For years the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive reigned supreme, but now their starting to look like old tech. Newcomer, Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus, has better graphics, built-in audio, and inside-out motion tracking.
But hold on! HTC wasn’t just sitting back playing Beat Saber. They released the new HTC Vive Pro with better graphics, built-in audio, and both external sensors and headset mounted sensors…well, sort of. Is this upgrade good enough to beat the Odyssey Plus?
Whether you’re thinking of upgrading your old Vive or Rift or you are new VR and want the best of the best, you’ll want to keep reading. I’ll you how these two VR systems compare so you can get the best and avoid buyer’s remorse.
A Few Things to Consider Before We Start
How Big Is Your Bank Account?
Virtual Reality headset prices range from $5 to well over $1000. Even some of the comparable upper-end VR systems, like what we are looking at today, have dramatic price differences.
It may cost a lot to get the best of the best, but you may find that you can get pretty close to the best for significantly less cash.
So, you have to ask yourself, “How much is the better experience worth for me?”
How Mobile Do You Want Your VR System To Be?
Some higher-end virtual Reality systems with true motion tracking use external sensors which you set up in your room. This is great for tracking but makes it hard to take your system to another location.
A few new higher-end systems use cameras built into the headset. No setting up external sensors makes it much easier to take your headset anywhere you want to go.
Clash Of The Titans
I’ll be comparing the following features. I’ll let you know how each affects your experience, and determine which system is best in each category.
The visuals of the two headsets are rather interesting. Both have the same resolution, field of view, and type of screen (AMOLED) which are among the best of any headset. Yet, they have a very different graphic appearance.
The HTC Vive Pro has a brighter, sharper image while the Samsung Odyssey has a smoother image. This is because the Samsung has anti-SDE (anti-screen door effect) technology. The screen door effect is an issue with most VR headsets.
Because the screens are so close to your eyes, you can actually see the individual pixels on the screen. This makes the image look like you are viewing it through a screen door. While anti-SDE sounds lovely, it comes with a cost.
The way the anti-SDE tech works is essentially blurring the image to remove the lines of the screen door effect. It does accomplish its task but causes the overall image to appear duller and blurrier. It also reduces the size of the “sweet spot” in the lenses where the image looks the best.
Tie – My personal preference is the Vive Pro with the sharper image, but this is really a matter of personal preference. Both have excellent graphics. It just depends if you prefer a brighter, sharper image with a little screen door effect or if you’d prefer to get rid of the screen door effect with a blurrier image.
Both headsets are comfortable for short sessions. It’s the longer sessions where you’ll start to notice a difference.
The Odyssey has a rigid halo harness. It’s effortless to adjust for your head size with a simple dial you turn to enlarge or shrink its size. It’s lighter than the Vive Pro but puts most of the weight of the headset on your forehead where there is a good amount of padding.
The Vive Pro uses a halo harness with a strap that goes over the top of your head. With the additional strap and the design of the harness, the weight is evenly distributed across your head. So, even though it’s a little heavier, it feels lighter. Like the Odyssey, it is easy to adjust.
The evenly balanced weight distribution of the Vive Pro has a significant impact on comfort during long gaming sessions. After a while, the Odyssey starts to feel uncomfortable on your forehead. So, you’ll probably want to take a break after an hour or so.
Also, some people have complained that the rigid shape of the Samsung doesn’t fit their head right now matter how they adjust it. I hesitate to mention this because it isn’t very common, but the complaints are out there.
HTC Vive Pro – Better weight distribution allows you to play longer without a break
The Samsung and the HTC both have 3D spatial sound technology. This allows you to hear sounds as though they are coming from the appropriate direction. When you see an explosion in front of you just to the left, the sound appears to come from that direction. It adds a lot to the immersive experience of both headsets. However, how do you hear those sounds?
One of the “upgrades” of the Vive Pro (vs. the Vive) was adding integrated headphones. It makes it easier to use it right out of the box. However, the headphones don’t always sit on your ears well which affects the quality of sound and the blocking of outside noises.
That said, the HTC headphones are easily disconnected. So, you can swap in your headphones to get excellent sound quality.
The Odyssey also has built-in headphones. They did a better job positioning the headphones and holding them to your ear. So, compared to the Vive Pro, the sound is better and more immersive.
However, to remove the built-in headphones, you have to unscrew them and cut a wire. So, it’s not easy to swap if you have some awesome 3rd party headphones you’d rather use.
The Samsung Odyssey Plus – The headphone placement gives a better sound quality. However, if you have great 3rd party headphones, you could actually end up with better sound quality with the Vive Pro using your headphones.
Samsung and HTC use two very different approaches to motion tracking. The Samsung uses inside-out tracking. This means that cameras inside your headset view the space around them to track your movements. There are no external sensors.
