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HTC Vive XR Elite vs. Meta Quest Pro: The Ultimate Mixed-Reality Faceoff

As the market for high-end VR headsets continues to expand, the HTC Vive XR Elite is poised to go head-to-head with Meta’s Quest Pro as one of the top standalone VR headsets available today. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of these two all-in-one solutions that can also be connected to computers for PCVR gaming.

Display Resolution and Clarity

A crucial aspect of any VR headset is the quality of its display. To create an immersive experience, vibrant colors and sharp details are essential. HTC’s Vive XR Elite, like the Meta Quest Pro, employs thin pancake lenses. This design choice significantly enhances edge clarity compared to older VR headsets that use the typical Fresnel lenses. Furthermore, the Vive XR Elite boasts a slightly higher resolution of 1920 x 1920 pixels per eye, as opposed to the Quest Pro’s 1800 x 1920 resolution. Although the difference is only 6%, it may not be noticeable to the naked eye. Additionally, the Vive XR Elite offers a slightly wider field of view, clocking in at 110 degrees compared to the Quest Pro’s 106 degrees. Both headsets also operate at a refresh rate of 90Hz.

The Quest Pro features mini-LED backlighting with 500 dimming zones, which results in a greater dynamic range. On the other hand, the Vive XR Elite uses standard backlighting. While mini-LED backlights can cause blooming in high-contrast scenes, the overall advantage of a wider dynamic range often outweighs this minor drawback.

HTC has introduced a unique feature in the Vive XR Elite that may appeal to people with nearsightedness. The headset includes diopter adjustments in front of each lens, allowing for up to 6 diopters of correction. This eliminates the need for glasses for many users who would otherwise rely on them during VR sessions. However, it’s worth noting that wearing glasses may be challenging with the Vive XR Elite for individuals who fall outside the specified correction range, as the headset fits snugly and doesn’t leave much room for glasses. In contrast, the Quest Pro offers a more accommodating design that comfortably accommodates glasses.

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Standalone Use

Both the Vive XR Elite and Quest Pro offer extensive app libraries. However, it’s widely acknowledged that Meta’s Quest app store boasts a wider selection of top-tier games and applications compared to HTC’s Viveport. The Vive XR Elite compensates for this disparity by offering the option to connect to a PC for PCVR gaming. In contrast, this feature is merely an added bonus for Quest Pro owners.

HTC has chosen the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, a long-standing favorite in the VR industry, for the Vive XR Elite. Meta, on the other hand, has equipped the Quest Pro with an upgraded Snapdragon XR2+ chip, which promises 50% better performance than the XR2 in the Quest 2. However, due to the significant throttling of the Quest 2, it remains uncertain whether the Quest Pro will provide a noticeable performance boost compared to the Vive XR Elite.

Both the Vive XR Elite and Quest Pro feature inside-out tracking for the headset, eliminating the need for external tracking base stations. However, Meta has the upper hand when it comes to controllers. The Quest Pro’s advanced Touch Pro Controllers boast self-tracking capabilities, making them more advanced than HTC’s controllers, which rely on tracking rings that the headset identifies. While HTC’s solution works well in most scenarios, it may falter when your hands are out of view or when one controller is obstructed by the other.

PCVR Use

Both the Vive XR Elite and Quest Pro can be connected to desktop computers or laptops, allowing users to tackle more demanding tasks that surpass the capabilities of their built-in low-power processors. HTC and Meta have ensured that their headsets support USB-C and Wi-Fi 6E, enabling fast and reliable connections to computers. HTC’s extensive experience in the PCVR space makes it relatively straightforward to connect the Vive XR Elite to a Windows PC, whether it’s to enjoy SteamVR games or explore HTC’s PC games in VivePort. The Quest Pro, on the other hand, can also connect to Windows PCs and is one of the few VR headsets compatible with Macs. Meta even offers a remote desktop app that can display three virtual Mac screens in its productivity app, Horizon Workrooms. With a high-quality display, seamless connectivity, and a powerful GPU on your PC, both the Vive XR Elite and Quest Pro will deliver stunning VR gaming experiences. It’s challenging to go wrong with either of these VR headsets.

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Eye- and Face-Tracking

Eye- and face-tracking can substantially enhance the VR experience, particularly when it comes to virtual meetings. Bringing your virtual avatar to life by animating it with your natural eye and facial movements can be truly transformative. Meta includes eye- and face-tracking as standard in its Quest Pro, while HTC plans to offer this feature as a separate module for the Vive XR Elite in the future. Currently, for most VR gaming, browsing, content consumption, and solo work in VR, this feature doesn’t provide significant value. However, eye-tracking holds potential for rapid selection of windows, buttons, and direct movement in the foreseeable future.

Mixed-Reality

During our initial assessments, we noticed severe distortion in the mixed-reality view of the HTC Vive XR Elite, particularly around the hands. While this issue may be resolved before the final launch, it was present in the early demos during CES 2023. The Quest Pro, on the other hand, combines multiple camera views to create its mixed-reality passthrough, with minimal errors in the area between the eyes.

Furthermore, the Vive XR Elite boasts a higher passthrough resolution, addressing a common complaint among Quest Pro users. Although Meta hasn’t disclosed the resolution of its MR passthrough camera, HTC’s 16MP sensor appears to deliver better performance, especially in well-lit environments like the CES booth.

Both Meta and HTC provide functions for mapping out your environment. While HTC has included a built-in depth sensor for automatic data collection, Meta allows users to manually map their surroundings. In either case, users will be alerted to physical obstacles, rendering the need to rely on the passthrough camera while in VR unnecessary. Although the significance of mixed reality in VR headsets is currently limited, its importance is poised to grow significantly in the coming years. While the most compelling mixed-reality experiences will likely be offered by AR glasses planned for release in the next few years, VR headsets with mixed-reality capabilities still offer some noteworthy applications. For instance, Demeo, a virtual board game set on a real table, demonstrates the potential of mixed reality in VR.

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Which One to Choose?

The HTC Vive XR Elite closely rivals Meta’s Quest Pro in many aspects. While it comes at a $400 lower price point, it lacks some of the advanced tracking features found in the Quest Pro and has a less extensive selection of standalone apps compared to Meta’s offerings. The Vive XR Elite is expected to hit the market within the next two months. Following a brief period of testing at CES, we found it to be an intriguing VR headset that challenges the Quest Pro in various ways. It weighs a mere 625 grams, significantly lighter than the 772-gram Quest Pro, and features hot-swappable batteries to allay any concerns about battery life. The most unique feature of the Vive XR Elite is its glasses mode, which reduces the headset’s weight to just 273 grams, making it ideal for productivity-focused usage.

While we need more time with HTC’s latest VR headset to make a definitive recommendation, the Vive XR Elite appears to be a welcome and competitively priced alternative to the Quest Pro.

Editors’ Recommendations

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