5 years after the discharge of the unique Vive and Oculus Rift, HTC and Oculus/Fb have diverged on the subject of their VR headset choices. In a single camp, the Oculus Quest 2 is an inexpensive standalone VR headset that’s tremendous easy to arrange and use. HTC is within the different camp, with a PC-based headset for high-end VR lovers. Regardless that the Vive Pro 2‘s beginning value of $800 (headset solely) is greater than double the value of the Quest 2, it’s additionally a key part on the subject of creating probably one of the best at-home VR expertise you will get proper now. However is it actually price all that money?
Identical Look, however Big Improve
The Vive Professional 2 encompasses a almost equivalent design as the unique Vive Professional, although HTC has made a handful of necessary tweaks. Not solely has the corporate refreshed the scarf strap to make it a bit extra snug, HTC has additionally tweaked the headset to supply a 50-50 weight steadiness, which makes the Vive Professional 2 noticeably extra nice to put on throughout lengthy VR periods. One other bonus of the Vive Professional 2’s up to date design is that it’s additionally a bit simpler to tilt the goggles up, so you possibly can shortly see what’s happening in meatspace.
However the Vive Professional 2’s actual enhancements are its new optics. The headset now affords 5K decision (2448 x 2448 for every eye), as much as a 120Hz refresh price, and a wider 120-degree horizontal subject of view. Collectively, this makes for primarily the sharpest and most immersive VR expertise you will get at residence—wanting $3,000 enterprise-level headsets like Varjo’s VR-3. Now I ought to point out that some headsets just like the Valve Index supply a considerably taller vertical subject of view (95 levels for the Vive Professional 2 in comparison with 110 levels for the Valve Index), which is one thing you’d undoubtedly discover when evaluating the 2 side-by-side. That stated, with the Index solely providing 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye in comparison with 2448 x 2448 for the Vive Professional 2, I’ll take the elevated decision nearly each time, although it’d be good if I didn’t have to decide on.
Due to that 5K decision (4896 x 2448 mixed), the Vive Professional 2 visuals are significantly sharp. With pixels that small, HTC has nearly fully eradicated the screen door effect that permits you to see the area between pixels on lower-res headsets. And when mixed with help for 120 Hz graphics, the Vive Professional 2 is ready to keep away from many of the main causes of motion-induced nausea. I hardly ever undergo from VR illness, however I discovered that the upgrades in visible high quality made worrying about any queasiness a whole afterthought.
The Vive Professional 2 nonetheless features a helpful handbook IPD adjustment knob (which now goes from 57 to 70mm) and built-in spatial audio audio system that flip down from the aspect, which I’ve grown to favor as an alternative of plugging in my very own headphones (which you are able to do utilizing a USB-C dongle). Not having to fumble round to placed on headphones when getting in VR simply makes the entire course of a lot less complicated, and I’ve discovered that having audio system hovering close to your ears as an alternative of strapped to the aspect of your head provides to general immersion, assuming you’re in a comparatively quiet area. I’m sorry however I don’t make the foundations: There aren’t any crying infants or barking canines allowed within the VR room.
The Excessive Worth of Setup
If you happen to’ve had a tough time monitoring down a current-gen GPU through the pandemic (I’m in the identical boat), the excellent news is that the Vive Professional 2’s minimal specs solely require your pc to have an Intel Core i5-4950 or AMD Ryzen 1500 CPU and an Nvidia RTX 20-series or AMD Radeon 5000 GPU or newer, along with 8GB of RAM, an open USB 3.zero port, and DisplayPort 1.2 (or DP 1.four for full-res) for video out, which truthfully isn’t unhealthy contemplating the Vive Professional 2’s huge decision.
Sadly, the larger challenge is that you just want the correct add-ons and equipment to get probably the most out of the headset. The $800 Vive Professional 2 is already dearer than the Valve Index and HP Reverb G2, and that’s earlier than you issue within the want for two Steam VR base stations, two controllers, and no matter you may must place the bottom stations appropriately (I exploit digital camera tripods). Which means in case you’re ranging from scratch, you may be taking a look at an all-in value nearer to $1,300 or extra. Ouch.
