HTC Vive VR Kit Review: Experiences And Performance

Re-Introducing The HTC Vive

A few weeks back, we gave you our initial take on the retail-ready HTC Vive virtual reality kit. While we were able to explain the Vive’s specifications, setup, configuration, and give some opinions on the experience, at that point, we hadn’t had the kit long enough to form any solid, concrete opinions. We had experience with multiple versions of the Vive throughout its development cycle, but we thought playing with the retail version for only a few days wasn’t enough time to truly understand it, so we held off on making any final recommendations.

htc vive vr kit

We have, however, worked with the Vive for a number of weeks at this point, experimented with a slew of software and applications, and gave a handful of interested third-parties some time inside the Vive as well and think we’ve got a firm grasp of the situation.

Before we dig back into the HTC Vive though, we’ve put together a short video tour of the hardware and some of the software available for it. Take a look at the video posted above and then we’ll dive a bit deeper on the pages ahead...

HTC Vive VR Kit
Specifications & Features
HTC Vive Headset
  • 32 headset sensors for 360° motion tracking
  • 2160 x 1200 combined resolution and 90 Hz refresh rate
  • 110° field of view
  • Front-facing camera blends real-world elements into the virtual world
  • Interchangeable foam inserts and nose pads provide customized comfort (Fits most glasses)
  • Adjustable headset strap provides balanced comfort for extended use
Handheld Wireless Controllers
  • Multi-function trackpad with HD haptic feedback
  • Dual-stage triggers with HD haptic feedback
  • Two handheld controllers each have 24 sensors for accurate motion tracking
Base Stations
  • Two base stations deliver 360° motion tracking for room-scale VR
  • Base stations sync wirelessly and only require a power cable

We explained how to set up the Vive in our initial coverage, and also talk about it again in the video posted above, so definitely check those out if you’d like some background information or a refresher -- we're not going to re-hash it all again here.

After our initial article went live, we got some questions about room configurations and whether or not the Vive could be used without its base stations for seated VR experiences, like those available on the Rift.

steam vr ready
All Of The Vive's Components Must Be 'Ready' Before You Can Use The Kit...

To answer that question, no, you cannot use the Vive without its base stations. If everything is connected properly and in-view of the base stations, the Vive “just works” (assuming you’ve already been through the setup wizard to configure the room, etc.). But if the controllers or base stations are not in-view and detected, the kit doesn’t reach its “ready” state and is not usable.

Another reader asked if the controllers were “smooth” when using them in a VR environment. The answer to that question is a resounding yes. It’s actually pretty surprising just how accurate and smooth the motion tracking is with the controllers. Definitely check out the section in our video where we show Tilt Brush in action to see just how precise and smooth the tracking of the controllers can be.

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