I was able to try out both the commercial versions of the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive this weekend, and — to my own surprise — came out liking the HTC Vive a little bit more. I thought the HTC Vive represented more what virtual reality is supposed to be about.
First of all, it’s important to note that the major thing that’s stopping both the Vive and the Rift from becoming completely immersive is the 2160 x 1200 resolution. On a computer screen that may look good, and on a smartphone, that may look great, but on a screen right in front of your eyes — not so much.
In order to get the full effect of these devices, you need a powerful PC that will usually cost you $800 or more. I used both the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive on a Dell XPS 8900, which allowed both devices to run decently, although there was some stuttering at times.
The FOV (field of view) is slightly bigger on the Oculus Rift, which also has a better catalogue of games. EVE: Valkyrie, perhaps the most popular game for the Rift now, is a cliché space-fighter game, but one that puts you right in the middle of all the action. Using the Amazon Fire controller felt intuitive and it was surreal to follow a space ship curving around me by turning my head. But after the initial honeymoon with the game, it gets boring and I wish it had more features.
The HTC Vive felt more comfortable on my head, even if it was a little heavier. However, Eric, the guy who let me play with both devices, believes the Oculus Rift has a more comfortable fit. The Vive also comes with touch motion controllers, which the Oculus Rift won’t have until this fall.
The HTC Vive uses two base stations and other sensors to track you. It provides room-scale VR, where the Oculus Rift relies on one sensor. It also has a camera in front. With the motion controllers, you can grab an object on your virtual reality world. My favorite game is Longbow, which is a part of one of the multiple games in The Lab, which functions as a portal in the Vive.
Although the HTC Vive offers the better experience of the two headsets, it’s still far from perfect and only for early adopters right now. One has to remember that it’s only the beginning of the virtual reality era. There will be future headsets from Sony (PlayStation VR arrives October 13) and, possibly, even Apple. However, even though the HTC Vive costs $200 more than the Oculus Rift right now, it’s definitely the headset to buy if you must dip in the virtual reality world at this moment.