HTC and Valve created a virtual reality system dabbed HTC Vive to rival the Oculus Rift. Both systems were ready in 2016. The hardware has not changed, but the cost has. Although the HTC Vive was initially more costly, selling at $799, it is now more affordable. HTC Vive can support a whole-room VR, and this is a broader area than what the Rift allows. Vive has been designed to bring immersive, powerful and high-end virtual reality experiences.
While most of the Rift’s experiences and games require you to move characters using a video game controller, HTC Vive lets you interact physically with the virtual environment you see via the headset. It means you can hold a bow and arrow virtually and then position your arms as if you are holding a real weapon ready to fire. You can even pick up and scrutinize objects as if you are holding them in your hand. These elements are adding a new and exciting dimension to virtual reality, making it feel more authentic. The Vive is providing a wowing VR experience so far.
A really powerful computer is required to run the Vive. The manufacturers (HTC and Valve) recommend that you use a personal computer with a Radeon R9 290 GPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 970, AMD FX 8350 CPU or an Intel i5-4590, 4GB of RAM, DisplayPort 1.2 video output or HDMI, Windows 7 SPI, and USB 2.0 port or above.
The headset of the Vive resembles a spider. It is enormous and bulbous. The curved front bells hold all the 32 motion-tracking sensors on the surface as well as one optical camera placed at the panel’s lower center. On the left side is an indicator LED and a button. A small snob for adjusting the pupillary distance (distance between the pupils) is placed on the right side. It helps to adjust the focus.
If you desire a headset that fits comfortably even over glasses, the Vive headset is what you need. A headphone jack also dangles on the back, meaning you can connect your headphones or employ the included buds. What’s more, the tether is very long: approximately 4.5 meters (15 feet). You will wander in it.
HTC Vive comes with two wireless controllers. The controller-wands are excellent but a bit oddly shaped. They are identical and ambidextrous wands approximately 8.5 inches long and loaded with position and motion sensors. They have rechargeable batteries and haptic vibrations. Each rod has an eminent circular touchpad on the top, flanked by VR and Menu buttons – menu buttons are responsible for bringing a menu in any software you use while the virtual reality button is designed to open the SteamVR interface.
On the underside of the wand sits a large trigger as well as two grip buttons placed lower on any side of the handle. On the top is a large ring that houses the positioning sensors that allow Vive to track the controller’s location.
This is a small blank device that holds the HDMI, DisplayPort including the USB connectors marked in black. The black color indicates that they are connected to the power outlet using the featured wall adapter or to the PC. All these are on one side. The other side holds power, USB and HDMI connectors in orange, showing they connect to cable on the headset. The adhesive rubber foot that comes with Vive secures the link box to a table or desk, without which the tiny box will keep flopping around each time the cable tugs.
Now, the Vive relies on two collaborating base stations to know the positions of both the controllers and headset. The base stations are typically rounded black boxes that measure 3X3X2 inches. The front part of each station is lustrous and includes an indicator light, a range of infrared LEDs and alphanumeric LED display.
On the back part of each base station is a power connector, mode button as well as a 3.5mm port. The stations can detect each other wirelessly when configured properly. If they don’t, they can be connected physically using the 3.5mm port included – the sync cable is extremely long.
Other than the major system components, the Vive comes with:
- 3 power adapters for the base stations
- Link headset/box
- Double USB power adapters included
- USB-to-micro cables for controllers
- USB and HDMI for connecting your PC to the link box
- Wall mounting hardware for base stations
- Second foam mask pad
- Sync cable