HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift: Virtual-Reality Headset Face-Off

1 - HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift: Virtual-Reality Headset Face-Off
2 - They're Reliant on the Headsets, of Course
3 - There Are Loads of Accessories
4 - You Won't Find Resolution Differences
5 - Oculus Warms Up to the Xbox One
6 - Games Are the Main Attraction
7 - You'll Need High-End PCs
8 - Don't Forget the Facebook Component
9 - There's a Safety Component Here
10 - These Are First-Run Devices
11 - Let's Have a Chat About Price
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HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift: Virtual-Reality Headset Face-Off

As the virtual-reality market heats up, more companies are building technologies to pique customer interest. We compare two leading VR headsets.

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They're Reliant on the Headsets, of Course

The entire experience offered in the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive is delivered through headset. The devices are worn on the head and can be adjusted to fit most head sizes. They both have soft padding and other key features that make them comfortable, and with two eyeholes, they allow for users to see a 360-degree environment.

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There Are Loads of Accessories

To get the full VR experience in either device, users will need more than a headset. The Vive, for instance, requires two wireless controllers and two base stations that are capable of tracking a user's movements. The Rift similarly uses a sensor to track movement and has controllers that manage on-screen gameplay. The Rift also boasts built-in audio and a remote.

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You Won't Find Resolution Differences

The resolution offered by the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are identical. The Vive is capable of delivering a combined resolution of 2,160 by 1,200 and a 90Hz refresh rate. The Oculus Rift has the same combined resolution, which means users will have 1,080 by 1,200 resolution in each eye. In sum, the visual experience in either device will be identical to the naked eye.

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Oculus Warms Up to the Xbox One

In an interesting move, Oculus Rift supports the Microsoft Xbox One game controller, which also works with Windows-based PCs. The move is likely a smart one for Oculus, which has been trying to attract gamers to its platform. By offering support for a controller gamers know, Oculus is making the transition to virtual reality much easier.

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Games Are the Main Attraction

For now, games are the main attraction across both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. In fact, many game developers believe there is a strong chance the headsets could prove to be the next frontier for gaming. That said, other companies, including the NBA, Facebook and even some film studios, are exploring VR, so expect to see other content increasingly trickle in as time goes on.

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You'll Need High-End PCs

Virtual-reality experiences are extremely sophisticated, requiring them to have high-end PCs attached. Both devices support Windows PCs, but those computers need some serious horsepower to work. Oculus Rift, for example, requires computers running an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 graphics chips or greater, Intel Core i5 processors or better, and at least 8GB of RAM. In other words, both devices could require a significant cash outlay for a nice PC, if users don't already have one.

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Don't Forget the Facebook Component

Facebook's ownership of Oculus VR cannot be overlooked in the evaluation of both companies. Facebook is a strong, healthy and extremely wealthy company with the ability to support Oculus Rift over the long term. HTC, meanwhile, is trying to find its way. The company has trouble gaining traction in the smartphone industry, isn't quite a wearables champion and now wants to get into virtual reality. If customers want to go with a device from a "safe" company well-positioned to be in it for the long haul, Oculus might be the winner.

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There's a Safety Component Here

Let's not forget that there is a very big safety component in both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. While the manufacturers are forced to say that users should only use the devices when sitting down, they're best when playing standing up. However, the headsets completely cover a person's eyesight, leaving them immersed in a 360-degree world. Be sure to be in a safe surrounding with nothing hard or sharp nearby before putting on the headset.

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These Are First-Run Devices

It's also important to note that both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are first-generation products that are capable of running into some bugs and other issues. Early adopters might not care about that, but those who want a device that's bug- and glitch-free should keep it in mind before deciding to buy a first-generation VR headset.

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Let's Have a Chat About Price

Getting a VR headset won't be cheap. The Oculus Rift will cost customers $599, while the HTC Vive will run $799. The Rift, however, is harder to come by and as of this writing, won't be available to ship until August 2016. The more expensive HTC Vive is available to ship now and can arrive at customers' homes within five days.

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