VIVE XR Elite REview

HTC VIVE XR Elite Review – Pushing The Boundaries

Mixed reality is the goods.

It’s a big year for virtual and mixed reality with the likes of the PlayStation VR2 already hitting the markets and the Apple Vision Pro being revealed, but that hasn’t stopped veteran companies such as HTC from continuing to lead the space. Enter the VIVE XR Elite which after the Meta Quest Pro is one of the first mixed reality headsets on the market that does quite a bit different to headsets we’ve seen before it.

Firstly, the headset is much lighter and smaller than other headsets such as the Meta Quest 2. It is designed to be used in two seperate modes with it featuring a convertible design. If you’re connecting to a computer (or a battery pack), you can use it in glasses mode which acts exactly as described

VIVE XR Elite

Two side pieces wrap around the side part of your head to sit on your face as glasses. This does feel a little bit front heavy, but even when I was moving around they never felt off my face, and did feel a lot lighter and more pleasant to wear than other VR headsets, putting no pressure on any part of my head.

If you’re using the headset in a standalone mode without a PC, you can attach remove the side glasses attachments and attach the battery cradle to the back, which is closer resembles other VR headsets. It’s still a light and very comfortable experience, with the only issue I faced being the light shield occasionally falling off or unclipping. You can expect about two hours of battery life with the battery strap on.

VIVE XR Elite

In either mode, the VIVE XR Elite is designed to be worn without glasses. If you are a glasses weather, the headset cleverly features has two diopter dials that let you set each lens to your prescription. My eyes are quite bad with an astigmatism among other things, but I was surprised how clear I was able to get it without wearing my glasses. It wasn’t perfect, just because obviously the headset moves about each time you put it on, but it was close.

It also meant that the headset can get extremely close to your face, so when wearing it, practically no light was getting let in which is a big part of the VR experience. It meant that I was able to be fully immersed whenever I had the headset on. Still though, if i had the choice between wearing glasses or going with this method, there’s positives and negatives to both.

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I’d often find myself disorientated coming out and not having my glasses on, and also, you have to adjust the dials with the light shield off, and then take the headset off, put the light shield on and then put the headset back on, which means that movements occur and put things off slightly again. The dials work great as is, but I’d have preferred a way of making minor adjustments without taking the headset off.

VIVE XR Elite

Clarity with the headset on was pretty top notch and about on par with PlayStation VR2. The resolution per eye is slightly lower at 1920 x 1920 per eye, with the field of view being 110 degrees which is on par as well. Refresh rate is 90hz which is fairly standard in the VR space.

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The controller experience is fairly on par with what’s seen on the Meta Quest or PlayStation VR2 as well, with tracking spheres and your standard analogue and sticks, triggers and buttons. Tracking worked well, with the controllers being immediately seen by the headset and never losing visibly. Hand tracking is also present and works quite well, but still definitely has its quirks.

VIVE XR Elite

The next big part of this headset is the mixed reality component with the headset having full colour pass through thanks to its high-resolution colour camera. The colour camera provides a clarity that I haven’t seen in any other VR headset that I’ve used and was great improvement on the black and white pass through on other headsets.

As with anything, software is where a headset lives or dies, and whilst mixed reality definitely works, and works well, there’s not a heap of software that takes advantage of it yet, with the likes of Unplugged: Air Guitar and Maestro VR providing an early look at how the space can be used to bring experiences into your living room. My favourite was definitely Figmin XR which lets you draw and create figures in your environment and shows off how depth can be achieved in this space super well.

I’d expect more mixed reality content to come when the Meta Quest 3 launches later this year, but really, this was my biggest issue with the VIVE XR Elite. If you’re using this as a high-end VR headset with a PC, then it’s fantastic, but at $2,000 plus a PC, that’s a pretty pricy experience.

VIVE XR Elite

Whilst the headset is capable as a standalone unit with its Snapdragon XR2 chip, the VIVE store is severely lacking. Don’t expect to find VR staples like Beat Saber, Job Simulator or the Walking Dead games. There’s a lot there, but of differing quality, and if this is your first or only VR headset, and you don’t own a gaming PC, you’re going to be missing out a lot.

Of course, if you have a high-end PC, you can easily connect the headset over USB-C and play all of your PCVR games including the likes of Half Life: Alyx and it works exactly as expected, if not better.

All-in-all, the VIVE XR Elite is a really good mixed reality headsets that feels like it evolves what we’ve used in the past, but it’s it’s a tougher market than ever, and software is potentially the missing component in this. It’ll only be made better as time goes on with the likes of Meta and Apple entering the mixed reality race and the software starts flowing.

VIVE XR Elite REview
CONCLUSION
The HTC VIVE XR Elite is a great piece of hardware. It's slim, light and allows for immersive virtual and mixed reality experiences. As a standalone headset, it's let down by missing software, but it's still an excellent wired headset when paired with a high-end PC.
Loved
Light And Slim
Two Different Modes Are Both Great Experiences
Mixed Reality Is The Goods
Compensates Well For Glasses Wearers
Didn't Love
Limited Software In Standalone Mode