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Published on June 11th, 2017 | by Luke Sutton

We test out the HTC Vive Virtual Reality Headset

At the time of this article, there are two VR headsets on the market that are worth talking about; the HTC Vive and The Oculus Rift. Both have the same type of technology with a slight difference in construction. For example, the HTC Vive has its sensors mounted in the headset itself, and uses two 'lighthouses' which flash 60 times per second to give realtime tracking of your position in the room. The Oculus rift has a different approach to this setup, and has a separate tracking device.
The advantage the HTC Vive has over the Oculus rift is that you aren't confined to sitting down; the HTC Vive allows free movement around your living room and this is a HUGE advantage over the Oculus Rift - hence the slight price difference with the Oculus rift being a few hundred pounds less than the HTC Vive.

Tips for best performance

Firstly, for goodness sake purchase some lenses protectors for the HTC Vive. The headset lenses are average quality at best; soft plastic polycarbonate lenses that scratch the moment you look at them.
The experts state "only use the soft wipe now and again to clean the lenses" but you'll find that you will sweat buckets whilst using this headset, and your sweaty hair will inevitably smudge the lenses, just by simply taking the headset off. The only way to clear the lense is by using the soft wipe, and this is actually abrasive enough to scratch and cloudy up the lense. I was devestated to see this after just 2 weeks of owning this headset. Don't be an idiot. Buy some lense protectors on Amazon or EBay, right away.

Your system and setup

Make sure you have at least 16GB of memory. These VR games take a lot of memory and steam does NOT like using virtual memory on your system. Any less than 16GB DDR3 or DDR4 and you'll experience juttering every 10 seconds, regardless of how powerful your CPU or graphics card is.
As for the control unit (device that interlinks the headset with your computer) you really want to push this into a USB 2 port and not a USB 3 port. Don't ask, I have no idea here.. it just works better! As for your graphics card, you are going to need at least a GTX 970 minimum or you will experience motion sickness. Steam VR (which is needed to run these games with your headset) will force you to use your monitor as a mirror display which will allow others to spectate. This, however, forces your graphics card to render everything twice, for both your monitor and your headset. You'll need to start looking at a GTX 1070 very soon, so expect to pay a further £300 for another graphics card, if you haven't got one of these already.

The Lighthouses

This is something HTC should tell you.. but the lighthouses provided with the headset are a serious piece of kit. Both of them have a carefully calibrated motor, finely balanced and fine tuned to spin at exactly 60 times a second. The small gap in the motor's top casing has a sensor and with each rotation, infrared is received back through this gap; and your headset and your controller can be tracked in your play area. If you sharply move or drop the lighthouse whilst it is in operation, you'll be sorry. It could knacker up the entire lighthouse calibration, resulting in strange jitters and movements every whilst in use. Screw the lighthouses 7 foot from the floor, firmly to the wall with the brackets provided, and keep them at around 5 meters apart in opposite corners of the room, pointing at each other and at the ground. Simple.

Your eyes

This might be of a shock to you, but a VR headset is nowhere near as harmful than looking at your smartphone. Your eyes are looking at objects in the distance, as opposed to a static still screen. This gives your eyes the illusion that what you see is not obstructive to your normal vision, and you will have no eye strain, or eye damage.

About the Author

Luke Sutton is a local computer engineer in Ross-on-Wye Herefordshire, with years of experience fixing over 750 computers. He's also a web designer and specialises in Search Engine Optimisation

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