While a bit pricey ($1400 system + $200 enterprise license), the Vive Pro is worth every penny for enterprise training and marketing applications.
We finally got a chance to put the new HTC Vive Pro through it’s paces. This is a quick review of our first impressions, primarily as it applies to using Vive Pro for VR training and event marketing.
Easier Multi-System Setup
The most exciting new Vive Pro feature is it’s ability to use more than 2 base stations for tracking. While interesting for tracking larger areas, it also allows units to be setup next to each other without interference.
Our clients often use multiple VR stations at events to accommodate larger crowds. Doing so typically requires curtains or other barriers to prevent interference (see the central column below). Since the Vive Pro now works with 4 base stations, and support for up to 16 coming, we can now put base stations in the corners of a larger area (30+ sq ft) and run more than one VR station within the tracked region.
Room for Bigger Glasses, Hair, and Heads
The majority of glass wearers can use the Vive standard with their glasses off. Otherwise, if they need their glasses during Vive usage, many people’s glasses can fit within the headset. There are some, however, whose glasses are just too fashionable to be contained by the Vive standard headset. This adds a layer of complication when trying to get people in and out of the headset efficiently.
With almost 2cm more width in the headset, the vast majority of glasses should fit into the new headset. Similarly, the headphones are on a bigger swing arm, allowing them to fit better over bigger heads and hair. While the original Vive worked well for 90% of people at events, the Vive Pro should reach close to 100%. An easily used adjustment on the bottom also means focus can be tweaked per person. The older Vive’s adjustment was simply too cumbersome and time consuming to use for everyone at an event.
Higher Resolution Allows for Clearer Text
Text looks more clear, and this extra clarity will enable the use of smaller visual labels. This should allow more detail and more data rich UI interfaces as compared to the original Vive.
Augmented Reality Potential
While we haven’t played much with the camera, the newly added dual cameras enable the system to sense depth and turn the headset into a more serious Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality platform. We’ll write a separate blog post once we’ve had a chance to test this unit out with one of our AR applications. We are especially interested to see whether the latency is low enough to allow usage of the Vive Pro as an AR headset.
Improved Wiring Harness and Buttons
A minor, but very appreciated, change is the single connector coming from the headset cable to the link box instead of 3 separate plugs. The old power cable in particular had a habit of pulling out. Also, on-ear buttons make volume adjustments simpler and more intuitive.
The Vive Pro is the VR headset that consumers deserve but can’t afford. For $1400 and a $200 enterprise license, the headset is substantially more expensive than other consumer VR systems. However, for VR training and VR event activations, the Vive Pro enhancements are worth every penny.
The foam facemask is comfortable, but a bit of a sponge for sweat and makeup that’s also hard to clean. To be fair, this is a problem with the original Vive as well. However, we have happily swapped all the foam for faux-leather replacements that are easy to wipe down between users without absorbing moisture. Until similar products are available for the Vive Pro, this will continue to be a negative for public use.
The Vive Pro’s more flexible setup options will be game-changing for business VR applications. Its enhanced comfort and wearability will be appreciated greatly by users at trade shows, sales demos, and any other events. Overall, for those who have the capital to invest in the Vive Pro, it is well worth the higher price. The unit could prove to be even more useful as we explore its AR capabilities.