Virtual Reality tech is getting better and better.
At the same, time it’s getting more affordable. If you are ready to get into the VR game but don’t want to shell out a month’s rent for the top-of-the-line system, the HTC Vive and PSVR are great options.
Both the PSVR and HTC Vive give you an advanced virtual reality experience.
However, which is better. In a battle that pits the HTC Vive vs Playstation VR, who would win?
If you are in a hurry and you’d like to know which I think is better up front, here you go…
I think the HTC Vive (check the last price) is better.
If your curious why I think the HTC Vive is better than the PSVR, read on.
Things to Consider Before Buying a VR Headset
Before we dig into the comparison of these two VR systems, there are a few things to consider which can help you decide which system is best for you.
My analysis examines the system from the perspective of the general population.
Your specific situation or preferences may change which system is best for you.
Do You Already Own a PlayStation 4 or Gaming PC?
The HTC Vive only works with a decent gaming PC while the PSVR only works with a PlayStation 4 console.
If you own a gaming PC but do not own a PlayStation 4, then you’ll save a considerable amount of money going with the HTC over the PSVR.
Of course, the reverse is true as well. If you own a PlayStation but not a gaming PC, the PSVR is less expensive overall.
Are There Any Specific Apps or Games You Want to Play?
While there are some games/apps available for both the Vive and PlayStation VR, there are also several which are exclusive to PC or PlayStation.
If you are dying to play Farpoint or Astro Bot VR Rescue, you’ll need to go with the PSVR. Before you buy, look through the PlayStation VR library (here), HTC Viveport (here), and SteamVR library (here) to see if any of your favorite games are exclusive to one system or the other.
Let’s Get Ready To Rumble! HTC Vive vs PSVR
The HTC Vive and PlayStation VR are both early entries into the virtual reality competition. At this point, neither are the top of the line, but both can give a satisfying virtual reality experience for most people. Which, however, can give a better experience?
To answer that, I’m going to look at several criteria. For each, I describe both VR systems and give a winner in that category. Then we’ll tally up the results and find a winner.
The criteria I’ll be using are…
Let’s dive in!
Both systems require a bit of setup. For the HTC Vive, you have to connect the Linkbox to both your headset and computer and then install base station sensors. The base stations can be set on a high shelf or attached to the wall. Install some software, and you’re set.
The PSVR requires you to connect your PS4, headset, and TV to the processing unit. Then connect a camera and place it on top of your TV. Next, perform some basic configuration steps, and you’re good to go.
The setup is pretty similar between the two systems except for two important differences.
There is one other setup feature to note. The Vive has an optional wireless adaptor you can purchase separately. If you are willing to spend some extra cash, you can untether yourself.
This is a game-changer. For most people, once they go wireless, they never go back.
HTC Vive – This is a close one. Both systems require a similar amount of setup. Both require you to have a computing device (computer or PS4) and both require a decent sized gaming area. You’ll probably have a winner in this category based on whether you own a computer or PS4. For me, however, the ability to go wireless puts HTC ahead.
The Vive and PSVR headsets both have a decent visual display, though there are some significant differences. The Vive has a broader field of view (110-degrees compares to the PSVR’s 100-degrees). This does affect the immersive experience, but only slightly. The PSVR has a faster refresh rate (120 Hz vs. 90 Hz), though the difference is barely noticeable.
The HTC has a better resolution, two OLED screens with a combined resolution of 2,160 x 1,200 pixels. PSVR has a single screen with a 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. Resolution, however, isn’t everything.
What powers the graphics plays a significant role. Simply put, the PlayStation hardware can’t compete with the current PC graphics cards. This allows the HTC Vive games to have much better graphics.
The one noticeable edge the PSVR has is with the screen door effect. The screen door effect is the term used to describe how images in VR systems tend to look like you are looking through a screen door. The PSVR has much less of a screen door effect. For some, this makes a big difference. For many, they stop noticing the screen door effect soon after they start playing a game.
HTC Vive – Unless the screen door effect really bothers you, the higher-quality graphics of the HTC Vive give an excellent image. This makes the VR experience that much more realistic.
Neither headset has built-in headphones. However, with a good set of headphones, either gives beautiful 3D audio. There is a difference, though.
The HTC Vive has an audio accessory called the HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap which attaches to the headset and gives you built-in headphones. It gets better, however. The audio strap also has additional padding and a more ergonomic design making the HTC much more comfortable.
HTC Vive – Out of the box, this would be a tie. However, the option of getting the deluxe audio strap nudges the Vive over the finish line first.
Early on the HTC Vive was much heavier and the PSVR was much more comfortable. However, later models of the Vive have trimmed off a considerable amount of weight and made it more comfortable.
For most, the PSVR feels more comfortable due to better weight distribution. However, some people have complained that the PlayStation VR doesn’t feel like it fits right on their head. The HTC Vive tends to rest more weight on your forehead, which can get uncomfortable after extended use.
The Vive does have one area where it out-shines the PSVR in this category. The goggles tend to fit better over your face and give a better seal, preventing outside light from getting in. Also, as I mentioned in the audio category, if you get the deluxe audio strap, the Vive is much more comfortable.
PSVR – Its lightweight, balanced design makes it more comfortable for extended play. If, however, you get the HTC audio strap, this category becomes a tie.
This is where the HTC Vive really shines. Simply put, there is no better motion tracking system on the market today except for the HTC Vive Pro.
The Vive has room-scale motion tracking that can cover a gaming area of 15’ x 15’. This allows you to move physically around your virtual environment, greatly improving the immersive experience.
The Vive’s tracking is nearly flawless. Also, the HTC hand-controllers are well-tracked and easy to use.
The PSVR has decent tracking so long as you don’t move too much. The system is designed more for cockpit games or games with limited movement. The PlayStation Move-controllers have some issues, though.
First, they are the same motion controllers that came out with the PS3. They are old tech.
Second, they are tracked by a camera on the TV in front of you, which sees the light from the controllers. If you move a controller out of view of the camera (maybe behind you), it loses tracking.
Also, if your room has a lot of light, it can affect the PlayStation’s ability to track the controllers.
HTC Vive – The Vive wins this category hands-down. Its motion tracking is superior. Its hand-controller tracking is superior. It allows you to move around the room much better than the PSVR system.
This is a tricky category to judge.
If I only go by the number of titles available for each system, the Vive would win. However, the numbers start to get closer when only count apps that are popular titles.
Also, you may have some specific games/apps you like. If that game/app is only available on one system or another, that will nudge you towards that system.
You Decide – You can find great games and apps on both systems. Check out the libraries for both system, and you decide which has more apps you like.
I know this sounds redundant, but virtual reality is all about creating a virtual reality. The more you can maintain the illusion of that reality, the better the VR experience. You can shatter any virtual reality with bad graphics or audio, outside light and sound, awkward movements, or discomfort.
The HTC Vive does an excellent job of visually and audibly creating an immersive environment. Add to that it’s (potentially) 15’ x 15’ room-scale motion tracking and you really start to feel like you are in the world the app is creating.
The PSVR starts to get there, but the limited movement continually reminds you it’s just a game. Add to it the lesser graphics, and it just can’t come close to matching the Vive.
HTC Vive – With better graphics and far-superior motion tracking, the Vive easily wins this category.
A Side Point
In this comparison, I haven’t addressed pricing, and I did that intentionally.
I want to let you know which system is better.
You can decide if it’s worth spending more to get a better system. Also, while the PSVR is definitely less expensive, you have to consider the cost of apps. PSVR games can be more expensive than Vive games, and you could quickly make up the difference in price depending on the apps you purchase.
So, which system is best?