What Is The Best VR Headset? Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive

Pity me. I have two different VR headsets in my house, so my PC is a mess of cables, USB hubs and strained video output adaptors. My suffering is unimaginable. I have swaddled myself in wires and made my forehead sweat for your benefit, however: to try and give you some sense of how the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive compare to each other in daily practice. While many of the baseline specs are all but identical, there are a raft of smaller differences between the two, even once the matter of the Vive’s room-scale support is discounted. I do, somewhat reluctantly, now have one headset I recommend over the other at this point in time, but with important caveats.

Both headsets have the same resolution (2160×1200, or 1080×1200 per eye) same refresh rate (90 Hz) and same field of view, so any meaningful difference in image quality can be ruled out right out of the gates, as can hardware requirements. However, I have found the Rift to be noticeably clearer at the sides of the image, whereas there’s quite a bit of blur on anything I’m not looking directly at in the Vive. I think this is to do with more the more blatant Fresnel rings carved into the Vive’s lenses, whereas the Rift’s are a clear surface.

Against this is that the Rift’s image suffers from some ghosting, particularly around text – a slight doubling of edges. Oddly, this disappears if I remove the foam faceguard, but then I’ve got the lenses pushing right into my eyeballs and ow. I also tried an awkward, delicate hybrid – using the Vive’s smaller faceguard on the Rift, which was the best of both worlds, save for the fact it looked dumb and fell out whenever I removed the headset.

I’ll also note that I seem to suffer far more motion sickness on the Rift than I do the Vive. I’m not sure of the reason for this, though again I wonder about the differing Fresnel design of the lenses, but I can’t pretend it hasn’t been a big problem. I’ve never felt particularly ill with the Vive, although if I use it too much I end up with a lingering tunnel vision effect for a day or more, but I’ve often felt queasy within a few minutes of using the Rift, and the feeling has remained with me for hours if I’ve tried to keep playing through it.

I’d presumed this was a software thing – the lurching zero-g of ADR1FT, the wild speed of Quake – but then it happened while I was watching Game Of Thrones using Virtual Desktop, which I’ve also used for video-watching on the Vive, and so now I don’t know what to think. There are plenty of circumstances where this didn’t happen on Rift – American Truck Simulator, and some 360 nature video narrated by Dominic West who was for some reason doing his McNulty voice, for instance, so I’m struggling to identity a clear cause. Full disclosure: I am a sufferer of motion-sickness in real-life. Long car journeys and fairground rides are tricky. So there’s every chance most Rift users will be unaffected. But again, it doesn’t happen to me on the Vive. Odd one. Short answer though: Vive becomes my comfort choice, and Rift the quality choice.

This is true in other arenas, too. While on paper the Vive has the technological edge, with its dual base stations and room-scale capabilities, its Steam integration and Android phone notification stuff, the hardware itself lacks a certain finesse that can be found all over the Rift. For a start, Oculus’ headset looks and feels better, with a fabric covering and a slightly slimmer profile. It feels like an expensive item, whereas in-hand the plasticky Vive feels a bit like a tiny bicycle helmet. Even strap adjustment feels that little bit more polished.

There’s also the matter of cables. Let me do a breakdown, actually.

Oculus Rift

1 x HDMI
1 x USB 3.0 for headset
1x USB 3.0 for motion sensor

HTC Vive

1 x HDMI
1 x USB 3.0 for headset/hub
1 x power for headset/hub
2x power for Lighthouse base stations
1x headphone plug
Optional: connecting cable between Lighthouses for large rooms

And this is underselling it a little. While the Rift has all its electronics divided between the headset and microphone-esque desktop sensor, the Vive has a cigarette packet-sized breakout box, which has three cables going in and three going out – power, HDMI and USB. Unlike the Rift, which draws all its power from USB, the Vive must be plugged into the wall, which means there’s a third more cabling going on right out of the gates, worsened by the fact that one of them is likely stretching off in a different direction from the other two.

Add to that the interim breakout box meaning that each of those three cables effectively has a big, inflexible lump in the middle and you end up with this mad nest of wires that’s so much harder to tuck away out of sight. My desk looks much uglier with a Vive than it does with a Rift, basically – but I entirely appreciate that the Vive is doing a bit more, both in terms of the base stations and communicating with its two wireless controllers (which I’ll talk more about shortly).

That’s before we get to the matter of the umbilical cords which run from the headsets. The Rift’s dual connections are bound into one relatively svelte cable whose attachment to the headset is positioned in such a way that it naturally runs down the side of the head rather than the base of the skull, so there’s no issue with sitting back in a full-backed chair. The Vive, though, has three cables only loosely strung together, with a shorter fourth one alongside it for headphones, and it’s all affixed so that it runs directly down the back of your head, making for a heavy weight and an uncomfortable lump if you try to sit back.

In some respects it’s a minor difference, as in either case you’re inescapably wearing a plastic facebox tethered to your PC, but I find myself regularly trying to twitch the Vive cable out of the way of my arms or to smooth it down against my head, whereas the Rift’s is just on and done. I’m simply less aware that there’s a cable hanging off my head. It’s slicker, it’s more comfortable and overall I want to use the Rift more than I do the Vive, motion sickness notwithstanding.

Four other neat touches further cement that feeling. The first is a tiny sensor built into the Rift that sees its display turn on and off automatically when put upon or removed from your bonce. The Vive doesn’t have this. This is handy in Oculus-specific games, which will auto-pause or even offer a desktop mode when the headset’s removed, but it also makes day-to-day running of VR that little bit slicker. With the Vive, you need to manually gun up the Steam VR software if you want to use the hardware, and if you leave it running you can expect more noise, heat and energy drawn from your graphics card. The Rift’s Home software, by contrast, slumbers in the background, springing quickly to life when you don the headset, then everything calms down when it’s removed.

In this, the Rift feels like a far more modern and finished package, whereas there’s a slight jankiness to basic software usage of the Vive. However, this isn’t as clear cut as it sounds. Let’s be honest, how many of us really want to be using the Oculus Home software to buy games? And if we’re not buying games from it, what purpose does it serve?

The Vive, by contrast, is completely integrated into Steam, the place most of us probably want to be. Granted, there are quite a few Oculus exclusives on Home for the time being, so I suppose for the best and broadest possible VR gaming experience you are going to need it, but I suspect it will be grudgingly – and I expect too that we’ll see more cross-pollination between stores over time.

The good news is that Steam VR has a measure of support for the Rift already, and you can bring up much of its interface if you wish – although it’s a bit unpredictable and a lot of the terminology and UI is so clearly designed for Vive that using it can be a bit of a headache. I expect this to smooth out over time though; given that Oculus have now dropped the DRM which was preventing Rift software from running on Vive, it wouldn’t be foolish to expect that Steam will make more UI concessions to their rival too. I’ll come back to the Steam VR software in a bit though, because there are other ways in which it’s far superior to Oculus’.

