At heart, every kid who has ever played a video game has been getting ready to use the HTC Vive. The way we turn our bodies to match that of a racing game, or jump when something scary happens, or even drop the controller when we get angry, is something that can actually be done in the Vive. Whether you’re sidestepping zombies for the perfect headshot or crawling across the floor to get a better look at that fantastic contraception you’ve been working on all day, how your physical body interacts in the real world matters.
It’s an incredible experience, but the HTC Vive as a whole requires some thought to decide if it’s right for you.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled some of the most important things you need to know about the HTC Vive before planning where it will live in your home.
Installation can be a little tricky
In addition to the powerful computer you already have, the HTC Vive requires thoughtful setup out of the box. Beacons, which provide room-scale convenience, should be mounted at a height of 6 to 7 feet and placed diagonally across the room. HTC provides mounting hardware, but you’ll need to know where to put the boxes before you start drilling the walls. This partly ensures that there are power outlets nearby, as each Lighthouse requires power.
The Vive headset also requires separate power from the PC, as there is a junction box that communicates with all the hardware involved in this process before it reaches your PC. The bottom line is that you’ll want to make sure you know where things will go ahead of time, and while this isn’t a deal breaker, it does require careful planning.
That doesn’t mean the Vive isn’t portable.
To test how portable the HTC Vive is, we packed up everything and went to a local radio station for a demo. Apart from the fact that you have enough energy for everything, the real problem is beacons. The mounting connectors for the Vive are standard tripod screws, so if you have a tripod that can reach the height you want, you’ll be fine.
As a last resort, we used a pair of $20 light stands and installed zippered brackets just to be sure. Turns out the last part was completely unnecessary. Everything but the PC fit into the backpack, and the demo went off without a hitch. If you want to take the Vive somewhere to share with your friends, it’s not as hard as it sounds if you have the right tools.
Constant mode is still pretty good
The Vive setup process offers two setup modes — room scale only or standing room. One asks you to walk around the perimeter of your space and map out a play area, while the other sets up a small virtual square for you to stand and interact with. Not being able to walk around means some games aren’t available to you, but that number is pretty low right now.
Standing-only mode still lets you swing your arms, still lets you turn your head, and lets you bend down and pick up objects from the virtual ground. It’s still a great experience, but not as exciting. In fact, if the Oculus Rift already had touch controllers, the experience would be pretty similar to the Vive’s standing-only mode.