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Monday, December 5, 2016

Review: HTC Vive

I received my HTC Vive last Wednesday and as a person who had never experienced virtual reality before, I was both thrilled and nervous to try it out for the first time ever. I am one of those people who are very prone to motion sickness when playing first person shooters with horribly low field of vision - I always have to set it to 100+ to not get sick - so I didn't know how my body would react to being placed in a VR environment.

First things first however, I had to set it up to work with my Game Room, which has enough free space to accommodate room-scale VR. Getting the sensors up on two opposite corners of the playing space was very much a chore, plus it was a rather messy process. If you don't have tall cabinets lining up two opposite corners of your room, it's not going to be that easy. This process is made worse because proper drywall anchors were not provided in the box so you have to get them on your own. Instead of needing to have them plugged directly into a power supply, I wished they had rechargeable battery packs instead so that one could easily pull those out and recharge them somewhere else between uses. Hooking up the head-mounted display to the PC required plenty of wires as well, plus needing access to another electrical outlet but the link box that connects your PC to the HMD is so small and cute and you can easily set it in a forgotten space between things and out of your way.

The fusion of man and VR.

Once everything was set however, what came next was nothing short of mind-blowing. And no, I didn't get motion sickness at all*. I was literally stunned by the SteamVR tutorial. The virtual space looked real. Like convincingly real. Sometimes not as sharp but it felt like I was there. Without experiencing it for oneself, it's impossible to show how effective the VR experience provided by the Vive is but I believe the best way to describe it is that everything has depth and you can tell the relative distance of everything, whether those objects are moving or static. It's like you are really there and this illusion is further strengthened by the Vive's currently exclusive room-scale VR where you can walk around in VR space instead of merely standing or sitting in the middle of it. The HMD literally transported me to another place by replacing the view of my Game Room with a completely different, fully realized surrounding.