We tried HTC’s mixed reality headset that wants to compete with the Meta Quest Pro

HTC unveiled at CES in Las Vegas its VIVE XR Elite headset that combines mixed reality and virtual reality capabilities. An advanced standalone device that comes with a hefty price tag.

“The next step in the progression towards fully immersive internet,” is what HTC promises with its new mixed reality headset, the Vive XR Elite. At the CES 2023 show being held this week in Las Vegas, Tech&Co was able to test the newcomer that wants to compete with the new Meta Quest Pro.

If his Vive Flow glasses, connected glasses connected to a smartphone, received a more than mixed reception, it clearly served as a basis for reflection in the development of the Vive XR Elite. This is presented as a mixed reality helmet, meaning a mix of virtual and augmented, and autonomous. Therefore, it does not need to be connected to a PC or any other medium, like its predecessors, to function. It is self-sufficient and even allows itself to offer multiple advantages.

Because this headset is designed for a multifaceted experience, from gaming to the gym through productivity and leisure. A wide range of content with over 100 XR experiences, apps and games will be available at launch.

A high-end but not premium helmet

The HTC Vive XR Elite comes with big ambitions, and it clearly seems to be up for grabs compared to the Vive Flow. There we find 4K LCD screens with a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a fairly wide field of view of 110° and a Snapdragon XR2 chip as for the Meta Quest 2 with a refresh rate that can go up to 120 Hz. However, not enough to compete with the Quest Pro which has 90Hz mini-LED displays and a much more powerful Snapdragon XR2+ processor. The Vive XR Elite looks quite a bit closer to the Quest 2, mixed reality as a bonus.

During CES, we were able to test the headset through various experiences. Starting with Yuki, a very playful shooting game where you guide a little fairy against enemy attacks from all sides. Hubris is an action-adventure game in which you must follow, sometimes by swimming, another character before going to shoot enemies, etc.

Other experiences offered for testing by HTC projected us into the skin of a virtual conductor conducting an orchestra, or as a kayaker crossing a canyon. This last demo we tried proved to be visually stunning in its depiction of the environment and feel of water. We were less convinced by the steering and motion detection from the helmet sensors. Too often, our kayak would end up on a rock misdetecting the arm movement.

A price that cools the scent

But in general, detection is quite reactive and accurate. The Vive XR Elite has its own operating system and the weight is distributed quite well over the headset, which is also nice with its small size and low weight (675g). It relies on multiple sensors on the front that will capture the movements of the two joysticks provided as well as your hands. But its front and rear cameras will also serve, and above all, to bring the surrounding world back to the screen, without the need to remove the helmet. This is one of the strengths of the Vive XR Elite with its mixed reality.

HTC Vive XR Elite
HTC Vive XR Elite © HTC

Thus, some tested experiments have made us evaluate the game of augmented reality by adding enemies to our game area, while we could visualize what was around us on the screens, paint in the same way. The slight disappointment may come from the image quality. If it’s in good colors, it doesn’t offer as good a return as the Meta Quest Pro. But it’s still enough to walk, evolve, grab objects… without taking the Vive XR Elite off your head.

The standalone headset from the Taiwanese manufacturer benefits from WiFi 6e, can connect to a smartphone to receive game content or connect to a computer to enjoy more demanding games thanks to its power. The battery is removable and has 30W USB-C fast charging. At the moment, we do not know the exact autonomy offered.

Whether it’s the Viveport host environment, which won’t disorient Meta Quest users, the gaming and productivity options, or even the controller’s playability and ergonomics, the Vive XR Elite offers pretty much a similar experience to Meta’s standalone headset. But his technical inclinations or his desire to throw himself headfirst into the metaverse are less pronounced than in Quest Pro. However, it is announced at 1,400 euros, closer to the price of the latter than the 450 euros of the Quest 2. The possibilities of mixed reality, still in their infancy, are they enough to justify such a price difference? Not necessarily, unless you’re a crazed follower of an emerging technology, the time Apple releases its device…

The HTC Vive XR Elite headset is available for pre-order with five games on offer. Delivery is expected to begin in late February.

By Magaux Vulliet and Melinda Davan-Soulas

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