Which VR Headset is Better, Oculus Rift or HTC Vive?
Even though you can play around with VR on your phone, or wait for the PlayStation VR to release later this year, but for the really good, jaw-dropping, bleeding-edge VR stuff, you’ll need one of the big rigs. You’ll need a gaming PC, with some very high-end graphics and a major-league VR headset to match: an Oculus Rift or an HTC Vive.
But which of them?
The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets are both now available to buy, if you’re willing to wait or stand in line. Both run on Windows PCs and look amazing, but they are different…in some subtle and not-so-subtle ways.
One clear difference though is price. You’ll pay $599 for Oculus, or $799 for Vive, but then, price is not everything.
When you put on the headset, and you’re in another world, any direction you look, you’ll see and hear things that don’t actually exist. But which headset suspends your disbelief better?
The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are actually very similar when it comes to the visuals and audio fidelity. Although, while the HTC Vive makes you plug in and wear a pair of headphones, the Oculus Rift has comfy ones built right in. But generally, virtual worlds appear and sound the same regardless of which you pick.
If you buy an Oculus Rift, you can only put your head in VR. The HTC Vive however goes further by giving you hands as well, and its fancier sensors let you walk around in virtual worlds, whereas with Oculus, the immersion breaks down as soon as you try to reach out and grab things or take a few steps. That’s why the Vive wins out.
Winner: HTC Vive
You can look around in VR, but how do you interact with objects in the virtual world? Both Rift and Vive allow for some positional tracking, meaning you can lean forward and look at something more closely, or duck your head to dodge a VR cream pie. Rift however requires a regular old game controller to play games, for now: an Xbox One controller that comes packed in as its fancier motion controllers, called Oculus Touch, won’t arrive until later this year.
On the other hand, HTC Vive, offers a lot more out of the box. It has two motion controllers that vibrate and let you feel like you’re grabbing things when you pull the triggers. The wands can function as paintbrushes, or guns, or disembodied hands. You can also move round your room (up to 16 feet diagonally) and every step you take will translate into a step in VR. The combination of all that make Vive feel more like a holodeck than a seated virtual experience.
Winner: HTC Vive
News flash: VR headsets generally aren’t very comfortable. They press into your face, the lenses fog up, and they feel like you’re wearing scuba masks. But that being said, the Oculus headset has a big leg up on comfort when compared to the Vive.
The Rift’s has a more compact, simplified design, and has a slimmer, simpler cable to plug into your PC. Its headphones are built in, with flip-down flaps. Its fitting is gentler on glasses. It is also better ventilated.
The Vive headset on the other hand is heavier, bulkier and has thick wires descending down the user’s back. The long cord is thicker and tangles easily. It tends to wrap around your feet as you walk around in VR, and it’s got a more noticeable tug on the back of our heads. Even though the Vive controllers are great, the headset and its wires make it feel like more of a hassle — even if the experience it delivers is amazing enough to occasionally forget the discomfort.
Winner: Oculus Rift
For now, the HTC Vive appears to be the better VR experience. Even though it costs $200 more, and isn’t as comfortable to wear, it’s easy to forget all that once you’re walking around a room and throwing pots and pans in virtual reality.
But there’s no telling if the Vive will still hold the lead after Oculus introduces the Touch motion controllers later this fall. Early versions seem just as good as the Vive’s wands. Perhaps even a bit better.