As prices have come down quite a bit on VR headsets since initial release I thought I’d quickly do a comparison between both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
If you haven’t yet experienced VR now is a great time. Both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are almost half the price of what they were when they were first released and I have also noticed an influx on holiday deals for both VR systems. I am fortunate enough to have spent a fair amount of time with both systems so here is a breakdown of the some key differences between the two.
HMD – Head Mounted Displays
First let’s talk about the headsets, the major component of these systems. In terms of specs they are pretty much identical. The resolution on both is the same at 2160×1200 (1080×1200 per eye) @ 90 Hz. The field of view are also similar, 90 degrees horizontal (110 degrees diagonal). They both include IPD adjustments which I think is a must have in any VR headset. One difference out of the box is that the Oculus Rift includes built-in headphones while the HTC Vive does not. They do offer an additional accessory called the HTC Deluxe Audio Strap for $100.
Winner: Oculus Rift with the built-in headphones.
They both include 2 sensors in the box but both have different setups and functionality. The HTC Vive provides room scale, 360 support, out of the box. For proper sensor setup they suggest an angled down view from opposite corners, but during my quick test I was able to set them up about waist high and have had success. The benefit these have over the Oculus Rift sensors are that they only require a power outlet versus a USB port required on the Rift. Wall mounts are included in the Vive box. The Oculus Rift also includes 2 sensors, with stands, but does not completely support room scale. I have heard people setting them up in opposite corners pointing down, similar to that of the HTC Vive, but have encountered some tracking issues at certain angles. To achieve room scale compatibility you’ll need to buy an additional sensor for $60 which includes a USB extension cable.
Winner: HTC Vive with room scale out of the box.
An advantage the HTC Vive had at release is that it included touch wands while the Oculus Rift did not. It wasn’t until later, approximately 8 months later, did the Oculus Rift finally release touch controllers, and I must say it was worth the wait. The general consensus is that the Oculus Rift’s touch controllers are overall better than the HTC Vive’s. I find them to be more comfortable to hold and a little lighter, while also providing capacitive buttons which add to the VR realism in games.
Note: HTC Vive is working on the next generation of their controllers, called the Knuckles.
Winner: Oculus Rift with more comfortable controllers.
Both systems do include games. The HTC Vive is currently offering 2 games, Fallout 4 VR and Tilt Brush by Google ($80 total value).
The Oculus Rift includes 6 games ($110 total value).
So no matter what you’ll have something to play without having to make any additional purchases.
Winner: Draw, depends on what your interests are.
Winner: Oculus Rift with built-in headphones, more comfortable controllers, and lower base price.
Honestly, either VR system will provide an enjoyable experience. At the current prices as of 12/23/2017, the HTC Vive sits at $599 while the Oculus Rift costs $399. Is the HTC Vive worth the extra $200, that’s up to you and what your budget is. In my opinion I would purchase the Oculus Rift at this moment. A lower starting price along with better controllers will provide a great and I believe a better experience. Even if you have to purchase another sensor to achieve room scale, it’s $60 for the sensor. Oculus has said they don’t plan on releasing a Rift replacement until 2019, but nothing is set in stone. If you decide to go with the HTC Vive, the existing setup should be compatible with the 2nd generation HMD.
Hopefully this has made making a decision easier and not harder. Both the Oculus Store and Steam are having winter sales making it the perfect time to join the VR community. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment. Good luck with your purchase and the VR world awaits.