I purchased the HTC Vive three weeks ago for $799 along with a VR-ready PC, the Dell XPS 8900, for $1199. With taxes, the price was over $2000. That type of cash is something I really can’t just part with now, and I knew I had 14 days to decide if I should keep the Vive system. If I did, I would have to sell my Microsoft Surface Book.
Last weekend, I drove to Micro Center in Orange County to return the Vive, and then drove to Fry’s Electronics to return the Dell PC. I did have some conflicting thoughts; the HTC Vive is the coolest and most groundbreaking tech device I have tried in years. It even outdoes the Microsoft HoloLens, which i had no problem reselling after two weeks without one ounce of guilt.
The HTC Vive, although very difficult to set up, truly brought me into another world. It wowed me far more than the Samsung Gear VR, which is good for mobile VR, but nothing more. My favorite app was Altspace VR, where I was able to meet people from all over the world in beautiful virtual places. Unlike Altspace VR on the Gear VR, I was able to walk around in these virtual spaces.
As mentioned in a previous article, the Vive was also a good exercise device. Games such as Holopoint and Space Pilot Trainer pushed my heart rate so high I had to rest — and this is coming from someone who does the Stepmaster machine at 24 Hour Fitness three times a week. I can hardly wait for virtual reality apps that you can use while walking on a treadmill. Can you just imagine walking through Mars while using your treadmill at home?
Some complain that the virtual reality games available for the Vive (and the Oculus Rift in many cases) are too simple. For someone like me, who grew up in the age of Asteroids and Space Invaders, that’s just fine. I am sick and tired of almost needing a five hour course on how to play a video game these days.
So, why did I return the HTC Vive? Although the experience was great, it simply isn’t worth $2000 (including the PC). The incredibly high price point is what will fail to attract people who would normally be VR customers. I would certainly have kept everything if it took just $1000 out of my bank account, but even that would still be too expensive for most customers.
I also know that this is just the beginning of the VR era and it has always been expensive to be an early adapter. The prices will go down, the resolution of the lenses will increase, and VR will take off — it’s going to happen. As for now, room-scale VR remains a concept for a privileged few.