Everything you need to know about The HTC Vive – Ultimate Guide

In early 2016 – a company known best for creating world-class cell phones announced they would be partnering with Steam to create the most cutting-edge VR technology ever built. The product was known as the HTC Vive and over a year later, it has proven itself to be the most unbelievable experience that the authors at Vive-Advisor have ever had.

First, the HTC Vive headset. This is a device designed from day one to be more than just a 3D screen for you to view the world, it is a full motion sensitive, motion tracking apparatus with dozens of sensors that calculate your viewing with absolute precision. Look up, down, left, right and center and the HTC Vive headset adjusts your camera view in real time, giving you true visual immersion.

To create a truly immersive, groundbreaking experience, HTC realized from the very beginning that it was not just about the visuals. Human beings live in three dimensions and experience the world through more than just sight. Understanding the importance of having appendages in these virtual spaces, The HTC Vive includes two controllers which serve as the bedrock for your ability to interact with the world in VR.

The technology and how it works – Ultimate Guide

Since this is a complete VR experience, you have to understand the term “Room-Scale VR”. This is not a device that was created for just looking around inside a virtual world, the expectation is that to create a truly unique experience, the HTC Vive needed to include your entire body inside the games, along with the space needed to maneuver around inside the game.

To accomplish this feat of engineering, The HTC Vive includes two  (2) infrared light generating boxes, appropriately named Lighthouses that fill your play space with invisible light, creating a light mesh that renders you into the play space by tracking the reflectors on the headset and the motion controllers.

This innovative system provides full tracking of your body, meaning that you can jump, duck, and flail about wildly and the HTC Vive system feeds it into your gameplay with minimal delay. To achieve this, you need to mount the lighthouses somewhere high and flat, that is also no prone to moving or shuddering with vibration. HTC recommends that you hard mount (affix semi-permanently) to the walls in your play space.

Should I mount to the walls? – Ultimate Guide

Even though HTC recommends you mount the lighthouses to the walls in your play space, we know that can be pretty limiting. In addition, Some of us (especially me) are not great with power tools. That is why there are plenty of alternatives to permanently mounting.

HTC does include mounting brackets and the accompanying screws, with different styles so you can pick what works best for you in your play area. To really determine the answer to this question though, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

Will you be moving my play space anytime soon?

If the answer is no and you know exactly where you will get the most out of your play space, then by all means, please mount these things immediately. Affixing the lighthouses to your walls will provide the most consistent and SAFEST approach for using the HTC Vive.

Do you intend to have more than one play space?

Understandably, when you get a Vive your friends and family may want to give it a go, but your main area is really your fortress of solitude but you really want to share. If so, I would consider getting an extra set of mounting brackets and screws and mounting them in a second play space. This means you can move everything pretty quickly and start playing, without having to go through a lengthy mounting and measuring session before you can play.

Do you want to travel and demo the HTC Vive at parties or social gatherings?

If you are an avid evangelist type, the one who wants to spread your joy and passion for next level gaming or just a person who wants to play with friends on the weekends whenever possible then mounting may not be right for you. Additionally, if you are looking to have a much more mobile setup or a setup that can be packed and unpacked regularly, then stick to other Lighthouse mounting options like the Fovitec StudioPro tripod system.

Should I dedicate an empty room to the HTC Vive? – Ultimate Guide

Fortunately, you do not need an entire room, large or small to get the most from your HTC Vive. Throughout this post, you may have noticed we said “Play Area” instead of a room. Thanks to the creative configuration you can choose between two options, Room Scale and Standing Room Only.

In Standing Room Only mode, you are able to see a small square at your feet that will indicate the area you need to remain in to be safe and still be able to accurately play HTC Vive games and content. You will not be able to play every game out there as some do require more movement than others but there is still plenty of content available for Standing Room Only.

Standing Room Only must suck though, right?

Not true at all! While some content will be more limited or unplayable, you will still find hundreds of VR experiences for your HTC Vive even when limited to Standing Room Only. As long as you can move your arms freely, you are golden, pony boy.

