HTC Vive Review (2016)

Taking a break from movie reviews for a second to talk some tech.  The same day I went to see an early screening of Star Trek Beyond (2016), I had some time to kill, so I popped into the Windows Store at the mall after noticing that there was a demo available of the HTC Vive.  I was pretty impressed with what I saw.

HTC Vive

VR technology is not necessarily new.  I remember there was an arcade game at a movie theater back in the ’90s or early 2000’s where you could fight dinosaurs and the graphics were super old and chunky (but good for back then).  Of course, with all the hype and how much technology has advanced in general, I was definitely expecting more from the Vive.  I don’t know where else I can get previews of other VR headsets, but the minute they are available and I become aware of them, I’m definitely taking them all for a spin.

The Windows store I visited offered two different demos.  One was where you could fire bows and arrows, while the other one was theBlu, a game currently available on steam.  I chose the latter, and I was absolutely impressed.

theBlu is basically an ocean simulation experience, and my main complaints with the game is that (a) I wish it were longer, and (b) I wish there was more range of movement, which honestly?  I have no doubt that in several years, provided that developers work towards this (and I really hope they do), we will be able to experience immersive travel from the comfort of your own home.  Not only could this save on some serious air fare, but also, it could allow someone to visit any location whenever they wanted.  Of course, it would never be a true replacement for experiencing that country’s culture or being able to participate in certain activities that can only be done at that location, but it could certainly be a supplemental experience.

It’s also a great way to experience certain places (like the deep ocean) that you might not be able to experience, unless it was in a documentary series or something.  I hope that the company who developed theBlu might one day consider expanding the ocean footage in the game, as well as allow users to dwell in the game for as long as they’d like, like a normal video game, instead of force-quitting users after a “story” concludes.

I also hope that one day we might be able to experience television or movies using VR technology.  As someone who enjoys watching movies quite frequently, that would also totally be a dream come true.

Anyway, I digress.  Focusing on the Vive specifically, I unfortunately have not experienced any other VRs, so I cannot comment on whether or not it is superior to other VR headsets on the market at this time.  However, I can say that I was very impressed with the graphics and the immersive experience in “the ocean.”  (Although, I did feel that the graphics could have been sharper and more high definition, I have a feeling that’s less of a fault of the system and more reflective of the current limitations the technology faces in general.)

A couple downsides are the headset is a bit bulky, and it does not fit all sizes of glasses (mine were too wide and square).  Currently there is no way to adjust them, so glass-wearers may need to wear contacts when using this device, if it turns out their frames are too big to fit.  Aside from that though, I found the headset itself to be comfortable, and honestly once I started experiencing the ocean in theBlu game, I hardly noticed it at all.  What I found to be really neat was that the graphics you see on the TV screen do not at all match what the actual experience inside the headset is like.  When you’re wearing the set, you truly feel as if you are wherever you are, and you find yourself wishing things were actually tangible.

So I guess the big question is, is the technology worth investing in now?  Well, it honestly depends on the type of consumer you are.  If you are an early adopter that has to try and own every shiny new tech the minute it comes out, then this is one is on the pricier side of things.  However, if you’re more like me and you’re willing to play the waiting game, then I would say wait at least a few years for technology to get even better graphics-wise (and maybe even less bulky/awkward headsets) and for the prices to go down.

I promise I’ll post my thoughts on other VR headsets if I ever get the opportunity to give any of them a spin, but for now, this appears to be a great article to look at for comparisons between the current competing VR tech.  If anyone else has any insights, feel free to sound them off in the comments.

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