vive

HTC Vive and accessories

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality (VR) is not necessarily new. With the releases of the Vive, Gear VR and Oculus interest in VR has been rekindled and there are plenty of questions going around. I’ve recently gotten myself the HTC Vive and hopefully my experiments and research can shed some light.

Software Background

The options software-wise are OpenVR, SteamVR and Oculus Runtime. OpenVR and SteamVR are generally compatible with each other. Some third party tools can be used to make Oculus products work with the Vive or OpenVR. Oculus devkits came out much earlier it seems there is more support for the Oculus at the moment. I get the impression this will turn around.

Videos

For VR Videos the Oculus has a few tools made specifically for it provided by some of the content providers. For all VR in general you have Whirligig which works fine (hint: barrel or fisheye then press Y, press O if the eyes are the wrong way around). In terms of video all devices work well. If you’re only interested in viewing video, one of the GearVR options will be sufficient.

Gaming

For gaming there are some hacks you can play with to get apps running or streaming on GearVR. How effective these are I’m not too sure since my experiences are exclusively on the Vive. The main options will be choosing between the Oculus or Vive. The Vive has roomscale which lets you designate a play-space where you can literally walk around in the the virtual world but it is not required. You can play standing or seated also (depending on game) whereas the Oculus is seated only. I started off with the seated experience because I assumed the controller waggling would be a similar experience to the Nintendo wii. However, when I gave roomscale a shot I found it incredibly immersive.

Backwards Compatibility

To get VR in your favourite games you’ll need to use third party tools. If you have some extra cash there is VorpX. A freeware option called Vireio is also available. I’ve tried Vireio, it doesn’t have proper Vive support yet (the author states it is coming soon). Vorpx seems to be recommended by many, but I haven’t felt the need to fork out for it yet.

Controllers

This is game dependant, the Vive will allow you to use roomscale, standing, seated, vive controller, any game controller or keyboard and mouse. The Vive also has a camera on the front for you to enable a video feed or overlay of the real world around you to see what’s going on outside of VR. Your phone can also be configured to give notifications to you in VR just in case you get too absorbed. Oculus rift is controller and keyboard and mouse only, it also lacks the front camera so you can’t see around you.

Privacy

The Oculus Rift collects your data and sends it to facebook for undisclosed reasons. So if privacy is a concern of yours, you should probably avoid it.

Is it a buy?

If you just want to view VR Videos just look into some gearVR options. They are much cheaper and work just fine.

Gaming I’d say not at all or the Vive. The games at the moment are without a doubt immersive but lack depth or longevity. You’ll get over the VR newness quickly and realise there’s not much to the games. Between Oculus and Vive? Get the Vive. The room scale, controller options, front camera and ability to attach your phone are too useful to go without.

Quick links for VR Owners

Whirligig for videos

Revive Injector to run Oculus Rift games and apps on your HTC Vive

Oculus Runtimes page to go along with the Revive Injector

Virveio bookmark this so you can play your old games in VR when Vive is supported.

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