HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift With Touch – Which Is The Better Roomscale Experience?

by David Jagneaux • December 5th, 2016

“My feet, arms, and legs are so sore,” I tell my wife over dinner. She laughs and tells me I haven’t left home, gone to the gym, or done anything other than write and play VR games the past few days. “I know,” I tell her. “That’s the point.”

Playing roomscale VR games is exhilarating, immersive, and downright exhausting. Punching discs back and forth in games of Ripcoil, reaching the far corners of the room for hours on end to put the tracking sensors through their paces, ducking and crouching during shootouts in Dead & Buried, killing hundreds of zombies in Arizona Sunshine, and trying to set a new home run record in VR Sports Challenge — these are all things that feel real when you do them in VR.

After spending over a week putting the Oculus Rift with Touch through its paces, and re-testing many aspects of the HTC Vive itself, I’ve come away a more conditioned, sore, and seasoned gamer than I was previously. Obviously I’ve spent a lot of time in VR before this, but it’s usually much more sporadic and with lengthy breaks. This past weekend, I may have spent just as much time in VR as I did doing anything else.

For reference, here is our original Oculus Rift review, HTC Vive review, and Oculus Touch controllers review.

The HTC Vive originally released back in April of this year. From day one, it has enabled keyboard and mouse, gamepad, or motion controllers for input methods, as well as seated, standing, and roomscale tracking in your play space. The Oculus Rift, by comparison, released a few days earlier, but only permitted keyboard and mouse, gamepad  or a simple remote input method, as well as seated or standing tracking. There were no motion controllers and no roomscale options at all. That’s all about to change.


What is Roomscale VR?

You might be wondering what exactly is roomscale VR? Essentially, roomscale tracking means that you’re able to move around an entire room freely, without the game, headset, sensors, or anything else losing track of your location. This means turning around and walking away from your computer, crawling on the ground, reaching up in the air, crouching behind something in the virtual world, and any other type of free-form interaction. This has been a feature of the HTC Vive since day one.

Conversely, with the Oculus Rift you could stand or sit in front of your single camera while it tracked your headset, but that’s it. If you leaned over too far, the camera would lose track of you. You couldn’t move laterally across the room or do anything other than remain stationary with slight head movement. It was still an immersive virtual reality experience, but was far from the fully-capable roomscale immersion that many people were yearning for.



How Does Roomscale VR Work?

The HTC Vive enables this through the use of its lighthouse base stations. They work by invisibly sweeping lasers across your entire room and tracking the headset and controllers by way of the little concave sensors you see spread across the surfaces of the devices. In order to use the Vive at all, you set up a base station up in each opposite corner of your room. This allows them to see and track the full area, in real-time, regardless of what you’re doing or which direction you’re facing.

Until now, the Oculus Rift wasn’t really capable of matching this feature. But with the flexibility afforded by multiple Rift sensors on the same setup, that’s starting to change. When you purchase the Oculus Touch controllers for about $200, they come with a second sensor. This expands the trackable space laterally, as you place them on opposite sides of your desk. Now you can reach out with your hands, and move around your room a bit without having any real issues. However, even then, it’s still a mostly 180-degree experience. Turn all the way around or go too far to either side and the sensors will lose track of parts of you eventually.

But if you get a third sensor and enable the Rift’s “experimental” roomscale tracking, then you can finally access true roomscale. A third sensor is available for approximately $80 before tax and shipping and it includes a 5 meter extension cable. You place this third sensor at the back of your playspace, which enables it to see you when turned around, and can access up to an 8×8 feet space. This is still much smaller than the ideal maximum of the HTC Vive.

This comparison — the complete HTC Vive experience vs. a Rift with three sensors and the Touch controllers — is the primary focus of this article. If you want to know what we think about the Touch controllers vs. the Vive controllers, then you can read that here. Spoiler: we like the Oculus Touch controllers better.


Roomscale Setup: Vive vs. Rift

When setting up your roomscale environment, the Rift and the Vive differ quite a bit. For the Vive, you plug your headset into the breakout box with clearly labeled ports, then plug that box into the back of your PC with a USB port, an HDMI cord, and then into a power outlet. That powers your headset. Make sure your controllers are charged up, then set those aside. Now you have to place your lighthouses, above head level, in opposite corners of the room. It can be a bit tricky depending on what’s in the room, but they can be easily wall-mounted, which is recommended for stability and accuracy. Just angle them downward toward the center of your room and you’re good to go. All they require is a single power outlet for each. For inevitable firmware updates, you’ll have to plug devices into your PC directly.

Now you go through the SteamVR setup process, including the room setup, which will allow you to set the floor orientation and outline the trackable environment by walking around the perimeter of your room. Once you’re done, everything should work well. The thick wire that goes from your headset to the breakout box is frustrating, but you get used to it eventually. To make sure you did it all correctly, I’d highly recommend reading the official documentation.

Rift Room-scale

For the Oculus Rift with three sensors and the Touch controllers, we found setup to be a bit more complex. For starters, the Rift itself plugs into the PC in a very similar fashion — with a USB port and HDMI cable. Then you’ve also got to plug in both — or in the case of roomscale, all three — of your tracking sensors. Instead of using power outlets, they must each go into a USB port. This means a lot of cords and at least one USB extender for that pesky third sensor in the corner. It also means getting out a tape measure to make sure your playspace is setup correctly, which can be frustrating and lead to rearranging furniture. The default presentation of each Rift sensor is on a short stand with a platform at the bottom, rather than the lighthouse’s cube design, which is more adaptable for mounting.

