HTC’s latest high-end PC VR headset features an incredible display, fantastic tracking, and a hefty price tag.
The HTC Vive Pro 2 is officially out in the wild, and wow is this one powerful VR headset. Despite featuring a near-identical design to its predecessor, the HTC Vive Pro, the Vive Pro 2 is loaded with new improvements aimed at delivering a next-gen PC VR experience that’s as beautiful as it is expensive.
HTC claims that the Vive Pro 2 features the best-in-class display of any PC VR headset, and after going hands-on with the hardware these past few weeks it’s hard to disagree. Games such as Half-Life: Alyx and Maskmaker look absolutely fantastic running on the device thanks in large part to the massive 120-degree FOV and 5K resolution.
That being said, it’s not all roses for HTC’s latest professional-grade PC VR device. While the improved resolution and refresh rate offer truly incredible visuals, the bulky design and heating issues are tough to look past, especially when you factor in the hefty price. But enough beating around the bush, let’s dive into some specifics.
Here is our full review of the HTC Vive Pro 2.
As previously mentioned, the HTC Vive Pro 2 features very few physical differences from its predecessor. The Vive Pro 2 ditches the dark blue color of its front plate in favor of a black design similar to that of the original HTC Vive.
In terms of ergonomics, the headset feels very similar to that of the original Vive Pro. While I found wearing the headset comfortable overall, its somewhat bulky design and considerable weight were fairly noticeable throughout some of my playthroughs. That being said, this by no means a poorly designed headset. I was able to spend a considerable amount of time wearing the device with little to no discomfort. In addition to the manual IPD adjuster (57mm-72mm), the Vive Pro 2 lets you adjust the distance of the lenses from your eyes, allowing for maximum visual comfort. This is further enhanced by the rubber nose shields which—while intrusive at times— do a commendable job at preventing light leakage, further immersing you in your VR adventures.
Another interesting choice by the company was the decision to alter the shape of the lenses, opting for a more box-like design over the original rounded shape featured on the Vive Pro. While this may sound like a relatively minor adjustment, I am now able to see the edges of the lenses while in-headset, which did prove to be somewhat of a disturbance.
It’s also important to note that you will need a display port in order to connect the headset to a VR-ready PC or a mini display port if connecting to a laptop.
The HTC Vive Pro 2’s biggest selling point, however, is its impressive display. The Vive Pro 2 features 2448 × 2448 pixels per eye, resulting in a combined resolution of 4896 x 2448. This is a significant step up from the original Vive Pro’s 2880 x 1600. Combine that with an improved 120-degree FOV and a 120Hz refresh rate, and you have one of the most impressive displays currently featured on a consumer VR headset. The Vive Pro 2 is also the first headset to feature display stream compression, a form of visually lossless compression designed to reduce bandwidth demand. This allows the headset to automatically lower its resolution in order to run on lower-end PCs.
Combined, this technology does away with the dreaded screen door effect plaguing many VR headsets at the moment. The result is some of the most visually impressive PC VR experiences available at the moment. As previously mentioned, visually demanding games such as Half-Life: Alyx, Maskmaker, and Stormland look fantastic on the Vive Pro 2. That being said, the changes to the lenses and somewhat awkward shape of the headset made it difficult to find that ever-elusive “sweet spot.” Visuals can get somewhat blurry fairly easily unless the headset is worn in a very particular way; there’s very little room for error.
HTC also replaced the Dual AMOLED screen featured on Vive Pro with a dual-stack RGB low persistence LCD. While this switch does allow for a wider field-of-view and a significantly improved resolution, it also means less vibrant colors when compared to the Dual AMOLED screen. All this power comes at another cost as well—put simply, this headset can get fairly hot fairly quickly.
Like most VR headsets the Vive Pro 2 features a built-in microphone. While it’s tough to say for sure, this might be the same microphone used for the original Vive Pro, which would explain the somewhat “meh” sound. The mic featured on the Vive Pro 2 is slightly underwhelming in terms of quality, especially when compared to competing devices like the Oculus Quest 2. Placement right in front of your mouth also results in additional mic popping, so you’ll want to avoid any hard “p” words when at all possible.
Then there are the onboard headphones. Like the Vive Pro, the Vive Pro 2 features two adjustable on-ear earphones. While I usually prefer to use over-the-ear third-party headphones for maximum audio immersion, I was pleasantly surprised by these integrated high-fidelity earphones. While you have the option of removing the earphones and replacing them with a third-party solution, I’d actually recommend sticking with them. Thanks to 3D spatial audio technology, every sound—from dialogue to music to sound effects—comes in crystal clear. In fact, the only thing more impressive than the audio is the visuals.
THE TRACKING AND CONTROLLERS
Like the Vive Pro, the Vive Pro 2 utilizes outside-in tracking powered by SteamVR Base Station 2.0. While this tethered solution is less convenient than the inside-out tracking featured on standalone devices such as the Oculus Quest, it does mean significantly better tracking as well as compatibility with other SteamVR devices, such as the HTC Vive Tracker. The SteamVR ecosystem is one of the most robust in all of VR, so trust me, taking the time to properly set up those 2.0 Base Stations is entirely worth it.
You can even pair the headset with the Valve Index controllers, which is good considering the controllers that come with the Vive Pro 2 are the exact same ones designed for the original Vive Pro. That’s not to say these are bad controllers. The Vive Wands feature an excellent ergonomic design and remain one of my favorite controllers to this day. But anyone who’s handled the Valve Index’s knuckle controllers will tell you how much of a step up they are in terms of interacting with the virtual world.
Similar to the Oculus Quest, the Vive Pro 2 also features a passthrough mode allowing you to view your real-world surroundings while in the headset. However, whereas the Oculus Quest features black-and-white visuals, the two RGB cameras mounted to the front of the Vive Pro 2 are capable of delivering stereoscopic color imagery. Unfortunately, due to the quality of these two cameras, visuals can appear blurry at times; not enough to ruin the feature entirely, but noticeable nonetheless.
At $1,400 for the full kit (headset, v2 Wand controllers, 2.0 base stations), the HTC Vive Pro is one of the most expensive VR products currently on the market, and for good reason. HTC packed a ton of improvements into this next-gen headset. That being said, does the price tag match the product?
While the HTC Vive Pro 2 offers some truly jaw-dropping visuals thanks to its impressive 5k resolution and ultra-wide 120-degree field of view, its bulky design and complex setup process feel somewhat dated compared to other PC VR headsets. All in all, this feels more like a Vive Pro 1.5 than a full-fledged sequel. That being said, if you’re in the market for a high-end PC VR headset, you can’t go wrong with the Vive Pro 2. This is especially true if you already own the controllers and base stations. In addition to the $1,400 kit, you can pick up the headset itself for $800. For reference, the Valve Index costs $500 for the headset and $1,000 for the full kit, while the HP Reverb G2 costs $600 for the full kit.
Put simply, the HTC Vive Pro 2 is a great option for those looking for the absolute best in terms of VR visuals. If you do plan on picking one up, I’d recommend purchasing the headset and base stations individually and pairing the system with the Valve Index Knuckle controllers for maximum enjoyment.
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Feature Image Credit: VRScout
*Review unit provide by HTC*