A 5K Show Cannot Repair Larger Points
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Three years after the discharge of the unique Professional VR headset, the HTC Vive Professional 2 has arrived. And the specs ought to be sufficient to have any PC VR fan drooling, such because the 5K show and 120-degree field-of-view.

The issue is that they do not translate effectively to real-world use and – regardless of a three-year hole between the generations – not a lot apart from the show has modified.

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When you think about the VR market is extra aggressive now than ever, thanks primarily to the Oculus Quest 2, Valve Index and HP Reverb G2, can HTC appeal to sufficient consideration for its Professional-level £1299/$1399 VR system? It actually has its work lower out.  

Design and match

You would possibly take a look at the Vive Professional 2 and mistake it for the authentic Vive Professional due to its near-identical design and ergonomics. Nonetheless, due to the unique’s skill to suit a variety of head shapes, that’s not essentially a foul factor.

The black head-mounted show (HMD), lined in a smattering of sensors and pass-through cameras, is hooked up to a tough plastic head strap with a hand-crank mechanism on the rear to tighten and loosen the headset in your head. There’s thick cushioning on the rear to assist dissipate strain, with a form designed to cradle the again of your head.

It’s one of many higher VR headset programs, providing a safer match and it is easier than Velcro straps, though you’ll nonetheless discover one atop the headset to additional alter the position of the headset in your head.

The HMD can rotate backwards like a pair of flip-up sun shades to make it simpler to elevate up with out fully eradicating the headset, excellent for answering a fast telephone name, checking the time or seeing who’s laughing at your badass VR strikes in Beat Saber. It doesn’t lean too far ahead although, which can restrict simply how effectively it could adapt to completely different head shapes.

You’ll discover a bodily IPD adjustment dial (which strikes the lenses nearer or additional aside) on the facet of the Vive Professional 2 HMD, which ranges from 57-72mm, and there’s additionally an eye-relief system that does one thing comparable for the gap of the lenses out of your eyes – ultimate for glasses-wearers.

The previous could not sound like an necessary characteristic, however in comparison with the like of the Oculus Quest 2 that requires you to take the headset off, bodily transfer the lenses and put it again on to see whether or not it’s best for you, it’s a dream.

Just like the first-gen Vive Professional, you’ll discover Hello-Res-certified on-ear headphones on the Vive Professional 2’s head strap. These include an ideal angle adjustment, permitting you to get the perfect placement in your ears, and they are often simply lifted away to work together with individuals in the actual world whilst you’re busy within the digital one.

Unsurprisingly, they sound first rate too, though there’s a lack of bass in comparison with correct over-ear headphones that might depart some wanting extra in intense shooters.

The excellent news is you could detach them if you wish to use your personal headset. Provided that it’d add much more bulk to an already cumbersome headset, it’s most likely not one thing many homeowners will select to do.

Whereas the Vive Professional 2 does lots to accommodate a variety of head styles and sizes, it’s not probably the most comfy VR system. It’s nonetheless fairly heavy and hulking, and although HTC has tried to steadiness the burden between the entrance and rear, it nonetheless feels slightly front-heavy at instances.

There’s thick padded cushioning that strains the HMD to make it much less noticeable, however there’s nonetheless a build-up of strain throughout your brow over longer VR periods.

The design, whereas versatile, can be displaying its age in some areas. Take the crank system for instance; it might be the perfect system for VR headsets typically, however different producers have taken it a step additional by together with spring-loaded arms that make it simpler to placed on and take off with out having to regulate the dial, and it makes all of the distinction in on a regular basis use.

It’s value stating that the Vive Professional 2 is a wired-only system out of the field, with a thick cable operating from the facet of the headset to a close-by gaming PC or laptop computer. There are wi-fi programs obtainable at further price, however it’ll hike up the value of an already premium VR headset.

Although not comparable when it comes to specs, standalone programs such because the Oculus Quest 2 are value contemplating for a a lot cheaper price, and because of AirLink you should use the Quest 2 wirelessly together with your PC now.

Show and FOV

Whereas the general design of the headset appears acquainted, the show has had an overhaul that makes it sound like the last word VR headset show on paper, providing a wider subject of view and backbone than every other headset obtainable proper now. Nonetheless, the eyes-on expertise tells a barely completely different story, making it tough to justify the excessive price.

