The virtual reality wars are really starting to heat up as the second of “the big three” manufacturers reveals its hand.
QUICK GUIDE: Cost - Release Date - Compare - Specs - Games
What is HTC Vive?
15 November 2016: The HTC Vive is a virtual reality headset resulting from a partnership between telecommunications giant HTC, and video game publisher, developer and distributor Valve Software (Steam, Half-Life, Counter-Strike, Portal, Left 4 Dead). The former has provided the hardware technology and manufacturing, while the latter has provided the operating system and software distribution channel. The HTC Vive is the main rival of the Facebook-owned Oculus Rift headset, but also competes for market share with PlayStation VR. Despite a number of other virtual reality headsets releasing or (in the case of the Samsung Gear VR) already released in 2016, these three products have the largest brand awareness.
- ALSO READ: HTC Vive hands-on
- ALSO READ: HTC VR vs. Oculus Rift vs. PlayStation VR
- ALSO READ: Samsung Gear VR: How well does it work for inflight entertainment?
The HTC Vive is available for preorder now and will set you back $1,399 from JB HIFI and $1,398 from Harvey Norman,
Preorders of the HTC Vive from JB HIFI and Harvey Norman's online stores started 7 November 2016. The official release date is yet to be announced, but it's expected to mid-November.
What is included in the HTC Vive bundle?
Importantly, and unlike the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive ships with its two purpose built, motion-based controllers. (The Oculus Rift ships with an Xbox One controller, with the virtual reality focused controllers available late in 2016). In addition, it ships with the “room scale sensors” required to give the device one of its defining features - the ability to map your room and to read your movements through it.
Early adopters, and all those who pre-order the HTC Vive, will receive two free games in their bundle as well; Job Simulator (by Owlchemy Labs) and Fantastic Contraption (by Northway Games).
As you might hope from its price, the HTC Vive is the premium option of the big three. Offering a faster experience, a good field-of-view and sharper visuals, it’s also quite comfortable to wear and comes with two excellent controllers. Two main features on the headset itself help it stand out, too. The forward-facing camera gives the headset the ability to let you jump from the virtual world to the real one without taking the headset off, or indeed merge the two worlds together for an experience more akin to augmented reality.
The HTC Vive also offers more depth in its play space. By using sensors placed throughout your room, it can map your location – taking into account objects like couches and coffee tables – and read your movements within that space. This effectively allows you to walk around without breaking out of the game experience or indeed to enhance gameplay – the PlayStation VR and the Oculus Rift require you to remain in the same location and cannot calculate where you are in relation to other objects in the room.
Just announced, the HTC Vive has an inbuilt phone service, literally called HTC Phone Service, which allows you to sync your mobile to the headset via Bluetooth. You will then be able to receive and answer phone calls, text messages and calendar requests from within the virtual world, so you don’t have to take off the headset.
Recommended PC Specs for the HTC Vive
For a smooth virtual reality experience using the HTC Vive, the creator recommends the following minimum PC specifications: note that some upgrade costs to your PC may be required to get the best experience, which will in-turn increase your launch costs.
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better
CPU: Intel i5-4590, AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better
Video Output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
Ports: 1x USB 2.0
OS: Windows 7 SP1 or later
There are already over 100 games planned for the HTC Vive, including Valve's lauded Half-Life series, Alien: Isolation and The Talos Principle.
Where to try HTC Vive in Australia
JB HIFI and Harvey Norman stores across Australia are offering customers a chance to experience HTC Vive for free. Here's a full list of stores where you can get some hands-on time with HTC Vive.
|Melbourne QV||VIC||Harvey Norman|
|North Ryde||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|Bondi Junction||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|Broadway Sydney||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|Browns Plains||QLD||Harvey Norman|
|Castle Hill||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|City West Perth||WA||Harvey Norman|
|Everton Park||QLD||Harvey Norman|
|Fountain Gate||VIC||Harvey Norman|
|Gepps Cross||SA||Harvey Norman|
|City Cross||SA||Harvey Norman|
|Hobart City||TAS||Harvey Norman|
|Hoppers Crossing||Harvey Norman|
|Knox Towerpoint||Harvey Norman|
|Moore Park||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|Mt Barker||SA||Harvey Norman|
|Mt Gravatt||QLD||Harvey Norman|
|Munno Para||SA||Harvey Norman|
|Osborne Park||WA||Harvey Norman|
|Wagga Wagga||NSW||Harvey Norman|
|Fortitude Valley||QLD||Harvey Norman|
|Rundle Mall Plaza||SA||JB Hi-Fi|
|Bankstown||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Bourke St, Melbourne||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Brighton||VIC||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Brisbane Central||QLD||JB Hi-Fi|
|Broadway Sydney||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Cairns Central||QLD||JB Hi-Fi|
|Canberra City||ACT||JB Hi-Fi|
|Castle Hill||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Castle Towers||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Doncaster Westfield||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Elizabeth St Melbourne||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Perth Enex Shopping Centre||WA||JB Hi-Fi|
|Erina Fair||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Hobart Collins St||TAS||JB Hi-Fi|
|Nox Shopping Centre||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Lakeside Joondalup||WA||JB Hi-Fi|
|Macarthur Square||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Macquarie North Ryde||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Midland Central||WA||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Moore Park||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Myaree||WA||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Newcastle||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Osborne Park||WA||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Penrith||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Robina||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Southland Westfield||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Strand Arcade Sydney||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Sydney City George St||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Top Ryde||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Townsville||QLD||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|Warringah Mall NSW||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Waurn Ponds||VIC||JB Hi-Fi|
|Chatswood Westfield||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Parramatta Westfield||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Sydney Westfield||NSW||JB Hi-Fi Home|
|World Square Sydney||NSW||JB Hi-Fi|
|Owner(s)||HTC and Valve|
|Price (including GST)||$US879|
|Display Resolution||2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye)|
|Refresh Rate (Hz)||90|
|Maximum Frame-Rate||90 frames-per-second|
|Field of View||110-degrees or more|
|Bluetooth Mobile Integration||Yes|
|Forward Facing Camera||Yes|
|Head Tracking||Lighthouse - 2 base stations emitting pulsed laser - gyro sensor and accelerometer|
|Body Tracking||Yes, via laser position sensors over a 15-foot by 15-foot area|
|Controller||2 x SteamVR controllers (one for each hand)|
|Bundled With||Steam, Room Scale Sensors, 2 x SteamVR Controllers - Games: Job Simulator, Fantastic Contraption|
|Virtual Reality Store||TBC|
|Games Highlights||Has the backing of Valve (Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Counter-Strike) and will be integrated into Steam distribution network. Supported by popular, multiformat middleware solution Unreal Engine 4.|
|Advised PC Specs||GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or better|
|CPU: Intel i5-4590, AMD FX 8350 equivalent or better|
|RAM: 4 GB or more|
|Video Output: HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer|
|USB Port: 1x USB 2.0 or better port|
|Operating System: Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1 or later, Windows 10|