The second of those other smaller edges the Rift has over the Vive is noise. Its expensive-looking, microphone-like sensor looks a bit like something Picard would use to browbeat Riker from his quarters with, and as such almost looks like a desktop ornament, whereas the Vive’s Lighthouses look like speakers from an entry-level surround sound kit, but realistically both are fairly subtle. However, the Lighthouses emit a constant, distracting whirr – not enough to disrupt game-playing or music-listening, but if the room’s otherwise silent you’ll definitely notice it, and probably start worrying about your electricity bill too. The Rift’s sensor is to all intents and purposes silent. I don’t even think about turning it off, whereas I physically disconnect the Vive’s Lighthouses whenever I’m done VRing.

Now, reportedly the consumer release Vive’s Lighthouses do shut themselves off after a period of disuse or when Steam VR is exited, which would certainly help a bit, but the Vive Pre kit I have can’t do that (I believe it is otherwise identical to the consumer Vive, bar a different name printed on the straps). So I can’t speak to how much this would help ameliorate the situation. As it stands for me, I’m having to manually remove the Lighthouses’ power cables if I want that annoying noise to stop, and replug them if I want to go VR again. It takes seconds, yes, but when coupled with the need to gun up the Steam VR software, somehow using the Vive feels like a bit of an offputting effort, whereas the Rift is ready and waiting. Again though – this is in theory slightly improved on the release Vive.

OK, minor finessing the third. The Rift has built in earphones, which are fixed to rotating and flexing arms which allow you to make them sit flush against your ears, angle them quickly out the way to listen to the real world and generally never have to worry about blindly scrabbling around to find the right earpiece once the headset’s on. By contrast, the Vive requires external earphones, attached either to a dangling 3.5mm plug on the back of the headset or into a USB port hidden under a removable plastic hatch on its top.

This is great in terms of allowing you total choice over what earphones to use, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got myself into a nightmare cat’s cradle of wires because my headphones’ cables have become entangled with the Vive’s, sometimes to the point that it’s tricky to actually extricate myself from the whole kit and kaboodle. Or how many times I’ve been blindly groping around to find the 3.5mm socket while wearing the headset, or to identify which earphone is left and which is right. It is so much easier to simply flip down the Rift’s earphones, which to my non-audiophile ears seem perfectly up to the job of both games and movies.

I won’t pretend I have golden ears, but I like a good headphone, can instantly hear the difference between cheap’n’nasty and decent ones, and have summarily binned many a bundled phone or MP3 player headset because of that. As yet, I have no complaints about Oculus’. They’re not going to satisfy anyone who favours Beats-like bass exaggeration, but it’s a crisp, clear, neutral sound, which is my own preference. They’re also light and very comfortable – because the frame of the headset is holding them in place and bearing their weight, rather than that it’s something else pushing down on your skull or jammed inside your ears.

In theory, the integrated phones allows Oculus complete control over the audio pipeline, which on paper means better positional sound, but as yet I haven’t noticed a meaningful difference there.

Against the Rift in this regard is that, while its earphones can be removed if you wish to use your own instead, there isn’t a built-in audio-output on the headset, so you’ll end up with an extra cable trailing to your PC – quite probably a short one too, which is likely to limit your movement quite a bit. Though it remains my own preferred device, it’s without question the inferior device if you’re absolutely set on using your own headphones.

The fourth added touch is a slight tilt fuction built into the Rift’s visor, which enables me to see at least some of the real world without having to prise the whole device off my face. To do this with the Vive involves a fair bit more strap-stretching and forehead-mounting. Minor, but again adds to that overall sense that the Rift got a touch more final TLC (or Zuckerbucks, as the case may be) than the Vive did.

Let’s move onto controllers, which is one area in which the Vive streaks far ahead of the Rift – at least for the time being. Notoriously, the Rift’s Touch controllers have been delayed and will be sold separately (Rift pre-orderers will receive an unspecific discount and priority places in the queue, if there is one), so for now an Xbox One controller and wireless USB receiver is included in the box instead. It’s a solid controller and the wireless dongle is appreciated, though it requires manual battery replacement rather than has a built-in rechargeable one.

The Vive, by contrast, comes with two wand-like motion controllers, which behave like super-clocked Wiimotes, capable of great precision as well as ramping up the sci-fi wonder of VR. To use these wands to paint ethereal 3D scenes in Tiltbrush is to feel like stepping into tomorrow, while Fantastic Contraption makes VR feel physical as well as visual. They’re an important part of the VR jigsaw, without question. The motion controllers are also rechargeable via standard micro USB (two chargers are included in the box), although long-term this may be problematic, as the batteries gradually lose their charge. I’ll also note that, physically and aesthetically, the controllers feel very high-end – more so than the headset itself.

The Rift winds up feeling so much more… ordinary because it lacks anything like this, because it doesn’t offer what feels like a ‘real’ way to interact with a virtual world. On the other hand, the motion controllers, with their limited buttons and with character movement shifted to your actual body (and the floorspace restrictions that entails), horribly clumsy D-pad clicking or awkward point’n’teleport systems, really struggle to do the trick in traditional games. If you want to make a character move and jump and shoot and all that age-old jazz, the wands can’t hold a candle to a gamepad (or keyboard and mouse, if you’re enough of a touch-typer to be able to use them blind).

Importantly though, you can use any old gamepad with the Vive just as you can the Rift – it’s just that you don’t get one in the box. I’ll warrant that most frequent PC gamers have something hanging around though, otherwise you should be able to track down a 360 one for around £20. Steam VR also supports the Steam Controller, if you have one.

The Rift also includes a little wireless pointer with a couple of buttons on it. It’s neat for navigating Oculus Home but doesn’t really serve a purpose otherwise – you might as well use the Xbox pad. It might come into its own a little more as a remote control for video or as a desk-free mouse in Windows, but realistically that will require third-party apps such as Whirligig and Virtual Desktop amping up their support for it. I’m fairly sure mine’s just going in a drawer, to be honest.

So, for now it’s a hands-down victory for the Vive when it comes to controllers, though that could well change once the Oculus Touch controllers arrrive – depending, of course, on how much they cost. Yes, the Vive was significantly more expensive than the Rift in the first place, but I expect any early VR adopter is going to balk at spending more cash on a platform whose immediate future seems increasingly uncertain.

Onto software, by which I mean the official VR applications rather than the range of games – I’m not actually going to go into the latter yet, because I feel like that side of things is still shaking out, and in any case a great deal of it is available on both headsets anyway.

