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The launch of both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive has marked the real beginning of the VR era. The question now is: which one is better? Which one is worth spending the money: the Rift, with its lower price of $599, stylish design and lots of games; or the more expensive Vive, priced at $799 but including room-tracking technology with controllers and a camera?
With all the reviews for Oculus rift and HTC Vive in mind, here are the pros and cons for each headset.
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Fashion is hardly a top priority in VR headset design, as is clearly apparent in both of these devices. However, if you’re looking to choose the most fashionable, the Rift is the obvious choice. Its design is minimalist, with soft lines and curves. The HTC Vive’s design is more sci-fi oriented, but all of its photo sensors mark it firmly as a prototype, not a market-ready device. Finally, the Rift comes equipped with built-in headphones with a clear aesthetic appeal, while the HTC Vive’s headphones are not integrated into the headset. The built-in headphones make Oculus Rift the winner in this category.
Headsets and Other Accessories
The Vive package will include a headset and a pair of controllers, plus two base stations providing 360-degree tracking through the use of infrared lasers. The Oculus kit comes with a headset, sensor, remote, cables and an Xbox One controller. Oculus currently lacks its previously-announced wireless controllers, which might launch later this year. The winner here is Vive – it provides everything you need in its package, without additional costs.
The specs for both headsets are similar, with 2160×1200 OLED displays, HDMI and both 2.0 and 3.0 ports. The biggest difference is in the sensors and the tracking areas. The Rift benefits from an accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and 360-degree positional tracking, but the Vive features a camera and a laser sensor. Vive’s camera and sensor detect your furniture and allow you to walk around your room freely, so Vive leads in this category.
The PC requirements for both headsets are similar, too. For each, you will need a powerful desktop PC, but with differences in the RAM and ports required. For Vive, you will need 4GB of RAM with HDMI 1.4 or Display Port 1.2, and a USB 2.0 port. For Rift, you will need 8GB of RAM or even more, HDMI 1.3, plus 3 USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port. Again Vive is the most privileged because of its lower RAM requirements.
There are different motion tracking methods for the two headsets. Vive has its “Lighthouse” base station, using laser sensors placed on the Vive and on the controllers. To work correctly, both stations must be positioned on the wall, or on furniture such as bookshelves. The drawback is that there has to be sufficient space, as well as enough electrical outlets (at least seven).
Oculus has the “Constellation” for its motion tracking, which uses a sensor connected to the PC through USB, making it more comfortable for using VR in a seated position.
Both headsets come with beneficial features and drawbacks. If you have enough space in your room then we’d recommend you go with the Vive; however, if your space is restricted then stick with the Oculus, due to the cable connections.
Both VR headsets are set to incorporate smartphone support, connected through Bluetooth. Vive will be able to synchronize with a phone. So that any calls and messages that come through can be answered without removing the headset. Oculus does not have a comparable feature, which makes the Vive the winner on this front.
The launch of the headsets is followed inevitably by a variety of games. For Rift, the standout titles are Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie. The Vive headset will come with games for a limited time: Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption, as well as 3D art program Tilt Brush. Games will be available for both Vive and Rift headsets from the Steam store, and the Rift will have more than 100 games later this year such as Minecraft, Rock Band and Edge of Nowhere.
When it comes to games, Oculus Rift dominates, thanks to the sheer variety available, which has been made possible by their earlier announcement. Oculus Rift was announced way before HTC Vive, which means companies have been developing games specifically for the Rift. However, this can change during 2016 since more games are expected to be delivered for the HTC Vive.
Price and costs
The difference in the price is obvious: Oculus Rift costs $599 while HTC Vive costs $799. Although Oculus is cheaper, howeever Vive comes with three free games to redress the balance. As mentioned above, the Touch controllers for Oculus are still unreleased, which will add to the price in future. Vive is, therefore, the top choice for experiencing VR while moving.
From everything above, it is clear that HTC Vive is currently the best Virtual Reality headset. It is undeniably more expensive, but it includes the pair of hand controllers as well as three free games. You can move around indefinitely if you have a sufficient amount of space; a feature which brings an entirely unique experience into the gaming industry. We can finally feel for real as if we’re inside a game and grab things with our hands. There may only be a few Virtual Reality games at present, but companies are already starting to develop more and more for it.
HTC Vive also allows you to sync with your smartphone and answer calls with the headset on. This is fantastically convenient during a game; with a simple press of a button you are able to pick up or hang up your phone. The Oculus doesn’t provide this, which is obviously inconvenient when the phone starts ringing. Getting around this could cause a lot of cable trouble.
On the other hand, Oculus Rift is a bit cheaper, with better design and – most importantly – more games, giving it a huge advantage. It has Facebook support behind it, which means it will almost certainly have a few surprises to show off in the future. Unfortunately, many will see Facebook integration as a negative point. Due to their collaboration, privacy levels on Oculus Rift are likely to be unacceptable to some users, as it will allow Facebook to sell information they extract from you to advertisers. In short, they will always know what you are using your Oculus Rift for.