Once everything is plugged in, the setup process that the Oculus SDK walks you through isn’t fully functional for a three sensor roomscale setup, which resulted in us skipping some steps because it wasn’t registering things correctly all the time. Luckily, it all worked fine even after skipping those. If you want to run Steam/Vive games with the Rift and Touch, then we recommend going through the Oculus SDK setup process first, then launching Steam VR and running its roomscale setup afterward. You can read the official documentation here about the experimental tracking.

In both cases, the setup process isn’t simple and has a lot of steps that could get messed up or take well over a half hour to an hour to get everything right. I hope you started downloading games and apps before trying to set either headset up. Ultimately though, the Vive setup process is easier, with less cords, and more flexibility.

steamvr setup image

Roomscale Size: Vive vs. Rift

Our Vive-powered mixed reality capture studio at the Upload Collective is a fairly large space of approximately 8 ft. x 13 ft. The minimum play space recommended on the product website is 6 ft. 6in. x 5 ft. with a maximum  of 11 ft. 5 in. x 11 ft. 5 in., however we found expanding as far as 13 ft. in either direction was supported during testing.  The only bottleneck in this was was really the range of the base stations and, to a lesser degree, the length of the cable.

With the Vive, since the headset cable connects to a breakout box that then connects to an outlet and your PC, the permitted length that your headset can extend is quite lenient. Whether we were rolling on the ground, walking the full length of the entire play space, or even standing on chairs to simulate extreme height, there were never any issues with tracking. The same goes for a smaller, minimum-sized roomscale setup for Vive.


The Oculus Rift roomscale size has a few more variables. When using two sensors, the Rift asks you to set them up anywhere from 3-7 ft. apart, on your desk, in front of your monitor or wherever you want your front-facing orientation to be. For most people, that will be on either end of their desk. But when you add a third sensor into the mix, it gets a bit more complex. Now Oculus recommends those first two sensors to be approximately 8 ft. apart, and the third should be 13 ft. away from the left sensor, in the diagonal corner of the room. This will permit an 8 x 8 ft. playspace, which makes the recommended maximum for Rift with Touch and three sensors just a couple of feet larger than the recommended minimum for the Vive.

However, we found that this space limitation is mostly artificial. By spreading that third sensor out farther and moving the two main sensors a bit further apart, we were able to get closer to 9 ft. or 10 ft. tracking in either direction. The limitation here being the cords themselves and the range of the sensors. The optimal tracking space occurs in the center of the play area, so just because you can expand the camera distance doesn’t necessarily mean the tracking will be as effective throughout the room. Keeping it to the recommended space will afford the best results.

The most frustrating aspect is, once again, the cord length. Since the Rift has to plug directly into the PC without a breakout box, wrapping around to the back of most towers to get to USB and HDMI, you’re already shrinking the cord length as a result, plus it’s shorter than the Vive’s already. Even though the third sensor could be moved a bit, we found that anything farther than 9 ft. away from the tower wasn’t plausible. Plus, the third sensor needs an extension cord to even reach that far.


Roomscale Tracking: Vive vs. Rift

But the real question — regardless of tech tech, setup process, or room size — is how well does it work? In the case of the HTC Vive, it’s about as flawless as we could expect. Since the base stations bathe the room in lasers over and over to track the controllers and your headset on a consistent basis, it hardly ever loses track of where you are. They’re elegant, simple, and effective. Plus, you never need more than two to cover the entire room itself.

The Rift on the other hand is bit more finicky. Once the sensors are in their ideal places, perfectly angled, and at exactly the correct recommended distance, everything works the same as the Vive. It tracks movement around the room, we were able to lay on the ground, stand on chairs, and do pretty much anything we’d ever need to do in a roomscale experience. The added sensor all but eliminates the possibility of occlusion for either of the Touch controllers.

But the sticking point here is once they were set up perfectly. It’s more difficult to mount the Oculus sensors, and any variation in height or angle seemed to really throw a wrench into the entire process. When it works, it works, but it required jumping through a few more hoops to get there.


Final Verdict: HTC Vive

Ultimately, if you’re looking for the better roomscale VR experience, then the HTC Vive is still the way to go. Setting aside the content questions (the Rift enables both Oculus Home and Steam VR games and applications, the Vive is limited to just Steam without a hack) and just focusing on the roomscale capabilities renders a clear edge to the HTC Vive, even after the Touch controllers are out and you purchase an extra sensor on top of that. For Vive, you get it all for $799. For Rift, you need the headset ($599), the Touch controllers and second sensor ($199) and a third sensor ($80). That comes out to approximately $100 more for a comparable, but still slightly inferior, roomscale experience.

The frustrating cord length, abundance of USB ports and extra cables, added price tag for a third sensor, and finicky tracking precision all add up to the Oculus Rift still not quite measuring up to the relative ease and simplicity of roomscale VR through the HTC Vive. It’s also worth noting that the entire prospect of roomscale VR was something that HTC coined with the creation of the Vive and for a piece of technology that wasn’t and still isn’t primarily designed to offer such an experience, the Rift is more than capable.

The experiences are now very close to one another, though, and the Touch controllers are better devices as a whole, but we still prefer the Vive’s lighthouse base stations over the Rift’s camera sensors. The HTC Vive should be your choice to enable VR in larger rooms with its less expensive system and simpler setup. But the Rift still offers a great roomscale experience, especially for smaller or medium-sized spaces, plus a better input solution with the Oculus Touch controllers.

What has your experience been with the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift in roomscale VR environments? Which headset do you prefer? And which controller do you think is better? Let us know in the comments below!

