Vive Pro Reviews Are Positive, But Price and Audio Quality Are Concerns
The Vive Pro was made available for orders on Thursday and several have made their way into purchasers’ hands already. I have tried it out myself and I concur with the general consensus among reviewers that it makes ergonomic and visual strides but the price premium is difficult to justify. This thing makes big strides in comfort (it fits easily over my regular glasses and the weight is evenly distributed; when properly adjusted it can be worn for a long time). Image clarity sees a big improvement, although since most experiences currently available are optimized for Rift and Vive, it’s of little benefit – especially when one can run the lesser headsets at higher supersampling rates. The biggest enhancement I saw was in X-Plane 11, where the improved resolution enabled me pick out the runway from the cockpit of my 737 while still far enough away for a visual approach.
Unfortunately, the unit I tried had a major failing: the built in headphones had no bass. I’m not alone in that observation. It was mentioned in the reviews from UploadVR and Road to VR, and by owners on this reddit thread (Ars Technica and Tested did not notice the flaw). HTC told Upload and Road to VR that it was a “known issue” that affected “some experiences”, but as far as I can tell it affects everything, and both when it is set as a USB audio device and as an NVIDIA audio device. It even sounds bad connected to a Mac. For a device that carries a price premium this high, it’s an unforgivable flaw, and HTC needs to get it resolved as soon as possible.
That price premium is the other major problem with the Vive Pro, and the one most reviewers keyed in on. While it’s not terribly out of line with the $800 we spent on the original Vive when it first came out, it looks very expensive next to today’s pricing for the standard Vive ($500) and Rift-with-a-third-sensor ($460). The Vive Pro headset is available by itself for $800. A pair of first-generation controllers and base stations are available as part of a $1100 “starter pack” for those who don’t already own a Vive. The upcoming SteamVR Tracking 2.0 versions (which enable a 3x larger play area) will presumably cost even more. And a “business edition” license could add $700 more based on current pricing for the first-generation Vive.