend of Luca are the games that you will want to play if you like RPGs style games. Both of the games are played in a first person perspective, where you fight enemies and collects loot as a sword-wielding hero. The Gallery – Episode 1: Call of the Starseed is a puzzle-solving adventure game that has taken the inspiration from the Sierra title, Myst. The Gallery features a deep storyline with a rich soundtrack. It also features a unique motion capture technology and NPC animations that have been created by the actual actors from inside the virtual reality. There is also a good selection of many more casual titles. Other than the three titles that come with Vive, you have Clouds: Mini Golf VR, which is exactly about golf as what it sounds like; Audioshield, a rhythm game that allows you blocking beats with the shields; and Final Approach, in which you act as the invisible control god from above.
All told, that during the launch day of Vive, there were about 45 room-scale titles launched. This doesn’t include the games that don’t support room-scale and the other more than dozen games that were already available before the launch of this device such as Decent: Underground, and Elite: Dangerous and its offshoot dogfighting game Elite: Dangerous Arena, which was also available for the 2D screens. Definitely, there is no shortage of content for any new platform in virtual reality.
In addition to the more than 40 virtual reality exclusive and ready titles that you can experience today, Valve will allow you to play any game on your Vive headset in your Steam library. These games will not be playable in Stereoscopic 3D, but they can be played on a large virtual monitor placed in front of you. Oculus has offered this feature on Rift for the Xbox One games.
You need a third party software to play older titles in virtual reality. Currently, the two software that are available for this job are Vireio Perception and VorpX, but neither of them comes with the Vive at this time.
Can the Vive more than gaming?
The developers of Vive like any other virtual reality platform are still discovering the possibilities of what you can do with this device. For now, the system is mainly for entertainment purpose. You can watch 360-degree videos through the application Jaunt, or you can get in some passive content such as TheBlu from Wevr. But, they have not done a lot in the area of productivity.
One option is Virtual Desktop. This feature lets you to access the whole computer in a virtual reality environment. You can even make you icons floating in the background. Environment designers and game developers will soon be able to edit their makings in virtual reality by using the upcoming virtual reality editors for Unity and Unreal Engine.
Social media is also using the virtual reality world. AltspaceVR is a well-known virtual reality network where you can meet with the other people in the virtual worlds. This lets you to play table top games, watch videos together, and generally socialize yourself in virtual reality.
Room-scale virtual reality has opened a lot of doors for the developments in the virtual reality world, but before we see much more gaming, it will be going to take some time.
Will There Be Developer Support?
Before revealing Vive, Valve talked to some developers about the prospects of a room-scale virtual reality system, which led to the introduction of the content that was first introduced at the Mobile World Congress with the Vive. There were very few developers that know they were working on a content that will be used by Vive. Nevertheless, Valve and HTC were assured that the system will hit the market that year. We are some months behind the actual plan, but the content line-up has now started to look a lot better. We knew a fewer than 20 titles for the Vive in January, and not all of them were ready for the release on launch day. Now, when the Vive is finally going in the hands of the customers, you will get a huge number of games on Steam.
First, we thought that the 30 titles for Rift sound great. But the developers were able to work with the Rift platform for nearly three years, so it was not surprising for us to see the HMD launch with many titles. On comparing, we can see that the Vive development kits have really been in the market for developers for about six months. But, the Vive platform somehow ended up with the more launch titles than the Oculus pulled together in three years.
Valve’s Chet Faliszek, in a recent interview with Polygon, said that we never have a plan to have such a complete line-up of titles on the launch day of vive. He said, “We provided the hardware, but it was up to the developer what to make, what platforms to support and when to release it.” More than 35 titles available on the day one of the launch are simply a product of passion and motivation behind developing the games.
During the SteamVR Content Showcase in January, Faliszek hosted the two roundtable discussions with the 12 developers that were going to present the games at the event. During the discussions, he asked, “So have you guys all moved to VR forever?” and the answer was no doubtfuly yes. The medium potential will be immediately clear once the people try room-scale and virtual reality in particular. Developers are taking notes and coming in with the both feet means completely. Alex Schwartz of Owlchemy Labs said, “I feel like developers walk out of VR and then they’re like, ‘OK, I have 10 ideas that I instantly want to make right now!’” He further said, “Usually, with new tech you have to really pitch people hard, but in VR, it’s the other way around.”
