If you’re looking for a comprehensive VIVE XR Elite review, you’re in the right place. The XR headset landscape is heating up. Meta has now officially released the Meta Quest 3 and dropped the price of its Pro headset, and Apple is moving ever-closer to a release date for the Vision Pro.
However, even before that, VIVE, one of the market leaders in the extended reality landscape, was already reimagining the VR landscape with the “VIVE XR Elite”. Introduced at CES earlier this year, the XR Elite promises a powerful, comfortable, and lightweight XR experience.
Though the device hasn’t been around for long, it’s already making waves, winning numerous awards at CES and MWC 2023. There’s even a “Business” edition of the device available, with bonus user, and device management options.
So, what can the VIVE XR Elite do?
VIVE XR Elite Review: What is the VIVE XR Elite?
Introduced in March 2023, the VIVE XR Elite was positioned as a direct competitor to the Meta Quest Pro, Meta’s high-end device for professional users. It’s price tag is a little higher than that of your standard XR headset (around $1,099), but it also offers a range of unique features.
Fully mobile, configurable, and convertible, the VIVE XR Elite comes with vivid passthrough capabilities for mixed reality, and adjustable IPD components. It also features support for high-octane PC performance, depth sensing, and a fantastic 1920 pixel per eye resolution.
The Elite, unsurprisingly, features a number of design traits similar to the Meta Quest Pro. Both devices support mixed reality applications, and both feature rich components for tracking. However, unlike other devices in the XR market, the VIVE XR Elite is specifically designed for long-term use.
VIVE have tackled the common issue of VR sickness with state-of-the-art spatial awareness, a lightweight design, and an ergonomic structure.
VIVE XR Elite Review: The Specs
Let’s dive into our VIVE XR Elite review with an insight into the specs. Notably, VIVE has already announced the impending arrival of bundles and packages for the Elite headset. This means users can potentially access different faceplates, extra batteries, and more.
The base solution features the convertible headset, with a removable battery, so you can transform your device into a lightweight pair of smart glasses. You can also expect:
- Vibrant high-resolution XR passthrough
- 4 wide field-of-view tracking cameras
- Depth sensors for motion tracking
- Stepless IPD adjustment for fine-tuning
- 3480 x 1920 combined resolution
- Immersive spatial audio
- 2 hours of continuous battery power
- PC VR connectivity
- Skeletal-level hand tracking
- VIVERSE gateway access
Plus, VIVE offers a range of accessories to customize the XR Elite experience. You can switch the standard face cushion with a unique MR gasket. There’s also battery cradles, wrist trackers, and other solutions available on the VIVE website.
VIVE XR Elite Review: The Design
One of the things that really stood out to us during our VIVE XR Elite review, was the unique design of the headset. While most XR devices look more-or-less the same, VIVE has taken an innovative approach, creating a “convertible” headset.
You can remove the battery from the device, turning it into something similar to a pair of smart glasses or goggles. The headset also features adjustable IPD sliders, and a dial to change lens focus if you wear eyeglasses. Unfortunately, there’s no eye-tracking included, so foveated rendering isn’t an option. However, the Elite does offer a 90hz refresh rate, and 3840 x 1920 resolution.
Plus, there’s an impressive 100 degree field-of-view, and on-board tracking cameras supporting controller tracking and depth sensing. The faceplates on the device are interchangeable, with a specific option available for MR users. Plus, the device is extremely lightweight, weighing only around 625 grams. Even the button placement on the headset is impressive.
The right temple hinge features a small volume control, while the power button is located on the top right of the headset for easy access. For sweaty XR sessions, the Elite even allows you to remove the face mask, enabling quick cleaning.
The XR Elite Controllers
While most of the elements of the VIVE XR Elite are sleek and streamlined, the controllers are surprisingly hefty. They’re similar in style to the early Meta Quest controllers, with included tracking rings and a plastic design. Though these controllers are lightweight, they’re lacking in a few areas.
The tracking rings mean it’s easy to accidentally bash your controllers together if you’re not paying attention. The controllers themselves also don’t feel particularly intuitive. Using them may detract from your “immersive” experience.
In comparison, the Meta Quest Pro, and Meta Quest 3 controllers are a lot sleeker and more advanced. They feature an ergonomic design and more advanced tracking capabilities. Plus, built-in haptics on the Meta Quest Pro controllers allow for a truly unique XR experience.
