Displaying items by tag: HTC Vive
HTC’s smartphone unit is struggling, according to its financial results, with its August 2017 revenue ($100 million) down 54.4 percent year-on-year. Google is reportedly considering purchasing HTC’s smartphone unit, Taiwanese press has speculated, but not HTC’s Vive virtual reality (VR) business.
Alphabet-owned Google hasn’t confirmed the rumors, but discussions are said to be in progress, with a deal likely to be announced by the end of the year. It also isn’t clear if Google’s purchase of HTC’s smartphone unit would include the vendor’s smartphone intellectual property, although reports said Google would take on HTC’s R&D activities.
Google has moved forward in the hardware space recently, with the release of its Pixel devices. The company has also worked closely with HTC on such products, which makes a solidified relationship between the Californian and Taiwanese firms even more likely.
But HTC is said to have lost “elite engineers” to companies such as Huawei and Lenovo, according to Yuanta Securities analyst Jeff Pu, cited by Financial Times, who said the remaining top engineers “shouldn’t be too hard to poach away”. Knowing this, Google might think twice before moving in and acquiring HTC’s smartphone business.
This wouldn’t be the first time HTC has purchased a smartphone business. The company once owned Motorola until it sold the business to Chinese firm Lenovo. Google's ownership of the business would be short-lived, as it announced in January 2014 that it would sell most of ‘Motorola Mobility’ to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.
HTC’s drop in smartphone revenue has been attributed to slowing sales of the flagship HTC U11 smartphone, according to Focus Taiwan. In a move to generate more cash, HTC – which reported its lowest monthly sales for August 2017 since 2004 – has reportedly been looking at expanding its Vive VR unit, which has brought more attention to the business.
Chinese firm DPVR overtook HTC as the top virtual reality (VR) headset vendor in China in Q2 2017, according to Canalys research, shipping 18,000 headsets, resulting in a 30 percent quarter-on-quarter increase. HTC, whose only product is the HTC Vive basic headset, suffered a 6 percent sequential decline, shipping 14,000 units.
Sony took third place in China, according to the research, shipping 9,000 PlayStation VR headsets. According to Canalys estimates, the overall VR headset market in China grew 25 percent quarter-on-quarter to reach 80,000 units. Notable vendors, including Pico, 3Glasses and Hypereal, contributed to growth with new product releases.
DPVR ships a variety of VR products, with a strong focus on standalone smart VR headsets, which accounted for 60 percent of its total shipments in Q2. The company benefited from a better product mix, according to Canalys, with the addition of the newly-released E3, a basic VR headset that tethers to a PC.
“The E3’s biggest selling point is its competitive price,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low. “By dropping the barrier to entry, businesses are now investing more in VR. DPVR is winning contracts from B2B partners, including media content and service providers looking to deliver VR content to customers at home.”
DPVR shipped 7,000 E3s in Q2 2017, though it still trailed behind HTC and Sony in the basic VR headset segment.
In the second half of the year, Canalys expects the market to move toward smart VR headsets. HTC announced the recruitment of developers for its upcoming smart VR headset during ChinaJoy 2017, an entertainment expo held in Shanghai in July.
“HTC saw the need to quickly launch a standalone headset specifically for the Chinese market to follow the trend early,” said Low. But even as HTC drops the selling price, the current Vive system poses many challenges for both consumer and business adoption due to its complexity and the need for VR-ready PCs. “HTC will regain its top position in China if it produces an appealing standalone headset that is affordable yet capable of providing new use cases for both businesses and consumers.”
China’s consumer market remains challenging, especially for basic VR headsets that need an additional external computing device, according to Canalys. But Chinese vendors have identified opportunities that HTC and Sony missed.
“Hypereal, a newcomer to the industry, released the Pano, an affordable headset suitable for VR gaming on the PC, to fill the void caused by the absence of Oculus in China,” said Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia. “Vendors must lower prices while improving the user experience and content to drive growth and adoption in the consumer market. Pico demonstrated that it is possible to produce an appealing standalone headset while offering a decent VR experience for under CNY 2,000 (US$300).”
Canalys estimates that worldwide VR headset shipments reached 800,000 units in Q2 2017, with China accounting for 10 percent of the market.
For the second time this year, the price of Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset equipment dropped, fueling speculation that the technology has become difficult to sell. The price of the headsets was reduced to just $399 for the company’s ‘Summer of Rift’ sale. Oculus VP, Jason Rubin insists the reduction was an attempt at giving the hardware mass market appeal now that games are more available, but critics aren’t as optimistic.
