HTC Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4: Most Important Differences

HTC Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4: Most Important Differences

Published: 28-02-2023
Updated: 30-05-2023

The HTC Vive XR Elite is set to challenge the Pico 4, which we ranked as the best all-in-one VR headset. Because of this, we will pit HTC Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4, reviewing the most important differences, and helping you decide if you should wait for the XR Elite or go with the Pico 4 now.

We will compare the two VR headsets on:

Pros of the Pico 4 vs HTC Vive XR Elite

Pico 4

HTC Vive XR Elite

Best priced standalone VR headsets

Detachable back for excellent VR glasses form factor

Superior 4K+ visual performance

Better pass-through capabilities with depth sensor

Lighter than XR Elite

Faster and newer processor than Pico 4

Privacy is front and center with ISO certification

Great VR games with Viveport Infinity

App store comes with great Pico Fitness content

An extra hot swappable battery pack with fast charging

Specifications differences between the Pico 4 and Vive XR Elite

Pico 4

HTC Vive XR Elite

Display Type

4K+ (Dual LCD)

4K (Dual LCD)

Resolution

2160 x 2160 pixels per eye

1920 x 1920 pixels per eye

Refresh Rate

72/90 Hz

90 Hz

Visible Field of View

105° Diagonal

110° Diagonal

Pixels Per Degree (Diagonal)

20,6 PPD

17,5 PPD

Lens Type

Pancake

Pancake

Processor

Snapdragon XR2

Snapdragon XR2+

Weight

586 grams with head strap

625 grams with head strap

Storage (ROM)

128/256 GB

128 GB

RAM

8 GB LPDDR4

12 GB (type unknown)

Tracking

Inside-Out 6DoF with 5 integrated cameras

Inside-Out 6DoF with 5 integrated cameras, plus depth sensor

Hand tracking

Yes

Yes

Battery Life

3 hours

2 hours (2 hours more with battery cradle)

Price

€429 (128GB)/€499 (256GB)

€1,399

Release Date

October 18, 2022

Early March 2023

Design and comfort of the Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4

The Vive XR Elite has an evolved design from HTC’s predecessor headsets: HTC Vive Focus 3 and HTC Vive Flow. Firstly, the Elite follows a black color with a detachable battery in the back. This last part is noteworthy as the XR Elite can transform into a tethered VR glasses form factor by detaching its battery pack. When doing so, you shed over half its weight and have side arms resting on your ears to keep the Elite on your head. Besides increasing ease of use, this also sheds over half its weight. Interestingly, this unique VR glasses form factor takes inspiration from the HTC Vive Flow, also using side arms to provide a more slick and modern design.

Comparably, the Pico 4 features a design that distinguishes itself from Pico’s prior VR headsets with a sleeker and slimmer form factor. For context, the Pico 4 and XR Elite has similar face relief and depth,  but the Elite is slightly slimmer on your face compared to the Pico 4. 

In weight, the Pico 4 is 586 grams with its Halo strap, while the HTC XR Elite is 625 grams with its Halo strap but 273 grams in its VR glasses form factor.

In any case, both headsets are small and lightweight from the new pancake lenses used as opposed to fresnel optics.

Lastly, both VR headsets can complement its comfort using a top strap, featuring a fit-wheel at the back to adjust to the best fit.

In the end, both headsets have a sleek look, with differing takes on style one being black and the other being white. They both are similar in weight and size, offering great comfort. Looking at the fact that the XR Elite can also detach its battery to be worn like glasses gives it the edge from us.

Display differences: Pico 4 vs HTC XR Elite

The HTC Vive XR Elite and Pico 4 VR headset share the same pancake lens, refresh rate, and dual LCD display layout. Thus, the visual clarity, color accuracy, contrast, blackness levels, brightness, and smoothness will be similar. However, the field of view of the HTC XR Elite is wider at 110° compared to the 105° on the Pico 4. This is a minor increase as both FoVs are wider than our active eyesight of 60°.

The lower FoV combined with a higher resolution makes the Pico 4 produce a better visual experience. In short, Pico 4 with 2160 x 2160 and a slimmer FoV means more pixels are crammed together compared to Elite’s 1920 x 1920 in a wider FoV.

Pico 4

HTC Vive XR Elite

Resolution

2160 x 2160 pixels per eye

1920 x 1920 pixels per eye

Refresh Rate

72/90 Hz

90 Hz

Visible FoV

105° Diagonal

110° Diagonal

Pixels Per Degree (Diagonal)

20,6 PPD

17,5 PPD

Tracking of the Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4 

Concerning tracking, the Pico 4 and HTC Vive XR Elite share many similarities. Both are all-in-one headsets with 6DoF and inside-out tracking from four optical cameras while featuring a single 16 MP RGB camera used for video pass-through and mixed reality.

However, the Vive XR Elite has a dedicated depth sensor that Pico 4 doesn’t, being able to track the environment in 3D. This means the XR Elite has a more stable and believable mixed reality experience compared to the Pico 4.

We were impressed with Pico 4’s pass-through video processing, we can report the XR Elite’s pass-through processing is even better. It produces a clear and bright image, changing white balance and exposure depending on if you are in direct sunlight or a dimly lit room. In fact, we were able to read from a book or a laptop using the XR Elite. Something we found the Meta Quest Pro couldn’t achieve.

