The HTC Vive is an awesome virtual reality headset that invites you into the worlds set out by your favorite games, taking immersive gameplay to the next level.
However, as you’re probably aware, HTC and Valve aren’t the only tech giants offering you the key to virtual universes. Oculus, the OG virtual reality giants, are also taking gaming to new heights with the Oculus Quest 2, a standalone VR masterpiece.
Why Is The HTC Vive So Expensive?
Surprisingly, the Vive and the Quest 2 occupy starkly different areas of the market, with the former costing hundreds of dollars more than the latter, leading to a lot of VR junkies asking what the big idea is.
You can check the price yourself here: HTC Vive Virtual Reality System
At first, this price difference seems fairly outlandish. They both do roundabout the same things, right? But once you take a closer look at some of the technical specs of these two devices, the hefty Vive price tag seems a lot more reasonable. Let’s discuss why…
Refresh rates refer to the number of times a second a display can create a fresh image. You can think of them as the frame rates of a video camera. Say, for example, that you recorded something with a 10fps camera, then filmed the same thing with a 24fps camera. The footage captured with the 24fps camera will appear a lot smoother and fluid during playback, while the footage captured by the 10fps camera might appear jagged and flickery in comparison.
The same principles apply to computer displays. The higher the refresh rate, the smoother the picture and motion will appear. Of course, a high refresh rate is nice to have on any screen, but it’s especially important when it comes to VR.
As you’re locked into these displays via a headset, if the graphics are flickery and jittery, it won’t be long before you’ll start feeling nauseous and develop a throbbing headache.
To avoid this, HTC challenged themselves with creating the highest refresh rate VR headset on the market, and the Vive is the fruits of their labor.
The Vive and the Vive Pro have a 90Hz refresh rate, and the Pro 2 boasts a whopping 120Hz refresh rate.
On a regular computer screen, the difference between the Oculus Quest 2’s 75Hz and the Vive’s 90Hz refresh rate might be fairly negligible, but during VR, that difference allows you to play harder for longer.
When a computer senses your physical movements, then represents and displays those movements on screen, it’s known as tracking.
VR units need to have incredibly low latency and accurate tracking, otherwise, the VR spell is well and truly broken. If the response is anything other than immediate, players would lose interest in minutes.
It’s a close call, but the HTC Vive and Co. have the most accurate tracking on the market, which ultimately means that they provide the most immersive and realistic gaming experience.
Using SteamVR tracking, the Vive captures your movement almost perfectly, only ever being off by a couple of centimeters here and there.
Field Of View
The field of view in a virtual reality game is the maximum observable environment you can see at any one moment, and once again, the HTC Vive has the edge on its main competition, the Oculus Quest 2.
The original Vive, the Vive Pro, and the Pro 2 offer 110° of visible surroundings at all times, while the Quest 2 only lets you see 100°. This means you’re literally getting more virtual world from the Vive, and as you’d imagine, more world means more money.
The Original HTC Vive has a 2160 x 1200 resolution. The Oculus Quest 2’s resolution tops out at 1832 x 1920. So, all in all, the Vive has more pixels, which means a crisper, more detailed picture.
In terms of display design, the Vive has an edge once again. The Quest 2 has a liquid crystal display, whereas the Vive has an OLED display, offering sharper contrast ratios and truer blacks.
In addition, the Vive Pro 2 blows both these VR stalwarts out of the water with its 2448 x 2448 resolution.
Here’s one area in which the Vive drops the virtual ball, offering only 2.5 hours of battery life, but as it can also be PC powered, battery life isn’t such an issue. Besides, HTC still generally dominates in terms of battery power.
Take the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, for instance. This VR beast’s battery can last as long as 8 hours. That’s one hell of a virtual reality session!
The Oculus Quest 2 will only ever last for 3 hours max, which is still great. 3 hours is plenty to really get stuck in and enjoy some virtual worlds, but it doesn’t even compare to the Cosmos Elite. Naturally, the Elite costs more.
The Vive was the first of its kind within the companies responsible for its creation. The programming was all 1st generation, built up from scratch, and building something this complex from the ground up with no blueprints to work from takes a lot of manpower.
HTC and Valve would have had to hire a vast amount of specialists to get the Vive project up and running, and everyone that worked on it needs to be paid, thus, the price of the Vive rises a little higher.
Nowadays, the original Vive is becoming quite difficult to come by, so even though we’re on to the Pro 2, prices remain high due to scarcity.
There you have it, folks. Sure, the HTC Vive was, and still is, expensive, but is the price tag unreasonable? I don’t think so.
Once you factor in all the aspects of its design and that it was basically a prototype VR device built from scratch, the price tag doesn’t sting so much. You feel that you might actually be getting what you pay for, and let’s be honest, you’re getting a lot.
Outside other HTC and Valve products, a 90Hz VR experience is still a rarity today, so hats off to HTC, and hats off to the Vive. If you can afford one, you’re going to have an absolute blast!