VR emerged as a Kickstarter campaign in 2012 when startup Oculus promised a transformative and immersive experience for users like never seen before. In 2016 the technology debuted commercially after Facebook purchased Oculus for $3 billion in 2014. Other successful VR brands include Sony’s PlayStation VR and the HTC Vive. VR was hailed as an entirely new form of technology that could revolutionize entertainment and communication.
“Imagine enjoying a courtside seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face – just by putting on goggles in your home,” said Facebook founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg after the company acquired Oculus in 2014. Zuckerberg’s VR ambitions have been met to a degree, but there are signs that Oculus Rift, among its competitors, hasn’t met its mark.
The price drop of the Oculus Rift has given rise to the belief that the hardware is too expensive and out of touch with everyday consumers, and that the only way to get more consumers on board is to make VR equipment more affordable and less high-end.
For the Summer of Rift sale, Oculus Rift headsets with matching controllers cost just $399 which is $400 less than when the product first hit the market, and $200 less than when its price was initially slashed in March. The price cut propelled the Oculus Rift to the bottom of the price chain, making it even more affordable than its cheapest rival, Sony, which sells PlayStation VR at $460 including headset and controllers.
In an interview with Reuters, Oculus vice president, Jason Rubin defended the hardware price cut against those who suggested it was initiated because the product was failing to sell. He said the reduction wasn’t a sign of weak product sales, but rather a move to give the Oculus Rift headset more mass appeal now that VR games are more available.
However, critics have been quick to highlight the fact that Oculus has faced its fair share of controversy lately, including the closing of its nascent film studio, as well as the shutdown of many in-store VR demo stations, and a controversial intellectual property lawsuit.
In February, Oculus was ordered to pay half a billion dollars to the gaming company ZeniMax after a jury determined that Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, failed to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. ZeniMax sued the virtual reality startup in May 2014, months after it was acquired by Facebook. The game-maker alleged Oculus had improperly used code from ZeniMax to build its VR headset. Oculus said it would appeal the decision adding that the company was committed to the “long-term success of VR”.
The continual price drops in Oculus VR hardware are great for consumers wanting to try out the technology at an affordable price, but it certainly raises the issue of whether or not Facebook is concerned about the product’s market penetration and the overall entry price of virtual reality technology. There are also concerns that consumers are reluctant to try the clunky headsets which are unfamiliar to them.
CCS Insight analyst Geoff Blaber told Technology Review: “I think in a store environment getting people to sit down and go through that experience [demo] of getting a headset on and getting set up is quite a difficult thing to achieve.”
Blaber believes VR will appeal to a larger market once companies can convince consumers that the technology is about more than just gaming. Another important characteristic holding back VR’s mass appeal, according to analysts, is that the high-end systems require a PC with very high specs which makes consumers reluctant to purchase the hardware knowing there are high costs involved.
There’s speculation that Oculus dropped the price of its VR hardware because it’s planning to drop something better soon. Consumers will be aware that it has been more than a year since the first-generation of systems from HTC and Oculus were launched and they will be anticipating when the next, more advanced hardware will come along. Consumers might be thinking: ‘Is it really worth spending all that money now for VR hardware that could soon be second best?’
In addition, Oculus will now have a better chance of competing against its rival HTC Vive which sells for $799 ($300 more expensive than the Oculus Rift). Oculus will be keen to expand its market share, which is currently around half of HTC’s, according to Steam Hardware & Software Survey of June 2017. HTC Vive is the most popular VR headset, the survey reports, followed by Oculus Rift.
Could mobile be the solution?
The VR industry is set to become a $7 billion business this year, according to an April 2017 report by Greenlight Insights, which also predicts that global VR revenues will totally close to $75 billion by 2021. But these estimates must be taken with a grain of salt, because the main players in VR headsets haven’t yet revealed any actual sales numbers for their equipment. HTC Vive and Oculus have been silent about their figures so far.
Samsung, however, has come forward with promising results from sales of its mobile Gear VR headsets. In an official announcement during a press conference at CES 2017 in January, the company said more than 5 million of its headsets were already in consumers’ hands globally. The company also said those users have watched more than 10 million hours of video in Gear VR, and the mobile headset is currently available in 20,000 retail stores across the US.
