Light-weight & Compact, However Shares Quest Professional’s Woes

At CES 2023 HTC revealed its new Vive XR Elite headset which is positioned as a Quest Professional competitor. By way of options and {hardware}, the headset is basically a refinement of formfactor over the rest; and whereas it’s undoubtedly compact and light-weight, it could be hampered by an unclear worth proposition and a few ergonomic particulars that went neglected.

For an in depth have a look at Vive XR Elite’s specs and options, take a look at our announcement article

Everybody’s head form, nostril measurement, and eye positions are completely different. That stated, the primary time I placed on Vive XR Elite it was clear to me that there wasn’t almost sufficient room for my nostril… one thing that I’ve no subject with on nearly each different main headset available on the market (even HTC’s different VR headsets).

It’s not that it’s unimaginable to get the strain off your nostril—the optionally available top-strap (which HTC neatly included) makes this simple sufficient—however the issue is that if I elevate the headset as much as get weight off of my nostril, my eyes are not within the candy spot of the lens, making the view by the headset sub-par. Extra padding across the nostril would have an identical subject of transferring the lenses out of the candy spot.

Whereas I didn’t get to make use of the headset for an prolonged time period, I’ve a robust suspicion that the nostril factor goes to be a literal and figurative ache level on this headset. And as somebody who doesn’t have a very giant nostril, I can’t think about I’m going to be the one individual with this subject.

Photograph by Highway to VR

The nostril factor isn’t the one ergonomic oversight that was instantly obvious. There’s additionally the truth that the rear pad, which is designed to cup the again of your head, doesn’t cushion your head sufficient to stop contact between your cranium and the battery on the again. That signifies that as you tighten the headset you’ll be able to really feel an enormous, flat, plastic floor pushing in opposition to your head. That’s in comparison with one thing just like the Quest 2 Elite Strap (which the rear of Vive XR Elite seems to emulate), the place I can solely really feel the pads hugging the again of my head, however by no means the battery behind them.

Photograph by Highway to VR

Past these worrying ergonomic subtleties, the headset’s fundamentals really feel strong throughout the board, making the Vive XR Elite the corporate’s most refined standalone so far. However from a function and efficiency standpoint, the headset feels extra like Quest 2 than Quest Professional, which places it in a clumsy place with its $1,100 pricetag.

Visually, Vive XR Elite’s pancake lenses are fairly good on the readability entrance, with good edge-to-edge readability, although falling in need of the superb lenses on Quest Professional. The usage of non-Fresnel lenses means a discount in glare and god rays in comparison with Quest 2, although the decision and visibility of the display screen door is about the identical between the 2 headsets (1,920 × 1,920 vs. 1,920 × 1,832). And whereas the peripheral discipline of view feels a bit tight, the added dioptre management (for altering the main focus of every lens) might be welcomed by these with glasses, and even these with out might be served effectively by the continual IPD adjustment (which incorporates an on-screen measurement readout and calibration pop-up).

Photograph by Highway to VR

Inside-out head-tracking feels fairly good and is unquestionably ‘ok’, although the instantaneous rotational latency doesn’t really feel as tight as Meta’s bar-setting inside-out answer. Importantly, the monitoring feels higher than Vive Circulate, which in my expertise has an excessive amount of latency for long-term consolation. Controller-tracking on Vive XR Elite additionally feels strong, and with cameras on both sides pointed nearly completely to your left and proper, protection must be good (doubtlessly surpassing Vive Focus 3).

Because the identify implies, the HTC is pushing the XR Elite as a headset that does passthrough AR along with VR. The headset’s coloration pass-through view isn’t stellar. Much like Meta’s headsets, the XR Elite makes an attempt to rebuild the depth of the actual world nearly to supply geometric correction and depth cues, however even with a depth-sensor on-board (which Quest Professional lacks), my expertise with the headset’s passthrough AR confirmed lots of warping on account of incorrect depth-mapping.

With out having the ability to do a direct side-by-side comparability, my impression was that XR Elite wasn’t fairly as sharp as Quest Professional on the subject of passthrough AR. Granted, the passthrough AR on each headsets headsets is undoubtedly in the identical approximate ‘class’ (not sharp sufficient to learn textual content out of your smartphone and fairly poor dynamic vary at that).

Photograph by Highway to VR

Similar to with Quest Professional, the standard and software of passthrough AR feels completely undercooked, with the handful of AR apps I attempted on the headset not sufficiently answering the query ‘why AR?’. However now that one other headset available on the market is embracing and enhancing this functionality, maybe the solutions to that query will come a bit sooner.

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Photograph by Highway to VR

Contemplating its efficiency and options, Vive XR Elite appears to share the identical core downside as Quest Professional—and that’s the worth proposition. Even when we ignore any potential ergonomic mishaps… at finest Vive XR Elite is akin to a considerably extra compact model of Quest 2. And even when we ignore that Quest 2 has a way more intensive content material library… it’s troublesome to see how, for most individuals, Vive XR Elite can justify an $1,100 price ticket in comparison with Quest 2 at $400.