AUSTIN, Texas—HTC’s VR organisation was out in full force at this year’s South By Southwest festival, mostly due to the arriving film instrumentation of Ready Player One. The top building of a jam-packed, book-to-film “experience” eventuality enclosed an hour-plus wait to play a few Ready Player One-themed VR games, all slated to launch alongside the film after this month.
Curiously, though, the best partial of the whole thing wasn’t really advertised anywhere at the event. Tucked behind some hulk photo-op stupidity like an Iron Giant reproduction and a tricked-out Delorean was a piece of unconventional tech we was way some-more meddlesome in: the HTC Vive Pro.
Though we took a discerning peek at the arriving Vive Pro during January’s CES, this SXSW eventuality was the first time we got to investigate the hardware, which will launch after this year as the first “2.0” headset in the PC-VR era. We’ve nonetheless to answer a hulk doubt mark—how much will this upgraded VR headset cost—but after an considerable SXSW test, my excusable cost indicate really shot up a hundred bucks or so.
Fit, pixels, and textures
For starters, we can happily report that the HTC Vive Pro is now the best VR headset for anybody with a span of glasses.
The Vive Pro’s wipe will snap into place in two positions: as a standard, straight-behind-the-head fit, and pointed 90 degrees upward. Without any instruction or guidance, we was means to squeeze the Vive Pro while its wipe was standing up, hang it to my face, and then lift the wipe back to fit around my head. we even intentionally wore my bulkiest glasses, and we didn’t have to adjust them or onslaught with adhering my conduct in at a ideal angle. Pull to face, snap wipe down. Easy.
After doing this, we was means to use a branch dial on the headset’s back to tie the fit, then we pulpy down on a symbol on the headset to bring the Vive’s lenses as close to my eyeglasses as possible. The outcome was a tremendously gentle fit and an plenty margin of perspective for sizing up VR movement in my periphery.
With that fit established, we pacifist into 4 RP1-themed diversion demos to test the other primary bonus for this arriving headset: a boost in inner resolution, from 2160×1200 to 2880×1600. That’s a 78 percent burst in pixels, and the outcome was as “whelming” as we had expected. It’s not perfect, “I can’t trust this is VR” stuff. we still beheld a customary VR “screen door,” with recognizably pixelated lines at any given moment, and the strange Vive’s Fresnel lenses return, finish with occasional, round bands of light.
But we was strictly in new VR fealty territory. Lines of calm were not indispensably as pointy as if someone was fluttering a real-life ensign in front of my face, but I’ve tested games with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift mostly adequate to know how becloud even their big-text calm can look. The many revelation moments came when HTC reps bounced me back to the SteamVR Home interface between demos, which let me demeanour at familiar, text-filled menus and commend an instant, discernible burst in calm and hardness quality. we didn’t have to teleport up to the Home interface’s calm menus to review them. we was good at a gentle distance. And within the RP1 demos, we could actually conclude minute sourroundings textures during high-action alien-blasting scenarios. That’s never really been the case with the VR headsets I’ve used the most.
That’s not utterly the fortitude burst you may wish for when reading about VR upgrades, but deliberation the mechanism specs indispensable to drive 2160×1200 games at 90Hz—the agreed-upon customary for VR comfort—I would disagree that Vive Pro’s spec choice could chaperon in a honeyed mark of entertaining calm that can run absolutely on consumer-grade gaming PCs for a good few years. You’ll need some-more than a GTX 970 to get games at this fortitude using smoothly; HTC certain knows that first-hand, as its gaming laptops didn’t utterly broach a sealed 90fps during scarcely half of the RP1 demos we sampled.
Buttons, noises, games, and questions
The HTC Vive perceived a wipe upgrade last year, finish with trustworthy headphones, and the Vive Pro goes one serve by shipping with trustworthy plastic headphones as well. These felt ideally gentle during my 15-minute event and supposing clear, non-distorted audio the whole time. They also come with a underline we haven’t seen in many PC VR headsets: the left orator has a span of volume buttons attached, which creates volume composition that much easier in the center of a game, while the right orator has a singular symbol to let players capacitate or invalidate their microphones whenever they please. we struggled to daub these buttons while sophistry a massive Vive wand, however, as they’re a little tiny and need some accurate touching, but they differently worked fine, and I’m still happy they’re even there.
However, while HTC reps pronounced that the speakers will ship with noise-cancelling properties, zero in my demo valid that functionality out. we wasn’t told about a noise-canceling symbol to try an A/B test, and we didn’t notice any quite dampened sound while wearing the headphones (beyond the outcome of shrill headphone noises drowning out my precinct by default). we also didn’t get to test anything with the Vive Pro’s new span of forward-facing cameras, which may very good be used for a new “VR chaperone” system; my test seemed to rest on customary SteamVR infrared tracking boxes.
While a 15-minute demo isn’t a good way to endorse fit and weight distribution, we done an bid to pierce and dance around while contrast to see if we famous sold aria or discomfort. The HTC Vive Pro upheld my VR spot test and then some, and weight placement done the set overtly feel lighter than the normal HTC Vive. we also beheld an total perk of the headset remaining in a ideal position as we changed around. My issues with slight astigmatism meant that we find myself mostly fine-tuning VR headset fits, and we didn’t run into such a fit issue in my admittedly brief test.
To clarify: this event did not embody a possibility to test HTC’s arriving Vive Wireless Adapter, and HTC didn’t have any sum to share about if or when to design a future hands-on, let alone when it will launch. (Last we heard, it was slated for “this summer.”)
I would like some-more time with the headset to endorse accurately how it compares to the Samsung Odyssey, which also facilities a 2880×1600 total fortitude opposite its panels, but we already feel like the HTC Vive Pro has the corner in terms of comfort, row quality, and other intangibles. From here, obviously, HTC has a cost decision to make—and fast, if this thing is truly rising in “Q1” of this year. I’m not certain what the cost roof would be for me to contend that we wouldn’t wish to buy it, but as a quite big fan of room-scale VR, my wallet has already started groaning at the thought.
Listing picture by Sam Machkovech