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What's your reaction?
  • OkinKun

    “It’s more difficult to mount the Oculus sensors, and any variation in height or angle seemed to really throw a wrench into the entire process”
    No it’s not. They use the SAME tripod mounting screw, and even include their own table stands.. And “any variation in height or angle” tends to break the HTC tracking too, and requires recalibration, both systems share that aspect of tracking setup. You shouldn’t need to move them once setup.
    Why the hell point these things out, as if they have any impact on the Rift’s room-scale ease. What nonsense. You’re CLEARLY struggling to find justifications for your choice.
    A 3 camera setup can manage roughly a 10ftx10ft space with the same level of tracking accuracy as the Vive, it’s only limited by cable length, and even that is extendable a bit. Plus the vast majority of in-bedroom VR consumers aren’t going to have more than 8ftx8ft for VR anyway, and that’s plenty to enjoy almost anything in VR.
    If this article is ONLY looking at room-scale capabilities, and pure size is the most important factor, then sure, the Vive wins that. But if you consider hardware design and comfort, hand-presence and finger-tracking and overall controller design, and the fact that most people don’t have the space to take advantage of the Vive’s extra space ability anyway.. The Rift + Touch comes out as a narrow winner IMO.

    • This is totally fair and I can see that conclusion for sure. I know a lot of people that setup Vives in their living rooms instead of a game room, office, or bedroom simply for the extra space. Ultimately, we found the Vive was better as a ROOMSCALE device, it was designed for that after all. But you’re right — Touch is much better than the wands. It really just come down to your priorities.

    • Kelborn Sinclair

      My vive lighthouse sensors are on a carboard tube and a bookshelf, no mounting hardware at all. They get knocked around, sometimes I even reposition them a little between sessions. I never have to re-calibrate anything, and my tracking is always perfect. The worst that happens is a short blank screen after I accidentally disturb their platforms. After it “regains it’s composure”, the game is back to normal after a couple seconds. No problem.

      • Tako Schotanus

        Not sure if you’re just lucky or we aren’t, but we have two Vives in our house and a slight movement of any lighthouse results in a noticeable discrepancy between the controller’s viewed and real positions for us. When calibrated correctly the virtual and real controllers overlap perfectly, a millimeter or 2 of difference at most. When nudged just the tiniest of bits the difference grows to centimeters easily and running room setup again becomes necessary (btw, ours are now firmly fixed and have been running just fine for months)

      • Aaron Johnson

        Ditto, I find the vive to be very forgiving.

    • Nicholas

      The point is that the Rift is very sensitive to the camera position and angle due to the limited vertical fov of the cameras. The camera views have to overlap correctly. With the Vive, the lighthouses sweep a 120 degree arc on both axes so you’re pretty much guaranteed a complete overlap if you place them in opposite corners of the room. With both systems you’d need to recalibrate if you move them.

      The HTC wands can at least be replaced and upgraded (and hopefully we’ll see the updated Touch-like Vive controllers next year if we’re lucky). The tracking technology implemented by each solution however can’t – I’d rather have the better tracking in place if I’m going to be spending upwards of $800 on a room-scale system. That, coupled with the fact that Valve/HTC are moving forward with a wireless tether module early next year puts the Vive quite far ahead IMO.

    • Mike McLin

      The best part is when you say “If this article is ONLY looking at room-scale capabilities”… LOL. Read the title. That is what this is. A roomscale comparison article. So, basically, you agree with the author. You think Vive roomscale is better, and Rift touch controls are better (which he states in his controller comparison article).

    • Ethan

      If anything this article is way too easy on the Rift. The roomscale experience is not “slightly inferior” to the Vive’s, it is just plain inferior and the author basically disagreed with himself in making that statement (pointing out all the huge flaws in Rift’s roomscale experience and then calling it “slightly inferior”).

      Now to respond to your erroneous comments:
      1) you are dead wrong about variation in height or angle breaking Vive tracking. You can place them just about anywhere at about any angle and they will work, PERIOD. I have a portable Vive setup I take with me to offices and homes and have mounted them in quite a few different heights and angles and they never once failed to track. Rift can’t do that.

      2) I can easily do a 10ft x 10ft space with Vive, cord length and tracking is no problem at all. (In fact my play space is a modest 10ft x 13ft). But IF you have the right conditions 10ft x 10ft is the max with the Rift and you are pushing it with cord length and tracking PLUS you need a room that is at least 13ft x 13ft to even do 10ft x 10ft. But the Vive can 10×10 in a 10×10 room.

      3) please tell me why you are talking about “in-bedroom” gamers? This isn’t a child’s toy, Vive is for adults. I don’t know any adults that game in their bedrooms, even just normal console or PC gaming. So 8ft x 8ft is very tiny and most roomscale games on the Vive (which is most roomscale games period) do not work well at all with such a small space. Seated games, sure. Roomscale, not so much.

      I sold my Rift for a reason after I got my Vive. It has a few “nice-to-haves” over the Vive, but I just plain didn’t enjoy it anywhere close to my Vive, which I still use every single day since April. Hands-down Vive is a superior product, for LESS money and easier to use, it’s not even a narrow margin.

      • OkinKun

        LOL Give me a break.. Your gripes with what I said are silly nonsense, and say nothing about how good the hardware is, or how it compares to Vive.
        The Rift HMD is better designed, lighter, more comfortable, better visual quality. Most people will agree. And the controllers are smaller, better shaped for predicting your hands, more buttons, extra button-states for finger-gestures, thumbsticks.. etc.
        Clearly the Rift + Touch is a better system. My point was, the few extra feet you can get with Vive, do NOT matter, and most people cannot use them. Most games even on Vive are only really standing games anyway.
        And whatever, nevermind about the Tracking-recalibration. I guess I remember wrong, when devs were talkin about it with me months ago. lol

        • Ethan

          Thank you for admitting you are wrong about tracking. That’s a start, but your problem is you keep making statements based on your fanboy for Rift. But your opinions do not stand up against facts, as i clearly pointed out above. And here’s another fact you got wrong: “Most games even on Vive are only really standing games anyway.”

