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HTC Vive hands-on: That Valve VR wow-factor
I'm going to be blunt with you, words can't do justice to the experience of using HTC's Vive virtual reality headset. There's nothing quite like slipping into a virtual 3D world, as I did this week in a preview of Vive ahead of developer units shipping this spring. Cloistered in a room at the back of HTC's Mobile World Congress stand, and with the reassuring voice of a Vive engineer whispering in my ear, I got to try out a number of demo apps and environments created for the platform by Valve and others, including the first announced title for SteamVR.
Vive was the surprise bonus at HTC's keynote on Sunday, putting even the much-rumored reveal of the HTC Grip wearable in the shade. What makes it special is not only how it creates a 3D virtual world for you to immerse yourself in, but in how that world interacts with the physical space around you. As you move around room up to 15 x 15 feet, two laser emitters are used to identify exactly where you, and where you're looking, Vive then translating that to movement within the 3D environment.
Vive itself - still a prototype at this stage - resembles something like Oculus Rift at first glance: a large, matte plastic eyepiece and three stretchy straps which hold it in place over your eyes. I was able to wear it with my glasses still, though - as I found with both Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus - it did push the nosepiece somewhat uncomfortably against you nose; your mileage will probably depend on the design of your glasses.
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