Everything You Need to Know About the HTC Vive XR Elite

The Vive XR Elite is the latest headset from HTC. Released at the tail end of March this year, the XR Elite is pitched toward the top end of the consumer market, with a comparable retail price to the Meta Quest Pro. 

One of the most notable things about the XR Elite, when looking at it in comparison to everything that’s gone before, is how much smaller and lighter it is. But while we’re always told size isn’t everything, the real questions are around whether the XR Elite is up to the task and if it’s worth its £1,300 price point. 

With plenty of other headsets on the market and more due for release over the next few months, should you buy the HTC Vive XR Elite?

In this guide, we’ll discuss the new HTC Vive XR Elite and see how it compares to the current mixed-reality devices available today. 

What Are the HTC Vive XR Elite Specs?

Before we delve into how the Vive XR Elite handles the tech it’s endowed with, here’s a quick rundown of the headset’s main specs. 

Processor: Snapdragon XR2

Display: LCD

Resolution: 1920 x 1920 pixels per eye

Refresh Rate: 90Hz

FOV: 110 degrees

IPD: 54-73mm

Audio: Dual mics and embedded speakers

Tracking: 6 DoF inside-out

Inputs: USB Type-C 3.2 Gen-1

Battery: 24.32Wh  providing up to 2 Hours life

Weight: 614g with battery or 260g without

Using the XR Elite

The lightweight headset can be used in a few ways. First up, you can use it connected to a PC or use it as a standalone device. If you wear glasses, the device will fit over these using an adapter. 

Like the Meta Quest Pro, the XR Elite is more than a VR headset; it can also provide a mixed-reality experience using real-world video captured through its own cameras with overlaid VR. 

How Does the XR Elite Stack Up Against Other Headsets?

With several major players in the virtual and mixed reality market now, before parting with your cash, it’s good to compare headsets. 

The resolution of the XR Elite comes in at 1,920 x 1,920 pixels per eye. This places it just above the Meta Quest 2 and Quest Pro, but lower than that of the Pico 4. In terms of the vibrancy of the colour palette, HTC’s new headset feels dull in comparison to the Quest Pro, achieving a similar quality to the Quest 2. 

The field of view is another aspect that doesn’t stack up against the Quest Pro; however, on paper it should beat that of the Quest 2. In addition to this, there is no depth correction on the passthrough. Colour passthrough is, however, good. 

In terms of comfort, the XR Elite excels. Being lightweight and much slimmer than other headsets, it’s comfortable to wear. Unlike its rivals, the XR Elite is heavier at the back due to the battery pack, which weighs 346 grams, whereas the front is much lighter, weighing just 249 grams. 

Although the headset is small, the controllers are not. There’s nothing new here regarding the controllers shipped with the headset. In fact, anyone who owned a Vive Focus 3 will recognise them. When we compare these controllers with the Quest Pro, they seem basic and chunky. The Quest Pro has smaller controllers with camera-based tracking. 

The Quest Pro beats the XR Elite in terms of eye tracking too. At the moment, there’s no eye tracking on the XR Elite. That said, a later add-on will make this possible. This will, however, come at an additional cost. 

Are There Many XR Elite Apps Available?

Apps and games for the XR Elite are available through the store or Viveport. Currently, the titles on offer are quite limited, with around 90 apps available a month after launch. To date, the Viveport Infinity Program, which is set to open up hundreds more titles, isn’t available on the XR Elite. 

So far, there are not many XR Elite apps that harness the mixed-reality functionality either.  At the moment, you can enjoy Figmin XR, which lets you create and play with holograms and a music-conducting app called Maestro. 

Of course, it is early days; however, as is the case with any new platform, attracting developers to create apps and games is key to the overall success, and as things stand, the XR Elite is probably not worth its price tag, or being viewed as a standalone device. 

One thing that does compensate for the lack of apps is the fact that SteamVR streaming is an option. But, to do this, you will need extra software for your PC.

HTC Vive XR Elite: The Verdict

With the current retail price of the Vive XR Elite sitting at £1,300 in the UK and $1,100 in the United States, it seems the British market has drawn the short straw. Additionally, when you consider that it’s actually more expensive than the Meta Quest Pro but only punching around the level of the Quest 2, it doesn’t represent good value for money. 

Sadly, without a bank of great apps to keep users interested, the XR Elite isn’t likely to win many people over, either. 

Where the XR Elite does break ground is in its size. The slimline design is a step forward for VR (and XR) and something that might change the shape of things to come. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will be the headset of the year and won’t steal market share from Meta and Sony. With the Apple headset available later this year, it might be wise to hang on and see what that device brings to the game. 

If you’re looking for a lightweight device to add to your growing collection of VR headsets, then the Vive XR Elite is for you. If you’re looking for your first headset, then there’s not much available here that you can’t get from the more modestly-priced Meta Quest 2. And, if mixed reality is really what you’re looking for, this doesn’t match up to the Quest Pro. 

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