REVIEW: THE HTC VIVE VR SYSTEM, A MAGICAL TALE OF TWO MOMENTS IN TIME

REVIEW: THE HTC VIVE VR SYSTEM, A MAGICAL TALE OF TWO MOMENTS IN TIME

Magical Moments in Time. There are moments in time that change the course of human affairs. There are moments that try men’s souls. There are also magical moments that helium-lift the high altitude party balloons of our human spirits and the collective endeavors of our species to new heights in the sky.

There are dark, frigid, and danger-filled titanic moments recognized by all. Then there are the beautifully snow encrusted and windblown Everest sized moments soulfully appreciated and scaled by the vanguard, whose steampunk valves of courage dial in the iron will to ascend and show everyone else the way ‘simply because it is there.’

Though freckled with understandable first generation flaws, the HTC/Valve Vive VR system is a magical embodiment of a sparkling champagne moment in time that will forever change the human experience. There is no going back to the beforetime. With 99.9% certainty, Arthur C. Clarke would describe the HTC Vive VR system as a compelling manifestation of Clarke’s 3rd law. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

So without further adieu, here is the HTC Vive VR system review.

Best In Class VR. Let’s make a long story short, shall we? The HTC Vive VR’s sub-millimeter tracking precision and hand controllers that together enable almost free-roaming 3D user experience (UX) with and manipulation of room-scale virtual reality simulated worldspace landscapes, open and enclosed simulation environments, story characters and personas, and a plethora of VR objects currently available and soon to be invented anew in the months and years ahead far outperform the other ‘two-paces-with-arms-outstretched,’ and couch potato, and seat potato oriented VR platforms in both scale and scope.

 HTC Vive VR

 

The HTC Vive VR is the world’s premier Virtual Reality (VR) system – no ‘bout ‘adout it, bar none.

Adorning this statement with extra cocktail party jewelry made of plastic tech motherboards and chipsets and OLED displays and laser scanning emitters of hyperbole is just unnecessary frosting on an already tasty angel food cake of true innovation – to use several totally unconnected metaphors.

Who needs frosting aside from Benjamin and Andie in Manhattan? Let’s talk the market’s blissful ignorance of customers and market adoption, which is on everyone’s monetary VR mind, both literally and virtually, just not the blissful part, for they know not the bliss, or the miss!

Speak to the VR Hand Spec, Ignore the Revolution Why Don’t You? The Vive VR is the classy, somewhat eccentric and odd, yet prodigiously smart and promiscuous hardware + software + applications platform breakthrough innovation of the second decade of the 21st century. Sorry electric car, you don’t even come in second.

Yet everyone writes and reads about VR system specs and the experientially inspiring and sensually rich VR newbie drama and the mind expanding wonder of VR . . . and then one confronts the drone mantra of required procedures for ‘setting up your VR rig.’ Uggghh.

Holy moly, good gracious, and as the famous sports announcer, Bill King used to say, “Holly Toledo.”

Hasn’t anyone seen a consumer tech platform revolution B4? We’ve already had more than a half a dozen over the past fifty years! Let’s get real, people.

We all, as a civilized collection of individual and team-based socio-economic organisms need to truly comprehend, Steve Jobs-ian like, the real pivotal import of this existential VR tech revolution that will be profoundly applied across almost the full spectrum of human affairs, needs, desires, disciplines, and the vitally important joint endeavors of our hominoid existence over the course of this coming decade of profoundly difficult climate and cultural change across our planet.

The Vive VR system does a darn good imitation of a Wright Brothers moment in time that you, me, and all of us need to gut-sense absorb in the intelligent pit of our smartwatch and fitness tracked bodies.

Drab point-by-point reviews of the VR newbie experience don’t cut it.

Amidst this true emerging tech and economic revolution the likes of which would make Steve Jobs creatively salivate atop the Himalayas of his youth, the marketplace is filled with rote guided tour comments about the 15 to 60+ minutes of room-scale and headset and desktop pc and software configuration set up required for the HTC Vive VR to properly operate, as well as the several hundred grams of power, HDMI, and USB 2.0/USB 3.0 consumer electronics cords draping off your noggin and attached to the power outlet and to the ports of your power gamer pc imbued with graphic cards on steroids.

Noted are the miniaturized accelerometers and nifty gyro sensors embedded in the headset to enable NASA-accurate type head tracking, just like the astroVRnaut you always dreamed of becoming in your youth. Hah!

Recounts of the front-facing Vive VR headset camera that gives the user a sensible-return-to-home view of their actual forward direction physical room surroundings during cases of life interrupted or even a smartphone call that needs to be answered a.s.a.p. are provided ad nauseam.

