Vive Comfort Part 2

May 28, 2016

Ha — now I’ve figured something out that, for me, makes more difference than all of the previous post’s items combined: I swapped out the default face padding with the “narrow” face padding that also came with the unit.

As I posted on reddit: “I’ve spent a lot of time trying to adjust the straps, lenses and cushions on the Vive and was pretty bummed out that no matter what I tried, it seemed uncomfortable to use and would imprint itself onto my nose like so: http://imgur.com/ewmBXCW

I was pretty much ignoring the narrow face plates because I was thinking “Oh, I’ve got a reasonably big head and that’s probably for children and the like.” No — it was the panacea I’ve been looking for. It took me a week to bother trying the narrow face cushion, but it’s super fast to swap out so there’s no reason to not try it!”


Vive comfort hacks!

May 27, 2016

I’m finally starting to figure out ways to make VR comfortable to use for longer than 10 minutes at a time. Things that have worked for me:

-Remove the padding near the nose (see pic, just move it slightly downwards) — this seemed to physically be more comfortable, but also allows a bit more airflowWP_20160527_02_18_46_Pro.jpg
-Have overhead fan on. Yes, it’s a potential obstacle, but the breeze helps a lot
-Earbuds instead of headphones! I did not realize just how much the headphones were contributing to my “overheating” issues, and the earbuds seem slightly easier to keep on as well
-Have a place to put the controllers. I have some loose cargo shorts, and the pockets can house the controllers when I need to set them somewhere
-Have a bottle of Gatorade nearby
-Have as close to a square area as possible

I’m now in a 3×3.3 area, and it’s a very noticeable improvement over 2×3 meters.


Vive Day 7: The Move is Upon Us

May 25, 2016

It’s time to see just how much of a bottleneck the GPU is! My new computer — to live permanently in the living room — is arriving today. It’s a pretty powerful PC, but I didn’t order a graphics card with it since the GTX 1070 is coming out soon. Until then, I’ll be transferring the GTX 960 in this machine to my VR computer. I’ll also have a chance to see how much bigger a 3×4 meter space feels compared to a 2×3 meter space. Stay tuned!


Day 4 Vive Report — Comfort Issues!

May 21, 2016

By far, by FAR my biggest complaint with the HTC Vive is how unergonomic it is. I really can’t stand to wear it more than about 10 minutes at a time due to it pressing down on the sides of my nose and it getting so hot inside the unit. I’ve tried a few different configurations, and I’m beginning to worry that the absolute discomfort, combined with mild motion sickness, will prevent me from enjoying VR as a leisurely activity.

I think a haircut may actually help a bit with the overheating issues — as for the strap adjustments, I’ll just have to keep trying.


More VR Thoughts

May 20, 2016

Ha, I had this written out and drafted:

“Having seen 2016 described as “the year of VR” by multiple outlets, and seeing the evidence myself, I thought I’d go ahead and tip my toe into the world of VR.

I went with the AuraVisor, a relatively obscure option in the VR market. To see my thoughts on it, skip ahead to the next heading.

After a few days of (April 2016) research, I concluded that these were my options:

The HTC Vive ($800) probably provides the best, most powerful experience available today. It also requires at least 2×1.5 meters to walk around — a space I could easily clear in my living room, but the real kink in the plans here is that moving my computer in there (necessary to power it) would be a major hassle. So the $800 price tag might have scared me away anyway, but logistically it just didn’t seem feasible as an introductory option.

The Oculus Rift has major shipping delays going on, and seems somewhat overshadowed by the Vive, so I didn’t give it too much thought. Somewhat similarly, Playstation VR is too far off to satisfy my immediate curiosity. Besides, these are still large commitments, money-wise… $600 and $500 + a PS4 respectively.

On the other end of the spectrum, you have Google Cardboard and its variants available for use with smartphones. Android is definitely the platform of choice for this route, and I just so happened to have gotten a Windows phone (and one without a gyroscope, at that — something smartphone VR apps use), so I didn’t want to go this route either. Samsung’s VR initiatives are android-based as well, and require their high-end phones, so it ends up being around a $600 investment, as well.

So the AuraVisor is a glorified Google Cardboard variant, priced at a premium for the conveniences it provides (a ready to go, wireless VR experience out of the box pretty much) I was okay with this idea, and this was a route to experience Android-based VR without the guilt of buying a second phone.”

— I planned on editing and posting this entry once I got my hands on the AuraVisor, but this was before I did a bit more research and became convinced that it was simply a terrible use of my money. I had indiegogo refund my contribution. If my non-gaming experiences on the Vive had been any indication, I would have looked at a few VR videos/apps, been like “well, this is underwhelming,” and regretting spending $400 on it surely. There are other reasons it’s a bad investment, but I think it’d be a waste of time to trash the product here.

If Google releases a stand-alone headset for Daydream, I might get that for my “mobile” VR solution and to compare against the Vive.


The HTC Vive Brief Review — on a barely qualifying computer

May 20, 2016

When I purchased the HTC Vive, I did so knowing that my computer barely met the minimum requirements (in particular, my GTX 960 graphics card is a bottleneck of performance). I also ordered a powerful new computer to dedicate completely to Virtual Reality, but until it arrives I’m having to make do with what I’ve got.

So, up front? If you have $800 to spend on a Vive but not enough juice to power it, it’s probably not worth the trouble. It’s a demanding, not always user-friendly setup that is going through the growing pains of early technology. Job Simulator is unplayable (dropped frames), The Lab and Audioshield frequently crash or freeze, and I have been experiencing frequent audio glitches. The technical difficulties just break immersion too often.

More general comments: If video-watching is your preferred activity, you might want to invest in Google Daydream devices instead — there is no native support for YouTube yet (though surely it’s coming), and generally videos don’t look all that hot on the Vive. Rendered environments (such as those in games or simulators) look much better, and the quality of software seems to depend a lot on how well they utilize the controllers.

My biggest complaint about the hardware is that it’s very difficult to properly fit the headset on in a way that fits well comfortably for long-term use. Adjusting the straps, getting your eyes in just the right position, all of that stuff is actually quite a challenge… and even once you get it right, you’ll still be pretty hot “inside” that thing and may want a fan blowing on you.

So how does the room-scale stuff pan out? Well, from my experience you want to do VR in one of two ways: Sitting down, or with the full recommended area. Playing with a half-room to walk around in just feels clunky. It’s totally worth moving that couch to get the extra meter of space.

So, yeah, I’m getting a pretty watered-down experience so far… and I must say in spite of all that, it’s been super fun! I’m getting the impression that the Vive is the best VR option available -if- you can clear out a whole room, but otherwise the Oculus and PS VR might win out. I hope I can find more content besides Audioshield that I’ll actually want to revisit.


HTC Vive

May 19, 2016

And so I’ve had my first VR experience! I plan to write a lot more on the topic, but my first takeaway is this — anyone who says that “you have to try it to see what it’s like” is wrong! Virtual reality is, at least if you’re relatively computer-literate, probably exactly what you expect it to be. That doesn’t mean it’s not amazing, though!