A 5K Display Can’t Fix Bigger Issues


3 years after the discharge of the unique Professional VR headset, the HTC Vive Professional 2 has arrived. And the specifications must be sufficient to have any PC VR fan drooling, such because the 5K show and 120-degree field-of-view.

The issue is that they do not translate nicely to real-world use and – in spite of a three-year hole between the generations – no longer a lot apart from the show has modified.

Whilst you imagine the VR marketplace is extra aggressive now than ever, thank you principally to the Oculus Quest 2, Valve Index and HP Reverb G2, can HTC draw in sufficient consideration for its Professional-level £1299/$1399 VR gadget? It surely has its paintings minimize out.  

Design and are compatible

You may take a look at the Vive Professional 2 and error it for the unique Vive Professional as a result of its near-identical design and ergonomics. Alternatively, because of the unique’s skill to suit a variety of head shapes, that’s no longer essentially a foul factor.

The black head-mounted show (HMD), coated in a smattering of sensors and pass-through cameras, is connected to a troublesome plastic head strap with a hand-crank mechanism at the rear to tighten and unfasten the headset for your head. There’s thick cushioning on the rear to assist burn up power, with a form designed to cradle the again of your head.

It’s probably the most higher VR headset methods, providing a extra protected are compatible and it is more effective than Velcro straps, even though you’re going to nonetheless to find one atop the headset to additional alter the location of the headset for your head.

The HMD can rotate backwards like a couple of flip-up sun shades to aid you raise up with out totally taking out the headset, best for answering a handy guide a rough phone name, checking the time or seeing who is guffawing at your badass VR strikes in Beat Saber. It doesn’t lean too a ways ahead regardless that, which would possibly prohibit simply how nicely it could adapt to other head shapes.

You’ll discover a bodily IPD adjustment dial (which strikes the lenses nearer or additional aside) at the facet of the Vive Professional 2 HMD, which levels from 57-72mm, and there’s additionally an eye-relief gadget that does one thing equivalent for the gap of the lenses out of your eyes – perfect for glasses-wearers.

The previous would possibly not sound like a very powerful function, however in comparison to the like of the Oculus Quest 2 that calls for you to take the headset off, bodily transfer the lenses and put it again on to peer whether or not it’s best for you, it’s a dream.

Just like the first-gen Vive Professional, you’ll to find Hello-Res-certified on-ear headphones at the Vive Professional 2’s head strap. Those include a really perfect perspective adjustment, permitting you to get the perfect placement for your ears, and they are able to be simply lifted away to engage with folks in the actual international whilst you’re busy within the digital one.

Unsurprisingly, they sound respectable too, even though there’s a loss of bass in comparison to right kind over-ear headphones that would depart some in need of extra in intense shooters.

The excellent news is that you’ll be able to detach them if you wish to use your personal headset. For the reason that it’d upload much more bulk to an already cumbersome headset, it’s most probably no longer one thing many homeowners will select to do.

Whilst the Vive Professional 2 does so much to deal with quite a lot of head configurations and dimensions, it’s no longer essentially the most at ease VR gadget. It’s nonetheless reasonably heavy and hulking, and although HTC has attempted to stability the burden between the entrance and rear, it nonetheless feels somewhat front-heavy every now and then.

There’s thick padded cushioning that traces the HMD to make it much less noticeable, however there’s nonetheless a build-up of power throughout your brow over longer VR classes.

The design, whilst flexible, may be appearing its age in some spaces. Take the crank gadget as an example; it can be the most productive gadget for VR headsets usually, however different producers have taken it a step additional by way of together with spring-loaded fingers that aid you placed on and take off with no need to regulate the dial, and it makes the entire distinction in on a regular basis use.

It’s value stating that the Vive Professional 2 is a wired-only gadget out of the field, with a thick cable working from the facet of the headset to a close-by gaming PC or pc. There are wi-fi methods to be had at further value, but it surely’ll hike up the cost of an already top rate VR headset.

Regardless that no longer related when it comes to specifications, standalone methods such because the Oculus Quest 2 are value taking into account for a miles cheaper price, and because of AirLink you’ll be able to use the Quest 2 wirelessly together with your PC now.

Display and FOV

Whilst the full design of the headset turns out acquainted, the show has had an overhaul that makes it sound like without equal VR headset show on paper, providing a much broader area of view and determination than another headset to be had presently. Alternatively, the eyes-on revel in tells a reasonably other tale, making it tricky to justify the excessive value.