The Odyssey’s tracking works very well about 90% of the time. Problems occur when you have to do something with your hands which is out of view of the headset mounted cameras, such as down by your side or behind your head. For example, if you draw a bow to shoot an arrow, the Odyssey can lose tracking on the hand which is drawing the bow.
The HTC Vive Pro uses outside-in tracking. This means there are sensors you place around the room which track you. The HTC motion tracking is widely considered the best tracking of any VR system. It’s nearly perfect. They have even started integrating finger tracking. This is capable of tracking your hands (and fingers) without hand controllers.
The Vive Pro also has cameras on the front of the headset for inside-out tracking. However, currently, this is only being used for specific applications to scan and incorporate objects into your virtual environment. So, it doesn’t enhance their motion tracking (not that they needed to), but the future implications are intriguing.
HTC Vive Pro – Hands down it’s the best motion tracking available.
The Odyssey and Vive Pro had controllers are different in many ways. Neither is as ergonomic as the Oculus Rift, but both do an excellent job. In terms of ergonomics, the Odyssey wins out due to the shape of the controller and position of the trackpad. It’s a little more comfortable.
The Odyssey uses two AA batteries and has pretty poor battery life. I highly recommend using rechargeable batteries as you will be changing them out frequently (depending on use).
The Vive Pro has integrated, rechargeable batteries. This is great because you don’t have to buy batteries, but it can be a problem if you forget to charge them. When fully charged they last 6-8 hours, which is fine for most people. However, when your battery runs out of power, you can’t just swap in new batteries, you have to stop playing and charge the controllers for a few hours.
The Odyssey controllers feel like cheap plastic compared to the Vive Pro. Also, the halos at the top of the controllers are larger than the Vive controllers. Some people have had issues accidentally hitting the controllers against each other.
Finally, the usability of the Vive controllers is a little better due to button placement. The Odyssey’s buttons are very close, making them harder to manage. (Remember, you can’t see the controller when in VR.) The Vive gives more space between buttons, so you know where everything is.
HTC Vive Pro – This one is pretty close, but due to the usability issues of the Odyssey, the Vive Pro wins out.
VR App Library
The HTC Vive Pro has access to all the apps in SteamVR and the Oculus Store. The Samsung Odyssey has access to both of those and the apps in the Microsoft Store.
Honestly, the Microsoft Store doesn’t add very much. You’ll likely be more than satisfied with the apps in SteamVR and the Oculus Store, but it does give a slight edge to the Odyssey.
Samsung Odyssey Plus – There are a few unique games in the Microsoft Store that the Vive Pro won’t have access to, but this isn’t a game-changer for these systems.
In terms of simplicity, the setup of the Samsung system is much easier. This is due to the inside-out tracking. So, you don’t have to set up base stations around your room like to do with the Vive Pro.
The Vive Pro, however, has one key advantage over the Odyssey if you make an additional purchase. HTC has a wireless pack you can purchase separately for the Vive and Vive Pro.
With the wireless pack, you are no longer tethered to your computer. This has a big impact on usability and your overall experience. There’s nothing like a wire getting in your way to pull you out of your virtual experience. Samsung does not have a wireless option.
Samsung Odyssey Plus – It is much simpler to set up and allows you to easily take the Odyssey with you wherever you go. The HTC wireless pack, while impressive, wasn’t quite enough to change my opinion since it is a separate purchase.
Required Computer Specs
Windows Mixed Reality, which is what the Samsung software is, has two versions. The Standard version has lesser computer requirements than the Ultra version. For the sake of this comparison, I have been using the Ultra version. The Standard version has too many downgrades to make it worth comparing.
The Windows Mixed Reality Ultra and HTC computer requirements are nearly identical. The only significant difference is that Windows Mixed Reality requires 8GB of RAM where the HTC only requires 4GB. Though, I recommend using at least 8GB for the HTC as well.
Tie – The requirements are nearly identical.
Both the HTC Vive Pro and the Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus are amazing VR systems. They are among the best on the market, and you probably won’t be disappointed with either. But there can be only one winner.
And the Winner Is?
The HTC Vive Pro – With better comfort, controllers, and motion tracking, the Vive Pro is the better overall system. You can easily overcome the Odyssey’s audio advantage with a good set of 3rd party headphones. Also, the possibility of adding the wireless pack is very nice.
But Wait! That’s Not All
While HTC is the better VR system, it’s hard to ignore the price difference. If you are upgrading from the Vive, I’d probably still go with the Vive Pro. You only have to purchase the headset and can use your old lighthouses (sensors) and hand controllers. If you don’t already have a Vive, it’s hard to justify paying so much more for the Vive Pro. The Odyssey will more than satisfy at well under half the cost.
If you are ready to step up to the best of the best, you can purchase an HTC Vive Pro here.
If you want to save some money while still getting a great VR experience, you can get the Samsung HMD Odyssey Plus here.
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