Derek Demos the HTC Vive

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Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Derek Speare » Sat Apr 23, 2016 5:27 pm

Hi Friends,

The Microsoft Store in the Tampa Bay International Plaza is demoing the HTC Vive. I took this afternoon to make the journey to the mall and see for myself what the Vive offered. As an Oculus DK2 user who has had hundreds of hours and 18+ months of use, I have an informed - and hopefully not jaded - perspective when it comes to VR hardware.

The wait wasn't long, and folks can make preorders for the device in the store. The kids there, Samar, Haylee and Asher were great, and all of the MS Store folks are abundantly accommodating. DSD thanks them for welcoming me (and for minimal waiting!).

My specific goal for going was to see for myself how the image quality on the Vive compares to my own DK2. I didn't expect to be more than a moment, but once I put on the device I figured I should see what the demo offered. I knew right away the answer to my image quality question.

Candidly, I was disappointed. Anyone looking for a leap in image quality far better than the DK2 will feel the same. Unfortunately, the SDE is present and only incrementally "better" than the DK2, and if it's better at all, it's not by much. Be warned, there is SDE. Anyone who is expecting "minimal" SDE will be sorely let down. If the CV1 isn't much better than the Vive, then I will not have as much enthusiasm for the first gen of VR hardware...though I will still use my own CV1 when it comes!

So here are my brief observations:

SDE: Yes, it's there. Not much better than the DK2. You especially see it when "focusing" on objects on the horizon. It's somewhat better, but I was expecting "much" better. I was disappointed there.

Comfort: Maybe I am used the DK2. I found the Vive to be uncomfortable. The DK2 is easier to adjust and the strap fits me better. Possibly I didn't have enough time to get it adjusted properly.

Hand Controllers: I was pleasantly surprised with these! Actually, they are quite cool. I never really thought much of them, but you "see" them in the VR space, and the way you interact with them is very, very well done. You have to see them in VR to really see this.

Roomspace: I'm not interested in standing and moving. My focus is on seat VR with racing and flying my only interests. I can see how those who want other games will like it. It's unique, but nothing relevant for my interest.

FOV: Since I didn't make a mental note to look for this, I didn't examine it in detail. I didn't notice anything "wow", so I'd guess it to be adequate.

Anyhow, these are my own observations. I cannot speak for anyone by myself, but it's not for me. I'd not pay 800 to replace my DK2 with it. That's a no-go.

Note that my intention is not to start a battle over the Vive v Oculus. Get what you want, and that's not my business. ANY VR headset (DK2, Vive, CV1) is light years better than NO VR headset. Since I have a perspective on VR and sims, I figured my fair assessment of this one might be of interest to some.

And some photos!

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Derek "BoxxMann" Speare - An old "sim head"
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Tony » Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:18 pm

Thanks for that Derek :) I have been trying to curtail my excitement but that's because I sold my dk2 a few months ago !!! Still, I cannot wait for my cv1. And what a handsome chap 8-)

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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Robert » Sat Apr 23, 2016 10:28 pm

Well, as a DK2 and Vive owner, I have to disagree completely. There is SDE and yep, the resolution isn't where you can't discern pixels, but both are way better than the DK2. I'm far from disappointed by the Vive. I'm not sure why you had such a negative reaction to the Vive, but there are a lot of evenhanded reviews that say they are very comparable. The Rift may have a slightly better image quality but it also has stronger "god rays". But emphasis on the slightly. I think Dan's review was one of the better ones I've seen (viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1617#p7459) and he also came down on the minor difference between Vive and Rift side but that both are a big step up from DK2.

As to fit, I think you may not have adjusted it properly. The Vive is harder to get to fit properly the way they set up their straps, but once you get it set up, it feels really good. I'd have to say better than DK2 but again, if you don't adjust it properly, you may not care for it.

I don't have a Rift CV to compare to, but when you get the Vive properly set up for IPD and the distance from eye to lens, the FoV at least appears to me to be significantly better than DK2. I don't have the goggle effect like I do with DK2. With the Rift going for higher pixel density, it will by definition have a lower FoV. How much lower, I can't say but again, Dan has them both to compare with and he said it's not a significant difference.

I do enjoy the hand controllers. I suppose that if you only want to do sims with joysticks and wheels, they may be an unnecessary expense, but for those that are interested in more, even though we don't know the price of the Touch system, it's got to be in the ballpark of $150-200. $100 may be possible but that will be pushing it. But even so, that brings the difference down to $100 total and I have a system that really opens up new worlds now.

But if you don't see much difference between the Vive and DK2, the Rift may be a disappointment as it won't be that different either. My personal observation and opinion is Vive is very different from the DK2. Sure it's only a minor resolution difference, but the DK2 doesn't effectively use the pixels it has. The Vive and Rift both have custom optics to use the pixels they have more effectively on top of the extra pixels. It's a huge difference for me in FSX and P3D. I noticed the difference immediately. I can now turn all the way around in the airplane - something I never could do before without losing tracking. I can also walk around my room, orient myself with the front-facing camera, and it just adds so much to the experience. Having the room tracking is another reason Rift users will want to get Touch and again, that brings the prices much more in line.

I gladly spent $800 on the Vive and my wife thinks it is cool enough that I may have to spend another $800. I think Rift and Touch will probably be the same for other people.

I'm also not wanting to start a Vive/Rift war but I did want to provide my own experiences since they are so different from what Derek reported. I got my DK2 in the very first batch Oculus shipped and have also spent way too many hours in VR. I believe I have an equally informed perspective and having now spent quite a few hours in the Vive, might have some good insight there as well.
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby G-PMEM » Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:25 am

I have had my Vive for almost a week now, and while I agree that the shortcomings of these early kits is quite noticeable during initial use, I have found that your brain quickly adjusts to these and learns to see past them. To the point of not thinking about it and just enjoying the content and visuals. I'll be getting a next generation kit as well so I'm not that bothered about it at this stage. Hopefully it won't be too long to wait.

