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Vive XR Elite hands-on at CES 2023: HTC’s even more portable answer to the Meta Quest Pro

Late last year, Meta expanded the limits of consumer mixed reality when it released the Quest Pro. And now at CES 2023, HTC is hitting back with its own take on a flagship headset with the Vive XR Elite.

Video transcript

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SAM RUTHERFORD: Last year, Meta tried to make a big leap in terms of AR and VR capabilities when they released the Meta Quest Pro. But now at CES 2023, it's HTC is trying to show off its new flagship consumer headset, the Vive XR Elite. With a starting price of $1099, the XR Elite is a little bit cheaper than the Meta Quest Pro, but it delivers a lot of the same features.

So one nice thing about the Vive XR Elite is that it has the pass through camera. So even though I'm playing a game, I can still see our wonderful cameraman Joel over there, which delivers that full mixed reality. You're not just siloed into just VR or AR. You do get both. On the inside, you get new displays with 2K resolution per eye with a 90 Hz refresh rate.

So once again, very similar to the quest pro. But one thing I really like is just how light and easy it is to use. It weighs right around 650 grams, which is significant later. And when you put it on, It's definitely more comfortable. Compared to my use with the Quest Pro, sometimes I get almost a bruise on my forehead because of how tight you had to wear it and how heavy this thing is.

Now, HTC tries to distribute the weight better because you have the optics in front, and then you have a battery pack around back. And it's just really easy to put on. There's a simple knob in back for tightening the headband. And then if you look down bottom, there is a simple slide for adjusting IPD.

Now one interesting thing is that for people who wear glasses, this might not be the best choice because there's so little room between your eyes and the lenses, you can't wear glasses. So that's why you have adjustable magnification on the inside. The problem with that is it only extends to certain levels of prescriptions. So if you have a really nearsighted prescription, this thing might not work for you.

So right now, I'm playing a game called "Hubris," which is a game that's already released, and it's available on other VR platforms, including PS VR. But obviously, one of the nice things about the improved performance of Vive XR Elite is that now I can play this completely standalone all in the headset. I'm not tethered to a device. There's no wires. I don't have to be connected to a PC.

So at CES 2023, there are a bunch of demos that really showed off the various capabilities of the XR Elite, which includes stuff like hand tracking, which is obviously very important because it's nice to use controllers every now and again. And the controllers if you've seen Vive stuff before, very similar to what we got in the past. But because there's hand-tracking, you get that a little bit more immersion. And there's a little bit less of a learning curve depending on the app too, which is also really nice.

In my show, we were able to conduct an orchestra. So I had a controller in one hand, and then I was pointing to various strength sections to cue them in time with the game. There's also a game "Reso," which is sort of like "Beat Saber," but for athletes. And I was testing the reaction time, and it was really nice because you're not trapped in VR. So you don't feel as alone as you might if you're just in a black void playing a game off by yourself.

That also extended to another game like [INAUDIBLE], where I'm seeing monsters spawn out of a portal and I'm moving around, but I'm also interacting with the room around me. And once again, I don't feel as isolated as I might if I was just in a pure VR game. Now obviously, this thing has just come out, and so there's going to be a little bit of a learning curve and a little bit of a wait time for developers to create new apps and software to really take advantage of this new hardware.

And that's something that I mentioned in my review of the Meta Quest Pro last year. But the nice thing is, now with the upcoming release of the Vive XR Elite, HTC finally has something that it can really go toe to toe against the Meta Quest Pro. That said, there are a few things missing. So unlike the Meta Quest Pro, it doesn't have the same level of eye tracking, and especially facial tracking.

Although, HTC says there will be add-ons coming out later this year that will expand those capabilities. So like I said, very much a work in progress. But for now, the hardware is definitely pretty impressive. But the biggest downside is that with a price tag above $1,000, similar to the Meta Quest Pro, HTC is asking a lot even for those bleeding heart early adopters when it comes to testing out new mixed reality hardware.

But that's it for now. For more from CES 2023, stay tuned to Engadget for more news, hands-ons, and videos.

[MUSIC PLAYING]