The HTC Vive has been making waves in the PC and gaming worlds, quickly emerging as a serious competitor to the more well-known Oculus Rift VR headset. The Vive has been in development for over a year with input from developers and other users, not to mention HTC's corporate partner Valve. The headset is nearing completion, and the company has announced that the final consumer model will ship in early April for the disappointing price of $799. For that price you get two motion-sensing controllers, two room scale sensors, and VR games Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives and Fantastic Contraption. Pre-orders begin next week on February 29th.
Unlike Google Cardboard, Samsung's Gear VR, and other systems that rely on a smartphone as a slide-in display, the Vive is a fully contained unit with screens, optical lenses, sensors, a camera and microphone, and other electronics built into the device itself. Like the Oculus, it needs a standard PC (and a quite powerful one) to send video and process images for gaming and other applications. Early reports of the Vive have praised it as an impressive experience, particularly with games that have been developed specifically for the platform. However, the Vive will also be able to connect to at least some smartphones via Bluetooth for answering phone calls and viewing notifications, perhaps allowing HTC some synergy with its phone lines.
The $799 price is much higher than many consumers were hoping for, and the sticker shock mirrors the response that Oculus received when announcing its $599 retail price. Combined with the need for a powerful desktop or laptop computer, it seems that premium VR will remain a luxury for the time being. That being the case, more attainable VR solutions like LG's recently-announced 360 VR will probably find customers looking for a less expensive solution. If the Vive catches on, it could provide HTC with a much-needed alternate revenue stream to augment its struggling mobile business.
Mobile World Congress, Barcelona, February 21, 2016 – HTC, a pioneer in innovative, smart technologies, in partnership with Valve® today unveiled the consumer edition of its ViveTM virtual reality system. Continuing to build upon the Vive’s exhaustive list of features, this complete Vive system, powered by Steam®VR, introduces yet another new technological innovation – Vive Phone Services – once again setting a new standard in virtual reality.
Enabling you to stay connected to the real world without exiting the virtual world, Vive Phone Services demonstrates the ability to combine both realities without losing touch of either. By allowing you to receive and respond to both incoming and missed calls, get text messages and send quick replies, and check upcoming calendar invites directly through the headset, it creates a hybrid reality opening up a whole new world of possibilities for both consumers and businesses.
Taking Vive one step further, with refreshed branding and an updated headstrap, the Vive consumer edition builds upon the innovative features that were introduced into the Vive Pre. These include updated wireless controllers with haptic feedback and dual stage triggers, a front facing camera that blends physical elements into the virtual world, a redesigned headstrap that offers greater stability and balance and an improved visual system with brighter displays to give a deeper sense of immersion.
Priced at US$799, for a limited time the consumer edition will also ship with two fully fledged VR experiences to get you started in the VR world:
· Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives by Owlchemy Labs: In a tongue-in-cheek world where robots have replaced all human jobs, step into the ‘Job Simulator’ to learn what it was like 'to job'.
· Fantastic Contraption by Northway Games in collaboration with Radial Games: Imagine walking around a grassy island floating in the sky, building a machine the size of a horse with your own hands, and then watching it roll out into the world.
But it’s not just about gaming. In addition to these launch titles, HTC is working with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors including entertainment, retail, education, design, healthcare and automotive.
“From the beginning, Vive has been at the forefront of virtual reality, with HTC pioneering several ground breaking technologies,” comments Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO, HTC. “Since announcing Vive this time last year, we have worked tirelessly with Valve to deliver the best VR experience on the market; winning multiple awards; and receiving critical acclaim from media, consumers and the industry. With the Vive consumer edition we are now able to realize our ultimate vision of bringing Vive into homes around the globe so that people can experience immersive virtual reality in a way that fires the imagination and truly changes the world.”
Pricing, Updates and Availability
The Vive consumer edition will be available to pre-order from 29th February, with pre-order fulfilment and full commercial availability starting in early April. Priced at US$799, the Vive is the first complete VR solution, including two wireless VR controllers, room scale movement sensors, and an HMD featuring a built in camera and phone, plus the two VR titles. The integration of SteamVR into the bundle ensures that all Vive equipment is kept up-to-date with the latest features.