HTC Vive/VIVEPORT VR Review: The Dream VR
This review was originally created in October 2018 for HTC, targeted to their Vive/Vive Pro (VIVEPORT). It is reproduced here without alteration.
Billing itself as the “television of the future,” The Dream VR promises region-free 360-degree video content. Both as producers and distributors, The Dream VR team has brought together an eclectic collection of videos. Since the development team is based in Barcelona, it’s not too surprising that the videos are rather Eurocentric, and in fact feature the occasional use of non-English text.
Designed for the Vive as a seated or standing room-scale experience, The Dream VR can be enjoyed in the smallest of spaces. Even the Vive controllers aren’t required, as you simply use Gaze to look at menu items to select them, and then, just like with regular television, more or less just sit back and watch the video. The main difference here is that with these videos you can usually look all around you as the action takes place, sort of like a more expansive dome theater experience.
The channel categories include: Foodie, Sport, Music, Kids, Entertainment, Foundation, Travel, Fashion, Influencers, and Art. The Foodie Channel shows you how to cook various dishes. The Sport Channel has an international soccer focus. The Music Channel showcases music festivals. The Kids Channel, which has no content as of yet, will focus on educational kid-related entertainment. The Entertainment Channel features news, interviews, trends, and more. The Foundation Channel has a focus on social problems, including related organizations, humanitarian help, and refugees. The Travel Channel showcases various sites of interest around the world. The Fashion Channel showcases various fashion events and catwalks. The Influencer Channel, which has no content as of yet, will highlight a variety of content from star influencers. The Art Channel showcases art pieces.
The actual video content is of mixed quality. Some videos are clearer than others and some are more professionally conducted than others (Be sure to look out for some uncomfortable looking people caught by the 360-degree cameras!). Since control is exclusively Gaze-based, there’s a persistent circled “D” within every 360-degree video. Looking at this “D” will bring up a menu to adjust settings and return to the main selection menu. Unfortunately, while necessary due to the lack of Vive controller support, it’s nevertheless quite distracting when trying to immerse yourself in a particular video.
The bigger issue is one of discoverability. Although the video navigation system is fairly logical, mostly sticking to radial menus and left-right arrows, it’s hard to get a sense of what most videos are before actually streaming them.
Since it’s content- rather than technology-centric, The Dream VR has been made available on most other virtual reality platforms. As such, there’s nothing here that really takes advantage of the Vive’s many strengths. That’s no doubt a big reason why, for instance, we’re stuck with having that big circled “D” in our videos rather than being able to simply press a button on one of our Vive controllers.
It’s definitely a solid idea to have a specially curated selection of 360-degree videos, but, there’s not that much content overall, nor content that’s necessarily broadly appealing. While The Dream VR promises more content and features for the future, right now, there’s not enough going on to make this a recommendation. In The Dream VR‘s favor, however, it is free, so it certainly wouldn’t hurt to try it for yourself, particularly if you’re a fan of slightly off-kilter Eurocentric content involving soccer clubs or fashion shows.
Score: 2 out of 5 stars.
The Dream VR is available on Viveport or with a Viveport Subscription.