Late final yr, Meta expanded the bounds of shopper combined actuality when it launched the Quest Pro. And now at CES 2023, HTC is hitting again with its personal tackle a flagship headset with the Vive XR Elite.

Right away, the XR Elite matches plenty of the Quest Pro’s spotlight specs together with assist for 2K decision (1920 x 1920) to every eye, a 90Hz refresh charge and full standalone operation. However, weighing 625 grams (versus 722 for the Quest Pro) and with a extra comfy headband, the XR Elite does a fair higher job of delivering a breezy transportable VR/AR expertise. Heck, HTC included the power to take away its battery and stuff the lens inside a comparatively compact canister for touring. That stated you’ll nonetheless have to search out room in a bag or some other place to stash its energy pack.

But it was solely after I acquired an opportunity to check HTC’s headset throughout plenty of demos that I actually began to understand how a lot has been packed inside such a small package deal. Like the Quest Pro, the XR Elite options built-in hand-tracking, so you possibly can simply and intuitively use gesture controls in video games. And with assist for full-color passthrough, you don’t really feel such as you’re remoted within the lonely void of VR.

Also, regardless of HTC choosing a barely older Qualcomm XR2 chip (in comparison with the XR2+ chip within the Quest Pro) I used to be capable of play video games like Hubris (which initially launched on PSVR) with out the necessity for assist from a pc. Thankfully, you continue to have the choice of tethering to a desktop whenever you need to run PC-based video games or pairing along with your telephone to look at movies.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Granted, the XR Elite’s controllers nonetheless have a hoop across the high, which makes them a bit extra unwieldy than Meta’s Touch Pro gamepads. But that’s a trade-off I can reside with. The two main drawbacks of the XR Elite in comparison with the Quest Pro is its lack of refined eye and face-tracking, although HTC says it’s engaged on modules that ought to handle these shortcomings.

Unfortunately, regardless of its excessive factors, the XR Elite additionally shares loads of the identical flaws because the Quest Pro. Sure, beginning at $1,099, it’s a bit cheaper than Meta’s $1,500 rival. But that’s nonetheless prohibitively costly for anybody that’s not a bleeding edge fanatic. But the larger subject is that with all these new options, it nonetheless appears like there’s a scarcity of content material that may reap the benefits of the headset’s capabilities. Most of the video games I performed had been demos meant to showcase particular options as an alternative of full-fledged experiences.

Weighing 625 grams, the Vive XR Elite is even lighter than the Meta Quest Pro (722 grams).

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There are some annoying quirks too. While I discovered the XR Elite extra comfy than the Quest Pro, I had a more durable time dialing in my IPD (interpupillary distance) and getting the optics as tack sharp as Meta’s headset. On high of that, as a facet impact to HTC’s quest for streamlined portability, there’s so little house between the XR Elite’s lenses and your eyes, there isn’t sufficient room for folks to maintain their glasses on whereas utilizing it. HTC tried to fight this by together with diopters that may account for sure ranges of nearsightedness, however these settings solely go all the way down to -6. So whereas I don’t put on glasses myself, the headset is a a lot more durable promote for individuals who do.

For those thinking about traveling with the XR Elite, HTC even made a relatively small carrying canister for its newest headset.

Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Ultimately, because of this as spectacular as HTC’s smaller and extra transportable MR headset is on a technical degree, it nonetheless doesn’t do sufficient to transform metaverse skeptics into prepared customers, or not less than not but. But similar to the Quest Pro, in a means, HTC needed to construct the Vive XR Elite for that future to also have a likelihood of changing into actuality, each now and lengthy after the headset goes on sale someday in late February.

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