Visual reality gave everyone a pleasant surprise in 2016, with the release of VR headsets by three of the leading names in the industry.
Since then, VR has seen constant advancements at an astonishingly rapid pace.
All the headsets come with their basic sets of specifications.
While we can compare one headset to another based on those specs, a major part of the whole experience depends upon the machine being used for driving the VR experience; PC for HTC and Oculus, gaming console for PSVR and smartphones for Daydream and GearVR.
If you have been hearing all the rave reviews regarding the VR experience and are thinking of getting your hands on a VR headset, we understand how confusing it must be for you to choose the best headset.
On one hand, you do not want to splurge your hard-earned money on something where the quality and experience are equally available at a lower cost.
However, you do not want to miss out on a great VR experience just to save a few bucks.
Keeping these things in mind, we cover all of the important details of the two headsets launched by the two leaders in the market; PSVR and HTC Vive.
After going through this thorough comparison of the two headsets, you will have a clear picture of what each headset has to offer, what the total cost is, and what compromises you will have to make if you decide on either of the two headsets.
Price is the basic driving force, when it comes to taking a decision regarding any purchase.
One of the major factors for the PSVR’s popularity is the fact that there are already over 40 million PS4s sitting inside the TV consoles of most homes.
PSVR requires a humble PS4, which is by far the most popular gaming console.
This means that if you already own a PS4, choosing a PSVR seems to be a sensible choice.
In this case, you will need to spend $430 for a PSVR bundle that includes a PSVR headset, controllers, a PSVR camera(absolutely mandatory) and a full-length VR game.
Just in case you do not own a PS4, you will have to spend an extra $300 to buy it.
This means that the total cost, even if you do not own a PS4, would be nearly $730.
HTC Vive launched at $799 but with time its price has dropped to $599.
This includes the HTC Vive headset, two wireless controllers, two base stations, a link box, Vive accessories, a pair of earbuds, a safety guide and a warranty card.
If you are a die-hard gamer and already own a monster PC with a good graphics card, $599 is all that you need to spend.
However, if you do not own a powerful system, you will need to spend nearly $1000 more for an upgraded system, which will raise the overall price for the HTC Vive.
Design, Comfort, Style
Sony has developed a sleek and futuristic looking design for its PSVR headset.
It is by far the most comfortable headset which can be used with for extensive hours of gameplay.
The headset is made of plastic, with a halo-like, adjustable strap.
You can adjust the size of the padded headband to closely fit the size of your head with a small button located behind the display.
The display screen doesn’t touch your face, but hangs in front of your face, due to the brilliant design.
This lets you wear your prescription glasses with ease and also doesn’t put any direct strain on your head or face.
The design of the HTC Vive is not visually attractive.
It looks more like a device that is intended for scientific torture.
However, you should never judge a book by its cover.
You will change your first impressions about this device after you experience VR with it.
The headset offers excellent comfort and durability.
It sits comfortably on your head with an adjustable, back to front and over the top of the head strap.
You can easily wear your prescription glasses with HTC Vive.
For a better fit, and to prevent any light from entering, the HTC headset has an option for interchangeable foam inserts and cushion pads.
HTC has an advantage over the PSVR because it offers the option of a passthrough camera, which lets you keep a track of the outside world while wearing the headset.
Both headsets are wired, which makes us hope to get a wireless headset soon.
HTC, however, comes with more wires, probably because it runs games on two screens simultaneously.
Neither of these headsets come with built-in headphones.
Therefore, you will need to plug in your own earphones for audio.
Vive includes a pair of earbuds as a part of its bundle.
Both headsets use an OLED display.
HTC, however, takes the lead with a sharper-looking display output.
HTC offers 1200 x 1080 pixel resolution for each eye, while PSVR offers 960 x 1080 for each eye.
HTC has a refresh rate of 90Hz, compared to PSVR’s rate of 120 Hz.
The refresh rate is the rate per second, at which the image is refreshed and displayed at the screen.
Anything below 90 Hz is found to induce motion sickness and nausea, which means HTC’s rate is adequate.
HTC’s field of view is 110 degrees, compared to 100 degrees for PSVR.
This difference is almost negligible and difficult to notice.
Both headsets let you adjust the interpupillary distance.