Let’s begin with the great; with a whopping 2448 x 2448 decision per eye and a quick 120Hz refresh charge, the visuals on supply from the Vive Professional 2 are crisp. It removes a number of long-time points in VR, with the largest being the display door impact, in any other case generally known as SDE.

Because the title suggests, the impact is much like trying by way of the world by way of a display door – a visual mesh brought on by tiny gaps between every pixel within the show. It was distinguished in first-gen VR headsets, and as resolutions have elevated, the impact has decreased, however it’s the primary time we’ve seen a headset that fully removes it. You actually can’t see it even should you’re actively searching for it.

That removes one of many largest obstacles to an immersive VR expertise, however that’s not all. The elevated decision additionally makes textual content a lot simpler to learn from afar – not do you might want to get inside inches of textual content to have the ability to clearly learn it. That’s nice not just for gaming, however for work and collaboration functions too – there are many folks that use HTC programs for enterprise functions, in any case.  

In fact, it’s not simply textual content that appears higher. The elevated decision makes all the pieces look clearer and sharper, making for a extra immersive digital expertise total. Even video games that you simply’ve performed for a whole lot of hours will look new and contemporary, with added element not beforehand noticeable in VR.  

The upside to the LCD tech, apart from the elevated decision, is the discount of ghosting to an unnoticeable degree and, when mixed with a 120Hz refresh charge, all the pieces is silky easy – in case you have a PC beefy sufficient to energy it at these settings.

Nonetheless, it’s lacking the colourful colors and deep blacks of the unique Vive Professional’s OLED panel, and that may very well be a possible sticking level for current Vive Professional house owners.

That prime-res show is paired with what HTC claims is a 120-degree subject of view, promising an expansive digital actuality expertise with improved lenses that enhance readability proper as much as the perimeters.

In actuality, although, the show isn’t fairly as expansive as you’d anticipate. That is as a result of the 120-degree vary refers back to the horizontal subject of view, and benchmark assessments utilizing TestHMD 1.2 counsel it’s even smaller than that – nearer to the 102 levels.

Whereas it’s nonetheless a rise in comparison with the unique Vive Professional, the identical can’t be stated for the vertical FOV, which seems narrower than the unique and a lot of the competitors. This results in a view that feels cropped above and beneath your eyeline, such as you’re watching an ultrawide 21:9 Hollywood blockbuster.

Although the brand new lenses purpose to benefit from the prolonged subject of view, it has the identical classically weak edge-to-edge readability present in most HTC Vive headsets, with a really small candy spot for crisp VR visuals – should you look to the left and proper of the show, moderately than trying dead-on, you’ll be greeted by blurred optics.

It’s simpler to recover from the transfer from OLED to LCD with the advantages to SDE, decision and ghosting, however the FOV and lens points are tougher to simply accept from such a premium headset – particularly when equally high-end headsets just like the Valve Index don’t endure from the identical points.  

Monitoring & Controllers

The Vive Professional 2 makes use of the identical exterior SteamVR monitoring tech featured in the remainder of the Vive assortment and the Valve Index too. The excellent news is that SteamVR’s monitoring system is probably the most correct in the marketplace, beating the inside-out programs utilized by the Oculus Quest 2 and HP Reverb G2 for true 1:1 monitoring that hardly ever fails.

It’ll choose up each motion immediately with low-latency monitoring, and the play areas can typically be a lot bigger than camera-based programs too, with a most play area of 10 x 10 meters on supply from the Vive Professional 2’s SteamVR monitoring system.

That gives an ideal digital expertise with out the frustration of often dropping monitoring on a controller throughout a high-score streak on Beat Saber or watching your gun-wielding arm float away in Half-Life: Alyx, as is often skilled with inside-out monitoring.

However whereas it’s undoubtedly a dependable system that’ll work flawlessly in even dimly lit environments, make no mistake: it’s a headache to arrange correctly.

I’ve been reviewing VR headsets since 2016, and I’ve used loads of SteamVR programs, however it nonetheless took repeated makes an attempt earlier than my playspace was deemed sufficiently big, and I had to verify the Vive Professional base stations have been protecting my complete playspace too.

With poorly positioned base stations, the headset would lose monitoring and controllers would randomly disappear. It appeared to be affected by reflective surfaces like TVs and fish tanks. It was almost an hour earlier than I received the angles proper, at which level the controllers and headset have been each tracked completely.

