November 11, 2016 - Comments Off on Getting hands-on with the HTC Vive

Getting hands-on with the HTC Vive

Last Friday we started our weekend in style – we had a HTC Vive VR system in the office the entire day for the team to test and try out. Now a part of Jaywing, one of the great things we get to be involved with is their focus on research and development. They invest in the best hardware on the market to stay ahead of the game, meaning our lucky team can try out the latest tech. Which in turn gives us great insight so we can create new opportunities and ideas for our clients. Exploring VR is particularly relevant at the moment, with it’s immersive experiences it’s set to revolutionise not just marketing but many other services like education, creative and data among others.

We asked Joe Corby, Front End Developer at Bloom what his thoughts were:

A lucky Insomnia festival and Gadget Show attendee, I knew all about these amazing VR headsets and just how good they are. I’ve previously tried out the Oculus and Playstation VR, but the queue for the Vive had always been too long to get a look in. With the Vive being the most expensive by a long shot, it isn’t hard to see why people are so keen to try it.

Buying a computer with the right spec to run a VR system definitely isn’t cheap – even if you intend to build it yourself. After speaking to a few people, it seems that to get the most out of them you’ll need to spend a minimum of £1,500 on your PC alone. If you add that to the retail price of the headset, you’re probably nearing the £2,500 mark – and that’s without games!

There are currently two major PC based VR products competing for the top spot, one being the Vive and the other the Oculus. Both require roughly the same technical specifications, which you can see below:

HTC Vive

HTC Vive

Vive recommended specs Oculus recommended specs
Processor: Intel™ Core™ i5-4590 or AMD FX™ 8350, equivalent or better Processor: Intel™ Core™ i5-4590 or AMD FX™ 8350, equivalent or better
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce™ GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon™ RX 480, equivalent or better Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce™ GTX 970 / AMD Radeon™ R9 290 equivalent or greater
Memory: 4 GB RAM+ Memory: 8 GB RAM+

Oculus Rift

My overall experience of VR has been negative to say the least. Motion sickness, which is not something I normally suffer from easily, seems to get the best of me with almost all forms of VR I’ve tried. The three exceptions were the Vive, Oculus and PS VR – quite rightly with them being the most expensive!

Despite all my pessimism surrounding VR, I believe that one day they’ll be a must-have for your average gamer. But before that happens, in my opinion, three things need to change:

  1. A huge issue for me has been game compatibility between different VR products – it really needs to improve. Certain games on the Steam store are only compatible with Oculus as opposed to the Vive and vice versa.
  2. The calibre of game needs to improve to match VR standards. Although the games are built to work with VR, and work well, it’s quite strange to play an extremely simple game in VR then experience a non-VR game that has gripping graphics and a great story, coupled with complex game mechanics.
  3. The price is too high. For the casual gamer to invest in something as expensive as this, it needs to be a fully refined product. But with these being the first generation of VR headsets I don’t believe they are anywhere near that point yet.


So how did our office session with the Vive go?

With so many of us getting a chance to try it, some with no previous VR experience, I was really interested to see what they had to say. Here are some of my favourite reactions:

‘I was aware of VR from this blog post one of our team wrote for a client and so was really interested in trying the Vive, but I guess I still felt it was a little too ‘gamey’ for me. Then you pop your headset on and start walking around this virtual world and all of a sudden you really are transported. I only spent a short time doing a few games, but I really enjoyed it and could see many real life benefits (especially its use in education).’

‘It was a brilliant thing to organise and to do, I thought it was amazing!! The experience was shockingly real and completely absorbing. I actually did feel frightened of being under the sea in the dark even though I knew it wasn’t real. So glad I took 10 mins out of my day, it blew me away. I would be interested to see how this is being used and developed in general I can imagine so many things that it could impact on.’

‘I really struggled to articulate exactly what VR felt like, how it looked and sounded – it was such an immersive experience that seemed to effect all the senses. Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, it actually really moved me. Is that weird?!’