- Posted by Holosphere
- On 12th April 2018
When new VR technology comes out, we sometimes have to restrain ourselves a bit. Not this time! With its recent release in mind, we wanted to write a HTC Vive Pro Review and document our initial thoughts as we tried it out in-house using some of our pre-built VR experiences.
From first impressions, there isn’t a huge difference in the appearance of the Vive Pro from its predecessor, although that is to be expected in keeping headsets on-brand. Major changes include a built-in dual-camera system, detachable earphones, and a padded plastic back – it seems the Playstation VR may have been a slight influence in this regard. The other big thing everyone seems to be talking about is a new “Royal Blue” colour, which is a great deal less metallic and reflective than it appears in product photography.
The main improvement with this headset is not so much the look, but the feel. The new tightening system feels much more secure and comfortable compared to the previous model. It also feels a lot lighter and frees up space for your earphones by dropping the velcro side straps. Also, for those of us who wear glasses, we found it a lot more user-friendly to put on and take off. Gone is the frustration of feeling the glasses torn from your face upon trying to come back to reality.
The new HTC Vive Pro
Basically, you feel a lot freer moving around in the Vie Pro and less like you’re simply waiting for a pressure headache to emerge, nor do you need to worry about coming away from the encounter with completely flattened hair – or not as much anyway. The plastic case still feels a little light and tacky for a ‘Pro’ headset, but this fades a little when you start your experience.
Once the headset is on, the screen clarity is crisp and clear, making text and smaller details much easier to look at and inspect fully. The Vive Pro boasts a much larger 2,880 x 1,600 pixel HD AMOLED screen and the difference is quite impressive. There is only so much that can practically be done with anti-aliasing settings, so the screen upgrade makes a large difference. This makes virtual reality experiences feel so much more immersive, as the screen can pick up detail further away more similar to how our eyes can naturally, making it easier to forget that you’re looking at a screen.
For our 3D Artists, this is of massive help to identify improvements they would like to make, only adding further to the polish to our experiences.
Audio-wise the headset’s built-in earphones are clear and comfortable enough, although we would still choose to use a higher quality of over-ear headphone to give us a more immersive feel. The pads on the Vive Pro earphones are quite small and still let in a fair amount of external sound.
Opinion is split in our studio as to the preferred approach for audio, however, and the earphones can be removed and replaced with your desired choice of directional speakers – our first choice with a large room-scale set up.
The only thing that is still half-missing is full wireless capability out of the box. HTC have collaborated with Intel to implement a new wireless play solution called WiGig. Although the Vive Pro apparently supports this format, there are at the time of writing no reliable transmitters available to the masses.
The removal of a tether makes a huge difference to the sense of immersion a viewer experiences, as it’s easy to remember you aren’t really in your experience when you’re suddenly pulled back by wires or tangled up with yourself. There are other 60GHz wireless solutions available on the market currently, but reliability is a big issue. It also remains to be seen how the Vive Pro will perform using external battery power with wireless.
Be aware – the Vive Pro only currently includes the headset itself. However, it does offer backward compatibility with the original Vive Controllers and Lighthouses, with support for the new setup coming in late 2018. This improved kit promises to include lighthouses with over double the range – from 15 x 15 feet up to 33 x 33 feet.
Two small issues cropped up when moving from the previous Vive headset to the new Vive Pro, and both concern the link box. One is that HTC has changed the display input from HDMI to a Mini Display Port (MDP), which is just unnecessarily awkward if you’re changing over your setup and need to find or swap around ports on your graphics card. The other is that the link box now needs to be turned on by pressing a new button on it. We wondered why power wasn’t getting to the headset for a minute, and the addition seemed fairly superfluous.
Overall, we’re pretty impressed with the visual improvements made by the Vive Pro, but whether these are enough to warrant the expense of the upgrade is yet to be seen, and largely depends on the quality of the wireless implementation when we’re able to evaluate that.
If you want to see the difference, you will have to drop in and see for yourselves.