Oculus Home is a store and a library of purchased applications. There’s a smattering of free stuff amidst a few familiar paid names and then many more unfamiliar ones with what is likely to be considered high prices. The environment is lovely – a large, well-decorated room with an open fire and a sense of quiet grandeur. Realistically though, you’re only going to look around it once, and focus only on the menus within it. And it’s fixed. By contrast, Steam VR’s environment can be tweaked hugely, from the backdrop to 3D objects within it, and to what the controllers and Lighthouses appear as.

I’ve been on the Death Star, I’ve floated in space, I’ve walked through giant azure seascapes, I’ve got my Lighthouses dressed as 2001’s HAL and my controllers carved out of wood. Quite often, I go tweak all this stuff and download new skins or environments from the Steam Workshop just as a virtual activity in and of itself – a chance to go and experience a brand new place without having to worry about controls or content.

Steam VR also offers the option for a desktop view, so you don’t have to take the headset on and off to interact with Windows or check a notification, but clarity and comfort are too compromised to do this for long. In other words, Steam VR has better-realised some concept of futuristic computing than Oculus Home has. Though, of course, you can use the Rift to some extent with Steam VR too, and I expect that support to expand over time.

As do I general game support. Despite Oculus’ recent claims that they plan to fund more Rift exclusives, any smart developer is going to want to support both headsets, and indeed any more which might turn up. That said, given the current VR audience is a tiny minority of PC users, I imagine funding from either Oculus or Valve may be essential for a great many projects to get off the ground. Given that most of the market is effectively priced out of owning either headset, I fear there will be a great many casualties among VR developers nonetheless.

Back to the main VR hub apps. Maddeningly, both refuse keyboard and mouse support – there appears to be some bloody-minded determination from both parties that the future of computing does not involve the PC’s traditional sword and shield. Given that I primarily use VR while sat in my chair rather than standing or – don’t make me laugh – walking, I find myself scrabbling around the desk for different controllers all the time. This is particularly infuriating as I am personally capable of using K+M blind, because I am surely some sort of superhuman. I hope that keyboard and mouse support will arrive at some point – it simply seems needless to exclude them.

This brings me onto the final point of comparison, that being locational tracking. The Oculus Rift can track where your head is and what direction it’s facing, at a range of a few feet. The Vive can track, effectively, where your entire body is across a several metres square space, and once the motion controllers are factored in it can also detect the position of each hand too. This means that you can walk around a room while wearing a Vive, whereas the Rift is limited to sitting and standing. In fact, it can detect some movement within a small radius, and you won’t miss out on 360 degrees of rotation in order to gaze at some vast sight in awe, but right now, no, you can’t wander freely around an impossible place. Both headsets support standing, which I think is an under-reported middleground between seated and room-scale VR, and a cheap, neat way of feeling as though you’re inside a place rather than being an audience to it.

Frankly though, the jury’s still out on whether you can truly do much room-scale stuff in the Vive, at least at home rather than in some public place. Despite official reassurances that the device’s room-scale support would be suitable for the average house, the reality is that few people can comfortably clear enough floorspace for the 1.5×1.5m minimum, let alone the dramatic scale of the 3.0×3.0m maximum. I can kind of fudge the minimum so long as I don’t mind a few banged ankles or occasionally clonking the front of the headset against a bay window, but it just hasn’t proved to be something I want to do often enough to justify all the floor-tidying and chairs-on-beds necessary each time I fire it up. At one point I was seriously considering buying a flip-up wall bed, but my enthusiasm for VR after a few months with it has cooled enough that there’s no way I’d do it.

I do think room-scale VR is fantastic and rich with possibilities, but right now those are not for games. They’re for more simply experiential stuff: wandering slowly around impossible constructs or virtual museums, with freedom to look from all angles, not actually sprinting and leaping about the place. Again, my number one Vive app is the Google sculpting toy Tiltbrush, because as well as the thrill of creating something seemingly physical from nothing, you get to step back to take it in, walk around to the other side of it, or go stand in the middle of it. So far, this hasn’t gotten old.

Room-scale is an incredible possibility-space for sightseeing and for creation, but for gaming I think it’s only suitable for a minority of cases. Having to turn around regularly, having your movement hindered by the weight and length of the cable in addition to any floorspace restrictions – I just can’t see it working. Longterm, a wireless headset used with some gonzo AR overlay onto the outside world yes, embarrassment factors aside, but right now the reality is that I just want to sit down and use a controller or a keyboard and mouse to play games, using the headset as essentially an ultimate first-person perspective. I also use it to watch films on a virtual big screen, although the blockier, softer picture and headset discomforts means that I’m increasingly struggling to argue that this is really superior to watching them on my mid-range 42″ TV.

If that is how you primarily expect to use a VR headset, then the cheaper but slicker Oculus Rift is very much my recommendation. Even the Vive’s trump card, the motion controllers, serve less of a purpose there – as well as their unsuitability to moving a game character around, you simply don’t get quite the range of movement from a seated position that you do from standing or roaming. Again though, don’t forget that you can use a gamepad with the Vive anyway.

The jury is still out on sofware and games – there’s more coming out all the time, and as well as the likelihood that many will support both devices, many are still being experimental with interfaces, and we can expect standards to be reached in time. Whether those are VR-specific new standards or reverting to sat-down, gamepad-controlled type remains to be seen. I’m just not comfortable naming software or games as a deciding factor in which headset to get, not yet. Tiltbrush is the closest thing to a killer app on either, but I’m expecting either that or something very similar to show up for Oculus Touch once that’s out anyway.

As for the overall matter of which headset to get, here’s my answer: neither, not yet. Not unless you can definitely, comfortably afford it, and a highish-end graphics card too. I was as excited as it was possible to be about VR before these things landed in my home, and used them to death when they first arrived, but now I only turn them on a couple of times a week, if that, and usually it’s to quickly check out some new game or experience that I play once and never again. That said, once the rescaled version of American Truck Simulator is out, I’m definitely taking a day off to drive around the West coast with the full headset and steering wheel ultro-gonk setup.

Really, I feel that VR on PC right now is something done out of curiosity, not because it offers a reliably great time. The combination of image quality restrictions – it needs a higher resolution to spare it from its current 720p-esque appearance – and physical limitations, be they discomfort or cabling, adds up to a sense that this stuff just isn’t quite ready yet. No-one’s pretending that this isn’t just the first roll of the device, of course, and I don’t imagine that either Valve or Oculus expected to sell many of these things just yet, but I do worry that it’s launched too soon, and that future consumer appetite could be severely harmed by that.

However, VR is super-cool. I’m not telling you to shun it. It’s just that I believe, at some point in the next couple of years, either we’ll get far superior headsets or these current ones will be dramatically discounted. Or both, even. Hang fire: presuming the entire VR industry doesn’t collapse entirely, things are going to get better and more affordable.

