HTC Vive – First Impressions

Jul 7, 2016

We recently acquired an HTC Vive. With the new wave of consumer-level VR rigs hitting the market there is a fresh demand for immersive content. We are working with video game developers and streaming personalities to innovate new ways of capturing and viewing content in VR. We have been playing with the Vive for a few days – here are my first impressions:

IMG_5503-boostWe ended up with VDK2, which is the second version of the developer kit. It comes with the headset, two remotes, two motion trackers, and a pair of developer remotes. We downloaded all the free content we could get our hands on. There is an impressive library of VR content already on Steam. The games are totally immersive and almost completely suspend your sense of reality. The Vive goes far beyond gimmick and delivers a solid WOW.  Hardware is a breeze to setup and comes with easy-to-follow guides. We went from boxed items to full VR experience in under an hour.

IMG_5500-boostThe firmware updates are important, so don’t forget to connect each controller and tracker (4x total) to the computer via USB when you first start off. Each device must be updated on its own, one after the other. You of course need a computer with some kick to run all the games. Surprisingly we have been able to run the whole VR rig and open broadcaster software simultaneously on a Gigabyte Brix system with very few dropped frames. That being said, beyond firmware updates (and there are always plenty in the infancy of any device) the Vive is a VR explorer’s dream come true.

IMG_5528One of my favorite features of this headset is the ability to use the desktop and interact with all your computer apps inside the virtual space. I was able to surf reddit on a gigantic virtual flatscreen that floated in the air before me. And there is a whole host of new and exciting 360 VR content available to stream on Youtube. I have never gone scuba diving in my life, but today I was able to tag along with Laura James and explore the depths of Puget Sound.

Vive is blowing the lid off of VR and making content and experiences possible that were previously the stuff of fiction. These past few days have been filled with new adventures inside virtual space: from a robot repair factory in Portal to wielding a virtual bow & arrow to participating in realtime VR hangouts with people across the world. Stay tuned as we post more about our upcoming development projects with HTC Vive, Unity and SteamVR. Expect more to come from Punch Drunk in VR!

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