A showdown between the Rift and Vive. Credit: PC World

One of the challenges you face entering VR is figuring out where your money should go. There are a wealth of great experiences, but which is right for you? There are two setups for serious fitness heads: the Rift and the Vive.

Price Points

Oculus’ Rift headset is an excellent value. At $399, it’s basically half the cost of a Vive. It was also first to hit the market, which makes it one of the largest platforms for development.

Enter Steam, Valve, HTC and the Vive. At $699, the Vive presents a considerable investment in VR as a platform. There’s also the PC you need to build to run it. Here’s why it’s not only worth the cost but worth the effort to jump on board the Vive.

Immersion

I want to begin by saying that the Rift is immersive and impressive in its own right. It’s also geared to lower technical specs than the Vive, which is why we consider the Rift an entry level VR setup, while the Vive is more luxury.

Immersion is a big reason why. An upgraded Vive (with improved audio output) feels incredible the first time you put it on. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but resistance isn’t a turn off for fitness. With the proper space, you’re fully immersed in the game. There’s really no other way to explain it, but we’ll try anyway.

The Vive’s refresh rate is 90 Hz, with a full 110-degree field of view and six degrees of freedom. Two screens, with one for each eye and a display output of 1080×1200. You get to do everything short of tasting, touching and smelling the world (and we’re not that far off from at least a few of those). In short, the Vive is incredibly immersive and will only get better.

Tracking and Movement

Credit to: Pocket Now

Nestled inside the Vive are little divots that contain small sensors that assist in positioning you around the room. Sensors you mount to your wall during setup essentially scan your room and find objects you might trip over or run into. A front facing camera allows you to look at the room without removing your headset. Steam VR, the underlying software running Vive, prevents you from moving to certain locations with a blue wall with the chaperone system.

Playing a VR game like Holopoint looks incredible to the visual and auditory senses while activating an adrenaline rush to move in VR. With room to squat and to pivot as you fling arrows off in all directions, there’s little danger of hitting anything around you.

From a technical perspective, this sets the Vive apart from the Rift significantly. The Rift may be friendlier on the wallet, but its system doesn’t allow for one-to-one tracking and room scale immersion on the same level as the Vive. At a fitness level, this means you can’t move and extend your body the way you can with the Vive.

The Vive development teams put a lot of effort into designing a system that allowed for precise motion tracking. Accessories are now available to improve motion tracking and incorporate real-world objects into VR. As a result, the common concern of motion sickness in VR is virtually non-existent in Vive.

Simple and Intuitive Setup and Use

The fitness aspect of VR is only good if it makes sense to you, and you can setup and use it. Vive has detailed instructional videos that make setup very easy. You will need one USB 3.0 port (these are color-coded blue, typically), and HDMI 1.4 or Display Port 1.2 as the output. That’s in addition to the technical hardware required to run it, but don’t worry about figuring all of that out. Valve has a handy program you can download to check if your PC is Vive ready.

To its credit, Rift does have a similar tool, but with sensors that cannot capture the size of the playing field that Vive can, along with a few accessories that can be added to improve usage. Both the Rift and Vive will go wireless in 2018, with an HTC branded tracking solution being released soon. With a greater range of movement, the Vive will be the clear choice for fitness enthusiasts in this regard.

Final Thoughts

Although choosing between the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is a difficult one,  the Vive becomes the clear winner for fitness purposes. The Vive offers better motion tracking and control over the space around you, with a wider range to move around in and plenty of upgrades in 2018 to offer a better and more immersive experience.

With an expansive game library and a never-ending supply of fitness VR games, it’s no wonder big studios like Bethesda have paired with Valve to launch incredible AAA titles that test the boundaries of VR.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Has the reviewer of this article even used a Rift? I have four sensors in a 3 m x 3 m environment and it’s awesome. Holopoint, Thrill of the Fight, Gorn etc are all full roomscale experiences and in a room my size (which is still much bigger than a lot of people will have) a Vive would give me no benefit at all. The Rift is lighter, has better controllers, built in audio and is so much cheaper you’d be nuts to invest in a Vive for fitness unless you had a huge play space, (which no games uses) or wanted to add additional body trackers. Extra tracking devices is certainly a plus, but to my knowledge no titles at present really utilise it.