If you absolutely, positively must buy a VR headset now, whether because you have a specific usage in mind (like me and my trucks) or because you’re lucky enough to have the money to burn, my choice would be the Oculus Rift. It’s simply a nicer piece of kit with a clutch of small tweaks and features that make it easier and more of a pleasure to use, even if its capabilities aren’t quite up to those of the Vive. Even that may change in future – not just the Touch controllers, but also the possibility of introducing extra sensors into the mix so it can operate across a larger space. The fact that it’s a bit cheaper for what is in most cases a similar experience helps too. The Vive is definitely the best of the best in terms of VR possibilities right now, yes, both in terms of room-scale and motion controllers, but I’m just not sure that’s best enough to warrant the extra cash, especially given the absence of the Rift’s smaller bells and whistles.

That said, you probably want a Vive instead of a Rift if you get sick on coach journeys.

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75 Comments

  1. Adam says:

    I hate to be a pain but what about the Razer VR kit? How does that stack up given it’s half the price?

    • Alec Meer says:

      I don’t have one, I’m afraid.

      • Jimbo Jones says:

        Thank you for the informative article. I have a question for, where are the Steam user reviews for the Vive? It’s been out for months. Is Steam suppressing them?

        • Strazz says:

          Not intentionally, I think. There’s no way to post a Steam review for the Vive currently since you don’t purchase it through Steam.

          • skorpeyon says:

            This makes a lot of sense. Steam required verification of purchase to post a review, and since they can’t verify your purchase, they would have people doing what folks on Amazon do and “reviewing” something they don’t own, causing trouble one way or another.

          • Cinek says:

            I can’t imagine it’s THAT difficult to detect Vive and mark me as a Vive owner on Steam?

      • citrusninja says:

        Alec, any chance of a list of the games you tried? Audio shield is something I highly recommend if you’ve got some good dancey music

    • Sakkura says:

      That’s more of a devkit, so you can expect the jankiness to be dialed up to 11.

  2. MrLoque says:

    It’s still too early for VR. With that money I will stick to a cool monitor or multi-monitor setup.

    • GenialityOfEvil says:

      I’m going for a big upgrade at the end of the year, probably around £4000, but I’m still not buying a VR headset. I like supporting emergent tech but looking through my installed games, I can see 8 games at most that I would want to play in VR.

      • citrusninja says:

        Maybe give a Vive demo a try first if you’re already planning on spending that kind of money

    • Assirra says:

      If you want to only play games, yes it is too soon. We are basically watching a whole new industry being born right before our eyes. Think of it like when game developers were all trying out their own thing or when the internet was becoming usable for “normal” people.

    • DD says:

      If your talking about any kind of cockpit experience then it definitely is not too early. multiple monitors is a hollow joke in comparison.

    • Cinek says:

      Multi-monitor setup is not remotely comparable to VR. Not even with TrackIR.

  3. Premium User Badge

    Jekadu says:

    Which one is better for Elite?

    • Chaz says:

      Currently it’s the Rift, Vive support still needs a bit of tweaking. Although apparently there are some graphics settings you can adjust to get it working somewhat acceptably on the Vive. My friend however is running his Vive on a 970 and has for the moment given up on trying to get Elite to run well. We’re hoping that a 1080 will smooth out some of his performance issues, not just in Elite but a few other games too.

    • Jaykera says:

      I never tried E:D on an occulus but I have a Vive and I find it barely playable. I don’t know how much better it is on a rift but I read one mission objectives then my eyes bleed.

      The immersion is impressive though.

      • Divolinon says:

        I play it all the time on the rift. I find it works very well, very smooth and obviously very immersive. Text sometimes is problematic though, but that’s not really a E:D specific problem.

    • Cinek says:

      Oculus, no doubt. Vive resolution stretched over this wide field of view is so lacking that you’ll struggle to read anything. In Oculus meanwhile it’s perfectly playable.

  4. jasta85 says:

    I held off on VR for several reasons:
    1. I’d need to get a new graphics card since I run dual 760’s on SLI, which is perfectly fine for any game on the market but VR doesn’t seem to support SLI yet. Don’t want to do an upgrade until those new cards that just got announced are available.
    2. I want to see how oculus touch compares to vive controllers, and what that will do the rift’s total price.
    3. There arn’t really any games out for VR that make it worth getting right now. It would be really cool to watch movies and TV shows on them but again, not worth the price yet.

    I hope that a year down the road we see the 2nd generation VR devices in which case I would most likely pick one up at that time (hopefully at a cheaper price as well) while upgrading my computer at the same time.

    • Ethaor says:

      The resolution is too low for people to look at TV series and movies. The VR cinema apps are cool because you feel like you’re in a Theatre with a big screen, but that screen is running about 240p. ^^

      • Chaz says:

        If you’re watching stuff as if it’s on a home cinema screen set back from you then it doesn’t look too bad and is quite acceptable. HD quality it is not for sure but you still get that big screen feeling. I’d say the two HMD’s were just about comfortable enough to last viewing a 2-3 hour movie. YMV of course.

        • Ethaor says:

          Well personally I couldn’t watch anything decently, I had quite a few movies stocked up that I planeed on watching but the quality was so subpar I just scratched the idea. I installed Virtual Desktop’s paid cinema DLC, everyone that tried it found amazing being in the theatre, then when the movie starts and the lights dim, everyone “ewed” at the image quality and just took it off after a few seconds.

          I really wouldn’t advise anyone to buy into VR to simulate a movie theatre is all. Well, unless they actually only want to simulate the movie theatre, not the movie that usually follows. ^^

  5. RaboP4 says:

    Thanks for this, very thorough breakdown. But I can’t help but feel like maybe you haven’t tried the right roomscale games with the vive? Hearing you say it’s only good for non-games is very surprising to me. Possibly it’s just because of your limited space but I’d love to know what you’ve tried and liked/not liked.

    Have you tried Battle Dome? Budget Cuts? Thrill of the Fight? The FOO show? Portal Stories? After I play this stuff, non room-scale just pales in comparison, and it always feels well worth the annoyance of wires dangling, etc. Very curious as to your thoughts on them and why they haven’t worked for you.

    • ma9nifico says:

      I was wondering about this too. Trying the right room-scale games in a large enough space makes a huge amount of difference. (Granted, many won’t have the large enough space available).

      I got my Vive expecting to enjoy “normal” games such as Elite, but I’ve wound up playing room-scale all the time. I was simply blown away — it feels much more as an entirely new experience instead of “upgrading” normal gaming experiences. I also disagree with those who say room-scale games can only be for small demos or gimmicks. To people having those concerns, I wholeheartedly recommend and show people Budget Cuts, as you mentioned. It’s awesome, and I’m really looking forward to the full game.

    • Tangent says:

      I had the exact same thought. I own both units and have no interest in even plugging in the Rift at this point specifically due to roomscale. Nothing on Rift comes anywhere close to the Audioshield experience (music games are fun again!), let alone the other games you suggested.

