With countless major technology brands competing both for your dollars and your attention, virtual reality is well and truly out of the the lab and into the wild in 2017. It’s not quite tapped into the mainstream in the same way that smartphone did almost a decade ago – but it feels like the category is well on its way to reaching a similar sort of mass market.
Unfortunately, at least for now, buying into the higher end of virtual reality experiences doesn’t come cheap.
There’s always some wiggle room but generally a dedicated headset – one designed to be used with a high-end PC or games console – can cost you around $1000. While that steep price-tag is definitely going to slow dedicated virtual reality from growing as fast as mobile VR is, the fidelity of experiences on offer here are so much more impressive on a technical level that the allure remains.
Still, with the price-tag so high, you want to make sure you choose the right VR headset for you. Here’s why you should consider picking up a HTC Vive:
Why should you get a Vive?
No disrespect to the Oculus Rift – but it feels the Vive has a much higher ceiling for innovation. There are plenty of mind-blowing demos and experiences available for the Vive and with HTC’s partnership with video game developer Valve in tow, that burgeoning stream of content doesn’t look like it’ll be stopping anytime soon. The Oculus Rift has a lot of content on its own store but it doesn’t even come close to the breadth of what you can experience on the Vive.
What’s more, the HTC Vive looks to have become the go-to headset for developers. This year’s E3 conference saw major video game publisher ZeniMax announce that some of its biggest titles would be arriving to the HTC Vive before the end of 2017, including The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 4 and DOOM. Even Apple has thrown their lot in with the Vive, using the headset to illustrate the potential of their new iMac for developing VR content at this year’s WWDC.
Even beyond SteamVR, HTC’s own VivePort offers up a lot of great content via a Netflix style subscription. This means that while you do certainly pay a higher up-front cost for the HTC Vive versus its competitors, you can potentially make some of that cost back on games.
Finally, on a technical level, there’s a strong case to be made that the Vive offers the best return on investment. HTC have demonstrated a strong on-going commitment to the Vive and VR that you don’t necessarily always see from Facebook and Sony. Where the other VR players can ultimately take or leave VR if it doesn’t pan out, HTC have committed to making it work at any cost. As such, they’ve continued to improve the Vive experience – both on a software and hardware level – since launch.
Why shouldn’t you get a Vive?
To start with, the setup process for the Vive is a little more finicky and involved than both the PSVR and the Oculus Rift. Some will appreciate this DIY aspect, however, others will probably find it a bit of a turn-off. In addition, the user interface isn’t always as clean and friendly as the Vive. Both inside and out, the headset doesn’t always land on an aesthetics level. If you’re an enthusiast, you’ll likely enjoy this added degree of involvement. If you just want to dip your toes into VR, you might not be too thrilled.
It isn’t helped by the fact that the Vive is, by a notable margin, the most expensive of the big three VR headsets. It retails at JB Hi-Fi for $1399. While that number does include the controllers, it doesn’t include the cost of a VR-ready PC. It also requires the most amount of space to set-up in order to get the most out of its room-scale capabilities.
All told, the HTC Vive is probably the most future-proof virtual reality headset on the market – even if that title comes with both pros and cons.