Google also shared the success of mobile virtual reality with its Daydream VR headsets. 260,000 of the headsets were sold in the last quarter of 2016, according to SuperData Research; however, Google hasn’t yet revealed any official numbers. The company also says more than 10 million of its Cardboard viewer headsets have shipped worldwide, with 160 million downloads of Cardboard apps on Google Play.
The success of Google and Samsung’s mobile VR headsets suggests that VR for smartphones could be the way to attract mass appeal to the technology. HTC has caught on to the trend and is expected to soon follow up the Vive with a new VR mobile system. HTC’s president of global sales, Chia-lin Chang, said the company has a “good plan in terms of combining mobility with VR” in a recent interview with CNET in Singapore.
HTC is also focused on creating more content for VR, especially since the amount of fresh VR content that appeared at CES was “underwhelming” according to analysts who attended the event. HTC relies on the success of its VR products due to its stumbling core phone business, and is working hard, according to Chairman and CEO Cher Wang, to foster more VR content to keep the industry humming.
“We have learned much from our entrance into the world of virtual reality,” said Wang, “and we believe our focused approach to building the ecosystem is the right strategy to enable the whole industry to expand through the creation of compelling content and rich experiences.”
At the highly-anticipated annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2017 (WWDC), Apple announced it is embracing virtual reality (VR) and demonstrated it on the HTC Vive by enabling the use of SteamVR on Macs with its new MacOS, High Sierra.
Through a newly-announced external GPU, developers and content creators will be able to use a beta of SteamVR and the new MacOS to access the creative power of Vive with their MacBooks.
The combination of support for the Vive headset and an external graphics card option means that VR development is about to get a broader, more Apple-friendly footprint. Apple’s vision for high-end computing and empowering developers matches Vive’s vision of delivering the most advanced and immersive room-scale VR in the market. The new MacOS Beta and the SteamVR for Mac beta is available now with a full release planned for later in the fall.
The announcement further positions Vive as a world leader in driving the VR industry forward. In just the last month alone, the company has partnered with the world’s most prominent and innovative tech giants including Google, Intel and Apple, who are aligning their VR efforts around Vive. On stage during WWDC, Apple demonstrated its commitment to VR using a Vive with ILM and Unreal running on a Mac in front of thousands of developers.
Vive was built to be an open and always growing platform for VR. The Vive ecosystem is expanding through efforts including the more than 60 companies in the global Vive X accelerator program that are defining the future of VR technology, products like the Vive Tracker with new content and experiences for VR, and Viveport, a hardware agnostic content and distribution platform.
HTC Vive, a leader in room-scale Virtual Reality (VR), announced the first grant recipients in its ‘VR for Impact’ program. VR for Impact is Vive’s $10 million commitment to drive VR content and technologies that will increase awareness and create positive impact in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Vive is commemorating Earth Day by unveiling projects from three creators with unique visions for how VR can address the UN’s set of defined goals for the planet such as “Climate Action” and “Zero Hunger.” These projects include SpaceVR, the first virtual reality satellite launching into space later this year, Tree, a creatively immersive perspective on deforestation, and The Extraordinary Honey Bee, a joint project with Häagen-Dazs, Reach Agency and SPECTACLE to raise awareness about dwindling bee populations. All projects that receive funding by VR for Impact will be available on Viveport, HTC’s app store for VR.
“We believe virtual reality and the immersive experiences it delivers have the potential to positively impact the biggest challenges that mankind faces,” said Rikard Steiber, President of Viveport, HTC Vive. “We welcome the first VR for Impact grant recipients who will introduce VR as a powerful tool in raising awareness for the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and what better way to mark Earth Day than to unveil projects with three unique visions for helping the planet.”
Vive launched VR for Impact as a multi-year program, and SpaceVR, Tree and The Extraordinary Honey Bee represent the first grants awarded. Vive is planning to announce additional grant recipients for 2017 through the end of the year.
SpaceVR is the world’s first virtual reality platform allowing users to experience space first hand through the immersion of VR. Founded in 2015, the team has built the first VR satellite, the Overview 1, which will launch later this year on Space X. Once in orbit, SpaceVR will stream video that users can experience in full virtual reality or as 360-degree video. For more information on SpaceVR, please visit www.spacevr.co.
“We’re thrilled to be chosen as one of the first participants in HTC Vive’s VR for Impact program,” said Ryan Holmes, CEO of SpaceVR. “We share a vision with Vive that VR and its power to immerse and affect viewers like no other medium can be used to make the world a better place. By launching the first virtual reality satellite, we want to create the most vivid and visceral reminder yet that despite our individual trials and travails, we all live on this same fragile pale blue dot hurtling through space.”
