Demoing the HTC Vive Pre

(not me pictured but this was the actual headset I tried on today)

I had the chance to demo the HTC VIVE Pre at AMD’s career fair today. The last similar demo I tried was the Oculus Rift DK2 at MaRS Discovery District for We Are Wearables Toronto late last year. This is the first time I tried on VR with room scale and motion controls.

  • Is there a screen-door effect? Yes, if you look for the lines between the pixels and focus on them you will still see them
  • Was the experience immersive? Yes, I quickly adjusted to the environment and forgot where I was physically. Having motion controllers that synchronize with your virtual space actually help a lot because it adds a sense of control even though the rest of my body was invisible
  • The most annoying part of playing with VR for me was the weight of the headset, and the fact that I wear wide glasses that didn’t fit very well inside the VIVE
  • I didn’t encounter any motion sickness
  • Even though I could move within the ‘play space’ defined, I felt the motion controls to be rather lacking without tracking the rest of my body along with the inability to move beyond the ‘place space’ boundaries

The two demos I tried were Job Simulator and Audioshield. I didn’t really enjoy Audioshield as much as I did with Job Simulator, but neither of the games felt like fully fleshed out games and had this shallow feel to them.

Job Simulator does a great job of making you feel immersed in the environment. I felt like I wanted to touch and pick up everything with my virtual hands. I tried passing a cup to myself behind my back and failed to catch it, but it did work and it was more of my lack of hand-eye coordination within the space. Another thing I tried was trying to roll around a ball on the floor between my hands, which was rather amusing. It felt weird to use my hands only to not actually feel any physical feedback for virtual objects which don’t really exist, but not so much so that it took away from the immersion.

I can definitely see myself investing in virtual reality down the road even though I’m not a gamer these days. It’s amazing that the technology is available today, but until I find more practical uses of it, but I would rather wait for the next generation where they polish up all the kinks for the masses.

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