    • Hello Kevin,

      I have used the Rift, but not with as many sensors as you’ve had. In my experience, the Vive provided better motion tracking out of the box than the basic Oculus setup. The headsets are priced at their pricepoints because of the underlying technology powering their tracking. It’s true that there is enough room to move with an Oculus, but the Vive has the better feel to it because of the types of sensors used.

      Early adopters of Oculus have seen the platform grow a lot, with better more intuitive controls that Vive has had since launch. The price point is extremely competitive, but for fitness enthusiasts the Vive offers the superior user experience. Take the motion tracker as an example, which can attach to nearly any real-world object. When anything can become a controller, you get a more unique experience. Add in the more precise tracking, currently available I think on more than a dozen titles, and it just presents a better experience overall.

      I wanted to be careful not to imply the Vive is wholly better than the Rift, and was careful to say that this is now a loaded question for someone who is a general gamer. That said, fitness enthusiasts really can’t ask for a better experience than what the Vive offers.

      • Hey Richard,

        Thanks for the reply. You really need to try a four sensor rift set up to compare to the Vive, obviously the 2 sensor, non roomscale setup won’t compete. Your review comes across as being a year out of date. The Vive released as a complete package whereas the rift came out rather unprepared with no motion controllers and a single sensor for seated experiences. This led to virtual reality enthusiasts with the budget jumping on board the Vive. However Oculus caught up massively in 2017. They already had a slightly better screen than the Vive, with better clarity across the field of the view, less screendoor effect, and the headset is lighter and more comfortable with built in headphones as standard This was because at release the Rift was meant for driving and cockpit simulation games where greater visual fidelity were more important. But it lacked controllers and a roomscale setup. The touch controllers released some months later, and are universally considered much better than the Vive wands allowing hand and finger gestures and a greater level of interaction. They also added a second sensor at this point for standing, forward facing experiences. But it still lacked roomscale

        Then they updated their sensor tracking allowing for multiple sensors and a true roomscale experience. 3 sensors (an additional £59 in UK) gives you solid roomscale, 4 sensors makes the experience better than the current Vive setup in small/medium rooms. Vive still has a larger playspace so in a warehouse type setup it would be better. However in the average home environment a 4 sensor rift setup actually offers a more accurate and responsive tracking experience now than the two Vive lighthouses. Furthermore the price of the Rift isn’t lower because of inferior technology, it’s lower because of the huge megalith behind namely Facebook who have slashed the price to make it the number one Windows HMD on the market. This has been reflected in recent trends showing that for the first time, the Rift has overtaken Vive as the number one headset on Steam, meaning more Rift users are purchasing Steam titles than Vive, (although its currently dead even).

        The current Vive, from a place of previous dominance is now slightly behind in all areas, including controllers, tracking, comfort, price etc. Some online resources actually stopped recommending buying the Vive at all on account of this.

        As HTC simply can’t compete with Oculus on price, they have now responded by announcing an updated model, which will have built in audio as standard (which the rift already has), a new superior screen (same as Samsung Odyssey) and new 2.0 lighthouse sensors replacing the current ones and crucially allowing more than 2 to be used. This WILL put their tracking solution ahead of the rift again. However this is scheduled for release later in the year meaning that the current Vive is a terrible buy for new consumers, it’s literally obsolete technology and is absolutely not worth purchasing at this point. The rift offers a better overall experience for a much lower price point, the Samsung Odyssey offers a far better display and the inside out tracking eliminates the need for an external tracking solution all together and is also cheaper than the current Vive.

        I wholeheartedly agree that the new revised Vive 1.5 coming out later this year will put them back into the number one position, at least for a while, but anyone considering buy a HMD right now would be far better served with a Rift or Odyssey, or else waiting until the new Vive gets released.

        Anyway, although I disagree with your review let me sign off by saying I love your website. Since buying my headset in the summer my VR usage is almost 75% geared towards fitness. I have a huge amount of expensive gym equipment including a Concept 2 Model E Rower connected to my pc, a £1000 stationary bike with built in road video and incline/decline simulation plus several hundred pounds worth of adjustable dumbell and weights equipment. The ONLY thing I can consistently be motivated to use is my VR headset though. I play BoxVr for an hour every single night and also love the training on Knockout League and the fights on Thrill of the Fight. I would say virtual reality fitness has been a life changing discovery for me, making working out a pleasure rather than a chore. For sure that is one thing we very much agree on!

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