Tree is a critically acclaimed virtual reality experience enhanced by haptic feedback to immerse viewers in the tragic fate that befalls a rainforest tree. The experience brings to light the harrowing realities of deforestation, one of the largest contributors to global warming. Tree is an official selection of Sundance Film Festival New Frontier and Tribeca Film Festival Immersive 2017.
“We are incredibly honoured to announce our collaboration with the Vive VR for Impact program,” said Milica Zec, co-director on Tree and co-founder of New Reality Company. “New Reality shares with VR for Impact a core tenet: that VR storytelling is key to raising awareness for the many challenges facing our earth.”
Added Winslow Porter, co-director on Tree and co-founder of New Reality Company: “The Tree VR experience has incited emotional, empowering reactions among a wide array of viewers. During the final moments of Tree, a number of individuals have cried or shouted while in the headset and vowed afterward to take action. Together with VR for Impact, we want to reach people from all over the world to help make widespread global impact.”
The Extraordinary Honey Bee is a joint project with Häagen-Dazs, Reach Agency and SPECTACLE looking at the alarming rate at which bee populations are falling. In Honey Bee, users will shrink down to the size of a bee for a guided VR experience where they learn of the risks bee colonies face and solutions currently being implemented to offset their decline.
“We believe in the transformative and educational power of VR and are excited to use this technology to bring the plight of the honey bee to life,” said Orchid Bertelsen, Nestlé USA Digital Innovation Lead. “We are thrilled to partner with Vive, not only because of their innovative technology and valuable audience, but because of their ideals and shared belief of harnessing the power of VR to drive true impact."
HTC Vive and Warner Bros. announced a strategic partnership in which HTC Vive will be the exclusive VR partner for all content, online and offline activations for the highly anticipated theatrical and home entertainment release of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.
Adapted from the book by Ernest Cline, Ready Player One is a sci-fi action thriller that unfolds largely within the virtual reality space. The film is slated for global theatrical release on March 30, 2018, from Warner Bros. Pictures, Amblin Partners and Village Roadshow Pictures.
Vive will produce multiple pieces of VR content tied to the world of Ready Player One. This content will be available to users through Viveport, which will distribute the content globally across all VR in-home platforms, from high-end PC based VR systems to mobile solutions.
In addition, Vive plans to bring Ready Player One-inspired content to its Viveport Arcade platform for location-based entertainment as well as showcase the VR experiences and games at many of the biggest global consumer events through the year.
“The virtual reality world within Ready Player One is extremely advanced, sophisticated and engaging, and with Vive, we chose the best system to represent the future of VR. Vive is the perfect partner to bring that to life and also has the broadest reach to global markets for the use of VR in home, mobile and offline channels,” said Blair Rich, Warner Bros. Pictures President, Worldwide Marketing. “We’re delighted that HTC Vive will be partnering with Ready Player One and very excited to work with them leading up the movie’s release in Spring 2018.”
“Ready Player One is one of the most anticipated movies in the world, and has tremendous potential to engage and entertain the worldwide market, showcasing the transformative nature of VR, and what it can and will be,” said Rikard Steiber, President, Viveport.
“Vive is delivering on the promise of VR and continues to be the most advanced and immersive VR experience available to consumers, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Warner Bros. to bring these experiences to consumers, on all platforms, around the globe.”
Taiwan-based HTC posted disappointing Q4 results this month, with analysts suggesting that its hyped up virtual reality (VR) products failed to boost revenue for the smartphone manufacturer. HTC’s revenue from October to December 2016 was down 13.62 percent year on year to Tw$22.2 billion ($720 million).
The company did, however, see an improvement in net loss which was Tw$3.1 billion year on year compared with Tw$3.4 billion. But it marks the seventh consecutive quarter that HTC has suffered a loss. The company has been struggling in the smartphone market to compete against heavyweights like Apple and Samsung, and also strong Chinese brands like Huawei.
For the year 2016, the company posted revenue of Tw$78.16 billion, down 35.77 percent from the previous year. HTC’s losses narrowed 32 percent to Tw$10.5 billion from the previous year, which has been attributed to non-operating gains such as foreign exchange.