Let’s get started with the great; with a whopping 2448 x 2448 answer consistent with eye and a quick 120Hz refresh fee, the visuals on be offering from the Vive Professional 2 are crisp. It removes a number of long-time problems in VR, with the most important being the display door impact, in a different way referred to as SDE.

Because the identify suggests, the impact is very similar to taking a look in the course of the international by means of a display door – a visual mesh brought about by way of tiny gaps between each and every pixel within the show. It used to be distinguished in first-gen VR headsets, and as resolutions have greater, the impact has lowered, but it surely’s the 1st time we’ve observed a headset that totally removes it. You actually can’t see it although you’re actively in search of it.

That eliminates probably the most greatest limitations to an immersive VR revel in, however that’s no longer all. The greater answer additionally makes textual content a lot more uncomplicated to learn from afar – not do you want to get inside inches of textual content in an effort to obviously learn it. That’s nice no longer just for gaming, however for paintings and collaboration functions too – there are many those that use HTC methods for enterprise functions, in any case.  

In fact, it’s no longer simply textual content that appears higher. The greater answer makes the whole thing glance clearer and sharper, making for a extra immersive digital revel in total. Even video games that you simply’ve performed for loads of hours will glance new and contemporary, with added element no longer up to now noticeable in VR.  

The upside to the LCD tech, apart from the greater answer, is the relief of ghosting to an unnoticeable point and, when mixed with a 120Hz refresh fee, the whole thing is silky easy – when you have a PC beefy sufficient to energy it at the ones settings.

Alternatively, it’s lacking the colourful colors and deep blacks of the unique Vive Professional’s OLED panel, and that may be a possible sticking level for present Vive Professional homeowners.

That top-res show is paired with what HTC claims is a 120-degree area of view, promising an expansive digital fact revel in with progressed lenses that toughen readability proper as much as the perimeters.

Actually, regardless that, the show isn’t reasonably as expansive as you would be expecting. That is for the reason that 120-degree vary refers back to the horizontal area of view, and benchmark assessments the use of TestHMD 1.2 recommend it’s even smaller than that – nearer to the 102 levels.

Whilst it’s nonetheless an building up in comparison to the unique Vive Professional, the similar can’t be mentioned for the vertical FOV, which seems narrower than the unique and many of the festival. This results in a view that feels cropped above and beneath your eyeline, such as you’re looking at an ultrawide 21:9 Hollywood blockbuster.

Regardless that the brand new lenses purpose to profit from the prolonged area of view, it has the similar classically vulnerable edge-to-edge readability present in maximum HTC Vive headsets, with an overly small candy spot for crisp VR visuals – when you glance to the left and proper of the show, quite than taking a look dead-on, you’ll be greeted by way of blurred optics.

It’s more uncomplicated to recover from the transfer from OLED to LCD with the advantages to SDE, answer and ghosting, however the FOV and lens problems are tougher to simply accept from this kind of top rate headset – particularly when similarly high-end headsets just like the Valve Index don’t be afflicted by the similar problems.  

Monitoring & Controllers

The Vive Professional 2 makes use of the similar external SteamVR monitoring tech featured in the remainder of the Vive assortment and the Valve Index too. The excellent news is that SteamVR’s monitoring gadget is essentially the most correct in the marketplace, beating the inside-out methods utilized by the Oculus Quest 2 and HP Reverb G2 for true 1:1 monitoring that hardly fails.

It’ll pick out up each and every motion straight away with low-latency monitoring, and the play spaces can usually be a lot higher than camera-based methods too, with a most play area of 10 x 10 meters on be offering from the Vive Professional 2’s SteamVR monitoring gadget.

That gives a really perfect digital revel in with out the disappointment of now and again shedding monitoring on a controller all the way through a high-score streak on Beat Saber or looking at your gun-wielding arm go with the flow away in Part-Lifestyles: Alyx, as is now and again skilled with inside-out monitoring.

However whilst it’s for sure a competent gadget that’ll paintings flawlessly in even dimly lit environments, make no mistake: it’s a headache to arrange correctly.

I’ve been reviewing VR headsets since 2016, and I’ve used a lot of SteamVR methods, but it surely nonetheless took repeated makes an attempt sooner than my playspace used to be deemed sufficiently big, and I had to verify the Vive Professional base stations had been protecting my whole playspace too.

With poorly positioned base stations, the headset would lose monitoring and controllers would randomly disappear. It gave the look to be suffering from reflective surfaces like TVs and fish tanks. It used to be just about an hour sooner than I were given the angles proper, at which level the controllers and headset had been each tracked completely.

