Review: HTC VIVE (Virtual Reality System)

HTC VIVE

Admittedly I have always had a fear of Virtual Reality (VR) due to it cause of motion sickness with some individuals. But after the Hololens Experience I decided to go ahead and give the HTC VIVE a try. Watching someone else try it out before I did helped ease my fear. I have to admit as an onlooker the device looked pretty cool. As amazing as the visuals were on the large wall display the true beauty of the HTC VIVE was behind the headset. Compared to the Hololens there was a few more steps to getting started than just putting on the headset. To get started with the VIVE first you have place the headset on, followed by a pair of headphones that were plugged into the VIVE headset.

tilt_brush_by_google__techspot

Credit: TechSpot

theBlu: Encounter

The first experience was ‘theBlu: Encounter’made by the creative team of the feature film Avatar. There was very little interaction in this experience; its primary purpose is to get users use to Virtual Reality (making sure people like me don’t get motion sickness). Admittedly I was more impressed with the HTC VIVE than I was with the Hololens. I do think the Hololens is a much more diverse device but I was astonished at how well done the VR was done. I had no indications of motion sickness whatsoever; normally first person shooter such as ‘Call of Duty’ bring on the effects of motion sickness for me within 10 minutes of just watching gameplay. theBlu: Encounter was graphically amazing. Walking around the deck I felt a bit of unease as I peered over the railing of the ship. Watching schools of fish swim and dart past you as you move around in the environment you get a sense that you are truly part of the environment. The best part of this particular experience was the blue whale. Watching it swim towards you, you get a true idea of how massive and graceful these creatures are in real life. The demo ended with the blue whale gliding towards the surface of the ocean towards the sun who’s rays illuminated the ocean’s depths.

Credit: HTC

Space Pirate Training

The second experience was a game called ‘Space Pirate Training.’ In this game you play the role of a bounty hunter who has stolen ship from a colony of aliens. The aliens have come to take their ship back and you must fend them off! This is a first person shooter in which you use the controllers as laser guns, shields or a combination of both. Gameplay was pretty straightforward, just pull the trigger to shoot and move to dodge enemy fire. To locate your enemies you had to move your head up and down, right and left; you moved one controller to deflect incoming fire and the other to release a volley of laser fire. I could easy find myself losing track of time playing this.

Credit: HTC

Xortex

The final experience was a third person shooter named ‘Xortex’. In Xortex you are the spacecraft; you select the spacecraft that you will be navigating and then select the game mode. The objective of this game is to to navigate around enemy fire while destroying enemy crafts. There was A LOT of enemy fire but not so much so that it was overwhelming. I was still in a first person gaming mindset (easy to do playing VR games) so my first round ended pretty quickly. With this game you only used one of the controller to navigate the spacecraft. After I got the hang of the game I made it to the end boss, Xortex him….errr…itself. Watching him ascend from the floor beneath me was again cool! The graphics of this game were amazing. Immersion worked better in this game than in Space Pirate Training in my opinion. The layering of the objects is what made this work so well for me; the enemy craft in one plane, the exchange of fire in another, your spacecraft in its own plane and the encompassing environment surrounding all of that really created a scene of depth.

Credit: HTC

Opinion

HTC’s VIVE is virtual reality don’t right! The headset was a little bit heavier than the Hololens but not by much. The build quality as high end, and device was very comfortable to wear. There is a but in safety feature called ‘The Chaperone.’ The Chaperone is a grid that displays on the headsets display to outline any objects or walls when you get too close to them to make you aware of your surroundings. Graphically it was impressive and inline with current high end gaming systems. In comparison (graphically) to Hololens the HTC VIVE is superior, with crisp rich graphics that moved very fluidly. Operating the VIVE felt very natural. The only hangup I have about the system is the cord. The games required a lot of movement, so I had to be aware of the cord so that I didn’t trip over it while playing the games.

Setup is something else that should be taken into consideration with this device. It requires you to mount or place two cameras (called base stations) adjacent to each other to capture the players movement. In addition you need to connect the VIVE to a PC (see requirements below). According the the employee the HTC VIVE is the best Virtual Reality system currently on the market, beating out the Playstation VR and Oculus Rift both of which he had tried out. I can not make any calls on which system is the best, but the HTC VIVE does set the standard high.

Virtual Reality will without question change the way that we game. But how will this device impact the way that we learn. With the ability to immerse one totally in any environment Virtual Reality can take learners from the depths of the ocean to the furthest reach of the galaxy. Much like Serious Games, Virtual Reality allows learners to train and experiment in what can sometimes be dangerous settings. Virtual Reality can allow learners a creative space to learn. Learners could use the digital space to design layouts for landscaping or urban planning. Also Virtual reality allows learners to learn in controlled environments. These are just some of the ways that Virtual Reality will improve and change learning. The potential of this tool in learning will only be limited only by one’s imagination. How do you all think this technology can be used to enhance learning?

What’s In The Box

Main component Accessories
Vive headset
  • 3-in-1 cable (attached)
  • Audio cable (attached)
  • Earbuds
  • Face cushions (1 attached and 1 alternate for narrow face)
  • Cleaning cloth
Link box
  • Power adapter
  • HDMI cable
  • USB cable
  • Mounting pad
Vive controllers (2)
  • Power adapters (2)
  • Lanyards (2 attached)
  • Micro-USB cables (2)
Base stations (2)
  • Power adapters (2)
  • Mounting kit (2 mounts, 4 screws, and 4 wall anchors)
  • Sync cable (optional)

htc-vive-set-0

Photo Credit: Arstechnica

Recommended Computer Specs

Processor: Intel™ Core™ i5-4590 or AMD FX™ 8350, equivalent or better

Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce™ GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon™ RX 480, equivalent or better. For additional graphics card options, view the complete list.

Memory: 4 GB RAM or more

Video output: 1x HDMI 1.4 port, or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

USB: 1x USB 2.0 port or newer

Operating system: Windows™ 7 SP1, Windows™ 8.1 or later or Windows™ 10

Price: $799

Rating: Excellent

Additional Reading:

VIVE Website: https://www.vive.com/us/


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