“The results were much worse than expected,” said Jeff Pu, analyst at Yuanta Securities. “Although its VR line launched in April helped revenues, the scale is too small to offset rapid sales declines of its smartphones.”
HTC claims that its new smartphone models launched in the fourth quarter were well received by the public, as it continued to build the HTC Vive virtual reality system, which included opening the first Vive-based arcade in Taipei, Taiwan. HTC was one of the early players to venture into VR and even initiated an informal alliance to develop the sector which includes Warner Brothers, Alibaba and Valve.
“We have learnt much from our entrance into the world of virtual reality, and we believe that… our HTV Vive is at the forefront of that market,” said HTC chairwoman and CEO Cher Wang in a statement.
When the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset burst onto the scene in 2012 as a crowdfunding campaign later picked up by Facebook, a new tech boom had clearly emerged. A virtual reality headset provides immersive VR for the wearer – a concept that was only ever represented in sci-fi films. VR is fully available for consumers today, but at a price. Competitors to the Oculus Rift have emerged in recent years, with VR headsets released by Samsung, HTC, Sony and more. But despite VR’s hot topic status in the tech industry, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, there was little sign that VR has penetrated mainstream culture.
The virtual reality trend has been growing since leading companies like Samsung, HTC, Google, Sony, Microsoft and Facebook entered the ring. However, recent market research suggests that virtual reality isn’t penetrating the consumer market as much as it should be, considering the hype around it.
At the recent CES event held from January 5-8, 2017, there was a dedicated floor space for virtual reality demonstrations, where companies were able to showcase their latest developments with the technology, such as headsets, content, or other tools to better deliver immersive VR experiences.
Taiwan-based HTC used CES as a platform to announce initiatives aimed at encouraging developers to create more VR experiences and also revealed plans for arcades to be erected in public venues so more people could give VR a try. HTC Vive general manager, Daniel O’Brien said HTC had a “great” year with its VR headset and online game venue, but added that they’ve only just scratched the surface of potential.
“Our goal is to build the largest VR platform in the world,” O'Brien said at CES 2017. “2016 was a coming out party for VR; 2017 is developing it in the marketplace and continuing to evolve the product.”
In the competitive emerging VR market, HTC Vive is up against rival Sony’s PlayStation VR as well as Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, and many other emerging brands. Each company has been working hard to win over software developers to give them a leading product that could outshine the others and persuade consumers to fork out money to use virtual reality.
HTC said it plans to expand its VR equipment and will later this year release a “Vive Tracker” device that enables digital versions of real-world objects to easily be put into fantasy worlds. In addition, the company is working on a wireless version of its headset to make it more convenient for users to move around without being restricted by wires.
Rikard Steiber, head of Viveport virtual reality app shop, said that more than 3,000 titles for the Vive platform would be available by the end of 2017. The vision is to have Viveport serve all VR platforms, including those of Oculus and Sony, according to Steiber.
But even as HTC and Sony have entered the virtual reality arena with exciting VR PC-based and gaming headsets, it’s still unclear just how many consumers are willing to spend up to US$800 on the equipment. Sure, virtual reality headsets are exciting to behold at tech gatherings like CES, but will people really buy the products? That’s the question Strategy Analytics, a research firm, sought to answer. According to their research, just six percent of Americans will have owned VR equipment by the end of 2016.
The situation is looking optimistic for Sony’s VR investment, according to chief executive Kazuo Hirai, who said at CES 2017 that the Japanese consumer electronics giant had sold over 53.4 million PlayStation 4 consoles, which can power its virtual reality headset. To keep up the momentum, he said Sony plans to add more services and content to the PlayStation 4 lineup, including VR games.
Research by Strategy Analytics concluded that the VR industry would drive about $556 million in sales within the US during the period from October 2016 to the end of December 2016. The US is the driving force behind virtual reality for now, according to the research, which suggests that VR consumer penetration in the US is higher than anywhere else, mostly due to aggressive “giveaways,” says Strategy Analytics’ analyst David MacQueen.
For example, Google gave away many of its Cardboard VR units – a cardboard virtual reality platform developed by Google for use with a head mount for a smartphone – as did the New York Times, which reportedly gave away about 1.5 million of the US$15 gadgets for free to print subscribers. However, don’t be fooled by the low price: Google’s Cardboard VR equipment requires a smartphone to work. The Cardboard platform is “intended as a low-cost system to encourage interest and development in VR applications.”
