HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap review: The Vive finally feel complete

With the release of the new Deluxe Audio Strap, the HTC Vive finally feels like a finished product instead of a glorified developer kit.

[Check out all of our Top Computex 2017 coverage, here.]

When I reviewed the HTC Vive last April, I wrote that Valve and HTC had created “the most forward-thinking VR headset on the market,” with one huge exception: design.

The Vive had its sole competitor, the Oculus Rift, completely beaten—this amazing room-scale experience, motion controls, Steam integration—except that the Rift was simply more comfortable to wear for long stints of time. “The Vive is in line with the Rift’s second-gen developer kit,” I wrote, and I stand by it. The Vive felt like a work in progress.

But not so much anymore. The first change came early on, when HTC replaced the thick ribbon cable of the launch Vive with a lighter three-in-one cable, similar to the Rift. Now, about a year into the Vive’s lifecycle, HTC’s making another change and releasing the Deluxe Audio Strap—essentially its take on the Rift’s rigid plastic headband, built-in headphones and all.

Design

Even better, you don’t need to buy a new Vive to take advantage. The Deluxe Audio Strap’s on sale for $99, and you can easily replace your launch Vive’s elastic headband in two or three minutes.

I think you’ll want to. I know, another $100 on top of the Vive’s already expensive $800 price is asking a lot, especially given that every Oculus Rift ships with this sort of headband installed. But if you’re a big Vive user it’s worth it.

HTC Vive + Deluxe Audio Strap IDG / Hayden Dingman

With the Deluxe Audio Strap installed, the HTC Vive finally feels like a finished product. It feels like Vive 2.0 actually, despite none of the internal hardware having changed—the experience is that much better.

Better even than the Rift, actually. Once again we see the leapfrog pattern so typical of VR at this stage, where Company A invents something, then Company B implements it a bit better, Company A folds in those improvements and adds a few more for good measure, and so on.

So the Vive “borrows” the Rift’s idea for a spring-loaded, rigid plastic headband. The Vive’s is better padded though, with a generous layer of foam cushioning the top and sides of your head. It feels great to put on.

The Deluxe Audio Strap tightens by way of a dial on the back, similar to a bicycle helmet or (if you’ve tried it) Microsoft’s HoloLens. Adjusting the Vive for different head sizes now takes a matter of seconds, where before it required a deft hand to get all three elastic straps in place. And while the Rift uses a rigid plastic headband, that legacy three-strap system is still in place, and it feels clunky by comparison.

HTC Vive + Deluxe Audio Strap IDG / Hayden Dingman

A quick twist of this dial and the Vive tightens right up.

Adjustments aside, I can’t overstate how much better a rigid plastic headband feels versus the Vive’s old elastic straps. Google Earth VR is a great example, because it entails a lot of looking down towards the ground. With the old elastic band, the Vive’s weight would pull the headset away from your eyes, causing you to over-tighten the straps to keep it in place—and, over time, causing soreness on your cheekbones and around your eye sockets from the pressure. With the more rigid design of the Deluxe Audio Strap, the Vive is always the same distance away, kept firmly in place while you stare at the miniature Grand Canyon or whatever.

This also applies to any active VR games, like Holopoint or Space Pirate Trainer. Before, I had a hard time keeping the Vive in place without cinching it so tight it dug into my face. I feel a lot more secure leaping around the room with the Deluxe Audio Strap. The headset’s weight is better balanced, it sits firm (but not tight) on my head, and I don’t notice nearly as much wobbling as I duck, bob, and weave around.

Audio

Then there are the headphones, a feature I thought was gimmicky when Oculus introduced it but which soon proved its worth once I had the Rift and Vive in my home. With the Rift’s built-in headphones, VR is only ever as far away as “Put on the headset.” Everything else is ready and waiting.

Next page: Audio quality continues, installation, bottom line

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags HTC Vive

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Hayden Dingman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?