Since Vive has two separate display panels, it allows you to physically adjust the horizontal picture distance.
PSVR has a single display screen with software to do so.
Both headsets also let you adjust the distance of the lens from your eyes.
Sony’s PSVR and HTC Vive both offer positional tracking.
Motion tracking is Vive’s strongest advantage over PSVR.
PSVR uses small blues lights built into its headset as well as the Move controllers for movement tracking.
These lights are traced by the PSVR camera for movements.
According to Sony, these lights are tracked 1000 times per second.
The best thing is that the sensor is built at the back of the headset.
This allows you to turn your head a full 360 degrees, while in the virtual world.
HTC Vive has a more sophisticated approach.
Its headset comes with a gyrosensor, accelerometer and laser position sensors.
If this doesn’t make any sense to you, remember the lighthouses we mentioned that come with the HTC Vice bundle?
These tiny lighthouses emit a laser which tracks the sensors built on the headset and the controllers within a space span of 15 x 15 feet.
This allows you to move freely within the space.
This smooth motion tracking isn’t possible with the PSVR.
PSVR comes with a separate box that acts as a bridge between the PS4 console and the headset.
You will need to plug-in your headset to this box, which must then be plugged into the console.
There is an extra HDMI port.
You can use a cable to showcase your screen display on a television screen.
This is helpful, when there are other people with who you want to share your on-screen adventures.
As mentioned earlier, the PSVR solely requires a PS4 console to let you enjoy the VR world.
HTC, on the other hand, has additional requirements.
You must have a powerful PC with compatible features.
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater
- Intel i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350 equivalent or greater
- 4GB+ RAM
HDMI 1.4 or DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
- 1x USB 2.0 or greater port
- Windows 7 SP1 or newer
PSVR has a number of traditional games that are compatible with PSVR DualShock4 controllers.
Since these controllers come with the PS4 console, many people already have them.
In order to improve the overall VR experience, Sony has launched its VR Move controllers.
These controllers are a major disappointment.
Anyone who has them secretly wishes that they soon make an improved version.
The controller’s movements are tracked by the PSVR camera.
However, they do not provide a smooth VR experience.
HTC Vive’s Move controllers are sophisticated and excellent.
They offer high-end ergonomics and accuracy, which improve the immersive VR experience.
HTC Vive and PSVR both come from the leading industry giants.
It is inconceivable that either one of them has developed a VR headset, without thinking about the gaming library that would come with the headset.
Sony has an advantage, since it enjoys the complete support of the the community of PlayStation game developers as well as third party developers.
Sony has also developed PSVR versions of some of their popular PS games.
This ensures that their fans will not be disappointed.
HTC also has strong support from PC game developers.
There are some games that are equally compatible with both platforms.
Steam’s website offers a complete list of games for HTC Vive.
There is always room for improvement.
With that in mind, we have highlighted the problem areas for both headsets.
Both the headsets are tethered, which hinders the in-game movement.
There are numerous cables in the complete setup.
This makes it likely that will and you will get tangled up or trip over them.
A completely wireless system is highly desirable, since wires limit your movements and destroys the immersive VR experience.
It is very important to mitigate the screen door effect, which is quite visible with both headsets.
If you enjoy gaming and want an outclass VR experience with excellent visuals, HTC Vive is for you.
However, it will definitely put a dent in your budget.
HTC Vive comes with a comfortable headset, unmatchable tracking technology and terrific Move controllers.
The combination of all these things promise the best VR experience.
PSVR, on the other hand, has the most comfortable headset, good motion tracking and PSVR controllers that can easily pass the test.
Is HTC Vive really worth its price?
If you are not a gamer with a strong PC, you should stick with PSVR.
It costs half the total price for the HTC Vive.
It is equal in performance.
Both the headsets have several drawbacks.
However, HTC Vive’s price is not justified.
It is likely that you already have a PS4 console.
This makes PSVR your obvious choice.
Since Sony is good at developing games, it will likely have a rich gaming library in the future.
This detailed review of both headsets makes us very optimistic about the future of VR.
Although it has considerable room for improvement, it is already a great achievement.
The games are fun, easily accessible and work well.
The many options for VR development, both inside and outside the games.
If nurtured properly, this industry will make giant leaps in a very short period.
Until then, enjoy your VR experiences on the existing, available options.