On the brilliant aspect, as a result of the Vive Professional 2 helps each HTC’s personal controllers and the Valve Index controllers, you do have some freedom to combine and match, which is what I’d do if I used to be seeking to create probably the most premium at-home VR expertise. The usual HTC Vive controllers have remained mainly unchanged because the unique Vive got here out, and whereas they’re completely serviceable, they lack the extra refined finger and grip sensors you get on the Valve Index controllers.
After you arrange the equipment, you continue to want to put in HTC’s Viveport suite—although the Vive Professional 2 is absolutely suitable with Steam VR and Steam VR video games. In most conditions, this isn’t a giant deal, however generally you may to modify backwards and forwards between HTC’s and Valve’s VR platforms, which may get annoying after awhile.
I can’t fault HTC an excessive amount of for not together with wi-fi help out of the field provided that not one of the Vive Professional 2’s PC-based rivals even have the choice, shelling out one other $350 on high of the whole lot else simply to eliminate the wired tether turns into a really dear luxurious. It additionally reduces the Vive Professional 2’s max refresh price from 120Hz right down to 90Hz.
Digital Actuality Nirvana
If you happen to can abdomen the value tag, pairing the Vive Professional 2 with Valve Index controllers ends in among the most rewarding VR you will get proper now, and I’d argue it’s palms down one of the simplest ways to play Half-Life: Alyx. The Vive Professional 2’s greater decision makes graphics look additional sharp, to the purpose the place the headset can expose among the low-res texture results utilized in older VR titles. While you add the Index controllers to supply the hand and finger-tracking you really want to totally benefit from the VR masterpiece that’s Half-Life: Alyx, and you’ll instantly see and really feel the reward in your funding.
The Vive Professional 2’s excessive decision makes textual content seem additional crisp, which helps you are feeling such as you’re actually in one other VR world as an alternative of continually reminding you of the bounds of your tech. The headset’s spatial audio creates an encompassing stage for 3D sound that basically does add to the impact that issues are occurring round you, slightly than being piped in from the field wired to your headset. And whereas generally I did discover some gentle and snippets of the true world peeking in from the underside fringe of the goggles, I didn’t really feel prefer it was sufficient to meaningfully detract from my adventures.
Maybe my greatest grievance (which is comparatively minor general) with the Vive Professional 2’s efficiency is that it looks like HTC didn’t improve the headset’s built-in passthrough cameras, which ends up in a considerably low-res view when attempting to have a look at the skin world with out taking off the headset fully.
Price Shopping for?
Right here’s the arduous half, as a result of attempting to determine if the Vive Professional 2 (together with any equipment you may want) is the correct headset for you largely depends upon your style and the way a lot you’re prepared to spend. If you happen to’re trying solely at headset specs, the HP Reverb G2’s 2160 x 2160 per eye decision is shut sufficient to the Vive Professional 2 that you just’re not sacrificing a lot in alternate for an HMD that prices $200 much less. The issue is that the Reverb G2 doesn’t include native help for the Index controllers, which makes mixing and matching much more tedious, particularly in case you don’t really feel like hacking in help for the Index controller by yourself.
The Valve Index headset has a decrease decision of 1440 x 1600 per eye, but it surely has a better max refresh price of 144 Hz. The Valve Index VR kit, which incorporates the whole lot you want to leap into VR for $1,000 (headset, controllers, base stations), is a a lot better worth. Alternatively, if you would like one thing far more inexpensive, simpler to make use of, and doesn’t should be wired to a close-by PC, the Oculus Quest 2 is a unbelievable method to dip your toes into VR.
Nonetheless, if you would like the liberty to pair what is actually the highest-res client VR headset with what are at the moment one of the best VR controllers, the Vive Professional 2 is the one for you. Simply be ready for all the cash that’s going to fly out of your pockets to be able to make that occur. It’s dear, however because the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Now I’m simply hoping that the following technology of VR headsets can convey down the price a little bit bit.