      Obviously this is completely subjective, but I’m absolutely blown away whenever I see someone recommend the Rift over the Vive at this point. I was completely deflated on VR when the CV1 finally showed up (after having DK1/DK2/GearVR), yet entirely reinvigorated when I finally plugged in my Vive.

      Frankly the Rift is a low-rez screen strapped to your face with the same old controller. The Vive is a whole new thing.

      • Reejun says:

        I also have both and the Rift stays in its box (I have it due to being a Kickstarter backer).

        But I think it’s more that I’m not interested in anything not designed for motion control, rather than room-scale being the key (but it helps). I expect things like Audioshield will be playable on Rift once Touch is out.

  6. Kefren says:

    I’d like a headset with no extra gadgets (controllers, remotes, anything that needs batteries or charging) so I can just play sat at my PC with mouse and keyboard. No extra shops/front ends, just games run from my desktop (or maybe Steam). Mostly playing older games, my old favourites. Neither current option offers that.

    PS I think the Rift does do full 360 with a second sensor.

    • Kefren says:

      Are the Rift headphones 5.1? It doesn’t say that anywhere. It would seem weird to have kit that is designed to immerse you visually in a place, but then to go back to plain stereo for the audio. I don’t know if I could play games in stereo now, the positional thing is so important to me. Yet if they did offer surround sound (as my PC headphones do) I’d have thought it would be in a feature list. Confusing.

      • k.t says:

        They’re stereo, but since you only have two ears that’s all you really need. Oculus open sourced some fancy software, similar to the old Aureal A3D stuff, and it works really well when combined with proper head tracking. Search Wikipedia for HRTF if you want to know more. :)

        • Kefren says:

          Ah, of course – 5.1 only works because you face one way, it is no good when you are turning your head and the view is doing the same … I’m pleased they’ve come up with a system that makes things simpler (correct sound via stereo + 3.5 mm jack rather than multiple cables) without losing positional sound. I’m surprised it doesn’t get mentioned more as a selling point, since its absence would be a real downer.

          • Unclepauly says:

            Probably because it’s old technology that has been around forever. I’ve been gaming with simulated surround on a stereo headphone for about 10 yrs now. I also own a very expensive surround sound theater setup. A good pair of stereo headphones really does come close to the real thing with these software 3d audios like cmss-3d and dolby headphone.

          • Kefren says:

            Huh. I’d never heard of it. Does it work in all games? Does it make 5.1 redundant? If my 5.1 headphones ever broke, would I have just as good an experience just using stereo headphones now? I could do with an RPS hardware guide on this!

    • HidingCat says:

      That’s exactly what I want to, along with the type of VR games – everyone seems to be going towards these gimmicky “games”. I just want the VR headset to be a more immersive version of the monitor.

  7. Zeneage says:

    Hi Alec,

    From what I can see you have forgotten to mention the Vive has a front facing camera. Not likely to tip the scales but considering the rift doesn’t have one at all it’s probably worth mentioning?

    Thanks

    • tuzgai says:

      Personally, I’ve found that I almost never use the front-facing camera. The earbuds mean that I can’t really hear anyone I’m talking to, so I generally pull the whole thing off if I’m interacting with the outside world. When I have the funds, I’m planning to get a decent pair of open-back headphones and that might change.

      On the other hand, part of this is also because Chaperone is so handy. You can customize the room outline which I use to make marks for orienting myself in the room.

    • Premium User Badge

      The Almighty Moo says:

      The camera can be useful in ‘tron’ mode- double tapping on the… home(?) button shows you the outside world in enough detail to see where your mug of tea is for instance. I’ve actually found that really useful, even if the combination of virtual, chaperone and video of the real can be a bit confusing.

    • Cinek says:

      That camera is a gimmick. Don’t make your decision based on it.

  8. Chaz says:

    I would like to add to what has been said in this article that as someone who wears glasses, that neither headset is very comfortable if you need to keep your glasses on. Your glasses will get pushed down onto your face quite firmly and the arms at the side into your head. I also find myself constantly pushing on the arms behind my ear to move the glasses away from my eyes and relieve pressure off the bridge of my nose and to straighten them out.

    Putting the headsets on can be a pain, because if they catch the side of your glasses and push them into your eye, the glasses then become smudged and smeared which really affects your view. You have to sort of tip your face into the headset and pull the strap up over your head. Basically you have to put it on in a reverse fashion to non glasses users. It also means that you can’t just pull the headset up onto your forehead for a quick look around back in the real world.

    Glasses also seem to accentuate the god ray effect of the light blur, and if they don’t fill the whole of your vision the tops and bottoms of the frames are much more noticeable in VR too. So if your wear some stylish slim rectangular ones you might want to think about getting a cheap pair of Harry Potters but with thin rims.

    I am short sighted myself, that is I need glasses to see things clearly that are at a distance. I’ve found that with the Vive whether I wear my glasses or not makes very little difference to the image quality and if anything it looks a bit better with my glasses off. With the Rift however I really do need to wear them otherwise it looks noticeably more blurred without. I can only presume that this is down to differences perhaps in the way focal point sweat spot is done between the two different sets of lenses and the way the fresnels are done.

    Currently I’m trialling contact lenses which make a world of difference in ease of use and comfort when using the Rift and in the image quality due to the reduction of the light glare and not having the obstruction of the glasses frame. Putting things in your eye isn’t everyone’s cup of tea though and it is taking some getting used to I can assure you. So if you don’t like the idea of contact lenses then there is also this company that is starting to make prescription lenses that fit inside the headsets. link to vr-lens-lab.com

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Thanks for sharing this. Despite being far-sighted, I’m almost certain I’d need to wear glasses with a VR headset, because my right eye is much worse than my left. I don’t want to buy anything until it’s very well suited to someone with glasses.

    • HidingCat says:

      Hey cool, thanks for sharing. Can you tell us your prescription level as well?

    • Cinek says:

      Also worth noting that if you don’t have any extreme issue with eyesight – you’ll be fine without glasses. Just setup the headset to your sight and you’re done.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      It also depends on your face and glasses, and possibly other things. I have “stylish” thin-ish rectangular glasses, but the only problem I share here is the headsets yoinking them half the times I remove the headsets. That said, my large nose and thin face might help reduce the glasses-related pressure. In that respect, the Rift is much more comfortable on my nose with its cloth interior, but I find the Vive’s periodic slumping (it’s heavier and possibly less well balanced) easily worth tolerating for the motion control and small amount of ambulatory freedom.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    I love my Vive but damn Vive fanboys are annoying, especially on Reddit.

    Holopoint is my favorite game so far. Releasing an arrow, turning while drawing the next one and leaning to dodge the projectile you know is coming towards the back of your head is so very satisfying.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      Well, it’s Reddit… what are fanboys currently griping about?

