We’ve all seen that one picture with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg walking around a VR headset-wearing horde of happy-looking users. If you’re like us, it probably made you a little uncomfortable and had you wondering how far this whole virtual reality thing is gonna go.
As it turns out, pretty far – what was once a Sci-Fi plotline is now a consumer-grade device accessible to nearly everyone. And as you would expect, ubiquitousness led to a fierce competition among manufacturers to see who’s going to make the most affordable, feature-full or just all-around best VR headset.
Whether you’re talking the regular HTC Vive or the Pro version, the Chinese manufacturer certainly has a dog in the race. If you’re reading this, we’re guessing you’re either looking to compare HTC Vive Pro with another headset, looking to compare it with its downgraded cousin, or wondering about some technical issues – this article will aim to cover every point.
VR Headset battle royale – does the HTC Vive Pro beat its current rivals?
With only a few VR headsets currently competing for the top spot, manufacturers find themselves in an enviable position where it almost feels like they can pace their innovations. HTC could have tried to just slap a bigger resolution on the Vive’s Pro version, but they did some much-needed revitalizing to the mix.
Although still restrictive, the HTC Vive Pro‘s single cable is a lot less clunkier than some multi-cable setups that would no doubt look futuristic in the 90s. This shows that, slowly but surely, the industry is moving towards a slicker and easier experience.
There remains the issue of having to connect via wire at all – while some are trying to solve this by way of high-tech backpacking, HTC is taking a step in the right direction by introducing a wireless adapter for both the original and the Pro version.
In terms of features, HTC Vive Pro stacks up exceedingly well against the Sony PlayStation VR and Oculus Rift, the other main entries into the VR category. The original Vive and its competitors have close to the same specs, with Sony’s VR trading some resolution for a 30hz higher refresh rate. The Vive Pro is looking to beat this handily by upgrading the resolution to 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye versus the maximum 1080 by 1200 in current setups. Furthermore, the 37% increase in pixel density will ensure that the extra space is put to good use and gives the Vive Pro everything it needs to become a market leader in terms of image quality.
Hands-on reviewers agree: TrustedReviews’ in-depth look underlines the improvement of the display over the original Vive, with a clear upgrade in sharpness. There’s much to say about the design as well, and the Vive Pro appears to suffer from less light leak while being lighter and more comfortable to wear for prolonged periods.
How will it fare against the changing of the guard?
Since the Vive Pro still isn’t out, and some think it might not even see a release this year, it’s only fair to compare it to the upcoming models. And, when doing so, the Pro is looking a bit… outdated.
The three main up-and-coming competitors are all promising things that should give HTC reasons to worry. There’s the first-ever 8k headset, the Pimax 8K, which promises 200-degree Field of Vision, almost twice that of the Vive Pro. The CEO behind the Finnish Varjo swears that it will have a resolution of 70 megapixels compared to the Vive’s 1.2 MP. And let’s not forget the Magic Leap One, whose 4 cameras and state-of-the-art sensor will allow you to actually interact with your surroundings instead of just mapping them.
Suddenly, HTC’s newest model doesn’t look all that high-tech. And, since at least one of these headsets have been tested with positive results, it will be interesting to see whether the modest upgrade in specifications and the wireless adapter will be enough to justify Vive Pro‘s $600+ price tag come year’s end.
Is the HTC Vive Pro too much for your PC (and for video game manufacturers)?
In order to run the last generation HTC Vive comfortably, you need a video card to the tune of GeForce GTX 970, an i5 of better processor and 4 GB of RAM. The requirements for this years HTC Vive Pro shouldn’t be too far off – early reviews show that the headset ran comfortably on a GTX 1060 and an i5, and fulfilling the minimum requirements for Vive should have you ready for the Vive Pro despite the upgrade in resolution.
The real question might be whether game developers will be able to keep up with Vive Pro. While a resolution of 2880 x 1600 isn’t futuristic, it’s still significantly ahead of a lot of current models. These are the models that some of the best VR games currently on the market, such as Star Trek: Bridge Crew ($50 on Steam) and Fallout 4 VR ($60 on Steam), are made for.
It remains to be seen whether these games will be able to handle Vive Pro’s native resolution, and it wouldn’t be unprecedented for Pro users to find themselves having to downgrade to play their favorite title.
Should you upgrade from the Vive to the Vive Pro?
We like the Vive Pro, really. It’s got market-leading specs, makes clear improvements in terms of wear on the user and is released alongside wireless technology that could redesign the cumbersome VR experience. Yet we can’t help feel that HTC Vive Pro is a transitional device between the first attempts at VR like Oculus Rift and the revolutionary headsets coming later this year.
If you’re looking to buy your first VR headset around the time HTC Vive Pro comes out, it will probably be a good model to consider, but we just aren’t convinced that it offers enough of an upgrade to make the switch if you already own a regular Vive.
Note: At this point, the HTC Vive Pro release date and the HTC Vive Pro price haven’t been published, we will update the article once we have the info.