CES 2018: Hands-On With Vive Pro And Its Megapixel Upgrade

by Ian Hamilton • January 9th, 2018

HTC revealed the Vive Pro at CES this week and we went hands on with the upgraded headset in a pair of demos.

Games Editor David Jagneaux tried the Sansar Ready Player One experience and I tried a super high-end racing simulator by CXC Simulations. With a stated total resolution of 2880 x 1600, we found ourselves unsurprisingly very impressed by the crisp visuals in Vive Pro.

It’s hard to compare to the Samsung Odyssey since we didn’t have it on hand in Las Vegas for a side by side demo, but we confirmed with HTC the panels used in the Pro are Samsung OLEDs — so it seems likely the panels are the same ones used in the Odyssey. Both headsets provide visuals notably more crisp than Oculus Rift, and we believe Odyssey and Vive Pro have the best overall visuals we’ve seen in VR headsets yet.

According to HTC, the headset uses the same Fresnel lenses as the current Vive. The racing demo put together by CXC Simulations delivered what was easily the most immersive time I’ve ever had in the driver’s seat of a virtual car. A large part of that presence-inducing effect was the rig itself, which offered an incredible amount of haptic feedback.

The increased resolution, however, invited me to repeatedly marvel at the detail inside the car’s cabin. Small letters for various buttons on the steering wheel were very easy to read. Overall, I found myself less frequently noting the rings of the lenses compared with the current Vive and there’s a dramatically reduced screen door effect.

The headset fit well and we both noted the improved balance of the Vive Pro — with more weight in the head strap giving the impression of a lighter feel on the front of the face. David’s demo used 1.0 base stations and mine used 2.0 base stations — neither of us noted a single hiccup in tracking. We were both receiving instructions from outside VR so evaluating the sound quality is difficult, but David noted a comfier feel compared with the Vive’s Deluxe Audio Strap.

An HTC representative told us the system should have the same minimum specifications as the current Vive and we’re anxious to hear more details — especially price. The system is expected to sell alongside the original Vive throughout 2018 and will be available in Q1 this year as an “upgrade” option.

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  • Surykaty

    Megapixel upgrade sounds to me like a witty writer… oh god the language on a professional VR site (therefore such nitpicking.. call a spade a spade). The PPI is only 615 which is almost the PPI of Samsung S8 which is at 571. The real increase in perceived resolution (since the resoultion stays the same for both eyes – 2 displays) is only 35 percent (from 455 ppi).

    • Mithrandir

      I truly hope 2018 is the year you finally get laid

      • Surykaty

        😉

  • polysix

    They’ve really not heard of ergonomics or actual design over at HTC’s VR dept have they?

    A paltry extra few pixels aren’t going to offset the core problem with Vive (uber jankiness). Nah. Sold my vive, am fine with my rift till true gen 2.

    • Jonathan Mitchell

      It looks like the ergonomics of the Pro were “borrowed” from PSVR. Specifically the extendable scope and adjustable strap behind the head. You’re right about the design too. It still looks like a big hunk of black plastic.

      • Crunchy005

        It’s capable, with better screens and FOV as the article seems to suggest. Also they are offering a HDM only upgrade path. Can’t beat it at the moment. I just hope the HMD only price is right.

        • koenshaku

          I will consider upgrading once their wireless adapter is released. I don’t think my current tpcast will support the resolution bump on the vive pro.

          • Crunchy005

            Ya, I held off on the wireless TPCast because I knew Intel was working on something. I might do the same, upgrade to wireles and new HDM at the same time. In the meantime I need a GPU to come out at a normal price…

          • koenshaku

            Too bad I sold my GTX 1070 last month for $250 I would have offered you the deal.. ^^;

          • Mick Farrell

            I think you mean an abnormal price haha

        • John Cauthern

          One thing to note is there is no FOV increase. It’s still 110 degree FOV, which is….disappointing. They could have taken all my money if they could give me at least 150. I’m guessing they are saving a bunch of money by keeping the same form factor.

