When HTC first announced the HTC Vive, people were sceptical: Oculus had been the only real player in the VR world, and many thought that the Vive wouldn’t be able to compete with the experience the Rift could offer.
But they were wrong. HTC’s accurate room-scale tracking technology offered a totally unique VR experience when compared to other headsets on the market.
Fast forward to 2018, and HTC announced a new high-res HTC Vive Pro at CES 2018, which is now available to pre-order in the UK. Carry on reading to find out all the latest news and rumours about the headset, or take a look at our Vive Pro hands-on review from CES 2018.
When is the HTC Vive Pro release date?
So, when should we expect the HTC Vive Pro to be released? Despite the fact that the headset was officially unveiled back in January 2018, HTC didn't announce release date details until months later.
In March 2018, HTC announced that the HTC Vive Pro will be available to buy in the UK and around the world from 5 April 2018, alongside a £100/$100 price-drop for the first-gen HTC Vive. Those interested in pre-ordering the high-end headset should carry on reading.
You might also be interested in our selection of the best HTC Vive games of 2018.
How much will the HTC Vive Pro cost in the UK?
Of course, with confirmation of premium specs in the latest VR headset, many prospective buyers are wondering about the potential cost of the headset in the UK. Though there was no initial price announcement, HTC announced in March 2018 that the high-end headset will set consumers back £799.99, though the exact release date is still unknown. That hasn't stopped retailers like OverClockers UK offering (super limited) pre-order availability right now though.
When you consider that the first-gen HTC Vive is still (a rather expensive) £499/$499, the Vive Pro certainly isn’t cheap.
HTC Vive Pro design, features and spec
With an expensive potential price-tag, the HTC Vive Pro has to offer quite an upgrade when compared to the existing headset, right? Judge for yourselves.
The first big upgrade with the HTC Vive Pro compared to the Vive is the resolution - in fact, it’s arguably the biggest change in the headset and was what the pre-announcement teaser was focused on. The dual-OLED displays used in the Vive Pro equate to a resolution of 2880x1600, quite the upgrade compared to the first-generation Vive’s 2160x1200 resolution - a 78 percent increase overall.
The crisp resolution should negate one of the biggest complaints about current VR headsets - reading text. While VR worlds may look relatively crisp on current headsets like the Vive and Rift, text in VR is notoriously blurry - not ideal if you’re trying to read text on a display or on a piece of paper in-game! The improved resolution should provide an overall benefit to VR game visuals, making them seem more immersive than ever before. What is yet to be seen is whether the Vive Pro has avoided the ‘screen door effect’ present on the first-gen headset.
There are also integrated headphones with a built-in amplifier that should provide crisp audio to go along with your crisp visuals. They function in a similar way to the Vive’s Deluxe Audio Strap, but look somewhat different.
Speaking of straps, the Vive Pro also features a new headstrap designed to be more comfortable, especially over longer periods of gameplay. It’s coupled with a sizing dial on the side that allows for a more balanced headset - it allows you to shift the weight of the headset to stop making it so front heavy.
You’ll also find dual microphones with noise cancellation and dual front-facing cameras.
There are still unannounced details about the Vive headset, including dimensions and weight, but we expect these to be announced before the release of the headset (whenever that may be!).
What can I expect from Vive in the future?
While the new HTC Vive Pro sounds impressive, there are still leaked Vive accessories that have yet to make the light of day, including a new Base Station system and redesigned Vive controllers.
New Base Station system
There’s a rumour (albeit not the most exciting one) that improved ‘Lighthouse’ base stations could be on the way. Many HTC Vive owners have complained about the Base Stations: they’re loud, bulky and break fairly easy due to the number of moving parts inside.
It’s easy to understand why when you know how it works: the current system uses two rotors that sweep lasers across your play area and pick up the headset and any other peripherals. The lasers are used by the headset and accessories to calculate their relative position in the physical space and allow for room-scale tracking. Sounds straightforward enough, right?
Not straightforward enough for HTC apparently, as the second-gen base stations are said to be much simpler in design. The new Base Stations are apparently designed to provide the same level of accuracy as the first-generation Stations, but only use a single rotor.
Valve engineer Ben Jackson has suggested that it’d make the Base Stations not only quieter, but cheaper, lighter and more power efficient. We also hope it makes them cheaper to buy, as a single replacement Base Station currently costs £122.
The rumour also suggests that upcoming Vive products will feature the same tracking system as the first-generation product, deciding against an inside-out tracking system touted by many upcoming VR headsets that negate the need for Base Stations.
Redesigned Vive controllers
First spotted at 2016’s Steam Dev Days, redesigned Vive controllers that can compete with Oculus’s impressive Touch controllers could be made available soon. As you can see in this tweet, the controllers feature a strap that attaches the controller to your wrist and allows you to completely let go