HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR: Alternatives to the Oculus Rift

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HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR

Virtual Reality technology is more developed than you may realize. Once a science fiction dream, 2016 saw the release of three flagship headsets and dozens of ambitious and experimental games for us to play. And while the Oculus Rift might be the poster child for virtual reality, the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR offer a comparable experience. This makes VR accessible to everyone whether the machine you choose to drive it is mobile, a console or high-end PC. Let’s take a closer look at the world of VR as we compare the HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR against the Rift.

HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR Comparison Chart

For an interesting matchup we’ve chosen VR headsets from HTC and Sony with similar key configuration options to compare across multiple categories. Here’s how they stack up:

 HTC VivePlayStation VR
Price$469.99$324.99
Weight555 Grams610 Grams
Refresh Rate90Hz120Hz
Field of View110 degrees100 degrees
Resolution1440x1600 per eye1920x1080
Display TypeAMOLEDOLED
Pros• Incredibly immersive
• Room Scale VR
• Comfortable
• Superb tracking
• Front facing camera
• Affordable
• Close to high-end
• Range of controller options
• Multiplayer option
• Social features
Cons• Expensive
• Need plenty of room to use Room Scale
• Set-up may involve putting holes in your walls
• Slight stuttering
• Games aren’t polished
• Occasional motion sickness
• Flacky tracking
• Pay extra for Camera
• Pay extra for Move controllers
• A lot of wires
ViewView

HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR Comparison

The HTC Vive follows hot on the heals of the Oculus Rift demonstrating the capabilities of a premium VR headset. While the futuristic looking PSVR (PlayStation VR) represents he mainstream champion for virtual reality.

Both offer different games and controls compared to the Rift. Let’s take a deeper dive into how they compare.

Design and Build Quality

On first impression, it’s obvious that HTC chose function over design. While the Vive is less of a bulky box than it looks. It doesn’t win any prizes for design compared to the Oculus Rift and the PlayStation VR.

The PSVR’s futuristic design isn’t all looks, however. While the blue lights look cool, they’re actually tracking points that allow the camera to follow your head. This and other tech help to distribute weight relatively evenly around your head. It even has a quick release button to make it easier to take off and put on.

There are some flaws with the design, mind you. While the PSVR’s plastic strap helps with weight. Putting the headset on and taking it off is a little tricky, even with the button and dial to loosen the head band. The rubber sections around your face (especially the sides) feel flimsy and don’t give you the same secure, enclosed feeling as with the cushioned Vive.

Both require separate earphones (which comes bundled with the PSVR). And while the weight of these headsets isn’t something you’ll notice when you first slide them on. After 15 minutes, comfort becomes an issue.

Comfort and Fit

HTC Vive

In terms of comfort, both the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR have the upper hand over the Rift. The notches that help accommodate eyeglasses on the Vive and the adjustable quick release on the PSVR add to comfort and fit.

The swappable foam inserts and what HTC calls a nose gasket makes the Vive comfortable to wear, no matter the size or shape of your head. But we will admit that it does take some readjustment to get the fit right if you’re wearing glasses. And you must remember to loosen the straps before removing the headset to avoid taking your glasses off with the headset.

You get sweatier with the Vive since you’re moving around more, which can cause the headset to loosen a touch. Even though the HTC Vive tethers to your computer, you don’t need to worry so much about tripping, or yanking your computer off the desk. You’ll learn how to avoid getting twisted up in them over time.

The sensation of coming back to the real world after spending hours in VR takes getting used to. Since VR is an ocular experience, your eyes feel very tired post gaming session. But apples to apples, it’s the same feeling you get after an intense melee playing any other video game.

PlayStation VR

Even though the PSVR provides more of a sedentary experience, you’ll find yourself wiping down the lenses quite a few times. It’s not a deal breaker. But not ideal. The padded crown section on your forehead ensures the headset stays in place and feels comfortable.

Though the goggles typically don’t let any light in. If you accidentally bash the side during a game, they can flex lettings some of the real world in, which again isn’t ideal.

Finally, it’s not that the Vive feels heavy to use. But the PSVR feels a bit lighter, a bit more snug and less unwieldy.

Display

On balance visual quality is comparable on both the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.

Unlike the Sony, however, the Vive offers two AMOLED display with a total resolution of 2880×1600 with a 90Hz refresh rate. It also has a wider viewing angle of 110 degrees horizontally compared to the PSVR’s 100-degrees.

The display inside the PlayStation headset is a single 5.7-inch 1920×1080 OLED screen. It’s quite impressive. The RGB tech features 3 sub-pixels split to deliver a 960×1080 picture to each eye. What this does is makes it harder to see the lines between each pixel, resulting in a less noticeable screen door effect than on the Vive or Rift.

And Sony’s 120Hz refresh rate is more than the HTC has on offer. This helps the VR world look smoother to reduce motion sickness.

But there’s no handy front-facing camera, pass-through camera to see your real-world surroundings like the HTC – to see the real world, you’ll need to slide off the PSVR headset.

HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR Performance

HTC Vive Performance

Unless your restricted by the type of game you’re playing, the Vive gives you the option to sit or move around. Either way, you’ll want to set the option in settings.

While the headtracking on the Oculus Rift is impressive, the Vive takes it up a notch. There are 37 sensors in the headset alone and another 70 total split between the controllers. The sensors do a superb job of tracking your head as you look up, down, side to side.

Stepping into Vive’s VR world is breathtaking. The 9:5 aspect ratio is fantastically stellar, expanding how far up and down you can look without moving your head. And it tracks your location in a room and your hand movements via the controllers in relation to where you’re standing.