    • MajorLag says:

      It’s Reddit. Breeding annoying fanbois is all it’s good for.

  10. mojomonkeyfish says:

    I also have both the Rift and the Vive. I’m not a professional reviewer or a developer (of games), I’m just a person with far too much disposable income and a thirst for this technology. I received the Rift first, and I really enjoyed the experience, but then I wanted to use my hands, so I ordered a Vive as well. I haven’t used the Rift since I received the Vive, about a month ago.

    I agree with pretty much all of this author’s assessments, although perhaps the final statement about “not being ready”. I think the tech, as it stands, is fully ready, and it’s just the software that isn’t ready for it. I’d say Lucky’s Tale on the Rift is the closest to what one would expect from a “game”, rather than an “experience”, and it doesn’t fully embrace VR (although, to be honest, it totally sells VR as compelling even for third person games). The majority of the software available, though, are basically small sandboxes to play with some basic mechanics. I think that’s great, though. This is exactly what the fledgling tech needs. Rather than large, expensive failures that turn people off, it needs to focus on small, agile, proofs of various gameplay concepts. Then, when a smattering of good ideas are found, they can be woven together into something bigger. Picking up a gun and blasting some zombies or aliens is fun enough that I’ve spent at least 30 minutes doing it most evenings. I’ll be happy when I’m doing it as part of a story, along with some other skills, but I don’t particularly miss it right now.

    Overall, even stripped of the controllers and room scale, I prefer the Vive headset. For me, in particular, with a large head and glasses, it is more comfortable, goes on and off easier, and the screen is more clear. My wife, a human of normal proportions, prefers the Rift. The tracking on both is equal. The Rift has the best game so far (IMO) which is The Climb. But, the Vive demos the technology way better with Job Simulator and The Lab.

    I’m lucky not to experience nausea with either headset, so I cannot comment on that. I did almost fall on my dog while playing The Climb.

    I don’t know if any of that is useful at all, but figured I’d share it.

    • Chaz says:

      I really would like to try The Climb but the £40 price tag just seems a bit much. Does it really give you a feeling of being high up and scaling precarious cliffs? I want something that gives me a bit of an adrenaline buzz again, as I’ve found that initial “Whoa!” first time feeling of VR is starting to wear off now that my brain has become more accustomed to it.

    • mojomonkeyfish says:

      The Climb definitely delivers on the feeling of hanging from a mountain. You feel very… like, your face is right there against the wall and you’re exposed, and my palms legit get sweaty playing it. Yet, I didn’t really get disoriented or anything. As for the price… it’s “worth” the money for the experience, but it’s going to be the same game in a few months when it’s cheaper.

  11. Frog says:

    I had the Rift DX2 kit. I don’t have a problem with nausea usually even at 3D movies and such, but playing 45min of Euro Trucker had me nauseous for hours. I used it a few times, liked the concept, sold it on ebay.
    What you said about the nausea makes the Rift a non starter for me.

    Anyone else have experience like mine?

    • Chaz says:

      I think it’s just one of those things where some people are more susceptible to it than others. I myself have gotten more and more used to the whole motion in VR thing. Some games have made me feel a little bit queasy to start with such as Adr1ft and Subnautica. The more I’ve used VR the more my brain has synced in with it though and I no longer feel that weird feeling of ghost motion when moving. It’s just a case of the more exposure you get to VR then the more used to it you’ll become which should help to lessen the motion sickness a bit. Although that doesn’t seem to be the case for Alec who feels nausea in one headset but not the other, so it’s hard to say.

      The flip side of getting used to VR is that it stops fooling your brain so much though.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      I’ve got a DK2 (not used it much for ages though) and I don’t really get motion sickness.
      I found that certain games ended up giving me a headache and/or nausea quite quickly, where as others were fine.
      Halflife 2 seemed particularly bad for me, which I put down to the speed of movement (Gordon seems to be wearing rocket skates).
      Some games I played for several hours though, with only a mild headache (which is as much from having a screen so close).

  12. frightlever says:

    Jesus, that was a bit harsh. Posting a detailed article on VR, all those pictures of cables… and NO TRIGGER WARNING for John Walker? Heartless bastard.

  13. Moonracer says:

    I only have a Vive, but I think your points are solid. Some things I’d add/change:

    Ultimate decision should be on whether you plan to do room scale or not. If you don’t have the space or the interest, that side of the tech isn’t important. Though I didn’t think it would be until I experienced it first hand. I don’t think it’s fair to judge Oculus on this until their format is tested by the public. I am guessing that their roomscale hardware will bring the total price up close enough to the Vive that that point wont matter as much.

    One concern I have with all these devices is hardware lifespan. The Vive light boxes don’t just make an audible noise. Mine get pretty warm and have a strong vibration from a spinning motor or something inside (I also unplug mine when not in use). I fear for their lifespan. Also with Vive roomscale, if you do have enough space you are likely to experience pulling on the headsets cables from activity.

    Hopefully we can get a follow up in six months to a year.

  14. Don Reba says:

    The Lighthouse noise might make Vive a non-starter for me. I’m the type to go to another floor to turn off a muted TV, because the subaudible sound it made was annoying enough.

    • Tangent says:

      I’m actually really confused by this. I’m typically incredibly sensitive to this type of thing, but I honestly didn’t even know they emitted a noise at all. It may just be that they’re not remotely close to me due to the mounting, but I honestly never knew they made a sound… (I also just stuck my ear directly next to one, still nothing)

      • Severn2j says:

        I share your confusion, I’ve not noticed any noise from the base stations, other than the initial vibration they make during the initial calibration, which stops after a few seconds.. I’m wondering if this was a pre-release issue that was resolved in the consumer version.

    • Fellhuhn says:

      The lighthouses have two spinning thingies in them, they are quite similar to those motors in your harddrives. You can config the Vive so that those get turned off when you end SteamVR and that they get automatically (or manually via menu) turned on once they are needed.

      Had no problem with them so far (regarding sound).

      • Don Reba says:

        That’s probably not so bad, then. Thanks.

        • Cinek says:

          Noise is still annoying, especially if your headphones don’t fully isolate sounds.

          • Premium User Badge

            particlese says:

            Yup, the noise is at least as annoying as an old hard drive (4 of ’em, really) unless you wear decently isolating (or noise canceling) headphones, but digging through the SteamVR menus to find the auto-off option makes it almost no issue at all. The “almost” is because I still manage to crash SteamVR every so often, but restarting and re-exiting or simply unplugging the things does the trick on those rare occasions.