          WRONG. Take a look at steam store. There are 700 games/experiences/demos with “roomscale” tags. There are less games with “standing” tag. Let me repeat that: SEVEN HUNDRED.

          So what can you say? “Your gripes with what I said are silly nonsense”. Yep, exactly what i
          thought. Spoken like someone who has no facts to refute what I said. And
          talking about touch controllers may change the subject for you, but it
          does not make anything you said true. The MANY extra sq feet you can get
          in ROOMSCALE games DOES matter.

          If you had a real roomscale VR system like Vive, you would know that.

          • OkinKun

            Yeah 700, mostly garbage unfinished demos. I can come up with a really impressive list of Oculus Touch games, or even good gamepad games. Heck, Touch is launching with over 50 games, and roughly half are new Touch only games.
            Are you seriously insisting that the Rift + Touch isn’t a “real roomscale VR system”? Because that’s as wrong as my comment about the sensor calibration. lol
            Forget what Oculus says on paper.. I can setup my 2 cameras on opposite sides of the 9x9ft space I have in my room, and EASILY play almost every single Vive game on SteamVR. I can crawl around on the floor with my setup, going from corner to corner, works fine. I can get up and walk around and turn 360. Why insist that’s not room-scale?

            Sure, it’s not a garage/basement sized room-scale setup, but it’s still PLENTY for what the average consumer will care about, and I can only think of 1 Vive game, that requires the max Vive space, the rest all work with what the Rift can do, size wise.

          • bunnyfreakz

            You just try hard bash Vive, it’s so funny.

          • Ethan

            You said “most games are standing”. I show you that is factually incorrect. Now you claim they don’t count cuz “they are garbage unfinished demos”. Spoiler alert: most PC games on Steam are garbage, VR or not. So if you think that deflects from yet another wrong statement
            from you, guess again. For one thing: if you actually read the list of games you will see a good number of them are actual, polished games that are released, about to be released, or coming in 2017.

            How many of those 50 Touch games are AAA titles? None. And guess what else? At least a third of them are Vive games that Rift needs to count as “Touch” games. Vive launched with over 100 roomscale titles. What does that tell you about how “roomscale” ready Rift is?

            And please go ahead and try to play SPT with your 2 camera setup. You will remember this post as the bitter realization you are wrong becomes crystal clear. You will also realize 9×9 is just above the *minimum* play space for roomscale and you WILL want more – just like all the other people you’re trying to speak for. But, you are at your max because your HMD cord is only 13ft which, unless you put your PC right at the edge of your play space, you’ve used 2-3ft of cord just to get into your 9×9 space and you’ve used almost the rest of that length to get to the other side of your 9ft space. Seems to me your math on how “easily” you can play in that space is a little off my friend. You do remember I owned a Rift right? So who do you think you’re fooling?

          • Matt Bellamy

            SPT plays pretty well with two Constellation trackers if they are spaced apart appropriately. I’ve done it.

          • Ethan

            “Plays pretty well” (in what size area?) is not the same as “flawlessly”, which is what it does on the Vive. Notice I am not saying Rift is terrible, I’m saying it is not on the same level as a system that was designed for roomscale. Claiming otherwise is just plain misleading.

          • Vidman321

            I do realize I am replying pretty late on this post but oculus touch release had i think 4 or 5 AAA titles the most successful being the Unspoken from Insomniac Games the creators of Ratchet & Clank.

          • Aaron Hillaker

            I have a nice little set-up right now. 3×3 meters. My Touch is due in a few hours. I’m so fucking excited. Like. Who cares? Just enjoy what you have and let it be done.

          • Sebastien Mathieu

            agreed, you’ll like them the touch are great… but, buy a third sensor I assure you you’ll need one….

          • Aaron Hillaker

            Just a little late to the party, pal…

          • Vidman321

            Right now I have about a 6X5 setup and I think that it is phenominal, peoplekeep talking about how an extra 2 or 3 feet makes a huge difference but I cant think about how it could possibly be better.I originally played in a 3X3 space so you should have a great time, I would try to angle the cameras for floor tracking if possible though, playing dead and buried without is possible but quite difficult.

          • Aaron Hillaker

            Yeah I’ve got all 3 (soon to be 4) cameras a good foot above my head on the walls and tracking is overall quite good. Biggest issue is that my room is not rectangular, but rather oddly shaped, so I get some weird occlusion due to stepping into the part of my room that branches off strangely from the rest. Should be better once I get a fourth camera. I do, however, think that maybe the Vive’s tracking solution is better than the Rift’s. Doesn’t matter tho, cuz the touch is 100x better than the wands.

      • James Friedman

        Have you tried it yet fanboy? Just cause you owned the Rift that means nothing. We are talking about touch. Completely separate. Most people are not going to have the space that you think they will. Developers are going to make games for what people can play. Some will go crazy with it and allow you to walk over and pick something up 15ft away but not many. Just STFU and enjoy your toy.

        • Ethan

          Ah. Another Oculus fanboy who has no facts, just insults and assumptions. The article is not about Touch internet-tough-guy. Come back to me when you got something relevant to an article about ROOMSCALE.

          • James Friedman

            Guess what, you can walk an extra 3.3ft go blow yourself in the corner.

          • Ethan

            Yep. Exactly what I thought. You got nothing.

          • Patrick Bradley

            Don’t agree with your argument however this comment actually made me laugh 😛

        • Sebastien Mathieu

          I have the two platform, and the vive tracking is WAY easier to get going in a room scale minding or even 360 degree standing play (try Arizona sunshine without a third sensor…) the rift it’s an hassle to setup, you have to plug the sensors in USB port and you have to use extention cables, and they cause problems (tracking degradation)+ the headset cable is WAY TO SHORT….