There is a very small anxiety from those who have put themselves in the virtual reality already. The confidence in virtual reality is high and the opportunities to develop something unusual are endless. There the everything is totally new about the room-scale virtual reality. Futuretown’s Justin Liebregts in the same showcase said, “I think it’s worth getting into [VR] early. There’re so many cool things to discover, so many games that haven’t been made, or genres of games that haven’t been made. I think it’s a great time to get in.” Andy Moore of Radial games said, ““This is one of the first times in a long time that ‘reset’ is being hit on the industry.” He further added, “You can be a brand new person out of the blue and make something amazing. And not have to compete with people that have been established for 20 years.”
This all says about a good health of the virtual reality industry in the early days.
In some ways, it’s easier to build a VR game
Some of the folks feel that the room-scale virtual reality is meant to be a short-lived thing and they often use the argument that the development for this platform is very difficult, and the developers are not going to support it. This is not the case if you believe in what Faliszek said about the topic. Actually, the developers are finding many features for virtual reality development easier than the old-fashioned games.
For example, you don’t have to make elaborate character animations for player’s avatar. You also don’t need to place buttons to do things like attack or duck. In a developer video, StressLevelZero pointed out that the cover system for Hover Junkers didn’t need to be created, and also that there is no need for aim assist. This all depends on your individual precision. All these things help in virtual reality help to place things together in a game.
Testing the HTC Vive
We used two different computers for the evaluation of our Vive. The first one is our standard test rig, which has an Intel Core i7-5930K, a pair of 500GB Crucial MX200 SSDs, 16 GB of Crucial Ballistix DD4 memory, and an MSI X99S Xpower AC motherboard. We use this computer to record all of our performance calculations. We have tested a series of 10 different GPUs with the HTC Vive, which also includes some VR-ready cards and some that have no business in powering a virtual reality HMD.
XFX has provided us one of its R9 390X cards and also an R9 Fury for testing the virtual reality. Zotac sent a GTX 980Ti AMP! Extreme, its top dog and PowerColor an R9 380X Myst Edition, to characterize a beast-case scenario. To provide results from a Gigabyte GTX 970 Windforce, Sapphire’s R9 390 Nitro, and an Asus GTX 980 Matrix Platinum, we have also dug into our graphic card stash. We don’t have an R9 280 available to us to test the Vive’s minimum specifications, but we have an Asus R9 285 Strix that will be going to throw into the mix.
Our testing uses the current drivers, which includes Radeon Software Crimson 16.3.2 and GeForce Game Ready Driver 364.72. We have picked five games for the benchmarking of Vive, after testing our hands on as many games as possible. Our procedure automatically calls and gathers performance data after two minutes at a time. Curiously, none of the game that we selected appeared to offer configurable detail setting. Rather each one launches straight into the action. We used the same rig and a lower-end machine with an Intel Core i5-4670K, three 128GB SanDisk SSDs, 8GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3, and an Asus Z87 WS motherboard for our real-world testing. We used a GeForce GTX 970 in the second system to represent the lower edge of required hardware.
The landscape of VR benchmark is somewhat barren right now. Basemark’s VRScore is not going to come out until later this year, so unlikely we can’t include that today. We find that the Oculus latest runtime is not compatible with the metric, when we tried to run VRMark on the Rift, last week. Luckily, Vive doesn’t have the same luck. VRMark depends on the SteamVR to get access to the HMD, which is what the Vive has built upon. It just works, naturally. Though the press build is still very early, and Futuremark told us that the press build is still evaluating which tests are not as important and which ones are valuable.
The measurement that we have accessed at this early stage conveys the time between an image appearing on-screen and a draw call. An external sensor is used to receive the signal sent by VRMark to HMD that when the display goes dark again and when it initializes. To determine response time, total draw latency, and frame persistence, the software then compares the measurements with the draw call.
The sensor can test one lens at a time that is provided by Futuremark. To facilitate comparisons between the panels, we ran VRMark on each side of the HMD. Preferably, you need the measurements to be as similar as possible. It is unlikely that you will see the two panels to perform exactly in sync, but as close we go as better it is.
The left eye of our review sample returns 11ms for both of the frame persistence and response time and 45ms of the total draw latency. The right eye is slightly lower than the left eye, reporting 9ms response, 44ms of total draw latency, and 10ms frame persistence. For this testing, we used our Radeon R9 Fury.