The occasional SteamVR software platform glitches are mentioned along with the somewhat clumsy and still immature HTC Vive SteamVR user interface software widget replacements for our comfortably conventional 3 decades of user interface (UI) experience with PC and Mac and Linux desktop windows UI and helpful dashboards.

We’re reminded as well about the lack of great surround sound immersion and world class integrated headphones to complete the VR experience so richly visualized inside the HTC Vive VR OLED display integrated headset that weighs significantly more than the Oculus Rift or Playstation VR headset and just may give you a neck ache if you unwisely use it for more than a few hours consecutively.

Mentions of the Oculus Rift ecosystem are often made vis a vis the subtle comparable weakness of HTC SteamVR’s portfolio of full games, simulations, experiences, apps, and first time user demo experiences for friends and family members who may want to try your new VR unit to see if they want to buy one and integrate its usefulness in their lives. Even the virtual desktop features are critiqued to no end.

These are all relevant and helpful, but rather mundane recounts of tech spec shock ‘n awe that miss describing the revolutionary point of this HTC Vive VR breakthrough in near free-roaming, room-scale virtual immersion into alternate and artificial simulations of reality.

Such tired swill of leather worn words about HTC’s two required laser ‘light tower’ trackers that need to be attached above head height on your entertainment room, basement, office, or game/play room wall (or freestanding on a pole), the rather useless comparisons bandied about regarding HTC Vive VR’s 110 degree ‘field-of-view by 2,160 x 1,200 pixel headset display operating at a nausea negating (for most people) refresh rate of 90 Hz that matches that of the Oculus Rift,’ the maximum 4.6 x 4.6 meter rectangular tracking & player roaming area of Vive VR versus the Oculus Rift’s much smaller 1.5 x 3.4 meter VR user area, the noticeably glitchy display pixelation issues that crop up when one moves one’s head too fast for the graphics processor to keep pace with the intense graphics card powered simulation computations and renderings or when one closes in on a closeup examination of a detailed virtualscape or object rendering, and yes, the occasional system crashes and required reboots when a user pushes the limits of this new tech just a tad too far are oft mentioned.

 

htcvivespecsThis litany of smarmy tech details will all wear off VR newbies like water off a duck’s back over the next 18 months faster than a mad Manhattan advertising agency fueled two Sakatini lunch – that’s a vodka dry martini with a sake bomb dropped in for good measure!

HTC and Facebook/Oculus and Samsung and Google and tens of thousands of hardware and software developers and IT and consumer electronics execs and professionals and economic policy analysts and market research firms and tens of millions of consumers spread across practically every country in the world and even the seriously-behind-the-VR-curve, ex post Steve Jobs executives at Apple want to know who’s gonna buy this new fangled gizmo, this device so seemingly ‘blink teleported’ from ten years in the future to like now, wow.

They’re all asking the same question. Who’s going to buy this new thingamajig?

Who’s going to shell out nearly a grand of hard earned mula – plus maybe a high end gamer PC if you don’t already have one — for this personal seat license to the VR playroom or stadium of our dreams, the seamlessly virtual Star Trek holodeck that any of us can artificially build in the comfort of our bedroom, our office, our basement, our entertainment room, the family garage, . . . even by inexpensively and easy peasy draping light absorbing black velvet fabric walls to the corner posts of your large trellis covered backyard patio enclosure, if forced to invent on the fly?

Heck, confiscate Fido’s dog room if you need to avoid answering the rhetorical question by taking real, not virtual action. Just complete a compassionately proper exchange of value and give Fido some Vive VR reward time in a new doggie entertainment app you become famous for designing and introducing to this planet’s dog civilized cognoscenti — the app that let’s Fido enjoy an HTC Vive VR driven and wind-in-your-dog-face-out-the-window laced ride through the pelican filled and crocodile laden Louisiana mud bogs of his puppy youth, with his head out the passenger window of a 42” diameter mud tire kitted Chevy Avalanche Z-71 sport utility truck – your new app so appropriately and hypothetically called, “Doggie Tilt.”

Yes, that’s the ticket! Just make sure to go to your local home improvement store and buy a 250 cubic foot per minute fan to blow onto Fido’s face to make his 60kph virtual car ride simulation to the kennel of puppy love more real. While you’re at it, post the Fido VR video to YouTube and show the world how a dog reacts to dog-mind-blowing virtual reality. Now that would be something, wouldn’t it?! Just take precautions and don’t blame me for funnin’ U.