          • Crunchy005

            “Overall, I found myself less frequently noting the rings of the lenses compared with the current Vive and there’s a dramatically reduced screen door effect.” – O, ya I misread that. He was specifically talking about the optics. Although updated optics would be nice, the godrays aren’t always the most flattering thing.

        • Blinkwise

          hold onto your butt when the price is announced, HTC does not seem to want to compete price wise. They need bigger buckets to bail water out of their sinking ship.

          • Crunchy005

            I don’t know. They are offering an HMD only upgrade. Also the rift was basically the same price when it released. The issue was that the rift wasn’t selling until they make it plummet in price. I can’t imagine Facebook is making much of margin on those headsets. I already have a Vive so I only need the new HMD.

    • Crunchy005

      Still trying to justify your rift I see. Can’t wait for my HMD upgrade later this year. How goes the absolutely no real new hardware for rift going for you? We got Vive trackers, knuckle controllers are still on the horizon, new smaller and better lighthouses, still no need for USb cable runs, 2 wireless solutions this year, new higher res screens with new HMD. The rift has, software updates? I guess tpcast also works for the rift so there’s that I guess.

      • Justos

        those knuckle controllers DO look good, but lets not pretend that they are coming anytime soon. Oculus has the better ergonomics, lenses and motion controllers. Not to mention its price. Rift will continue to dominate while the vive pro will be for power users with more disposable income. HTC loves you guys!

        • leeleelee69

          To be honest who ever comes out with the best vr headset this year ill buy. HTC just upgraded the Vive nothing else and it was not what i had anticipated to come. PIMAX still has hiccups, but beats all on resolution,FOV and I don’t care if it comes from china there engineers are probably better than anyone else

          • Crunchy005

            HTC upgraded the HMD, the lighthouses, and have several wireless solutions to choose from. On top of that they have upgraded controllers on the way as well.

          • leeleelee69

            Ive got a vive and the worst thing is the resolution I want better

          • Crunchy005

            Ya, the vive pro has much higher resolution than the current vive. They are even going to offer a HMD only upgrade path, so you don’t also have to pay for the lighthouses, and controllers. The rift also came out with the same resolution screens and the PSVR was even lower. First gen VR wasn’t great resolution wise. That’s why the vive pro is great, an it works with all the older hardware for tracking and all that.

          • leeleelee69

            Thats great for the accessory’s. But I wanted 4k and a better FOV

          • Crunchy005

            3K should be fine, Pretty high pixel density. A wider FOV would be nice, I just don’t see much with the PIMAX ecosystem yet, and is the software even going to take advantage of what PIMAX can offer when Vive and rift are the main headsets out right now.

  • impurekind

    Nice

  • Crunchy005

    “An HTC representative told us the system should have the same minimum specifications as the current Vive” – Excited! I love the fact that it all works with the older hardware and they are offering a HMD only upgrade path…I do not regret going vive over Rift.

    • koenshaku

      You will be able to get by with most games with a GTX 1060 you will undoubtedly get reprojection with a GTX 970 in most games though which is the minimum spec for the Vive. Games like Arizona Sunshine on a GTX 1060 at least on the GTX 1060 in the surface book 2 got reprojection on the Samsung Odyssey, so I don’t expect this one to be any different.

      • Crunchy005

        Ya, I’m on a 970 right now. I plan to upgrade my GPu as soon as the prices are normal for more than 2 seconds…

        • koenshaku

          I know what you mean forsaken crypto currency farmers, sometimes you can find a good deal on an open box if you live near a Microcenter.

