The HTC Vive Pro 2 VR Headset Makes Me Want to Ditch Oculus

This gadget should make VR a lot more realistic

Key Takeaways

  • The new HTC Vive Pro 2 virtual reality headset is pricey at $799, but is far more sophisticated than its predecessor and beats much of the competition. 
  • The Pro 2 offers 5K resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, and a 120-degree field of view. 
  • Better hardware could mean an end to VR motion sickness.
Someone in an office setting using a Vive Pro 2 headset and controllers.

HTC

I love my Oculus Quest 2 headset, but now that it's given me a taste of what VR can do, I can’t wait to try the new HTC Vive Pro 2

The Vive Pro 2 handily beats the Oculus on specs. As befitting a device that costs $799 and is geared to pro users, the Pro 2 offers 5K resolution, 120 Hz refresh rate, and a 120-degree field of view. These features should allow the Vive to offer significantly smoother video and a more realistic experience than most competitors when it’s released next month. 

"The new Vive Pro 2 seems sleeker than its predecessor, but it still looks like a chunky monster on your face."

Goodbye, Motion Sickness?

As fun as it is to use, I’m still prone to "VR sickness" on occasion while using the Oculus. I’m hopeful that the higher resolution on the HTC could help. 

"At the hardware level, higher-resolution screens and higher frame rate video help to reduce motion sickness," Matt Wren, the co-founder of BUNDLAR, an augmented reality solutions company, told me in an email interview. 

Aside from the screen upgrades, HTC also has included minor tweaks to the Vive design for its latest model. The VIVE Pro 2 has fine-adjustable interpupillary distance, which should make the picture a bit sharper. It also offers 3D spatial sound with Hi-Res Audio Certified headphones

The new Vive is a big jump in specs from the original Vive Pro, released in 2018. That model has a 2880 x 1600 resolution, 90Hz refresh rate, and 110-degree field of view. The new Vive Pro 2 will offer a 5K resolution, with 2448×2448 pixels per eye. 

The Vive Pro 2 also brings Display Stream Compression, or DSC, which HTC says is a first in a VR headset. DSC is a visually lossless standard used in some high-end monitors.

"These advances mean minimal motion blur, and the 'screen door effect' is virtually eliminated, giving people a more natural and immersive experience," HTC said in a news release

The Vive Pro 2 has many more ergonomic features than the Oculus, including quick-adjust sizing dials and adjustable interpupillary distance (IPD). The new Vive Pro 2 seems sleeker than its predecessor, but it still looks like a chunky monster on your face. 

For those who are upgrading from another Vive headset, HTC says that all Vive SteamVR ecosystem accessories will work with Vive Pro 2, including the new Vive Facial Tracker and more.

Vive Pro 2 will slot into an existing SteamVR setup—whether it's Base Station 1.0 or Base Station 2.0, Vive Wireless Adapter, Vive controllers, or controllers and gloves like Valve's Index "knuckle" controllers.

Apples vs. Oranges?

The Vive Pro 2 is meant to be plugged into your PC, rather than used as a standalone unit like the Oculus. You’ll need a PC with an Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 1500 equivalent or greater. For graphics, the Vive requires at least an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent. 

The Vive Pro 2 on a mannequin

HTC

By contrast to the Vive, the Quest 2 is for VR novices. Of course, I bought the entry-level Quest 2 for about $300, less than half the price of the Vive Pro 2, so it’s not a fair comparison. It’s been a fun way to explore virtual reality, and I’ve even started working using the headset and a real keyboard

But for every intriguing new feature I discover about the Oculus Quest 2, its limitations stymie me. The screens are fine on the Oculus, but they could still be a lot better. At 1832 x1920 pixels per eye, they are significantly lower resolution than those on the Vive Pro 2. 

As virtual reality becomes more capable, users are likely to pay higher prices for headsets. The rumored upcoming Apple mixed reality headset reportedly could have a price tag as high as $3,000. By comparison, $799 for the Vive Pro 2 seems like a reasonable price for what looks to be an excellent way to access the world of virtual reality.

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