The CeBIT in Hannover is one of biggest conventions regarding IT-topic. It is more focused on trade visitors since 3 years, so I didn’t expect to see a lot of things regarding VR. A lot of companies just showed 360° Videos with Cardboard and Gear VR.
However there was one company called Innoactive, that focused on making programs for VR. They develop interior designer programs, that potential customers can use to see how furniture looks with the correct sizes. That was the demo I tried.
I got an invite from Telekom to discuss about some company related stuff. So I got a walk-around their around enormous booth. One part of this tour was a hands-on with HTC Vive.
I want to shift focus to the HTC Vive Pre now: Keep in mind, that this Hands-On was at their booth so things like immersion are not easy to experience when a lot of people have their eyes on you.
Design, build and comfort
If you compare the HTC Vive Pre to the old first Dev Kit, it is way smaller, lighter and better looking. It comes in a matte black finish and the dimpled loo its famous for.
The HTC Vive will also release with two foams, one for western- and one more for the asian market. The foam is comfortable and while the HMD sometimes presses on my cheeks a little, it is still good.
I was impressed by the lightweight of it, but not that much by the build quality. While it is not bad, the Playstation VR and especially the Oculus Rift are better in that regard.
Don’t get me wrong, the build quality is still good, but not that excellent like the mentioned HMD’s above.
As with every HMD, the comfort comes and goes with the headstraps. They did a great job on that and will even improve on it with the final version.
Was bothered me was the 5 metre long cable. While walking around, I had to take care not falling over it.
All in all I am impressed by it from how it looks and how comfortable it is. Lets see how it holds up “under the hood”.
Probably the most important aspect of a VR Headset is its display. While I think the app I have tried may not be the best suited one for this test, I still want to write down my experience with it.
It has two 1080x 1200 (together they have 2160×1200) Screens with a refresh rate of 90 frames per second. The aspect-ratio is 9:5 so you can look way up and way down without the need to move you head.
With screens that sharp, you expect not seeing pixels. Yes and no! If you really only focus to find pixels, you can find them. But only then.
If you focus on the game, you don’t see any and it doesn’t affect the immersion.
Because it is room scaled VR, it is important to get warned if you get close to wall. HTC has implemented a system they call “Chaperone”, that pops up a “tron-like” wall.
It uses the front camera for this. Something the Oculus doesn’t offer.
Now that you have read about the awesome display, but how is the tracking?
Tracking and controllers
The Vive is rocking 37 Sensors only on the Headset and with the both controllers even 70. It runs on the Steam Lighthouse System, where lasers track the Headset and Controllers It even allows to walk around, something the Oculus Rift is not able to do at the moment. What counts for the Headset is even more true for the Controllers.
The tracking of them is phenomenal. No lag and no disconnects. While I was waiting in VR for the Experience to start, the employees gave me the controllers. I was able to grab them without seeing my hands.
I was even able to stick one controller through the hole of the other one and still it detected it precisely.
The controllers made a big step forward from the old ones. The trigger buttons are feeling way nicer. But because your hands grab the controllerat all time, gestures, like they are possible with the Oculus touch, are not doable here.
I was excited to see if the HTC Vive is really ready for the consumer market. After this hands-on, and seeing other people trying it out, I have to say it totally is.
It feels nice, it works good and doesn’t fail to impress people.
While it is expensive and you need a High-End PC, I think it will lift off 2016. One year later it will be more affordable to reach mass market.
With higher sales figures, we see a drop in the price because of the cheaper way of producing for mass market.
So get excited for the virtual future.