Finally, both the Vive XR Elite and Pico 4 have native hand tracking. Both VR headsets’ hand tracking was commendable, with a stable connection and reliability. But it was the HTC Elite’s finger tracking that impressed us, not losing connection when arms were fully stretched out.

Processing power between the HTC XR Elite vs Pico 4

The industry-standard Snapdragon XR2 is in the XR Elite and Pico 4 headsets. Because this XR2 processor runs hot, the Elite and Pico 4 have an active cooling fan that can get loud under heavy use. As a result, we would have loved to have seen the newer XR2+ chip in the pricier and newer HTC Elite, as this chip performs better and runs cooler.

The one significant power difference is the HTC XR Elite has 12 GB of RAM compared to the 8 GB on the Pico 4. While we don’t officially know yet, we expect the RAm on the Elite to be the faster LPDDR5. In comparison, the Pico 4 has slower LPDDR4 RAM. However, during standard use, don’t expect much difference. But it does mean the XR Elite is more future-proof and can run heavier VR games and applications.

Controllers of the HTC Vive XR Elite compared to the Pico 4

Pico 4’s controllers were a considerable upgrade to the company’s previous iterations following prior Pico headsets. Firstly, Pico 4’s controllers have a diagonally running tracking ring from top to bottom staying out of the way while VR gaming. The Pico 4 controllers also deliver stable tracking and overall excellent build quality.

Comparably, the new HTC Vive XR Elite controllers’ halo ring for tracking could mean less tracking reliability, but in our initial tests, they seem fine.

Interestingly, the XR Elite controllers recharge with USB-C active for up to 15 hours on a full charge, compared to the single-use AA batteries in the Pico 4 controllers running for a staggering 80 hours.

Streaming differences between Pico 4 and Vive XR Elite

The two headsets are identical in connectivity besides the Pico 4 uses Bluetooth 5.1, whereas the XR Elite features Bluetooth 5.2. Two significant improvements come with the newer Bluetooth edition: higher-quality audio can be sent to headphones, and more reliable casting to multiple screens. Something useful during conference stand use cases, but rarely for consumers.

The content library of Pico 4 compared to HTC’s Viveport

The Pico content store expands daily with new VR games ported onto the platform. Besides this, Pico focuses on VR fitness with a native app and health platform featuring a calorie counter and performance tracker. Despite this, HTC’s Viveport VR platform is superior, with a well-developed content library and an enticing Viveport Infinity subscription. However, both headsets can access the best VR games platform, SteamVR, through a wired connection. Making the differentiating factors are if you are into fitness go with Pico 4, or if you seek a large content library for a monthly cost HTC Elite is your choice.

Initial Setup and ease-of-use between HTC Vive XR Elite vs Pico 4

Vive XR Elite features an adjustable diopter, meaning users with prescription glasses can use the VR headset without their spectacles. Something we found fit perfectly with the VR glasses mode. Comparably, the Pico 4 has a fixed diopter, which means you need lens inserts or have the VR headset over your glasses.

The increased usability of Vive Elite is further complemented by the wider IPD range with 54-73 mm compared to the Pico 4’s 62-72 mm. Meaning the focal sweet spot for a crisp VR experience can accommodate more people.

Another substantial upgrade on the HTC Vive XR Elite is it comes with two hot-swappable battery packs. This effectively extends its battery life from 2 to 4 hours, exceeding the Pico 4’s fixed battery pack of 2 hours. Lastly, the Vive Elite also supports fast charging being able to charge 1 hour of juice in 30 minutes.

Price comparison and conclusion between the Pico 4 vs HTC Vive XR Elite

The HTC Vive XR Elite comes in one 128 GB edition and costs €1399 compared to the Pico 4, 128 GB version for €429.

Consequently, with over three times the cost, the XR Elite will struggle compared to its competitors. 

While few competing VR headsets can rival Pico 4’s features-to-price ratio, the XR Elite is too far off. For one, the Pico 4 delivers better visual performance, but additionally, both headsets feature the same tracking capabilities besides the depth sensor found on the Elite.

When purely judging from a price perspective, the XR Elite is closer to the Pico 4 Enterprise at €899. However, with the Pico Enterprise, you get eye tracking which the Elite doesn’t have, and even then the 500 euro difference is significant. This means the Elite’s price is closer to the Meta Quest Pro with its lofty price tag of €1799.99. But even then, the Quest Pro features numerous bells and whistles that the Elite cannot compete with.

Where the Vive XR Elite does get ahead is its design. HTC made an ingenious decision to adopt the Vive Flow’s VR glasses form factor, as it means more people will use the Elite as a mixed reality headset at their office. In fact, we were very impressed with the pass-through video processing, being able to read text on a laptop screen or smartphone. Something we couldn’t in Pico 4’s MR.

Further, while Pico is improving its content library daily, HTC has had longer to develop its Viveport platform, and the Viveport Inifinty subscription continues to be an excellent deal. Yet, the impact here is lessened as both the Pico 4 and Elite have access to SteamVR.

In a preliminary conclusion, the HTC Vive XR Elite doesn’t offer enough incentives to push the Pico 4 off its number one spot.

Yes, its mixed reality is superior and can run heavier VR application content. But the price differential is too far. Even the Pico 4 Enterprise is a better offering with eye tracking and dynamic foveated rendering.