Virtual Reality

It's decision time for VR early adopters, as the mesmerizing HTC Vive goes up for pre-order

It's decision time for VR earl...
The HTC Vive is up for pre-order for $799
The HTC Vive is up for pre-order for $799
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The HTC Vive is up for pre-order for $799
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The HTC Vive is up for pre-order for $799
The degree of full-body presence that you get from walking around a large space in VR is second to none
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The degree of full-body presence that you get from walking around a large space in VR is second to none
Unlike with the Oculus Rift, the Vive's motion controllers are included in the box
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Unlike with the Oculus Rift, the Vive's motion controllers are included in the box

Based on what we've seen so far, the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are far and away the two best VR headsets (with all respect to PlayStation VR, which lacks the raw horsepower and quality motion controllers of those two). Now that Rift orders have been open for nearly two months, US$799 HTC Vive pre-orders are also now open for business.

Update: Speaking of decision time, we can help out with our features/specs comparison between the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

While Oculus is taking more of a baby steps approach to VR, starting with seated, gamepad-based experiences like Lucky's Tale and Eve Valkyrie, HTC and Valve are making the Vive ready for room-scale, free-roaming experiences from Day One. The Vive can do seated VR as well, but to get the most out of it you'll want to mount its two laser-emitting base stations high on opposite corners of a (up to) 15 x 15 ft (nearly 3 x 3 m) room. Its clever tracking system will let you walk around the entire space, while using its Chaperone software and front-facing camera to help you avoid stepping on your dog or tripping over your sofa.

Though devoting that kind of space to an emerging technology is a lot to ask, the degree of presence in full-body VR is second to none – these are the kinds of first-person virtual reality experiences that made up sci-fi fantasies for decades.

The degree of full-body presence that you get from walking around a large space in VR is second to none
The degree of full-body presence that you get from walking around a large space in VR is second to none

To use the Vive you'll need a powerful gaming PC, with specs that are very similar to those required for the Rift. The Vive's minimum specs include:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
  • CPU: Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
  • RAM: 4 GB or more
  • Video Output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
  • USB Port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port
  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows 10 or newer

While many serious PC gamers will already have a setup like this (or perhaps be only an upgrade or two away), those starting from scratch will be paying, roughly, a minimum of $900 to get a Vive-ready PC. If you build it yourself and shop around for deals on parts, you may get that down to around $800 or so, but don't expect to go much lower than that. Right out of the gates, the best VR is going to be expensive early adopter gear.
It's tough to make a recommendation right now between the Rift and Vive. On one hand, the Rift gives you a sleeker build, built-in audio and a more established lineup of launch games (many of which looked incredible in our numerous demos). On the other hand, the Vive gives you that room-scale focus, more expensive price tag and motion controllers included in the box. After CES we picked the Rift, but with Valve since then announcing games like the moving platform shooter Hover Junkers, this is back to being an incredibly tough call.

Unlike with the Oculus Rift, the Vive's motion controllers are included in the box
Unlike with the Oculus Rift, the Vive's motion controllers are included in the box

As a limited time promotion, the Vive includes the hilarious Job Simulator, building game Fantastic Contraption and 3D painting experience Tilt Brush with your purchase. While Oculus' Touch motion controllers don't ship until later this year, the Vive's similar controllers (above) are included in the box.

The first Vives are scheduled to hit consumers in April, just a week or two after the first Rifts will head out the door. If you want a Vive on Day One, you may want to pre-order as soon as possible, as these types of first-gen products often get back-ordered quickly.

For more, you can revisit Gizmag's latest hands-on with the Vive.

Product page: HTC

4 comments
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Only a step away from remote work! None of the huge losses associated with moving out of state and dumping a house!
Kristianna Thomas
This has been a long time coming, and the wait is not over yet. The price tag on VR is very high and the average consumer is still not in the loop, and at $700 to $800 a pop it would hard pressed to find those who would want to plop down that kind of dough just for the gaming experience. I was hoping that VR would open up to a lot more opportunities than this limited amount of gaming, like were are the rest of the gaming industry; EA, Blizzard, etc.... . I suggested to Rosetta Stone that VR would be an excellent teaching tool for language; they said that they were looking into it. As far as I can see, VR and AR has unlimited potential in everything from Virtual Universities, architectural VR rendering, Virtual Concerts, real estate, science and engineering, applied arts and astronomy. These newer technologies are Virtually limitless in applications, it is just a matter of applications and shrinking the head pieces that still look like Space Geeks from Alpha Centauri.
FabianLamaestra
Almost 900 bucks for this thing shipped? Uhh, I can now see why Oculus did not include the Touch controllers since the price would have gotten stupid. The Vive looks great, but I will skip it since I don't plan on dedicating a whole room to this. Sheesh. My Rift pre-order is locked in.
Augure
It really is a shame that based on probably very bad marketing consulting they just killed PC VR for at least 2/3 years (and there's no way around that, it's a quasi fact).