Who Are the Prototype HTC Vive VR Customers? The really tough VR question, my friends and colleagues, is, “What are the hard core driven customer profile demographic vignettes and stories for this revolution in gaming, entertainment, productivity, global teaming, education, healthcare, immersive VR telepresence conferencing, future business applications, and for making your brother and sister and next door neighbors top shelf peanut butter and jealous?”

 

 buyhtcvive

Let’s take a crack at answering that rhetorically stupid question other than by stating, “Everyone who’s got mucho saved dinero or credit equivalent to a hypothetical stack of American Silver Eagle coins some 6,000 to 7,000 millimeters high!” Ninety-nine, point nine percent pure American Silver Eagles are 2.98mm thick. Do the math on your new virtual reality calculator that you yourself program as an applet for global G.A. release in 1Q.2017.

“No app, find you, . . . make, yes, become you, . . . rich, famous, handsome maybe, hmmm, good,” Yoda say.

For such are the wide-open, anti-Sinkhole de Mayo landscapes of revolutionary new VR business opportunities for this nation, for you, for your family, and yes, for your dog and cat and power turtle, and for the world at large.

So other than sweet, innocent golden labs and wire haired fox terrier VR mice chasing kibble eaters you addicted to VR without your spouse’s knowledge or consent, the smartly detailed demographic story answer to who needs to buy a VR system, perhaps an HTC Vive VR unit, is simple, but many fold. It’s all of you who need to glimpse your future self, you who desire to envision your lucrative and spiritually satisfying role in society’s economy of the third decade of the 21st century.

Be there or be square, the sage ol’ owl said.

So if you’re an avant-garde Greenwich Village, Parisian, or Shanghai artiste, a gothic Albanian teenage wanderer and wonderer in search of life’s meaning, a Feng Shui interior designer in Hong Kong, a Nigerian architect living abroad, a Romanian code punk, or a tattooed and black leather festooned Santa Cruz, California biker in search of the perfect Saturday ride to harmony itself, . . .

. . . if you’re a world class Ukranian industrial designer or an up and coming, twenty-something Moscow entrepreneur adroitly kitted up with no mob connections and the latest brand name cargo pants and v-neck cut, super-sweat wicking techie underwear tee-shirt with trade show keynote capable sport coat attire replete with an extra 6,000 Ampere Hours of Lithium Ion battery mods sewn into each side pocket, or if you’re a Silicon Valley pro-wannabe ‘blink teleported’ from another dimension, . . .

. . . if you are a seasoned Fort Lauderdale programmer who spends every morning biking to Delray Beach in hopes of seeing a green flash highlighted sunrise, or if you’re a consumer product project development manager from Chile, a venture capitalist from South Korea, a regular Nigel equity investor from Johannesburg, a special ops technician or Navy Seal operator training in the horrible summertime sun filled rigors of the surf and sand of San Diego, or if you are a motherboard designer parked in Gangnam neutral in a Tuesday morning highway retro earbud Psy jam experience in Seoul . . .

. . . if you’re a leading edge international marketing and sales guru from London, a global brand valuation expert from Tokyo, an overly busy and stressed volcanic geologist from the Cascadia and Three Sisters region of Washington state, . . .

. . . or if you are a professional techie tandem from Australia who unabashedly and sybaritically enjoy the pricey and sporty luxuries of healthy lives extended scientifically and artfully to the viscous bleeding edge of the IT and consumer electronics industries, . . .

. . . well, then . . . the HTC Vive fits every single one of your demographic vignettes and life stories like an expertly tailored Savile Row wearable, or ‘suit’ to use quaintly ol’ fashioned lingo.

It’s not perfect by any means, but the Vive VR system ain’t no silicon chip infested, second hand cheese helmet garb for down on their luck country mechanics either, folks, . . . unless you’re a prodigiously talented, transformed age of extinction type Texas mechanic prepping smartly for a truly uncertain, post Email debacle indictment of the future.

HTC Vive Virtual Reality If you’re an liquid cooled and addicted gamer or even a casual, ad hoc power gamer with a set of brand name or customized extreme PC gamer hardware called Alienware, MSI, Maingear, Falcon Northwest, Origin, Digital Storm or a dozen other top shelf power infused PC gamer desktops, and you’ve got an Intel i5-4590 class processor engine, an Nvidia GTX 970 (or better still, a 980) or AMD 290 class graphics card, and a minimum of 4GB of RAM under your PC desktop hood, then this HTC Vive VR baby should be in the SoHo space, entertainment room, basement, utility room, garage, or blacked out backyard patio of your gaming dreams.

Damn the torpedoes and damn the cost. This is the future we’re talking about. Your future!

