We tried a mixed reality headset from HTC that wanted to compete with the Meta Quest Pro

HTC announced the VIVE XR Elite headset, which combines mixed reality and virtual reality capabilities, at CES in Las Vegas. A cutting edge device that comes at a premium price.

“The next step in the progression towards a fully immersive Internet,” is what HTC promises with its new mixed reality headset, the Vive XR Elite. At CES 2023 in Las Vegas this week, Tech&Co was able to test out a new entrant looking to compete with the new Meta Quest Pro.

While its Vive Flow received a more than mixed reception as a pair of smartphone-connected glasses, it played a key role in the development of the Vive XR Elite. It is presented as a mixed reality helmet, that is, mixing virtual and augmented and autonomous. Therefore, it does not need to be connected to a PC or any other environment to work like its predecessors. It is self-sufficient and even allows itself to offer many advantages.

Because this headset is designed for multiple experiences, from gaming to fitness through productivity and relaxation. A wide variety of content will be available at launch, with more than 100 XR experiences, apps and games.

A high-end helmet, but not a premium one

The HTC Vive XR Elite comes with big ambitions and clearly steps up compared to the Vive Flow. There we find 4K LCD screens with a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a sufficiently wide field of view of 110 ° and a Snapdragon XR2 chip, as in the Meta Quest 2, with a refresh rate that can go up to 120 Hz. Competing with the Quest Pro, which has 90Hz mini-LED screens and a more powerful Snapdragon XR2+ processor. As a bonus, the Vive XR Elite makes Quest 2 look much closer to mixed reality.

During CES, we were able to test the headset through various experiments. A very playful shooting game, starting with Yuki, where you guide a small fairy against enemy attacks from all sides. Hubris is where you have to follow, sometimes swimming, another character before going to shoot enemies, etc.

Other experiences offered by HTC for testing put us in the shoes of a virtual conductor conducting an orchestra or a kayaker traversing a canyon. This last demo we ran was visually stunning with its environment rendering and water feel. We were less convinced by the paddling and motion detection by the helmet sensors. Many times, our kayak fell on a rock, mistaking the lever’s movement.

Price that cools the fire

But overall detection is quite responsive and accurate. The Vive XR Elite has its own operating system and the weight is fairly well distributed over the headset, which is nice with its small size and low weight (675g). It relies on the two provided joysticks as well as multiple sensors on the front that will capture the movements of your hands. But its front and rear cameras will also and above all serve to restore the surrounding world on the screen, without the need to remove the helmet. This is one of the strengths of the mixed reality Vive XR Elite.

HTC Vive XR Elite
HTC Vive XR Elite © HTC

Some of the experiments that have been tested have forced us to evaluate the game of augmented reality by adding enemies to our playing field, while we can visualize what is around us on the screens and paint them in the same way. A slight disappointment may come from the image quality. If the color is good, it does not offer the same quality recovery as the Meta Quest Pro. But it’s still enough to walk, evolve, grab objects without taking the Vive XR Elite off your head.

The standalone headset from the Taiwanese manufacturer uses WiFi 6e, thanks to its power it can connect to a smartphone to access game content or connect to a computer to enjoy more demanding games. The battery is removable and features 30-watt USB-C fast charging. We do not yet know exactly what the proposed autonomy is.

Whether it’s the Viveport hosting environment that doesn’t compromise Meta Quest users, gaming capabilities and productivity, or even the playability of the controllers and ergonomics, the Vive XR Elite offers a very similar experience to Meta’s standalone headset. But its technical leanings or willingness to throw itself into the metaverse are less marked than Quest Pro. However, its price has been announced at €1,400, which is closer to the Quest 2’s €450. Are mixed reality capabilities, still in their infancy, enough to justify such a price difference? Not necessarily, except for being a crazy follower of a technology, when Apple launches its device…

The HTC Vive XR Elite headset is available for pre-order with five games on offer. Deliveries are expected to begin at the end of February.

By Magaux Vulliet and Melinda Davan-Soulas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *