What is the HTC Vive Pro?
We are more than two years from the launch of the first consumer-focused VR headsets, and it feels as if the red-hot excitement surrounding the technology would have cooled considerably. .
Oculus started with one of the most exciting crowdfunding campaigns in 2012, grew to become the second acquisition of Facebook in 2014, and very soon everyone, from Sony to Samsung, competed for their share of the cake of reality virtual.
Of these new entrants, HTC was the most promising. His first-generation VR headset, HTC Vive had the backing of Valve and its powerful Steam market, and came to the market complete with motion controls and room-scale tracking, which Oculus Rift  lacked at that time.
But over time the reality, well, virtual reality started to work. The enormous cost of these headphones, both in terms of the money needed to buy them and a PC powerful enough to power them, without mentioning the space required to use them, simply did not match the available experience.
For your credit, neither Oculus nor HTC gave up, but both have opted to go in completely different directions with their solution. Oculus recently released the Oculus Go an inexpensive handset that dispenses with costly PC tracking and room scale to offer a much more accessible experience.
HTC, with its Vive Pro, offers a limitless premium VR experience that is the culmination of all the advances in technology we've seen over the two years since the launch of its predecessor.
What's up Did I hear you ask? Let me explain it.
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HTC Vive Pro: design, specifications and sound
The resolution of the screen has experienced a substantial improvement over the original Vive, but it is the updated physical design of the same headset that most caught my attention about the Vive Pro.
When it comes to heavy screens mounted on the head, the straps are important. The original HTC Vive was equipped with a fairly basic elastic strap that focused more on trying to keep the headset in position than in comfort.
The biggest problem this created was with the weight distribution. The Vive weighed heavily on the front of the face, pulling the head forward and creating pain in the neck even in periods of moderate use.
On the contrary, the Vive Pro has a much more substantial strap, which guarantees a more even distribution of the weight in the headset. head; It does not cause pain almost as fast. However, the weight gain of the device in general means that your neck will eventually feel sore, but it will not happen as fast.
This more robust strap also has a pair of integrated ear headphones, which makes the headset even more convenient to use. Although I discovered that the headphones were not lowered enough to be completely over my ears, it is still a significant improvement compared to having to put on headphones while your eyes are covered with a piece of plastic. We also liked the inclusion of volume controls on the back of the left earphone.
Everything adds up to make this piece of hardware feel much more polished than the first generation model. Touching endlessly the headphone straps to prevent light from seeping through the cutout of the nose felt like it was a developer's hardware. In contrast, the Vive Pro looks something like a finished product.
The cushions are a little more sweaty than any magical material that Oculus has found for the Oculus Go, and the field of vision could still be a little wider. However, there is no doubt that the Vive Pro hardware design is a big step forward.
That's even before we start analyzing the screen, which increases the resolution from 2160 x 1200 to a significant 2880 x 1600. This results in an increase in the sharpness of the image, and decreases the & # 39; screen-door effect & # 39; , where the black space between each of the pixels is visible.
We'll start talking about the full implications of this resolution in a moment, but first …
HTC Vive Pro – Configuration
For HTC credit, setting up Live Pro is certainly simpler than Live, but the realities The scale of the room still makes the process a mission for most people.
For those who have not used a VR headset before, the room scale is the term used to describe how the headset will follow you as you move through a whole room. But for that to work, you must be in a place where you do not have to worry about hitting a coffee table or a couch.
Depending on the size of your living space, it could be a challenge to eliminate the minimum 2m x 1.5m you need, and some games like LA Noire: VR case files will require more than that.
Once you have cleared a space, you must configure the two base stations that track the location of the headphones and the two motion controllers. Note that both the base stations and the motion controllers remain unchanged from the first Live, but the updated versions are in process. None of these is included as standard with Vive Pro.
This adds additional complexity, as it must be ensured that they are as high as possible (HTC recommends 2m as ideal). Unless you are able to screw these into your wall, you will have to find tripods to mount them, or place them on your furniture and hope for the best.
At this point I would be remiss if I did not mention that it is perfectly possible to use the Vive Pro without using the room scale when putting it in "stand alone" mode, but I would say it would be much more profitable to buy a cheaper VR hearing aid, such as Oculus Go or Google Daydream View. You are paying the Live price premium because of the scale of the room, and it is much harder to justify without it.