      • Matt Bellamy

        Hey Ethan, I’m developing a game for Vive and for Touch and I’ve had access to both platforms for over a year. So..
        1) I believe the previous comment was talking about variation in height AFTER you’ve already done the room setup. In my experience, the Rift sensors are actually more forgiving for being bumped or moved AFTER setup. If the Vive sensors move out of position then I absolutely MUST reset my room-scale tracking volume entirely and redraw the boundary. With Touch, the sensors can move a few inches or change rotation a few degrees and the tracking volume stays level and mostly in the original placement. I think these are actually software issues and not just hardware issues, Vive software may be able to account for post-setup movement of sensors, but it seems to me like Oculus is already doing some of that work behind the scenes with Rift. Obviously both setups are dynamic and can have immense variations in height and width for an initial placement. So the last sentence in section 1 is wrong, Rift CAN handle variable initial placement of sensors.
        2) Yes, you get a fuller tracking volume more easily with Vive. Folks who are more serious about wanting room-scale experiences will probably want to pick up that extra Constellation sensor on Rift.
        3) I’m an adult, and I play plenty of room-scale experiences in my bedroom. I know many other adults who also have various VR setups in their bedrooms. In fact, pretty much every other developer or friend I know with a VR headset has the setup in their bedroom. While Onward or other intense room-scale experiences may not be best for a smaller tracking space, there is still an immense amount of fantastic VR content on the horizon and already here that really is just cool because of 360 motion controller tracking, not necessarily because of the large space. I made this realization before the details on the Constellation room-scale tracking were made clear. It’s just that people find value in different places, and I think with VR as a whole, it’s really 360-motion controller tracking that is the huge leap forward. Being able to go prone in Onward is incredible and also is showing us a glimpse of the future, but I personally have no fears for Oculus moving forward. Both are great systems.

        I think you enjoy your Vive because motion controllers are insane and room-scale is insane. I do think the Touch controllers have a lot more utility than the Vive wands, and that Oculus’ effort on great software is on point. I think now that Touch is out, Oculus can become an even more exciting platform than what Vive. Will it? Who knows. But it doesn’t matter, for consumers it’s great that both exist.

        Oh, and your last point for easier to use, I’m not sure how well that holds. Steam is a complex system for newcomers, and VR is introducing a lot of new people to gaming in general. Oculus Home is really well designed and is simple to use, plus they’re building in easy ways for people to make avatar’s and become friends with one another in VR. I know that of course Valve already has an ecosystem for social, and I’m positive SteamVR and Vive will continue to be large and successful, but I am happy to see Oculus try hard to make the platform accessible so that more people can get in on VR. Heck, Oculus introduced AWS and significantly lowered the initial cost barrier to entry. I think anyone in VR should be excited by a move like that. Both sides have interesting things going on.

        • Ethan

          Before I begin, let me bring to your attention that i was responding to someone who claimed: A) The article was too tough on the Rift’s ease of setup. B) any variation in height or angle” tends to break the HTC tracking C) 8ftx8ft is plenty to enjoy almost anything in VR, which is what most bedroom gamers have, as if bedroom gamers make up the vast majority of VR owners. and D) Overall the Rift is a better system since most people don’t have space to take advantage of Vive’s roomscale advantages.

          My response was to show how very clearly he was making things up based on his bias. I was not Rift-bashing. The Vive has clear and undeniable advantages with roomscale over the Rift, and to say otherwise is just plain not telling the truth.

          Now to answer your points.

          1) Author’s comments were talking about Rift sensor SETUP being more finicky, not about bumping it afterwards. That was what i was referring to, and my comment still holds true. Vive setup is far more versatile working with just about any play space.

          2) Fanboy claimed Rift roomscale is as good as Vive, contrary to everything the author mentioned and also contrary to actual facts. In what world does paying extra for a sensor – for a system that was never designed for roomscale and whose parent company has repeatedly said so – make it a better roomscale system than one that was designed for it from the beginning and whose hardware gives a better experience considering size of play space, ease of setting up hardware, and ample cord length? That’s what I was replying to and I’m sorry but your response does not address that the Rift’s roomscale is an afterthought and the experience definitely reflects that fact.

          3) No apologies but if you’re gaming in your bedroom and your bedroom isn’t as big as a living room, than you want a seated experience, not roomscale. Roomscale NEEDS a large play area, larger than Rift can offer at its best. I have tried playing in a smaller play space and it completely blows. Once i made room for 10×13 space, the experience was almost like night and day. And I’m making plans to do closer to 12×15.

          4) My point on ease of use stands because I was not referring to Steam, I was referring to the Vive being easier to use for the reasons the author points out in the article. (btw you should know Rift users need to use Steam as well).

          Oculus practices exclusives and that is the EXACT opposite of making a platform accessible. It is bad for gaming in general, and it is especially repulsive to us PC gamers.

          One last footnote: the other Rift fanboy James Friedman is having a horrible time with Oculus and getting his touch controllers. So he’s yet another fanboy who doesn’t even know what roomscale is like for either system yet, but sure knows Rift is better and no one can say any different. I, otoh, am merely correcting false fanboy claims with actual facts regarding the subject of the article: ROOMSCALE.

