HTC has officially shipped the much anticipated Vive VR headsets on 5th April, and on Thursday 7th April a demo of the product was provided in Mumbai. Interested VR enthusiasts and customers have been waiting eagerly for this VR headset and now that we have experienced it, there are a lot of features that have impressed us.
To begin with, the Vive set contains the Head Mounted Display, the Connecting cables to the PC, a pair of controllers, the lighthouse sensors and their docks, as well as a connector dock. The setup time is not long, although it will be more than that of the Oculus Rift due to the additional sensors and wiring present here. Once you have connected the setup according to the instructions provided in the kit, which includes setting up the two lighthouse sensors about diagonally across a 15 by 15 feet room and going through the initial calibration, the on screen Steam VR interface shows up. You can select your game from this screen or the computer to which it is connected. In the showcase today, we went through three demos. This is where the real deal started.
The HTC Vive provides a sense of immersion that is unparalleled so far. There is an amazing sense of depth and distance, which when coupled with directional audio, makes the experience altogether even more immersive. Except for the cables and the absence of sensing any obstacles other than walls, there is nothing in the experience that breaks the illusion of VR. The device was hooked to the NVIDIA GTX 980, which supported the high end graphics quality without any lag or stutter. And in the time we spent with the device, we didn't feel any sort of VR sickness - that is almost half n hour of continuous VR.
The controllers might look esoteric to a first timer. They are longitudinal with the strange circular halo on top and a trackpad button along with a couple of other buttons, which might get you worried about the familiarity curve at the onset. But by the time the demos were over, we were using those controllers for the in game features as if they've been around for years. This is where the price difference with the Oculus Rift is strongly justified, along with the entire lighthouse sensor setup.
One of the advantages of HTC Vive over the Oculus Rift was evident right from the onset - the freedom of movement. And the Vive does a brilliant job at making it as lifelike as possible. You lean forward to look closely at an object, it actually appears closer in game. You sit down to pet a little dragon, you can actually see his fangs right in front of you.
HTC hasn't given a specific release date or pricing for the Vive in India, and so far, all we know is that it will be coming to India in Q3 2016. By then, we can expect a lot more content and many more games to be available for the platform. Although one thing is surely evident, VR is no longer in the labs being developed as a fringe technology, it has finally arrived and with the HTC Vive experience we had, it looks like it is here to stay.