Even so, through January 2016, over five million Cardboard viewers had shipped and over 1,000 compatible applications had been published, according to reports. Following the success of the Cardboard platform, Google announced an enhanced VR platform, Daydream, at Google I/O 2016.
That’s the catch with much of the VR gear on the market today: it requires additional equipment to work. For instance, Sony’s PlayStation VR only works with a compatible game console. Sony’s VR hardware accounted for six percent of total VR headset sales in 2016, according to Strategy Analytics’ research. Furthermore, Facebook’s PC-based VR headset the Oculus Rift and HTC’s Vive VR headset made up just one percent of sales.
Strategy Analytics’ David MacQueen has likened virtual reality equipment in the tech industry to the automotive industry: Most vehicle owners have a low-priced car like a Toyota or a Ford, while some people might fork out and buy something more expensive like a Porsche, and relatively few people own a premium vehicle such as a Lamborghini or Ferrari (the latter representing VR equipment in the tech industry).
It’s apparent from CES 2017 that there are many companies eager to jump into the VR industry, but MacQueen says the reality is that “VR take-up among the US public will be a slow burn and dominated by low-cost headsets,” the same way the auto industry is dominated by low-cost cars, and only a few have the means to splurge on premium, expensive hardware.
There are those, however, who defend the emerging virtual reality industry, like Shawn DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Technology Association behind the CES exhibition. DuBravac believes that in time, the sales of mixed reality equipment will grow, and the range of uses for virtual reality will expand beyond gaming which it seems to be stuck in right now. “There’s a lot of investment going into content,” he said. “Sales will eventually come.”
At CES 2017, HTC offered an optimistic glimpse of what the future of virtual reality could behold, expanding beyond its traditional gaming uses. The Taiwanese corporation announced that it will soon launch what has been dubbed “Netflix for VR,” the world’s first virtual reality app subscription.
The service, according to HTC, will be aimed at helping developers reach audiences and make revenue from virtual reality, which will in turn inspire the creation of more VR content. The company also plans to bring VR to shopping malls and other public locations, even going so far as to envision “Viveport Arcades” in operation by the end of 2017.
HTC and Sony were among more than two dozen companies that used CES 2017 as a platform to announce the creation of a Virtual Reality Industry Forum, which aims to “further the widespread availability of high-quality audiovisual VR experiences,” said a press statement.
Those within the forum want to see standards and formats established that allow quality VR content to be equally accessible from the various VR devices, which would avoid “fragmentation” that has plagued the audio-visual media in the past, according to the release.
This is “crucial for the market to take off,” said Sky broadcast strategy chief engineer, Chris Johns in the release, adding that he hopes “2017 will be the year when intense consumer interest in VR spurs a quantum leap in the user experience.”
HTC Vive Specs:
Oculus Rift Specs:
Virtual Reality (VR) emerged this year as the new must-have in gaming technology - a $1 billion industry according to Deloitte’s recent predictions for 2016. Like any emerging technology trend, leading brands now compete for dominance of the new VR consumer market with their flagship products, such as: Samsung, Sony, Facebook/Oculus and Google.
In March 2014, Facebook forked out $2 billion to acquire a Virtual Reality startup company called Oculus. “We’re going to focus on helping Oculus build out their product and develop partnerships to support more games,” said Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg at the time of acquisition.
Fast forward to 2016 and Facebook/Oculus released its flagship Oculus Rift VR headset; sleek and polished, coated with fabric, with a head-strap and built-in headphones. The device was always expected to win over the VR market. The headset clearly reflects the determination and effort from Oculus to create an iconic device to lead the VR industry. But does it measure up to its competitors?
The Oculus Rift is light and compact. It’s able to be worn loosely with comfort, with the only downside being that if you wear it loosely, light will flood in from the bottom. If you tighten the straps, lens fog can become an issue. On the upside, the Rift is sleek, polished, engaging and great for gaming.
Unfortunately for the Oculus, many reviews have compared it to its HTC rival, the Vive, which seems to have emerged as the better option, according to reviews by Digital Trends, Gizmag and Wareable. Both devices require the same gaming PC which would set you back around US$950 or more – dedication to the VR experience! The Rift is about $200 cheaper than the Vive; however, the Rift’s motion controllers are purchased separately, to be released later this year, whereas the Vive’s controllers come in the initial package.