  15. Pirhana-A says:

    Good and objective review but: NO SINGLE WORD ABOUT ATW ??? seriously ? one of the most important feature only available on Oculus when you want to play full fleshed games (and not only small tech demos…), even on a beefy computer. My two cents…

    • fabronaut says:

      your two cents are completely unhelpful to someone like myself who has no idea what the hell ATW is — or why I should care? :/

  16. Severn2j says:

    I’ve had a Vive for a couple of weeks now and I chose that for a couple of reasons:-

    1. I don’t agree with the way Oculus is walling itself off and creating a console-style exclusivity scene. I appreciate that they are putting up a lot of the money for the development of these games, but stopping me from giving them my money because I didnt buy their headset is dickish, imo.. Sell them to everyone and just take a 30% cut to get the development costs back. Its not hard and it wont fragment and fledgling industry.

    2. It seems to me to do everything the Rift does, plus “room scale” and as I was in the fortunate position to get either, I decided to go for what I saw as the complete package.. Plus, point 1 had put me off the Rift.

    Strangely, my initial drive for buying into VR was the idea of playing games like Elite Dangerous and Project Cars from “within”, but since getting the Vive, all I have done is play around with room scale. I have yet to try it sitting down, because Im having too much fun moving around in there.

    One last point.. Nobody seems to have mentioned this in the many articles I’ve read about these headsets, but by far the biggest impact for me has been the scale of things in VR. You might think GlaDOS is big in the Portal games, but you don’t truly appreciate the size of it (her?) until you see it in The Lab. This is especially apparent in TheBlu, when you see a Blue Whale swim past.. Its an amazing experience.

  17. DrunkMonkey says:

    To stop the Vive light houses making that low level hum sound and assuming you got bluetooth.

    Steam VR > Settings > General >
    Tick ‘Enable Blue tooth Communication’
    Tick ‘Put Base Station in standby mode when VR not in use’

  18. rkido says:

    There are a lot of factual errors in this article. As a VR user and developer, of course I want more people to buy headsets, but whether they do or don’t, I would want them to be making that choice with the right information.

    any meaningful difference in image quality can be ruled out right out of the gates

    There are meaningful differences in image quality and it is due to Oculus and Valve/HTC optimizing their respective headsets for different use cases. The Vive is optimized for room scale, which works better with a larger field of view so you can see the floor and edges in your peripheral vision. As a downside, it has lower pixel density than the Rift because the same resolution display is being shown over a larger area of your vision.

    Another meaningful difference, which I think hits close to home for your sickness problem, is that the Rift’s optics have a pupil swim issue, which is where, if you lock your eyes onto a virtual object while turning your head, you will see an underwater-like distortion artifact. It can cause sickness even though it has nothing to do with locomotion, just like how high persistence displays can cause sickness. Valve/HTC’s engineers resolved this issue in time for the Vive Pre. They also solved issues with red-tint and godrays that so many Rift users have been complaining about, however Valve/HTC’s lense solution does have the downsides you mention about blurriness in the edges.

    Low FPS can also cause sickness, and one thing that is worth noting is that Oculus has a fabulous feature called asynchronous timewarp that acts as kind of safety net for situations where the FPS dips below 90. It certainly works better than SteamVR’s reprojection feature, although Carmack says that developers shouldn’t rely on it as some kind of panacea.

    My desk looks much uglier with a Vive than it does with a Rift, basically – but I entirely appreciate that the Vive is doing a bit more

    My desk/room would be cleaner if I had no VR gear at all. So what? It’s odd that you’re talking about the Rift setup being cleaner when it actually requires more overall cabling to get a setup equivalent to the Vive’s capabilities. Vive and Rift+Touch have the right amount (and length) of cabling for the use-cases they are anticipating — room-scale and front-facing standing configurations, respectively.

    a tiny sensor built into the Rift […] The Vive doesn’t have this.

    Actually, the Vive does have the same sensor telling your computer that you’re putting the headset on or off, but the SteamVR software itself doesn’t utilize it the same way Oculus software does at the moment. Some applications use it, like automatically pausing a video if you take the HMD off. It also wakes the Vive up from standby if it detects something, but the IMU mostly takes care of figuring out if you’re using the Vive or not.

    Now, reportedly the consumer release Vive’s Lighthouses do shut themselves off after a period of disuse or when Steam VR is exited, which would certainly help a bit, but the Vive Pre kit I have can’t do that (I believe it is otherwise identical to the consumer Vive, bar a different name printed on the straps).

    It’s not worth pointing out a failing with the Vive Pre, which hardly anyone has, and which is already fixed in the consumer release. It’s probably not even worth pointing out that this auto shutoff feature is not terribly reliable unless you uninstall the Vive Dashboard/Vive Home, since this is likely going to be fixed in a software update. And, having used both myself, it is definitely worth pointing out that the Vive Pre and consumer Vive are not completely identical; the Pre’s straps are considerably inferior, comfort-wise, to the consumer Vive’s straps.

    It takes seconds, yes, but when coupled with the need to gun up the Steam VR software, somehow using the Vive feels like a bit of an offputting effort, whereas the Rift is ready and waiting.

    I wouldn’t recommend leaving either of them ready and waiting for long periods. They get warm when left plugged in, even though you’re not using them.

    The Rift has built in earphones, which are fixed to rotating and flexing arms which allow you to make them sit flush against your ears, angle them quickly out the way to listen to the real world and generally never have to worry about blindly scrabbling around to find the right earpiece once the headset’s on.

    Actually there is nothing wrong here, I’m just quoting it again for posterity so maybe Valve/HTC will notice for the sake of Vive 2… however I will say that once you get the included earbuds, which are quite good, wired nicely through the Vive’s straps such that they hang right next to your ears at all times, it’s good enough for gen 1. Putting on the headset only takes a couple seconds to just plug them into your ears, and pulling off the headset is as convenient as the Rift, as they just come right out right as the headset is being lifted.

    The fourth added touch is a slight tilt fuction built into the Rift’s visor, which enables me to see at least some of the real world without having to prise the whole device off my face. To do this with the Vive involves a fair bit more strap-stretching and forehead-mounting. Minor, but again adds to that overall sense that the Rift got a touch more final TLC (or Zuckerbucks, as the case may be) than the Vive did.

    The nose gap, which has irritated many users, was likely a last-minute compromise Oculus made to keep their headset competitive against the Vive’s front-facing camera.

    On the other hand, the motion controllers, with their limited buttons and with character movement shifted to your actual body (and the floorspace restrictions that entails), horribly clumsy D-pad clicking or awkward point’n’teleport systems, really struggle to do the trick in traditional games.

    This brings us back to the sickness issue. The number one reason for motion sickness once all low-level problems are solved is the artificial movement that virtually all traditional games employ. Mechanics like teleportation exist precisely to ensure the overwhelming majority of people don’t get sick, and shouldn’t be balked at. It is extremely difficult to design large-scale VR games without teleportation and requires completely scrapping decades of game design principles. It is likely that many VR games will never abandon it, but rather just find ways to make it fit better into the game’s theme, thus preserving immersion (for a nice example see Budget Cuts).

