Vive XR Elite hands-on: HTC’s extra moveable reply to the Meta Quest Professional

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Late final yr, Meta expanded the boundaries of shopper blended actuality when it launched the Quest Pro. And now at CES 2023, HTC is hitting again with its personal tackle a flagship headset with the Vive XR Elite.

Instantly, the XR Elite matches quite a few the Quest Professional’s spotlight specs together with help for 2K decision (1920 x 1920) to every eye, a 90Hz refresh fee and full standalone operation. Nonetheless, weighing 625 grams (versus 722 for the Quest Professional) and with a extra comfy headband, the XR Elite does an excellent higher job of delivering a breezy moveable VR/AR expertise. Heck, HTC included the flexibility to take away its battery and stuff the lens inside a comparatively compact canister for touring. That stated you’ll nonetheless have to seek out room in a bag or someplace else to stash its energy pack.

However it was solely after I received an opportunity to check HTC’s headset throughout quite a few demos that I actually began to understand how a lot has been packed inside such a small bundle. Just like the Quest Professional, the XR Elite options built-in hand-tracking, so you possibly can simply and intuitively use gesture controls in video games. And with help for full-color passthrough, you don’t really feel such as you’re remoted within the lonely void of VR.

Additionally, regardless of HTC choosing a barely older Qualcomm XR2 chip (in comparison with the XR2+ chip within the Quest Professional) I used to be capable of play video games like Hubris (which initially launched on PSVR) with out the necessity for assist from a pc. Fortunately, you continue to have the choice of tethering to a desktop once you need to run PC-based video games or pairing together with your cellphone to look at movies.

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Granted, the XR Elite’s controllers nonetheless have a hoop across the high, which makes them a bit extra unwieldy than Meta’s Contact Professional gamepads. However that’s a trade-off I can reside with. The 2 main drawbacks of the XR Elite in comparison with the Quest Professional is its lack of subtle eye and face-tracking, although HTC says it’s engaged on modules that ought to tackle these shortcomings.

Sadly, regardless of its excessive factors, the XR Elite additionally shares loads of the identical flaws because the Quest Professional. Positive, beginning at $1,099, it’s a bit cheaper than Meta’s $1,500 rival. However that’s nonetheless prohibitively costly for anybody that’s not a bleeding edge fanatic. However the larger subject is that with all these new options, it nonetheless appears like there’s an absence of content material that may reap the benefits of the headset’s capabilities. Many of the video games I performed have been demos meant to showcase particular options as an alternative of full-fledged experiences.

Weighing 625 grams, the Vive XR Elite is even lighter than the Meta Quest Pro (722 grams).

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There are some annoying quirks too. Whereas I discovered the XR Elite extra comfy than the Quest Professional, I had a more durable time dialing in my IPD (interpupillary distance) and getting the optics as tack sharp as Meta’s headset. On high of that, as a facet impact to HTC’s quest for streamlined portability, there’s so little area between the XR Elite’s lenses and your eyes, there isn’t sufficient room for individuals to maintain their glasses on whereas utilizing it. HTC tried to fight this by together with diopters that may account for sure ranges of nearsightedness, however these settings solely go right down to -6. So whereas I don’t put on glasses myself, the headset is a a lot more durable promote for many who do.

For those thinking about traveling with the XR Elite, HTC even made a relatively small carrying canister for its newest headset.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Finally, which means that as spectacular as HTC’s smaller and extra moveable MR headset is on a technical stage, it nonetheless doesn’t do sufficient to transform metaverse skeptics into keen customers, or at the least not but. However similar to the Quest Professional, in a manner, HTC needed to construct the Vive XR Elite for that future to actually have a probability of turning into actuality, each now and lengthy after the headset goes on sale someday in late February.

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