Tested HTC Vive Pro
As HTC gives the Vive a professional makeover, are hardcore virtual reality fans finally getting the high-end hardware they’ve been dreaming of?
Go on your own Ready Player One adventure
£799 (headset) / stuff.tv/vivepro Fancy entering the world of virtual reality for the first time? Then throw your bank details at another headset – the Vive Pro probably isn’t for you.
Thanks to its extravagant price and the need for a super-specced computer, HTC’S new headset is not intended for VR dabblers. While there is a Vive Pro Starter Kit available, which includes the required controllers and base station, it’ll cost you a staggering £1048. Throw a Pro-worthy PC into the trolley and you’re easily breaking the £2000 barrier. That’s your summer holiday plans out of the window.
However, if you’re one of those people who gobble up graphics cards like collectables and already own the original Vive’s controllers and base stations, then the £799 headset-only deal looks much more appealing.
What are you getting for your buck? A huge resolution boost, some ergonomic improvements including built-in headphones, and the best damned virtual reality experience in the business.
1 Trip through your wires While the Pro’s new streamlined cable is less likely to tangle in knots than the original Vive’s, it’s still really annoying. The good news is that HTC has a solution with a wireless adapter coming to stores later this year. The bad news? It’s unlikely to be cheap.
2 Running to stand still How powerful does your PC need to be? Very. You’ll ideally need at least an Nvidia Geforce GTX 1060 graphics card and a processor equivalent to an Intel Core i5-4590. That’s a monstrous gaming rig. And you’ll need to ensure your PC has a Displayport.
3 Stranger in a strange land HTC has given the Pro a mighty 1440x1600 resolution for each eye, but getting the best visual fidelity depends on the games. VR titles with simplistic artwork don’t look much different, but the likes of Doom VFR and Thumper (see right) look radically better.
4 I (don’t) fall down The original Vive was more than a bit top-heavy, and was a nightmare to adjust on the fly. The Pro fixes that with a sizing dial at the back of the strap, which makes fine adjustments easier. The strap also does a better job of balancing weight.
5 With a shout The Pro has built-in headphones, with plenty of padding around the ears for a comfortable fit. You get spatial audio support, which is essential for VR games, and volume is a doddle to adjust with buttons sitting on the left earcup for easy access.
With the right games, virtual worlds look great with the Pro, while the new design and built-in headphones fix a lot of the basic Vive’s flaws. The super-high price and lack of games that get the best out of the hardware will scare most off, but for VR obsessives the Vive Pro is undoubtedly the best headset you can buy. @Ryanaj13