    Put simply, VR is so different from what has come before that it is appropriate to classify it as a completely new artform with its own rules, separate and distinct from videogames.

    This brings me onto the final point of comparison, that being locational tracking. The Oculus Rift can track where your head is and what direction it’s facing, at a range of a few feet. The Vive can track, effectively, where your entire body is across a several metres square space, and once the motion controllers are factored in it can also detect the position of each hand too. This means that you can walk around a room while wearing a Vive, whereas the Rift is limited to sitting and standing.

    This, along with the motion controls, is a sensitive issue for Vive and Rift fanboys. The reality is that Vive is capable of almost everything the Rift+Touch can do (apart from some fine-grained finger tracking on Oculus Touch, but hand and even some finger presence is still possible on Vive), and Rift+Touch is capable of almost everything Vive can do, as long as you purchase some additional cabling hardware and mount the Oculus sensors more or less in the same place as you would mount Vive basestations (though the result of all this additional cabling can be quite messy), and only up to a distance of 11 feet between sensors (beyond that, there will be distortion in the middle of the room). It’s just a question of optimization: in most cases, it is far easier to setup room scale for Vive, and it is far easier to setup standing-only for Rift. Rift’s room-scale size limit is smaller than Vive’s room-scale size limit, but a very small minority of people will run into that limitation.

    Frankly though, the jury’s still out on whether you can truly do much room-scale stuff in the Vive, at least at home rather than in some public place. Despite official reassurances that the device’s room-scale support would be suitable for the average house, the reality is that few people can comfortably clear enough floorspace for the 1.5×1.5m minimum, let alone the dramatic scale of the 3.0×3.0m maximum.

    Average housing space differs significantly between regions, you can’t just ignore entire countries of potential customers. Also, you are vastly understating the maximum size for room-scale on the Vive. I am not even sure how far it can go. Unseen Diplomacy for instance requires a minimum of 4 x 3 meters.

    I do think room-scale VR is fantastic and rich with possibilities, but right now those are not for games. […] right now the reality is that I just want to sit down and use a controller or a keyboard and mouse to play games, using the headset as essentially an ultimate first-person perspective

    This is really personal and subjective for a hardware review. Plus, it seems like you really need to check out more of the games that are already available for room-scale VR. I’ve had more fun with its games than I’ve ever had in my life with the Vive, and it’s only been a few months since release. The possibilties are staggering for what is to come, and awesome stuff is getting pumped out seemingly every week. Check out Rec Room, released just yesterday.

    It also seems kind of pointless in a hardware review to tell readers what your personal preference is, when clearly that preference is based on your special use case and apartment layout. It’s absolutely the best choice for you and anyone else in a very similar situation, but this is supposed to be about what’s best for any buyer who happens to read your article. With my particular apartment setup for instance, Rift+Touch wouldn’t even work at all, either in standing or room-scale. That’s the kind of detail I would need if I were in the position of choosing a headset.

    • Premium User Badge

      particlese says:

      Thanks for your comment! I was ready to make a couple of the points from a user perspective, but you’ve covered them much better than I would have, and now I’ve learned some new things.

  19. Dave L. says:

    and same field of view,

    Not true. The Vive’s FOV is slightly wider horizontally, and noticeably wider vertically than the Rift’s. The Rift also has a square FOV while the Vive’s is circular. These are both probably major contributors to the motion sickness a lot of people experience with the Rift (myself included. I can be in the Vive pretty much all day at work, but the Rift starts to give me a headache pretty quickly. A co-worker was on the Rift for maybe half a day and then was out of commission due to the motion sickness). This is also apparently why Elite Dangerous looks noticeably worse on the Vive vs. the Rift, since for some reason they’re stretching the pixels horizontally at the center to cope with the wider FOV on Vive.

    Personal preferences: I HATE the light leakage on the Rift, and I’m not at all a fan of the way the hybrid fresnel lenses blur the fresnel distortion. Looking at high contrast images on the Rift makes me think the lenses have fogged up. The IPD adjustment on Rift is also horribly imprecise.

    Overall, I think the Vive feels much more like a piece of consumer electronics, and the Rift kind of feels like a toy to me.

  20. JimboDeany says:

    Just in an effort to be helpful, the sickness you mention combined with the apparent ghosting you get with the Rift sounds to me like an issue with the calibration of the parallax, i.e it thinks your eyes are closer together/further apart than they actually are.

    Thanks for the great article. I’ve only used the Playstation VR so far so can’t comment on these but this is a subject that I’m incredibly excited about and if the discounts start coming soon then I’ll be very tempted to dive in.

  21. pip3dream says:

    Both kits have their pro’s and con’s, I happen to prefer the Rift- it feels a bit more high quality, but the reality of … virtual reality… is they need to make some apps that actually justify its existence. It’s not doing VR any favors with all the huge build up and hype, and then initial order problems, and then now we have the hardware and the software librarys are kind of like trying to find value in the mobile phone app store. A lot of strange random stuff, nothing particularly that good.

    • Cinek says:

      Yea, I got my Vive this week, and can tell that it definitely feels more like an unfinished toy, Oculus while oculus is a finished product. Not to mention that the whole environment feels like a bad joke comparing to the Oculus Home. That said though – roomscale is a really nice thing, though I can’t imagine playing it for long… but it still feels new and fresh, so I enjoy it a lot.

      They’re definitely a very different headsets. If someone plans on sitting experience I would strongly recommend Oculus. If someone is up for 360° walk-around room experience – currently Vive is the only option.

  22. Premium User Badge

    BertieDugger says:

    The article and comments have only confirmed my feeling that I’d prefer the Vive (3m x 3m you say? Perfect, my apartment has room for two!). The only thing stopping me putting it on a credit card right away is that I only use Linux. I doubt Rift will ever support Linux, which i don’t care about, but how long do I have to wait for SteamOS and SteamVR to make sweet sweet love?

    • Cinek says:

      Even if it will work on Linux – vast majority of the most interesting games and experiences are windows-only. Sorry, but high-end gaming isn’t a domain of Linux.

  23. rb207 says:

    Great article. I read this and now have a Rift. I am happy with my decision but am very interested in the debate about which is best.
    I noticed that people with glasses seem to prefer the vive.

    People say rift is worse for motion sickness, could this be related to the shape of the display. Slightly more ovular as opposed to rectangular. Otherwise mystifying.

    Obviously the idea of turning and firing guns like the matrix in room scale is appealing, but I am happy with my decision.

    I am impressed with the build/comford and design. Little thinks like the lead going to one side of your shoulder, built in head phones are great for demo-ing. And its easy to put on or take off the set up.

    I am impressed with Occulus home but there isnt much there, steam prices seem better and I have a library of games on steam and some friends.

    I mainly bought this for flying and driving games so I am happy at the moment.