HTC Vive: The Real Deal
For decades, we’ve been told that virtual reality would one day transport us to foreign worlds where we could do impossible feats we’d only dream of doing in the real life.
We got a taste of Facebook’s anticipated plans last month, with the release of Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. But as fantastic as the Rift is, there’s still a disconnect between your bodily movements in the real world and the gameplay.
With the HTC Vive, there is now a competitor out there. Developed jointly by smartphone maker HTC and video game pioneer Valve, the Vive is a virtual reality headset that enables the user to go to different virtual worlds while reacting in the physical world. When you take a step to the right or left in your living room, and you’ll move to the right or left in virtual space. Jump, in that same space and you’ll jump on an alien moon with your headset.
This is the creation of the Vive, and it is everything we were told virtual reality would be and hoped it would be. But entering this virtual world has some disadvantages: especially an $800 cost which is high and the need for a whole lot of free space. So should you enter Vive’s world? It depends on a few factors.
What you’ll need
Before you can even consider it, you need to check your tech. There is a tick list, you’ll need a few things. Most importantly, you need a high-powered PC. Like the Oculus Rift, the Vive uses your computer to do all the work when it comes to creating its virtual worlds. If you have a slow PC or one that cannot handle the regular workload you need to upgrade.
HTC and Valve suggest that your PC needs at least an Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350 processor minimum, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card, and 4 GB of RAM. You’ll also need to be operating at least Windows 7,8, or 10; Mac owners just forget it.
To buy a new PC with these kinds of details, you’ll need to spend about $1,000. This is not really a very cheap solution.
There’s so much gear packed into the Vive’s box it feels like you’re pulling open the doors to a clown car. There’s a slew of wires and connectors.
HTC and Valve have actually made the setup process for the Vive incredibly easy for those of us that are less tech savvy. You just have to download and install the Vive’s installation software from HTCVive.com, and that is very easy to do and there was really no issue with this process.
The one complication you may run into is figuring out where to place the system’s included base stations, which is complicated. In order for the Vive to track your body movements and then convert those into the virtual world, it uses these base stations to send out lasers that bounce off the Vive’s headset and wireless motion controllers.
The base stations, however, need to either be mounted to your wall, clipped on a shelf, or set up on tripods so you will have to think about where you want them. The kit comes with wall mounts, but you’ll have to shell out your own cash for a pair of tripods and that means that you need to plan it out carefully. HTC and Valve recommend that the base stations stand up around 6.5 feet high and create a space at least 6.5 feet by 5 feet for you to move around in. If you live in an apartment or a small space that can be complicated to find. Just plan ahead and you will be fine.
Once you’ve got the base stations set up, you have to trace your action space using an included controller. After you do this you will be able to trace your room and know that you are ready to begin.
The Vive helps people to experience new worlds in ways they never have before. The first time you strap on the headset and pick up the wireless controllers, it will blow you away (not literally).
The headset is heavy, but with a quick adjustment of the straps, it fits around the face pretty easily. The controllers, on the other hand, feel perfect in your hands. The controllers are light, but feel fine when you are playing with them and allow you to control everything.