I do like the room scale standing feature. There are some really great little games in The Lab, like the archery game, for example. Although the graphics are quite simplistic the controllers and subtle vibration feedback as you pull back on the bow is really realistic. And because the tracking is so well done it does actually require skill to aim the bow correctly. Quite addictive.
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Derek Speare » Sun Apr 24, 2016 9:48 am

The SDE was instantly noticeable for me. SDE becomes increasingly more important when looking at objects rendered at a distance. Some folks may not be as sensitive to it as I am, but my intention was not to debate this v that. I really don't care what device people use. That's up to them. I certainly do not approach these things with a bias, and since I have a name and reputation that some folks recognize, I am VERY careful about what I write.

My intention was to see for myself what the deal was. I learned that in an instant. I was hoping to be pleased with what I saw, but I was not. Other Vive users are reporting what I have reported, so I'd expect that my observations are not unexpected.

Below is a comparison graphic between the CV1 and Vive made by Tested. What's on the right is what I saw. Ultimately, we're fortunate to have VR as a hardware segment receiving big development dollars. We're the beneficiaries of this! VR is finally here, and I am personally very excited for what comes in the future.

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Derek "BoxxMann" Speare - An old "sim head"
System: i7-5930k | GTX980ti | Evo850 1tb | 32g ram | 2-DSD Button Boxes | Latest OH | CH Sticks | Win10 Pro | FSX:SE | P3D2.5/3 | XP v10/v11 | Leap Orion | CV1/WMR/DK2


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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Bruce_C » Sun Apr 24, 2016 10:49 am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I'm still waiting on my new headset (I went Oculus) but I'm trying not to get excited by SDE or resolution and instead look forward to the ergonomic improvements which I hope it will bring. Room scale interests me a little but for now I'll wait and see (and I'll probably have quite a wait the way Oculus are going but that's another thread for another day!)
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Robert » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:03 am

To each their own. For driving I can certainly see the desire to see curves and brake points at a distance. For flight, and many other experiences, wide field of view, brightness in the display, and being able to easily turn on the pass through camera to see the keyboard are important. At least to me. Same for tracking. My setup just won't work with a single tracking camera and I was constantly aware of moving out of the DK2 tracking volume. While the Rift CV tracking volume is supposed to be bigger, for me, I doubt it would do what Lighthouse can which is give me full access to all the space in my office. But the Vive and from all indications, the Rift, are both big improvements over the DK2.

When you count pixels across the characters Tested showed, the difference is minor and likely won't make a huge difference but I can see it making some difference. If you are that strongly against the resolution and SDE of the Vive display, the Rift may not be enough for you either. I did a blowup of those images when Tested posted them to see how fair the comparison was and it isn't. The two images aren't taken at the same resolution and aren't presented the same way. There is a difference in the resolutions of the two images (grab some letters and put them into an image editor and see for yourself if you don't believe it) and due to the low resolution it's hard to say what is screen door and what is an artificial beat frequency. The fact is that people who try both headsets generally come out saying that there is no real difference unless they a/b them, which follows from them being the same resolution in the raw displays with minor optics differences. In head to head a/b tests, there is a very minor and basically inconsequential better resolution advantage to the Rift while the Vive takes a similarly small advantage in field of view.

We'll see how it all shakes out. I have a feeling both companies will field worthy systems. People should buy the headset that gives them the set of features that works best for them. I just want to see balanced presentations that don't artificially skew the impressions people get of these headsets. Let's let the playing field be level and people make up their own minds.

The second generation headsets probably aren't far away since in spite of launch difficulties at both Oculus and HTC, the financial outlook on headset sales is going up and not down. Both companies have big motivations to hit a second generation hard and it would be my guess that eye tracking, foveated rendering, and higher resolution will all be key. Any differences in resolution and FOV now will likely be improved away for second generation and what will remain will be tracking, software lineup and support, and general company responsiveness to customers.
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Tony » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:25 am

I'm seriously considering a return to dk2 and maybe hold off for the next gen hmd's?? Is 500 pound really worth it ? Getting a bit confused these days as to what to get or hold off :(

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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Bruce_C » Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:04 pm

I still think gen2 is 18 months away minimum and I suspect DK2 will be a dead duck inside of a year. Just my prediction. I'd hold tight for now.
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Re: Derek Demos the HTC Vive

Postby Robert » Sun Apr 24, 2016 1:17 pm

Tony, I'm definitely with Bruce on DK2's days being numbered. As to the timeline for gen 2, I don't think any of us has inside knowledge. I'm thinking a little faster on gen 2 with them gearing up in around a year, but it could also be closer to Bruce's prediction of 18 months. About the only thing we know is what Oculus said on their planned refresh cycle but plans may or may not change. These launches present a fairly extraordinary set of circumstances that kind of tosses the table. HTC hasn't said a word that I'm aware of on their plans, though.

Bottom line is whatever you get, we have seen phenominal resale on used equipment. You even made a respectable profit as I recall. :D

Life is short. My own personal approach is to go for it. It's something I really enjoy and who knows when any of us may check out? As for gen 2, I say bring them on and the sooner the better. Nobody has to upgrade anyway. It is only providing a choice. These things will probably become more like specialized monitors where the resolution of one or the other just gets auto detected and off you go. There are lots of sizes, features, and resolutions of monitors and it would seem to me that that will be the direction VR goes. Who knows?
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