This is accomplished by the Room Scale VR feature which lets you set up a virtual rectangle, limiting you within the confines of the VR space (the chaperone grid ensures you stay within bounds). This feature makes game play feel more immersive.

The 2880×1660 resolution is superb for tricking your brain into forgetting you’re wearing a headset. Everything looks crisp and clean as you’re standing far away from objects. But when you lean in for a closer look or pick something up, objects appear less defined as the pixels smooth out.

Also, you’ll notice the screen door affect here and there if you turn your head too fast. Both the PSVR and Rift have this issue too. But it’s even more pronounced on the Vive headset, mostly depending on the game you’re playing.

HTC hasn’t put as much into spatial sound as PlayStation. But the Vive supports 3D, directional sound. Despite the tiny earbuds, sound is good. You can swap them for a pair that provide a more immersive experience.

PlayStation VR Performance

Sony recommends playing the PSVR sitting rather than standing. But you’ll still need enough room to lung, duck and turn.

Even though the 100-degree field of view is slightly smaller than the Vive or Rift. The VR worlds you’ll explore look rich, vibrant and immersive. There’s very little visible lag in images thanks to the less than 18ms latency, depending on the game.

Sony’s Camera tracks the nine LED sensors around the headset 1,000 times a second. It even tracks the back of your head so you can see behind you in a VR environment. Although the PSVR has its own spatial sound engine, it only works with wired stereo headphones.

Okay, so we’ve got to talk about the PlayStation Camera. First, it’s sold separately. Second, using an outdated Camera will cause you a lot of headaches. Third, positioning is so important with this thing. Since the camera has a limited viewing angle. Things get weird if you turn your head and it has to track the back of the headset. Then when the tracking gets unstuck, the controllers can go awry, throwing you out of the play area.

The 1:1 head tracking is good with well tracked micro movements. But if you stand up or switch the headset to a player with a different height than you. You’ll need to recalibrate the Camera. This gets annoying and it’s hard to do with just one person. 

But if you’re in the middle of a game and the perspective goes catawampus. Holding down Options on a DualShock controller proves to be a quick and effective way to recalibrate your view.

Downloading VR games can take a while, but you always know where you are in the menus. Once downloaded, games appear in your regular PS4 for you to select.

HTC Vive vs PlayStation VR Controls

HTC Vive Controllers

If you have the space, the HTC Vive gives you more scope to play around. Vive uses Valve’s Lighthouse tech to track your head and hand movements around a 15×15 foot space while you’re standing up and moving around. Consisting of two Base Stations you’ll need to place in the corners of your room, the headset and two wireless controllers have 70 sensors between them that deliver solid tracking.

The wireless, battery powered PlayStation Move-style controller sticks are larger than the Oculus Touch controllers. They include a dual stage trigger button under each forefinger. A Home button. And a textured circular touchpad – the haptic feedback lets you know when you’ve completed an action correctly. But as with any new controller, there’s a bit of a learning curve.

Since you’re gripping these things the whole time, any gestures that involve fingers and thumbs aren’t possible: there’s no finger tracking to let you do a thumbs up or get a firm grasp on things.

What we’ve seen is at least six or seven hours before the controllers need a recharge, which is good. But there are no indicators anywhere letting you know when the controllers are about to lose power while you’re playing, they just die. There are, however, virtual battery indicator lights in the main menu screen. But once they become hands, the lights disappear.

PlayStation VR Controllers

Again, playing with the PlayStation VR is a mostly seated experience. A real plus point for the PSVR (if you already own the console) is that you have the versatility of playing with just the DualShock controllers you already own. Plus, it might be easier to use the DualShock 4 gaming controllers to navigate the menus until you get into the game.

While some seated games use the DualShock controller, which is spatially aware. You’ll really want to opt for a pair of PlayStation Move controllers to take advantage of everything the PSVR has to offer. And as long as your setup is tight, the PlayStation Camera will track the Move controllers well.

Now, we have to say that they’re not as intuitively designed as the Oculus Touch controllers. And like the HTC Vive controllers, finger tracking isn’t available here either. But they’re smaller, lighter and less unwieldy to manage than the Vive controllers.

Motion Sickness

When it comes to VR, motion sickness is a real possibility. This largely depends on the game you’re playing for both VR headsets (like the ones that involve high velocity). In static games, it’s much less of a problem. And of course, it also depends on the player.

Using the HTC Vive’s headset for hours, the VR experience is fine and doesn’t trigger any feelings of motion sickness for the most part. But while not as much of a problem with the more expensive Vive, you can’t ignore it with the PlayStation VR.

Sony recommends taking a 15-minute break after an hour. And we strongly stand behind that, no matter how tempting it might be to keep pushing forward. Even with static games, you still want to keep an eye out for headaches and eye strain. Again, regular breaks are strongly advised.

Bottom Line

While the Oculus Rift is impressive, the Vive’s ability to use room scale secures the future of VR. You’ll need plenty of room to VR with the HTC Vive. You’ll also need to purchase the Lighthouse base stations, the two controllers and some games to start you off. And you can’t forget about the PC setup. You’ll want to ensure that you have a PC powerful enough to run HTC Vive for all this to work.

The Sony PlayStation VR is a bit more accessible, especially if you already have a PS4. But you’ll also need the PlayStation Camera and Move controllers. And don’t forget games; you get higher graphical detail on some titles. You still get a good experience on the regular PS4. But the PS4 Pro runs some PSVR games better than the standard console.