The within-out system utilized by the Oculus Quest 2, alternatively, solely requires you to face in a well-lit area, put the headset on and description the realm you’ll be taking part in in – a course of that takes 10-15 seconds at max. You received’t get the identical 360-degree monitoring because the Vive Professional 2, however after spending such a very long time fidgeting with the bottom stations of the Vive Professional 2, I’d be blissful to make the change to an inside-out system and by no means look again.

The inclusion of SteamVR additionally means you may change out the Vive Professional 2 wands for different controllers – ultimate should you just like the look of the Index’s knuckle triggers – and it’s additionally suitable with a variety of third-party equipment too. It’s a flexible little bit of package should you’ve received a particular setup in thoughts.  

Why would you need to change the Vive Professional wands for the Valve Index controllers? Merely put; the Vive Professional wands are displaying their age. They appear snazzy sufficient, with matching blue and black finishes, however the chunky controllers really feel a lot bulkier and heavier within the hand compared not solely to Oculus’ Contact controllers, however the controllers used with Vive’s personal standalone headset, the Vive Focus 3.

That’s largely all the way down to the actual fact the controllers haven’t modified because the introduction of the unique HTC Vive again in 2016. Which means you’ll nonetheless discover the massive trackpad and awkward grip button synonymous with the unique, making the controller much less ultimate in comparison with extra fashionable controllers that supply thumbsticks and face buttons for a extra standard controller expertise.

It’s nice for business-focused VR software program, however it could actually frustrate when taking part in fast-paced video games like Half-Life: Alyx, having to depend on swipe motions to maneuver and work together with the atmosphere as an alternative of a regular analogue stick.

Worth

That is the toughest half to swallow; the Vive Professional 2 is dearer than the unique, which was already one of many costliest VR headsets you possibly can purchase. It’s obtainable in two configurations; you should purchase the headset just for £719/$799, ultimate should you’ve already received a Vive Professional and need to improve, however should you don’t have an current SteamVR system, the value jumps as much as a whopping £1299/$1399.

For context, the Valve Index prices £919/$999, the HP Reverb G2 prices £639/$599 and the Oculus Quest 2, able to each standalone and wi-fi PC VR, is available in at simply £299/$299. Whereas the improved decision does present far more element in digital worlds, the flawed FOV and lenses, the chunky controllers and the truth that the headset nonetheless seems to be and seems like one thing created in 2018, makes it so laborious to justify the value tag.

If you’re nonetheless , you may choose up the HMD-only Vive Professional 2 from the Vive Retailer proper now. Pre-orders of the Vive Professional 2 full package are on account of kick off on 23 September 2021 by way of the Vive Retailer, with supply anticipated from 14 October 2021. 

For a greater thought of the broader VR market, check out our number of the finest VR headsets.

Verdict

The HTC Vive Professional 2 makes significant jumps in some departments, with LCD tech bringing not solely the next decision and quicker refresh charge, however eradicating SDE and decreasing ghosting, and that makes all of the distinction to the digital expertise. Even older VR titles performed for a whole lot of hours look new and contemporary in larger decision, permitting you to understand finer particulars in VR for the primary time.

Nonetheless, the truth that the design stays virtually unchanged in comparison with the unique Professional means it’s nonetheless fairly heavy and might develop into uncomfortable over longer play periods, and the crank mechanism may do with some tweaking too.

It’s an identical story with the Vive Professional 2 wands, which basically feel and look the very same as those who shipped with the first-gen Vive again in 2016, feeling increasingly more dated in comparison with extra compact choices from Oculus.

But it surely’s the FOV I can’t recover from, with an nearly rectangular subject of view that leaves you feeling as if the highest and backside of the shows have been cropped. It’s good to have the ability to see issues out of the nook of your eye, however I’d a lot favor to see what’s above and beneath my eye-line for a extra expansive digital actuality expertise.

So, whereas the HTC Vive Professional 2 seems like the last word VR headset on paper, the truth is that it doesn’t fairly hit the mark – particularly when charging such a premium.

Specs

HTC Vive Professional 2: Specs

  • Twin RGB low persistence LCD show
  • 2448 x 2448 pixels per eye
  • 120Hz refresh charge
  • 120-degree horizontal FOV
  • Hello-Res licensed headphones
  • Built-in twin microphones
  • Bluetooth & USB-C connectivity
  • SteamVR Monitoring V2.0
  • Adjustable IPD (57 – 72mm) with lens distance adjustment
  • 5m cable
  • Passthrough cameras





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