          • Matt Bellamy

            You have a ton of fair points. I think the real debate here is what is an adequate size for roomscale. You seem very adamant that a certain size is necessary for a good experience. I think for some games that’s absolutely true, like Onward. An experience like Space Pirate Trainer is much, much better with a larger space-though it’s not as bad as Onward is with a smaller space. I think room-scale size is not equally important for all experiences. If you have the space for a larger tracking volume it is of course going to be awesome and add a lot of value to your overall experiences, but I think at a point it becomes more luxury that necessity. Seriously, a lot of the existing Vive content can be enjoyed deeply even in a 7×5 foot space. This isn’t a justification for Oculus by the way, I’m plainly talking about the different setups I’ve used and experienced the Vive with. If I could, would I rather use a larger space? Absolutely. But I’m also very happy with the amount of roomscale space I have considering the convenience of my living situation.

            I do think it’s hard to judge Oculus so harshly when the Touch controllers are themselves incredibly successful, and Oculus has done a lot else to push software forward. Each company has smart people making innovations that outdo the other, and it’s going to be fun seeing the progression.

    • Chippah

      Vive will have better controllers soon though,

  • Paulo

    Vive was built for roomscale. Oculus has its advantages but it’s not roomscale. Hand presence, better hardware and polished software. I did not buy a rift + touch for roomscale , it’s just an added bonus being able to play steam games.

    How about instead of focusing on HTC’s roomscale term we focus on both devices as a whole now that they are released. Vive has a larger tracking space but the rifts multiple advantages are better IMO. Roomscale is not the end all be all of VR and to be quite honest real hand presence is a bigger game changer than taking more than one step in game with a tether.

    • Touch is fantastic for sure. Really hope something along that form factor becomes the standard down the line.

      • mirak

        I guess you have seen the Steam VR new prototypes.

        • Sure have. But those are prototypes. Until something is commercially available, it’s not going to factor into our reviews and comparison. We have hands-on reports about them on the site already from Dev Days.

          • slikk66

            Sure, they may have better controllers now, but they had an extra 9 months to make them. Also, the chance of seeing other types of controllers coming out for rift are slim, but virtually guaranteed for vive with hundreds of developers already using the tech to create their own. Only a small matter of time. Oh, and wireless vive for $200 if you want it.

    • Xanoxis

      “”IMO”” it really depends what you prefer. Touch is not objectively better, it’s subjectively better according to you. Roomscale with no worries about tracking or space is far more important for immersion than “hand presence” that still can be simulated on Vive, and sooner than later will be on next controllers. Try to play Penumbra VR in small room with only 180*. You will hit boundaries, you will lose tracking, and it will be far from immersive.

      • Vidman321

        Penumbra has VR support!?! Also, many Oculus users have moved their sensors to certain positions to have something along the lines of 300 degrees of movement if they only have two sensors. no oculus user would buy a game that needs 360 if they don’t have it. (i have two censors right now and am doing 360)

    • AJ Henderson

      Having used touch, the “hand presence” was more of a nuisance than an aid. The controls were small and uncomfortable if you have large hands and trying to make them do the gesture you wanted was exceptionally unnatural. While the Vive controls might be able to benefit from being more ergonomic, doing so would require different sizes of them for different people. The simplicity and utility of the control system on the Vive controls is their biggest strength, and in actual usage, they are far preferable to the Touch controls from my use of both.

      • Nashoba Darkwolf

        Damn your hands must be 3XL because I have 2xl hands and the controllers fit just fine in mine. Not too small in the least. Also found the exact opposite of what you are complaining about. The hand presence was quite accurate with me and worked quite well for the handful of games I have. Sounds like a bunch of salt and nothing more. Oh and before you go off on me never using the vive: I use both interchangeably. Touch is superior to the wands. Now waiting for the new controllers HTC has in the pipeline. Those would be a better comparison to base off.

        • AJ Henderson

          Honestly not salty. I’m glad it worked for you, I’m just offering my honest feedback from demoing it. I have mentioned in most posts that I was uncertain if the hand presence would get better as I got used to it, but also stick on the point that in terms of the best initial experience for people, if it isn’t immediately natural, it will be less natural to new people trying it. And yes, my hands really are quite massive. I can reach from the left ctrl on a full size keyboard all the way to the =/+ key. They were not uncomfortable, but they were certainly less comfortable and natural feeling than the Vive wands for me.

  • wheeler

    Nice comparison. Looking forward to the new steam controllers so we can have the best of both worlds.

    • Those things look quite interesting. 2017 is gonna be crazy!

    • Psycold

      Plus there is already a wireless solution for the Vive.

      • Sebastien Mathieu

        Can’t wait to test this!!!

  • Trooper

    I own a Vive and I love it, but I would also like to eventually get a Rift and PSVR so I can have the very best that all three platforms can offer. No one platform is greater than the others, each has its own highlights and pitfalls. I found the Vive extremely easy to set up and I had it running in around 20 minutes which for a disabled guy isn’t so bad. I love the roomscale that the Vive offers but I also like the way the Rift controllers look and I am quite jealous of a good few of the PSVR’s exclusive games.

    All in all there is no clear winner at all, they are all great in their own right and the only thing that is really needed now in VR is complete cross-platform gameplay over every VR title available so that Rift, Vive, PSVR and Mobile VR owners can all play in the virtual world together (obviously due to some hardware limits the Mobile guys would need to rework a few titles to get them to work on that particular platform).

    • Pizza the hut

      Yea, all 3 really seem to have one thing the others lack. Ver 2.0 for all headsets should be pretty interesting.

      HTC: has simpler setup, room scale and $100 cheaper

      Oculus: has superior build quality, software/game integration and better controllers

      Sony: is the most affordable. The hat like wearable design is more comfortable and lends itself to being more accessible.

      My prediction is they all at least *offer something like sonys wearable hat design. The straps are not going to entice non-hardcore gamers and that has been the biggest reason why people have said “no thanks” when i’ve offered them to try it out my oculus. Same thing goes for being wired, the wire has to go if you’re doing room scale.

