Top critical review
October 9, 2018
I own the original VIVE headset since it debuted a couple of years ago. I decided to buy the PRO version for business, because of all the positive reviews about its reliability and increased resolution.
Set-up: overall, it was pretty bad. I've read the stories about the long setup process that the PRO headset requires. I chose not to believe them, because I thought of myself as a pretty experienced person with VR. After all, I have the original VIVE and know how to deal with software updates and troubleshoot issues.
Well, friends, I was wrong. At first everything was fine, as the little program that I downloaded from the HTC website was guiding me through the process. Then I was asked to sign in with the HTC account, so that I can "enjoy" my several months of free membership of their VR store. I googled around, and there was no way of continuing the installation of the headset without the HTC account. DEAR HTC, please don't drag me into your store if I am not interested. As a customer, I don't appreciate the strong-arming. I don't need another store subscription. I know what you are thinking: "he bought the headset, he has the installation running = he is invested deep enough now that he will register for the store account, even if he doesn't really want it." Nice calculus, but I am no longer a happy customer of yours after this kind of treatment.
Long story short, I did register for the HTC account; I singed in with my Steam account. Moving on, the HTC install program did not recognize my USB 3 port as USB 3, no matter how I tried. USB 3 is required for optimum performance of the two cameras on the headset. That's fine, I thought, let's just skip this step. Then the installation program proceeded to download a whole bunch of stuff, including their store program which I did not really need, all in excess of 1 gig. At this point, I felt the process was becoming too involving. I was asked then to update all the software in the headset itself and the controllers. When all was done, at the end of the installation, I began receiving error messages from HTC software trying to sort things out with the Steam store and Steam VR. It was confusing and annoying, like watching two stores - HTC and STEAM - fight it out on my desktop. I also downloaded the latest NVIDIA drivers (I run a 1080 card), and updated windows as well.
I installed the lighthouses in the same spots where I had the original VIVE lighthouses installed. These things were supposed to be better, so I was pretty excited. Set up Room Scale VR as usual, set AUDIO in Steam VR to HMD, put on the headset and... the word to describe how I felt is "underwhelming." Many reviews say the screen door effect is "almost gone", "barely visible", or even "totally solved." I don't know how much these websites depend on advertising revenue from Steam or HTC, but the screen door effect is - clearly, 100%, in-your-face - there. I wasn't trying to look for it, I just wanted to focus on the image, but the screen door effect was photo-bombing everything just like it does in the original VIVE that was made 2 years ago.
Yes, the headset is more comfortable than the original! And like most reviewers claim, it is a big deal. This is the only positive thing that I can say about the headset.
Performance: With my 1080 card, I did not notice any jitter or frame drops. However, I had a lot of tracking issues where the floor would start flying from underneath me, or I would be pushed into the wall in the VR. I did room set up many many many times, and I adjusted the lighthouses many many many many times, trying all possible angles. I troubleshoot the headset for defective hardware, all was good. Did the setups again, and again received tracking madness. I switched back My original VIVE, and everything worked rock-solid. Then I did some googling, and it is a known issue. It seems, this new VIVE PRO is super-susceptible to issues if there are reflective surfaces nearby. I have several windows in my VR area that I suspect were causing the problem. However, my original VIVE has zero issues with those windows. I thought the VIVE PRO is supposed to be BETTER, right? I mean, more reliable? What's up with this, HTC? How come my original VIVE performs better than your newest PRO version? I bought this for business, I don't have time tinkering with it all the time. My original VIVE seems to be more PRO reliable than this newest, super-expensive, "PRO" version.
In the end, I decided to return VIVE PRO, because it feels like a step backward to me. Even the plastic looks cheap compared to the original version. Same with presentation - the box is horrible. Seems like HTC just doesn't care as much as they cared when they released the original headset. It feels like they were trying to cut costs with this (and charge an arm and a leg at the same time, to make it a winning business strategy).
Here's my recommendation:
- if you have the original VIVE, buy a strap with built-in headphones, and your VIVE will be as comfortable as the new one. The resolution bump sounds impressive on paper, but in real life, you will -barely- notice it. Barely. Wait until HTC gets it game together and produces a truly next generation VR headset. This VIVE PRO is a scam.
- if you don't have any VR headset and want one now; buy the original VIVE if you want superior tracking, plus the wireless add-on, plus the strap with built-in headphones. You will have a superior VR experience, AND save a ton of money that you can put towards the next generation VR when it comes out, spend on a Hawaiian vacation, invest in the stock market, or whatever you want to do with it. VIVE PRO is just too glitchy.
Still feel like you want VIVE PRO? Then read all the horror stories on redit about people spending weeks and months trying to make the tracking work. Google "VIVE Pro tracking issues". Still want to buy it? I totally understand, why believe someone else's experience, when you can witness these problems first-hand? Go ahead and buy it. Amazon has a great return policy.
To those of you who happen to have zero reflective surfaces in or near your VR area, and your PRO is working for you - good for you. I still don't understand how my original VIVE works so flawlessly in same area where this "PRO" version is a total puke-inciting mess. What's going on with you, HTC?