Once you've set up your play space, connecting everything to your computer is relatively simple. The small control box that connects to your PC now has a single cable that connects to the headphones, and Vive's configuration software does a good job of guiding you through the entire process.
The increase in resolution means that you will need a PC with a GTX 1070 minimum, instead of the 1060 that was originally reported to you. We use a GTX 980 Ti for our tests without any problem.
So, yes, the configuration was a problem with the original Vive, and it's a bit painful here. Maybe one day we will reach a point where the VR headphones can track their own position from inside the same handset. The technology is not there yet, however.
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HTC Vive Pro: applications and games
One of the biggest advantages of Live over the Rift was its native integration with Steam, and the platform's virtual reality capabilities have been I have been strengthening since the release of the original headset.
That does not only mean that there are now hundreds of virtual reality titles on the platform, but that the whole interface has also improved so that it is much less difficult to move between them.
SteamVR Home is a decent interface for selecting games, and it also works as a social space if you want to hang out with friends. Capabilities such as being able to look at your desktop from a headset reduce the number of times you will have to remove the portable device just to read a couple of inactivity notifications (this is where the increase in resolution really helps).  But leaving aside the interface, what really matters here are the games, and the new headphones make them as fun as ever.
The strange thing is that it will be a while before you notice the increase in resolution. Of course, the fragments of text that appear here and there are a little clearer, but developers have spent two years learning to design games that work with low resolution headphones, and no one in their right mind will make a game that only functions in the Pro.
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As a result, games like Beat Saber and Space Pirate Trainer, with their brilliant thick graphics and spacious UI, are not the best way to show the increased resolution of the headphones.
On the other hand, its resolution offers more subtle benefits. In Arizona Sunshine, for example, you can see details of more distant places, or read the writings in your notebook in LA Noire without having to hold them up to your face.
These are small details such as being able to read the background text on the screen at the start of Superhot VR, which reminds you of the increase in the resolution of the screen.
Make no mistake, the screen door effect is still present, and we also experience a lot of alias edges during our time with the Vive Pro, but it's much better than anything else on the market.
Over time, if the proportion of Live Pros to Vives increases in the market, imagine that the developers will begin to make more intentional use of the resolution increased. For now, however, it sits firmly in the territory & # 39; nice to have & # 39; instead of being absolutely essential.
While the improvement of the resolution is welcome, in my opinion, it is the comfort of the headphones that really fits me. I could happily throw myself like an idiot while playing Beat Saber, and not feel the hardware moving in my face, or distract me with the light that came from the outside world while frightening me in Arizona Sunshine.
The head strap also has a small design that keeps the cable away from the back of your neck, which helps you immerse yourself in your virtual world.
The HTC Vive Pro is still a heavy piece of hardware, so I'll start to feel it eventually. We played for about an hour before the inevitable neck pain dragged, but, of course, the individual mileage will vary greatly.
In general, yes, the headset feels very iterative, but it is adding to what was already one of the best VR headsets that exist. His arrival does not mean that we have reached a point where virtual reality makes sense for absolutely everyone, but it is not a useless development that reworks what we have used before.
Why buy the HTC Vive Pro?
In the end, everything comes down to that price. Virtual reality was already a costly proposition, and between the increase in computing power and the price of £ 799, Vive Pro does not seek to become anyone's budget option.
Neither solves the most important problems with virtual reality. There is not yet a single game that guarantees the purchase of a handset, and space requirements will remain a challenge for many. It solves the smallest problems in the periphery, but it does not get to the root of the problem.
The Vive Pro is the VR headset for someone who has already bought the idea of virtual reality. Maybe you already have an HTC Vive and you have tired of your uncomfortable setting, or maybe you just want to benefit from a higher resolution screen. The HTC Vive Pro is the perfect choice here.
But if you have not had space for virtual reality in the past, or if you're concerned that your PC is not powerful enough, Vive Pro is not the headset for you, and neither is Trying to be.
The best VR headset only took an important step forward. If you were a fan of Vive, you will appreciate the improvements made with the Vive Pro, but if VR is not for you, then the Pro is not the headset that will change your mind.