The inverse is Room Scale which is a bigger play area, but by no means does it require a full room. Generally speaking, a 6′ x 6′ space will cover every need you will have, though the HTC Vive can accommodate even large play spaces, all the way up to a full room. Every game that incorporates Full Room mode takes advantage of the play space, allowing you to engage more immersively, dodging bullets and lasers in real time.

What about safety and not hitting real objects? – Ultimate Guide

Integrated into the HTC Vive is a system called “Chaperone” which will do its best to alert you to dangers near and far. As you approach the boundary of your designated Play Area you will be presented with a glowing blue grid that clearly and immediately indicates you should move back a few feet. This is built into every game that we have played and it has saved our delicate shins and handsome faces more times than we like to admit.

The HTC Vive also includes a front-facing camera on the headset that will alert you if your free-roaming toddler or curious dog enters the play space. Nothing is worse than tripping over something when you know nothing is there. It is like hitting black ice in your car, dangerous and unexpected so we are extremely glad they took this extra safety precaution.

Powerful Video Card not included – Ultimate Guide

For those considering investing in an HTC Vive, it is extremely important to understand that the HTC Vive is not a stand-alone unit, nor is it a gaming console like the XBox One or PlayStation 4. It will require a pretty powerful gaming PC that will set you back quite a few bucks if you are not already on the PC Gaming team. There are quite a few minimum specs that you will need to know. Please review the list below:

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480, equivalent or better

CPU

Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, equivalent or better

RAM

RAM: 4 GB or more - Recommend Kingston Hyper X

N

Video Output:

HDMI 1.4, DisplayPort 1.2 or newer

N

USB 2.0 or better

Required for use - every computer has this

N

Operating System

Windows 7 or better

What about Vive VR Games? – Ultimate Guide

Pick your poison, thanks to SteamVR, the options are nearly limitless. If you like shooting games, they have plenty. If you like adventure, be prepared to see the world of Fallout like never before. And the list keeps growing nearly every day. As more and more intrepid developers add VR modes to existing games or build completely new titles built specifically for HTC Vive and other VR systems, you will always have something just around the corner.

In addition to the full-fledged games on SteamVR, there are plenty of early access and tech demo offerings, which allow developers to try out new technologies or techniques without investing thousands in research and development, working with HTC Vive owners to shape features that work, and scrap those that do not.

Is this safe for Children? – Ultimate Guide

This is a tricky subject and one that we feel might be a decision best left to a parent. In the owners Health and Safety guidelines, it does specifically state “The product was not designed for use by children.” but even in the promotional videos, younger teenagers and pre-teens are seen enjoying the HTC Vive and its myriad content offerings.

Just like with any video game or technology, only a parent can decide if their child is ready for HTC Vive gameplay. A simpler answer might be: Children over 13 should be fine, just monitor their play time and energy levels as they do not have as much motor control as adults and might become disoriented easily, leading to falling or tripping. While this might damage your HTC Vive, it will most certainly damage a child.

Pro’s and Con’s

Pros

Best in Class Visuals

No matter what you play, it will be a feast for the eyes.

Immersion can be habit forming

Despite any complaints, we find ourselves thinking about playing more HTC Vive all the time. At work, at dinner, in bed. Literally all the time.

Cutting Edge Technology

Thanks to the complexity of the tracking systems, The HTC Vive is a one of a kind experience that will leave you breathing hard as you duck, dip, dive, and dodge to avoid projectiles in real time in the real world.

Cons

K

Heaviest thing on your face

Unquestionably heavy - This thing is cumbersome and can be a real strain to wear for prolonged periods

K

Complex Setup

Some assembly required - but to enthusiasts like us, it is worth every second.

K

Limited content

Limited selection of truly defining games, for now.

Is this Product Right for You – Ultimate Guide

Without a doubt, this product is an incredible breakthrough in immersion, taking gaming to entirely new places that few have ever experienced. We believe that every person with a passion for gaming will find something to love in the HTC Vive, but only you can make this decision for yourself.

If you do decide to buy – We recommend Amazon as the best place to currently buy as it provides the best possible price on the unit and almost everyone on earth is familiar with their website. If Amazon is not your thing, then you can also purchase directly from the HTC Vive website.