So what makes the HTC Vive so great? Because of the hype about the Oculus Rift before it was released in January, it would’ve seemed unreal that it could come out second best to HTC’s version. Oculus is attributed to “rapidly spreading virtual fire” says a review by Gizmag, “snatching VR out of a vaporwave purgatory and molding it into something that we’d want to bring into our homes.” Yes the Oculus’ hype certainly got people interested, but in terms of getting the most for what you pay for, the HTC Vive has emerged as the overall better option.
HTC takes the crown because the SteamVR-powered HTC Vive lets the user walk around 360-degree spaces, where the users’ entire body is immersed in the VR experience. In comparison, The Oculus Rift experience isn’t quite as immersive, and acts more like a game console, where the user has to be seated, as opposed to a virtual reality machine drawing the user into another world.
With the Vive, the user can virtually walk around in a digital atmosphere, where the users’ hands control virtual hands that are able to pick up virtual objects, swing around a sword, or shoot an arrow – all the things that make gaming fun, but in a super realistic way! On the other hand, the Oculus acts as a traditional game console, with a controller in hand, playing console-type games which just happen to be in visual VR.
There is still hope for the Oculus to level up with the Vive when the Oculus Touch motion controllers are launched, but there will still be a significant gap between what the Rift is capable of compared to the Vive. At demo events, the Oculus Touch-based Rift games have managed to handle larger-space tracking nicely.
However, HTC Vive’s Chaperon system, where virtual boundaries signal when the user is getting to close to the edge of a playing space, is what makes it more immersive. The Oculus user is limited to standing with restricted movement when using the Rift VR headset. Then again, users experiencing the Vive have to be careful that they don’t walk straight into a wall!
"Oculus is already aware that using VR can cause problems with hand-eye coordination, and it warns Oculus Rift users about potentially dangerous symptoms of VR use," says Paul Lee, Global Director for Deloitte Research, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, speaking about the potential hazards of using VR.
“It does feel weird when you leave VR. I don't mean motion sickness, rather that my eyes are extra tired and I feel the need to drink a giant glass of water. It's not anything out of the ordinary though – I get the same fatigue playing countless hours of games on the computer or console,” says Lily Prasuethsut in her review of the HTC Vive for Wareable, further highlighting the strange after effects of using VR.
For an impressive VR experience, headsets are only as good as the display that they utilize. Both the Vive and Rift come outfitted with premium OLED displays, and each offer 1,080 x 1,200-pixel resolution for each eye. This brings the final resolution to 2,160 x 1,200 with 90Hz refresh rates, which ensures the frame rate is high enough to prevent motion sickness and provides an enjoyable, safe experience.
Comparing the two devices, the Rift replies on 360-degree positional head-tracking and delivers a 110-degree field of view. The Vive uses laser positioning and over 70 sensors, including a gyroscope and accelerometer. One of the best aspects of the Vive is its front-facing camera, which allows the user to see real-world objects in VR mode. With the push of a button, the user can activate the ‘chaperone’ which makes any object seen by the camera appear in the virtual world – truly remarkable!
In terms of software performance, both the HTC Vice and Oculus Rift headsets and their accompanying controls function as peripherals as opposed to standalone devices, which makes both of them heavily reliant on the functionality of other technologies.
Requirements for the Rift and Oculus aren’t too different. Oculus recommends an Intel i5-4590 processor, more than 8GB or RAM and Windows 7 SPI. Additionally, the user will need a GTX 970 or AMD 290 graphics cars with multiple ports. Without these, the Rift experience will be glitchy.
Requirements for the Vive are almost identical to the Rift’s with one exception: the AMD Radeon R9 280 is the minimum recommended card, as opposed to the R9 290. HTC reportedly wants to further reduce the minimum system requirements as refinements to the hardware allow it.
To conclude, when comparing the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive, it really comes down to getting the best for what you pay for. Both are premium devices, fabulous for gaming and immersive entertainment. But because the Vive offers a full-VR experience, with the ability to walk around and interact with a virtual world, as opposed to sitting down, it has emerged somewhat as the better option of the two.
The Rift and the Vive are two of the most prominent VR headsets available, aside from the PlayStation VR which was recently announced starting at about $400 and the Samsung Gear VR. While the Vive is more expensive than the Rift, you still need to purchase the Rift’s additional controllers, which pretty much make them equal in price. Therefore, if you’re prepared to spend up on one of these amazing VR headsets, it really comes down to a matter of taste.
HTC Vive Pros:
HTC Vive Cons:
Oculus Rift Pros:
Oculus Rift Cons: