HTC Vive virtual reality glasses: everything you need to know

The HTC Vive is a virtual reality glasses that is made by HTC, known for smartphones, and Valve, known for game platform Steam. In this article, we will explain what the headset does and what the specs are.

What is the HTC Vive?

The HTC Vive is a virtual reality glass made by HTC and Valve. Manufacturer HTC is known for its smartphones and tablets while gamers know Valve from games like Half-Life and Portal and the game platform Steam. The headset changed twice by name before the consumer version would be called Vive. The first edition was also called Vive while the new and improved version was called Vive Pre. Vive was first unveiled at Mobile World Congress 2015 and the headset was later shown at CES and MWC 2016.

Design and characteristics

When you put the latest version of the Vive next to the first version, you will see that there are few differences to note. Nevertheless, the consumer edition is smaller and providing a comfortable fit. Thus, users are also able to switch the foam on the inside of the glasses, so that the device always falls on the face. The straps are adjustable and it is even possible to carry on the HTC Vive with glasses. Also, the headband, with which you can attach the VR goggles, is redesigned for this release.

One striking feature is the ability to connect an iPhone or Android smartphone to the headset. Not so you can use it as a tool to play virtual reality games (like you can with the HTC VR 360 in combination with the LG G5), but to receive notifications while you are in virtual reality. This way you do not miss anything of the real world, but you do not have to leave the virtual even if the real world demands your attention. HTC calls this functionality Vive Phone Sevices – see it as a handy extra service.

Hardware

The HTC Vive has some hardware components on board. For example, there is a gyroscope, an accelerometer, and a laser position sensor. All of these components work together in order to determine the position of the head of the wearer. The Vive is also able to determine the position of the rest of the body, thanks to two base stations: the Lighthouse cameras. You place these in two corners of the camera. Then they will be able to track the total of seventy sensors if you count the two controllers. Otherwise, it is 37.

It is possible to walk around in a room with the VR goggles while these movements are translated into the digital world. The stations now support an area of 1.4 square meters, but also working on a smaller surface. Additionally, you can also define the limitations and Vive will warn the wearer when they are about to walk against a wall. In the picture, you get to see a kind of grid. HTC calls this function Chaperone – the headset will have to accompany the player during this time.

The HTC Vive controllers are redesigned Steam controllers and contain some buttons, such as a trackpad, action buttons, and a grip that can react to a certain amount of pressure. Also, there is a trigger among the index finger, there is a home button, and the controllers are able to vibrate due to haptic feedback. The controllers are comfortable to hold thanks to its ergonomic design and allow you to actually act in the digital space. The gamepads are completely wireless.

Specifications of the hardware

Within the HTC Vive, there are two screens with a resolution of 1080 by 1200 pixels. This gives the glasses access to a resolution of 2160 by 1200 pixels. In addition, the Vive is equipped with a screen ratio of 9:5, in contrast to the traditional 16:9. It results in a higher image with a more natural representation of the virtual environment, one in which you actually can move your eyeballs upwards to watch over you, just as you would do in real life.

The refresh rate is 90Hz. That is the same level compared to competitor Oculus Rift, but not as high compared to PlayStation VR. Whether it’s actually going to make a difference, is another question – the difference between 90 and 120Hz is marginal. At the front of the glasses is also a camera. Which could theoretically open the doors for augmented reality features, but so far it is mainly intended to see what happens in front of you, without taking off the glasses.

There is also a large, thick cable that connects the glasses to the PC. Only if you wear glasses, you see what restrictions the cable entails – though there are not many. Does that thing get in the way? No doubt, but you quickly get used to it. It is up to the developers of games to minimize suffer from that cable and we are confident that everything will be fine. However, the cable will remain a necessary evil to connect the glasses to your PC.

htc-vive-package

Minimum specifications of the PC

Before we appoint the technical details, it is useful to know that you can look through the SteamVR Performance Test if your PC is powerful enough for the HTC Vive. What you need are the following minimum specs:

  • Intel i5-4590, AMD FX-8350 or equivalent
  • Nvidia GTX 970, AMD R9 290 4GB or more
  • HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • Windows 7 SP1 or a later version of Windows

HTC Vive Price and release date

At the time of writing, you can pre-order the Vive at HTC. The glasses will be delivered from April 5. The price of the headset is quite high: $899. But you get more in return than the Oculus Rift, where allows users to be able to actually walk around the room as if it were a virtual environment. Vive comes with two controllers, two base stations, headphones and some games, like Job Simulator.

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