Performance and Ease of Use
For a comprehensive VIVE XR Elite review, we need to draw a lot of attention to the performance. First, it’s worth remembering this device isn’t just intended for consumers – but businesses too. It comes with 12GB of memory, thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, and can store plenty of business apps (as well as games). You also get 128GB of on-board storage.
Setting up your VIVE XR Elite is pretty straightforward. The device walks you through everything from controller syncing, to setting up virtual guardian walls. Plus, you can connect a desktop to your XR Elite headset via a cable for instant computer software access.
In terms of the overall experience, VIVE counteracts the discomfort common with other VR/AR headsets through a fantastic resolution. The resolution is better than the Meta Quest 3, and the HTC VIVE Pro, but it’s also not the most advanced option on the market.
Controller tracking on the site is relatively good, as is the skeletal hand-tracking feature, which makes it easy to navigate your XR apps hands-free. However, it’s worth noting the battery life is a lot smaller than expected. The device will only work for 2 hours on a single charge.
VIVE XR Elite Review: What Can You Do?
VIVE clearly wanted this headset to be a versatile solution for everything from gaming to immersive collaboration, and it has succeeded in that regard. You can switch between tethered and untethered experiences, depending on your needs.
If you want to connect your system to a PC, you simply remove the battery pack, and attach the temple tips to the hinges. The system is compatible with VIVERSE, VivePort, and SteamVR, so there are plenty of applications to explore. Plus, the VIVE XR Elite can also stream directly from an Android phone, so you can enjoy video content on the move.
If you’re looking for an interesting way to take your XR experience to the next level, the VIVE accessories are worthwhile. There’s a VIVE waist tracker, which works with the inside-out tracking system on the headset for more advanced hand-tracking.
Interestingly, perhaps the strangest omission from the headset was the lack of a 3.5mm jack for audio. Although the included speakers offer fantastic, spatial sound, you might still prefer to have a headset input available for certain use cases, particularly when working in the office.
VIVE XR Elite Mixed Reality
Like Meta, VIVE is branching out of the virtual reality space with the XR Elite, offering opportunities for full-color immersive passthrough and mixed reality. However, while the VIVE XR Elite uses the same processor as the Meta Quest Pro, it’s MR features aren’t as advanced.
While Meta has been building on its mixed reality opportunities with new apps and features in the Quest store, VIVE has yet to introduce similar options. You can expand your workspace with a “virtual desk” which helps to blend your physical world with digital content.
Plus, there’s the VIVERSE for socializing, managing assets, and collaboration. The four tracking cameras on the XR Elite, and the 16-megapixel 4GB camera does allow for relatively rich pass-through viewing. However, there’s still an absence of too many software experiences to choose from.
Plus, the depth mapping can be a little off in places, causing warping when you’re viewing “AR” assets in a physical space. Hand-tracking has some consistency issues too, particularly in low light conditions, unless you happen to be using the extra tracking accessories from VIVE.
VIVE XR Elite Review: The Pros and Cons
Though the XR Elite from VIVE was clearly designed as a competitor to Meta’s Quest Pro, it only out-performs the alternative device in a handful of areas. The VIVE Elite is definitely more lightweight, ergonomic, and customizable. It also offers slightly more battery life than the Quest Pro.
However, there are some major downsides to the device too, such as the poor controllers, lack of mixed reality features, and missing features like eye tracking.
- Excellent full-color passthrough
- Comfortable, lightweight, and ergonomic design
- Works as a standalone headset, or with PC VR
- High-resolution clear displays
- Adjustable for prescription lenses
- Compact form factor for easy transportation
- Clunky controllers
- Some issues with hand tracking
- Limited mixed reality features
The VIVE XR Elite: Bottom Line
Hopefully, this VIVE XR Elite review has given you some useful insights into the pros and cons of VIVE’s powerful extended reality device. In terms of comfort, the VIVE XR Elite is one of the most attractive headsets on the market, offering a combination of lightweight design and ergonomics.
The customizable nature of the headset is impressive too. You can adjust your IPD however you like, remove the battery, and plug the device into a computer, and experiment with a range of accessories. Plus, the 4K resolution and 90hz refresh rate create a fantastic visual performance.
However, the VIVE XR Elite may not be the best solution on the market for everyone. It still suffers from a few technical issues, such as inconsistent hand tracking. The controllers are a little clunky and outdated compared to the options offered by other new headsets. Plus, the mixed reality capabilities are still limited, particularly when you consider the potential of devices like the Apple Vision Pro.