And if your spouse or kids or neighbors or co-workers grouse about all the sensually exquisite fun you’re having creating a fantastic new future 3D, 360-degree, spherically Matrix like, visual surround experience (SX) life of outstretched imagination and cutting edge professional career advancement for yourself while they who chose not to at least casually, convivially, and communally partake of some virtual reality pie à la mode dessert continue to live mundane, Al Bundy shoe salesperson worn lives of excruciating boredom taking out the weekly trash and cleaning their rooms and mowing the lawn, then please just execute the following classically new and unique VR worldspace maneuver and do it pronto, lickety-split, like yesterday’s honey do list.

Simply clean out your garage, park your cars on the street or pay for two monthly parking spaces at that multi-level suburban or urban concrete behemoth down the way, and semi-permanently install your HTC Vive VR system in your garage.

Then every friggin’ Saturday morning at exactly ‘weekend honey-do list errand departure time’ in your neighborhood, open up that 6-meter wide by 2 1/2 meter tall holodeck garage doorway to your wondrously mortgaged VR home planet and really tick off those jealous, way-behind-the-curve stoics across and down the street and even the doubting Thomases inside your own home who decided not to take the VR plunge into the icy January Norwegian waters of your cool, calm, collected, and 23rd century Star Trek level le Capitaine Picard’s mindset of adventure.

And whilst they hold their home improvement grass clippers and hedge trimmers in anticipation of showcasing their gorgeous curb appeal landscape, deftly tease all of them visually and aurally and ever so sweetly by royally permitting them to experience your home improvement project — from the cheap seat commoner’s view dozens of meters away – let those court jesters see your new found King Midas VR haptic touch reach into the deep soul of the year 2020 five full years before your neighbors and family members knew what the heck that VR thing that sparked a new round of global IT and consumer electronics growth was even all about.

Now, if you are uncertain about the ability of your desktop PC to power drive the torrent of zero and one bits required by the HTC Vive VR system, then you can mosey on over to Valve’s SteamVR Performance Test site to make sure that your rig is Vive VR ready.

Now if you have done so already or if you aspire to one day drive a 740hp power Lamborghini Aventador ground rocket in the voluptuous and tanned Italian Alps on a perfectly sublime 2018 summer afternoon or if you dream of one day besting Swiss Jetman, Yves Rossy in an experimental jet powered winged race through the temperature gradient atmospheric dangers of the Grand Canyon in the year 2019 from the comfort of your own family room, then you are indeed the Type A adrenaline and product performance junkie who desperately needs a summer 2016 tech-motional fix by checking out the high end specs on the HTC Vive VR system.

Once that early 21st century consumer technology driven ego itch is scratched, then put on your hydrophobic textile fabricated big boy or big girl diving gear and gracefully announce your entrance into the deep end of the virtual reality pool by elegantly performing a Thornton Melon Olympics style ‘Triple Lindy’ — either with or without your VR headset on – and receiving a unanimous row of “10” cards, even from the Russian judge, as well as dozens of respectful and lustful opera clap, smiley face, and fist bump emojis from your friends, your colleagues, your team mates, your family, and quite possibly even from grandma and grandpa.

virtualrealityfutureThrow Your Hat Over the Virtual Reality Wall and Give Chase. How we comprehend this new tech, how we adopt this synthetic VR magic, how we deploy it to the rich and poor alike, how we use it for good or bad, how we improve it to make humanity better, and even how we regulate it for evolving health and safety concerns — lest we become the addicted idiot savant cyborg VR dreamslaves of some reckless current or future CEO’s or politician’s wrongheaded musings — these are the existential questions we all must individually and collectively answer in the wake of this watershed moment in history.

The HTC Vive VR system does indeed usher in a magical tale of two moments in time in the early 21st century, one very real, the other an imagined, 3-dimensional and 360 degree, spherically rich visual world of Walt Disney type wonder, adventure, family fun, and potential new horizons for productivity enhancements, and education and enlightenment. It offers the promise of compellingly productive, entertaining, and relaxing or stimulating play, yet also the certainty of a basket of uncertainties that you can help powerfully resolve with the pixels of your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.

Some 24 hours before his death, President John F. Kennedy handsomely recounted to a San Antonio, Texas audience the tale of spirited moments in time when it is apropos to ‘throw our hats over the wall’ and give chase like children in the fields of life itself. It is now time for the human race to throw its hat over the virtual reality wall and give chase for both the fun and benefit of it all. You need not choose the HTC Vive VR system, but indeed, you very much should throw you hat over the wall of your own domicile and give chase for your family’s fun and profit.


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