The interior-out gadget utilized by the Oculus Quest 2, alternatively, solely calls for you to face in a well-lit area, put the headset on and description the world you’ll be enjoying in – a procedure that takes 10-15 seconds at max. You gained’t get the similar 360-degree monitoring because the Vive Professional 2, however after spending this kind of very long time twiddling with the bottom stations of the Vive Professional 2, I’d feel free to make the transfer to an inside-out gadget and not glance again.

The inclusion of SteamVR additionally approach you’ll be able to transfer out the Vive Professional 2 wands for different controllers – perfect when you just like the glance of the Index’s knuckle triggers – and it’s additionally suitable with a variety of third-party equipment too. It’s a flexible bit of equipment when you’ve were given a particular setup in thoughts.  

Why would you wish to have to change the Vive Professional wands for the Valve Index controllers? Merely put; the Vive Professional wands are appearing their age. They appear snazzy sufficient, with matching blue and black finishes, however the chunky controllers really feel a lot bulkier and heavier within the hand in comparison no longer solely to Oculus’ Contact controllers, however the controllers used with Vive’s personal standalone headset, the Vive Center of attention 3.

That’s in large part all the way down to the truth the controllers haven’t modified because the creation of the unique HTC Vive again in 2016. That suggests you’ll nonetheless to find the massive trackpad and awkward grip button synonymous with the unique, making the controller much less perfect in comparison to extra trendy controllers that supply thumbsticks and face buttons for a extra typical controller revel in.

It’s high quality for business-focused VR tool, however it could actually frustrate when enjoying fast paced video games like Part-Lifestyles: Alyx, having to depend on swipe motions to transport and engage with the surroundings as a substitute of a typical analogue stick.

Value

That is the toughest section to swallow; the Vive Professional 2 is dearer than the unique, which used to be already probably the most most costly VR headsets you want to purchase. It’s to be had in two configurations; you’ll be able to purchase the headset just for £719/$799, perfect when you’ve already were given a Vive Professional and need to improve, however when you don’t have an present SteamVR gadget, the cost jumps as much as a whopping £1299/$1399.

For context, the Valve Index prices £919/$999, the HP Reverb G2 prices £639/$599 and the Oculus Quest 2, in a position to each standalone and wi-fi PC VR, is available in at simply £299/$299. Whilst the enhanced answer does supply a lot more element in digital worlds, the improper FOV and lenses, the chunky controllers and the truth that the headset nonetheless seems and looks like one thing created in 2018, makes it so arduous to justify the cost tag.

If you’re nonetheless , you’ll be able to pick out up the HMD-only Vive Professional 2 from the Vive Retailer presently. Pre-orders of the Vive Professional 2 complete package are because of kick off on 23 September 2021 by means of the Vive Retailer, with supply anticipated from 14 October 2021. 

For a greater concept of the broader VR marketplace, check out our choice of the most productive VR headsets.

Verdict

The HTC Vive Professional 2 makes significant jumps in some departments, with LCD tech bringing no longer just a upper answer and sooner refresh fee, however taking out SDE and decreasing ghosting, and that makes the entire distinction to the digital revel in. Even older VR titles performed for loads of hours glance new and contemporary in upper answer, permitting you to understand finer main points in VR for the 1st time.

Alternatively, the truth that the design stays almost unchanged in comparison to the unique Professional approach it’s nonetheless reasonably heavy and will transform uncomfortable over longer play classes, and the crank mechanism may just do with some tweaking too.

It’s a equivalent tale with the Vive Professional 2 wands, which necessarily feel and look the very same as those who shipped with the first-gen Vive again in 2016, feeling an increasing number of dated in comparison to extra compact choices from Oculus.

Nevertheless it’s the FOV I will’t recover from, with a nearly oblong area of view that leaves you feeling as though the highest and backside of the shows were cropped. It’s great in an effort to see issues out of the nook of your eye, however I’d a lot favor to peer what’s above and beneath my eye-line for a extra expansive digital fact revel in.

So, whilst the HTC Vive Professional 2 appears like without equal VR headset on paper, the truth is that it doesn’t reasonably hit the mark – particularly when charging this kind of top rate.

Specifications

HTC Vive Professional 2: Specifications

  • Twin RGB low patience LCD show
  • 2448 x 2448 pixels consistent with eye
  • 120Hz refresh fee
  • 120-degree horizontal FOV
  • Hello-Res licensed headphones
  • Built-in twin microphones
  • Bluetooth & USB-C connectivity
  • SteamVR Monitoring V2.0
  • Adjustable IPD (57 – 72mm) with lens distance adjustment
  • 5m cable
  • Passthrough cameras



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