The original HTC Vive is starting to age. That becomes apparent when comparing the display with the one found in the Samsung Odyssey for example. Same is true for the lenses that are plagued by god rays.
Therefore HTC introduced the HTC Vive Pro, the 1.5 update that set out to do away with all the problems and introduces built in headphones to the brand. Before, consumers needed to buy the Deluxe Audio Strap add-on in order to add headphones to their Vive.
The display indeed is an update. The resolution of 1440 * 1600 pixels per eye now matches that of the Samsung Odyssey. In fact the two devices are using exactly the same OLED panel and the picture is just as crisp as the competitor’s. It is a visibule upgrade from the 1080 * 1200 pixels per eye of the Original Vive panel.
Unfortunately the lenses have not been upgraded at all. The lenses are exactly the same ones that have been introduced with the Original Vive more than 2 years ago. It is hard to understand why HTC did not upgrade this part of the headset because the god ray problem is just as big as it was in the predecessor. The lenses built into the Samsung Odyssey for example are much better and therefore overall the visuals of the Samsung headset are superior. In terms of FOV there are also no changes at all. Consumers will get exactly the same 110° FOV as the Original Vive.
As what the comfort is concerned the Vive Pro is indeed an upgrade. It feels like the Deluxe Audio Strap of the OG Vive is now built into the system. There is an adjustment wheel at the back of the device in order to guarantee a good fit for different head sizes. Overall, it is really easy to put on the headset. It feels pretty much as if you would be wearing a hard hat, it is not front-heavy at all anymore and you can spend quite an amount of time within the device without feeling uncomfortable.
Unfortunately the built in headphones do not sound good at all. They produce a very tinny sound that lacks bass. Even after a firmware update it seems this is a problem that HTC cannot fix over the air. It is quite surprising how HTC could source such bad parts for a device that they are marketing and pricing as a premium headset. The same is true for the absolute horrible microphone built into the device. There are pop noises whenever you try to use it and it makes it impossible to use the Vive Pro for professional recordings.
At least the tracking is as solid as ever. The perfect tracking of the Original Vive has even been improved by the 2.0 version of the Valve lighthouse tracking. The new version will allow for a bigger playing area should you have enough space or should you plan to use this for a VR arcade of sorts. The tracking is impeccable and a joy to use. Same can’t be said about the controllers though that are just exactly the same old Vive Wands that we know from the predecessor. The only difference is that they work with the updated 2.0 lighthouse tracking now.
At the very end of this review we must talk about the big elephant in the room. The outrageous pricing. The HTC Vive Pro costs $800 dollars and that is for the headset only! For this price you will not get any controllers or base stations. It is really only the headset. So if you already own the OG Vive controllers and base stations, that will be your upgrading price. Now the full package with the 2.0 light houses and and controllers will set you back $1399! For that price I expect a perfect headset without any flaws. Unfortunately though the Vive Pro comes with a flawed microphone, headphones and old lenses that are plagued by god rays. If the complete package was priced at around $800 I could recommend the headset and would not point out the flaws. But like this, I would rather recommend the Original Vive or the Samsung Odyssey.