      *Note I said offer, not change to exclusively or only that. Having the straps is more “immersive” but it also has its cons (ie still being able to see the floor, fogging up/grease on lenses, messing up hair if you have long hair). Same thing with the wire, having wireless capability if only of an hour would be real nice.

    • KimplE

      You are da real Trooper that fights for better future of VR. I salute you.

      • Trooper

        Yes, follow me loyal denizens of VR and together we shall make VR affordable to everyone …….. 😀

  • Tako Schotanus

    “For inevitable firmware updates, you’ll have to plug devices into your PC directly.”

    This is incorrect, they update wirelessly just fine

    • Good to know, never did it that way! I’ll adjust 🙂

      • Tako Schotanus


        The first time I had to update I thought: “what? how on earth am I going to do that? Do I have to unmount them to be able to connect them?? Should I buy a *very* long USB cable? (Still I’d need to get on a ladder to be able to connect them)”… when I found out they just updated wirelessly I was very relieved 😉

  • Jeremiah

    Just a small point, the latest version of the Vive doesn’t have a thick cable anymore.

    • Thong Phan

      Yup, you can order the replacement 3in1 cable on the Vive accessories page for $45 ea. Ordered two last month and they were both the new single cable

      • Nicholas

        You were very lucky – I ordered one about three weeks ago and got the thick cable.

      • Jeremiah

        And if you buy a Vive now you get that new cable as well, at least most do, they have some old stock I suspect.

  • Chris M

    Setup time/complexity might be a consideration for those that want to move their roomscale VR experience around. I have had the Vive since May and have really enjoyed bringing it to friends’ and families’ homes. Takes me about 20-30 minutes to set up.

  • Darrell Griffin

    I really appreciate your breakdowns of both products. I have been trying to decide between Rift + Touch and the Vive, and getting an unbiased review is really difficult. That’s before any comments sections with fanboys in them, which clouds the issue further.

    From what I gather after researching this for a few weeks, is that the Vive is the better system while the Rift currently has better games and apps (while reluctantly playing catch up on hardware).

    I am reminded of when I got the Sega Saturn over something else back in the day. Lesson learned.

    I started out wanting to get the Rift + Touch, but my gut keeps saying “meh”. The only plus I see at this point for the Rift + Touch are the included titles and Xbox One controller. $100 worth of “free” stuff negated by having to buy a 3rd sensor.

  • Yore VR

    This is pretty much exactly what we experienced as well. I think the reality is, at least it is on our team, that you are going to have to make some Rift specific considerations when porting systems over from the Vive to the Rift if you want a similarly positive experience in both system, working around the limitations as apposed to just making a full room scale experience and giving the user complete freedom

  • Markus Prenneis

    Have tried Google Earth and The Lab with Oculus CV1. But I am only 10 inch tall… How can I recalibrate the CV1 in
    order to get my correct hight?


  • Christopher Medeiros

    The rift is the headset to buy, now that the touch controllers are out. The rift has audio built into the headset, is more comfortable, has better hand controls, but most importantly you have access to all the polished games on the oculus store, and the stuff on the steam VR too. Room scale tracking is pretty much the same as the vive. The length of the cords is the only obstacle with the rift, but can be fixed with a USB extension cord. I have about a 8ft v 8ft area, which is the most I can accommodate anyway. The vive is good too, but oculus has put a lot of money into developing polished VR games on the oculus store. Getting access to those games was possible with a hack in the past, but with the new touch controls, those hackers all have their hands full getting those games working on the simpler vive controllers.

    • Matthew Thirlwell

      Touch controls work fine using ReVive app, as do Oculus games. Like I always say to people try these things out for yourself as it all comes down to personal preference.

  • Mike Frame

    Just a note, the Vive does not require being plugged into the PC for firmware updates if your PC supports blutooth. Just enable the blutooth driver and you can update the Vive lighthouses without taking them down. I’ve updated this way a few times now with absolutely no problems.

  • Cyanhyde

    I’m curious if tracking with the Oculus sensors would even work if you tried setting them all up 7 ft above ground and pointed slightly downwards, vive style.

  • Lirezh

    So after trying both and playing immersive Vive and Oculus Touch titles I can tell without doubt:
    Oculus Touch is so much ahead of Vive, it’s like the step from Oculus DK2 to Oculus Rift

    After playing Oculus Touch titles you can not even consider touching your Vive again, everything feels outdated and non immersive.
    With Touch you forget that you are holding controllers, you use your hands as if they were there (with some exceptions as not all fingers work)
    With Vive you have a controller in your hand, you know it’s a controller.

    The advantage of Vive is the laser scanners for roomscale, it for sure makes it easier to set up.
    With Oculus I got a third camera so I can capture movements completely on the floor (“Dead and Buried” really lets you go down a lot) and it works very well as long as you are in good view of one camera.

    I know it’s like a religious war, however it makes no sense to stick to old technology.
    I hope Vive learns from Oculus Touch and copies the way it’s made.
    It also needs to somehow force developers to correctly implement it, with Oculus that’s no issue all devs do it properly.

  • Trejkaz

    It’s unreasonably difficult to dedicate enough space to do room-scale VR anyway. I live in a place which is currently worth “only” $600,000, and going to a place which will give me a 3m x 3m area to play with room-scale VR would mean going to $900,000 or maybe even $1m. Since I’m not ridiculously rich, this is unrealistic.

    So my question is, why is it seemingly impossible to find people comparing these two headsets on desk-scale or couch-scale setups? How do the two compare for these far more reality-friendly setups?

    • Alex Blackmore

      They’re pretty much as good as one another for desk-scale the biggest difference is really down to which is more comfy for you.

