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Vive XR Elite hands-on: HTC’s extra moveable reply to the Meta Quest Professional

Late final 12 months, Meta expanded the boundaries of shopper combined actuality when it launched the Quest Professional. And now at CES 2023, HTC is hitting again with its personal tackle a flagship headset with the Vive XR Elite.

Instantly, the XR Elite matches plenty of the Quest Professional’s spotlight specs together with assist for 2K decision (1920 x 1920) to every eye, a 90Hz refresh fee and full standalone operation. Nevertheless, weighing 625 grams (versus 722 for the Quest Professional) and with a extra comfy headband, the XR Elite does an excellent higher job of delivering a breezy moveable VR/AR expertise. Heck, HTC included the flexibility to take away its battery and stuff the lens inside a comparatively compact canister for touring. That mentioned you’ll nonetheless have to seek out room in a bag or elsewhere to stash its energy pack.

Nevertheless it was solely after I acquired an opportunity to check HTC’s headset throughout plenty of demos that I actually began to understand how a lot has been packed inside such a small bundle. Just like the Quest Professional, the XR Elite options built-in hand-tracking, so you possibly can simply and intuitively use gesture controls in video games. And with assist for full-color passthrough, you don’t really feel such as you’re remoted within the lonely void of VR.

Additionally, regardless of HTC choosing a barely older Qualcomm XR2 chip (in comparison with the XR2+ chip within the Quest Professional) I used to be capable of play video games like Hubris (which initially launched on PSVR) with out the necessity for assist from a pc. Fortunately, you continue to have the choice of tethering to a desktop whenever you need to run PC-based video games or pairing along with your cellphone to look at movies.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Granted, the XR Elite’s controllers nonetheless have a hoop across the high, which makes them a bit extra unwieldy than Meta’s Contact Professional gamepads. However that’s a trade-off I can stay with. The 2 main drawbacks of the XR Elite in comparison with the Quest Professional is its lack of refined eye and face-tracking, although HTC says it’s engaged on modules that ought to handle these shortcomings.

Sadly, regardless of its excessive factors, the XR Elite additionally shares a number of the identical flaws because the Quest Professional. Positive, beginning at $1,099, it’s a bit cheaper than Meta’s $1,500 rival. However that’s nonetheless prohibitively costly for anybody that’s not a bleeding edge fanatic. However the larger concern is that with all these new options, it nonetheless looks like there’s a scarcity of content material that may make the most of the headset’s capabilities. A lot of the video games I performed have been demos meant to showcase particular options as a substitute of full-fledged experiences.

Weighing 625 grams, the Vive XR Elite is even lighter than the Meta Quest Pro (722 grams).

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

There are some annoying quirks too. Whereas I discovered the XR Elite extra comfy than the Quest Professional, I had a more durable time dialing in my IPD (interpupillary distance) and getting the optics as tack sharp as Meta’s headset. On high of that, as a aspect impact to HTC’s quest for streamlined portability, there’s so little house between the XR Elite’s lenses and your eyes, there isn’t sufficient room for folks to maintain their glasses on whereas utilizing it. HTC tried to fight this by together with diopters that may account for sure ranges of nearsightedness, however these settings solely go all the way down to -6. So whereas I don’t put on glasses myself, the headset is a a lot more durable promote for individuals who do.

For those thinking about traveling with the XR Elite, HTC even made a relatively small carrying canister for its newest headset.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Finally, because of this as spectacular as HTC’s smaller and extra moveable MR headset is on a technical stage, it nonetheless doesn’t do sufficient to transform metaverse skeptics into prepared customers, or not less than not but. However similar to the Quest Professional, in a means, HTC needed to construct the Vive XR Elite for that future to actually have a likelihood of changing into actuality, each now and lengthy after the headset goes on sale someday in late February.

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