      • Fear Monkey

        Not sure what you mean by Reprojection on the GTX970? I havent seen that term before, can you explain?. I have a 970 myself but was waiting to get a PC VR system when I get a PC upgrade this year or next (have PSVR now)

        • Crunchy005

          Reprojection is the Vive’s name for when you drop below 90FPS. All VR games lock to 90FPS as that was the framerate that didn’t make everyone sick. So with reprojection if you drop below 90FPS it will render at 45FPS and repeat each frame to mimic 90FPS, an attempt at keeping VR sickness at bay for Framerate drops. They later implemented Asynchronous reprojection which instead of dropping to 45 and repeating each frame it will render the fastest it can and only repeat certain necessary frames. For example your framerate could drop to 60FPS and you only repeat 1 frame out of every 3 frames or something like that, depending on the current framerate below 90FPS. If you drop below 45 it’s just unplayable.

          • Fear Monkey

            Thank you for that explanation, It makes complete sense now 🙂 Sounds like the GTX970 is not the started VR card I thought it was. I wonder how the 1060 compares to the 970 in VR performance.

          • Crunchy005

            The 1060 is a slightly faster card, but it’s not worth the price to upgrade. If you were to upgrade go to at least a 1070 or better. My 970 handles pretty much everything I currently play in VR, and overclocked it does even better. The new 3K screens are a bit of a concern as that could be a big increase in load. We will see what happens when it comes out.

        • Jonas Madsen Rogne

          I used a GTX970 for my Vive, and it worked just fine. It is the minimum however, and it shows. You are stuck at minimum graphics for most games if you want a smooth experience. I wouldn’t expect it to perform well in Fallout though; but that’s more the game’s fault more than anything. 😉

          With a higher resolution, 3K, screen, I would expect the GTX970 to start to struggle to maintain 90 fps in many games.

          A 1070, or even better, a 1080 would help a lot.

        • koenshaku

          Exactly what crunchy said, the thing about it though in shooters it can effect your aiming because you can be shooting at something that has already moved along and you haven’t seen it yet as frames catch up.

  • minimay7

    ???

    I made a comment saying it’s more like Xiaomi being brought to Oculus than Oculus entering China.

    Why is that comment deleted?

    • Justos

      Maybe you replied on the wrong article ? this is about htc and the vive.

      • minimay7

        Ack! you are right. Silly me…

  • Yosarin Blake

    “we believe Odyssey and Vive Pro have the best overall visuals we’ve seen in VR headsets yet.” So these guys haven’t tried a Pimax 8k then?

    • perfectlyreasonabletoo

      Pimax has lower PPI therefore less clear

      • Yosarin Blake

        Are you sure? Have you tried it? I haven’t! 🙂 But I trust SweViver and Mixed Reality TV reviews of the Pimax 8k on Youtube which state that it has way smaller screendoor effect than vive one, plus much larger sweet spot, all this with the 200 degree FOV!

  • impurekind

    Some great upgrades here, and I just realized those are actual proper 3D headphones, which is a brilliant addition.

  • bunnyfreakz

    Same Fresnel lenses? I though they improved optic.

    • A.E. W

      This is a huge mistake if they did not improve the lenses. I own both the vive and rift. And having spent over 100 hrs in the rift then going back to the Vive to compare, the lenses become a huge difference. The vive lenses have an extremely small sweet spot compared to the rift. I found this evident playing my favorite flight sim. It was easy to see and read the gauges that were off center from the sweet spot. In the vive it was impossible because outside the small sweet spot everything is really blurry. I was also surprised with the much better clarity at a distance with rift head-on at the center of the sweet spot, vive did not come close.

      Let me make this clear, I am no oculus fanboi. I don’t like facebook and oculus because of their business practices and their botched launch of the rift but their product is still superior to the current crop of hmd’s.

      • John Malon

        Yeah this is perhaps my biggest disappointment with my Vive – anything in my periphery is pretty blurry. A resolution increase is good, but I’d much rather have the current resolution (and field of view) with better visual fidelity. I had hoped flexible/curved OLED screens might fix this, but maybe better optics can. I’ve not tried the Rift.

  • moranmike127

    I’m curious why theses new headsets are still stuck at 110 fov ? is it because the tech is not there yet , or the industry is just milking it for profit ?..