      • WCM

        As a person who has both.
        I’m calling this a load of shit.
        Vive has for everyone I know set up easier, messed up less.
        The headset is more comfortable. I CAN ACTUALLY USE FUCKING GLASSES IN THE VIVE. (The rifts headset IS lighter, ill give it that)
        I can actually see out of the rifts headset and don’t know anyone who can’t.
        The sensor booms for the Rift are trash and take a ridiculous amount of USB bandwidth for three of them (Not that you need three for desk scale)

        Really the only and I mean only upside to the Rift is Touch Controllers are SO NICE…

        • Alex Blackmore

          *shrug* Call it a load of shit if you like, only relaying my personal use case.

          I also have both (well, had, just sold them as they’ve been seeing less playtime of late) and I wore glasses with both the Rift and Vive; though I do have after market padding on the rift that’s designed to be more glasses friendly.

          The Vive fits my glasses more easily when putting the headset on and off but also pulls at them more and results in sore temples after longer play sessions. Image quality on the Vive is better but for my particularly setup the Rift is more comfortable (albeit only after fitting 3rd party padding). No issues with tracking on either even running 4 sensors on the rift (which at the time wasn’t officially supported.

          Out of the box the Vive is superior but with 3rd party tweaking the Rift saw more use mostly due to personal comfort and the touch controllers. I imagine those with larger rimmed glasses would have the opposite experience to mine but I can only relay personal experience.

          They’re both a piece of pie to set up – if anyone had difficulty with either I’d be rather surprised.

    • Glenn Powell

      LOL My house is worth $160,000 and I have a 1,600 sq ft beautiful home 2 car garage, and massive backyard, it all depends on where you live bro. When I lived in Hawaii I rented then and for a 700 sq ft town home was around $1,800 a month, thats far more expensive than my current mortgage I pay now on my home I own now in Oklahoma. My suggestion is if you have skill sets to earn a good income move somewhere that you will be able to get a bigger bang for your buck, and visit the more expensive places for vacation, the homes in Hawaii that were upwards of $300,000 would only only be worth around $40,000 – $80,000 in Oklahoma. As for the VR…. I use one of my smaller guest bedrooms in my house to play room scale VR with Oculus rift with 3 sensors, and its plenty room, and there is a full-bed in the room also, I have about 4 feet across from side to side and about 8 ft from door to my computer (back and fourth). If you don’t want to move, just find a spot that is big enough to move around in and if you need to set your play area to be bigger than what it actually is, because once its set up you won’t have to utilize the entire space with your feet or entire body, for example I may lean over the full bed at times to grab a robot in Robo Recall and toss him into a building, but I couldn’t physically walk into that area where the full bed is.

      • Trejkaz

        Computer programming is a bitch though. Short of leaving the country, almost every other city has no work at all. I’d basically have to become rich enough not to have to work in order to move to a city with cheap property.

        • Glenn Powell

          I don’t do computer programming, but I’m a web developer at a company in a small town that does k12 school websites with a CMS, offers voice and text communication services, and soon a LMS. Given the jobs out here probably don’t pay near what your making where you live now but the cost of living is way lower so it balances out. Look in the Dallas / Fortworth Metroplex I know there are jobs for programmers close to and over $100k. If you spend $250,000 on a home in north dallas you are getting a really nice home, if you can spend $450,000 on a home in Dallas you would be shocked at what you could get, look at Zillow and look on Indeed for jobs. I mean realistically I get moving and switching jobs isn’t always real when you look at moving furniture, cars, the whole thing, but just saying there are other options. I couldn’t imagine paying $600k for a home that I couldn’t even play roomscale vr inside.

          • Trejkaz

            Sydney prices, man.

            Moving to the US would be even harder than interstate…

          • Glenn Powell

            Oh, LOL, yeah if your outside the US moving might be harder ha, unless you could do remote work. I’d suggest just using an area thats big enough, that maybe you use for other purposes normally. Mount your sensors so they are out of the way, and utilize what area you have. Its worth it man, room scale vr is far better than anything ive done with vr at my computer desk.

    • Blargh

      “backyard scale” is easily done with vive.

      • Trejkaz

        That would be a good way to do it if I ever got a house, but this apartment complex doesn’t quite have enough common space to pull that off…

    • Dev Rifter

      almost everything gets cheaper and cheaper, but housing and medcare go up… how come?

      • Trejkaz

        In the case of housing, new people appear faster than more conveniently-situated housing appears, so the demand for housing exceeds the supply and the price rises. Sydney is a particularly terrible case, because everyone ends up wanting to work in the CBD, but all the new housing developments are far away from the CBD. A better solution would be to have no explicit city centre – scatter the working areas around so that more people want to live in the new developments.

        In the case of medical stuff, it depends on what it is. If it’s hospital then the price goes up because you have to pay for actual people to give all the care, and the price of everything else is going up so they ask for pay rises every year to cover the inflation. If it’s drugs, I’d expect the price to slowly fall as patents expire and technology to produce the drugs improves.

    • WCM

      I really don’t know what to tell you. I have a 3×3 space in a house I got for $25’000

  • Alex Blackmore

    Probably due an update, the Oculus setup has been updated software side a few times since this was written and it’s waaaaaaay less finicky than before. In regards to setup they’re pretty much on par now.

    • WCM

      Not really. I still know way more people who have never been able to get the Oculus to work then people who have.

  • michael andrews

    Vive Tracking tech is FAR superior to rifts basic 2 camera system, anyone who says they are both the same does not know what they are talking about.

    • WCM

      Actually with the exception of the Touch controllers. (The Rift really does have nice touch controllers)
      Everything is at least a little superior on the Vive. If not far Superior.