My experience with the HTC Vive Focus 3 as a VR newbie
Guest Post: Eugenie (a VR-obsessed Newbie)
HTC’s latest all-in-one Virtual Reality (VR) headset is the Vive Focus 3 and I was lucky enough to test it out through my friends at Remio.
I’m quite the beginner in VR and my frame of reference was shaped by the Oculus Quest headsets. In fact, my only experience in VR has been through the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets. Gaming and socializing with friends have been my main use cases for VR, but I’ve recently learned that many people actually work in VR and spend over 40 hours per week in their headsets.
Browsing HTC’s website, I noticed that the Vive Focus 3 is made for business professionals and work related activities instead of gaming.
Nevertheless, I decided to give it a try and share my experience. I won’t be diving into the technical details because I’m not very tech savvy—instead I’ll share my high-level thoughts which might be helpful for those who are also new to VR and would like to know about the new Focus 3 headset. Without further ado, I’ll start with the things I liked.
What I like about the Vive Focus 3
1. The design
The Focus 3 almost looks like a fancy set of ski-goggles with a VR twist. It looks sleek, classy, and professional.
Although the design and aesthetics of the headset look fantastic, when you hold it, it feels slightly empty or of low quality compared to the compact feeling of the Quest 2. To me, it’s similar to that feeling you got in 2013 when holding a Samsung phone (Vive Focus 3) compared to an iPhone (Quest 2).
2. It's extremely comfortable
This is probably this biggest plus for me. The Focus 3 is extremely comfortable—It feels like I’m wearing a pair of reading glasses. They’ve done a great job at improving the weight distribution to prevent neck strain by positioning the battery behind the head as a counterweight. It’s similar to the other well-balanced headsets out there that I’ve fitted, such as the Pico Neo 2.
The Focus 3 headstrap provides tons of cushioning and is curved to fit your head comfortably. The padding in the front is also super soft and gentle on my skin, which is a plus.
My experience with the Quest 2 has been horrible when it comes to comfort. I struggle to spend more than 40 minutes in the headsets without developing a pain in my neck and a red warm face. An added bonus is that the Focus 3 has an active cooling mechanism and thermal-optimized battery so I don’t ever get as warm as I do when using the Quest.
The straps are also curved so that it doesn’t touch and pull on your ears.
Vive has definitely gone above and beyond to make sure their users have longer immersive sessions to work and collaborate in their headset.
I haven’t tried the Quest 2 Elite Strap yet, but it sounds like it should provide a similar level of comfort.
3. It's easily adjustable
I really appreciate that I can turn a nob at the back to adjust the straps without having to pull on straps ending up with a lob-sided headset and one side pulling way too hard. I’d say it’s definitely much better than the Quest 2, but the knob turning feels slightly less satisfying to me than that of the Pico Neo 2.
You can also easily adjust the distance between the lenses (IPD) by turning the nob underneath the nose-hole.
4. I can easily clean the cushions
The magnetic face and rear cushions are easy to remove and the material is easy to clean.
5. The controllers are similar to the Quest 2
It’s great that the controllers are similar to the Oculus Quest controllers, especially since many people are familiar with these controllers. Learning how to use a new type of technology is hard enough as it is, so I’m extremely happy to see that these products are converging to some sort of ‘standard’, making it easier to navigate and switch between different devices. As another mobile phone analogy; it reminds me of how we had many different form factors for phones — flip-phone, large keyboard, compact keyboard, etc… — and how they all converged into an almost identical touch screen form factor.
What I don't like about the Vive Focus 3
1. The controllers feel awkward in my hands
Even though I’m super grateful for the standard UX design, being similar to the Quest 2, it feels strange in my hands. The Quest’s controllers are more curved and almost feel like it ‘disappears’ in my hand, whereas the Focus 3’s controllers feel too long or big for my hands.
That being said, I do have small hands so if you have larger hands, it might be perfect for you.
On another note, the operating system still needs a bit of UX refinement, but they are getting there. Oculus has done a great job at providing tactile, VFX, and SFX feedback when hovering over the menu and typing.
2. Unintuitive hardware
In terms of hardware UX, it seems overly complex. For example, after unboxing it, it took me about 10 minutes to figure out how to turn it on. The Focus 3 has a non-obvious power button at the back and a button on the side. I might’ve gotten confused because I’m used to my Quest 2, where there’s a single power button on the side of the headset.
3. I struggled to find my sweet spot
Vive stated on their website that the Focus 3 has an ultra wide range of IPD (inter-pupillary distance) adjustment, making it easier to find your sweet spot with the dial design while wearing the headset. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem easier for me.
I think the dial design is a great idea as you don’t have to take the headset off to set it, like you would with the Quest 2. But to me, the Focus 3 had a very small sweet spot.
I had to really wiggle the headset around and play with the lense distances to find my sweet spot. Once found, the visuals are crystal clear, but only if you keep your eyes dead-center. Any visuals that are not straight ahead of you are blurry and out of focus which is extremely annoying.
4. The fan is loud
The fan of the headset is super loud. This alone will make me take the headset off within the first 2 minutes and stop me from exploring more. I never thought of myself as being sound sensitive, but the fan made it unbearably difficult to hear myself think or speak.
I love that the fan helps to cool down temperatures but I’m not sure it’s worth it if it’s that loud?
5. I have a love-hate relationship with the App store
The app store is still in the early stages and there’s a lot of great Business tools on there already, such as ImmersedVR and Remio. I’m excited to try out those tools but, unfortunately, they don’t have a lot of consumer-facing content or games. It will be interesting to see where HTC goes with the app store for the Focus 3.
6. The charging cable
Lastly, the charging cable is custom and not the universal USB C, which is sub-optimal when travelling and when you lose the original cable.
Things I'd still like to test
There are some features that are a bit harder for me to review such as the audio quality, microphone quality, and microphone noise cancellation. If you’ve tried out the Focus 3, I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you experienced it, let me know in the comments below.
I'd love to hear your thoughts
Have you tried VR before? What are your thoughts on the Focus 3?
I’m planning to write a review of the Oculus Quest 2 and the Pico Neo 2 as well. Let me know what you’d like me to cover next in the comments below!
Views and opinions expressed in this article are mine personally and do not represent those of Remio or the people at Remio.