Technology

HTC Announces $1099 Vive Pro Starter Kit Bundle

HTC Vive Pro, Vive Pro Starter Kit
Image Source: Vive (screenshot)

HTC – on Tuesday – announced that the Vive Pro Starter Kit will launch Thursday. The HTC Vive Pro Starter Kit will include the Vive Pro head mounted Display, two Vive 1.0 controllers and two 1.0 base stations for $1,099.

The HTC Vive Pro was first showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January. Last month, the company announced that the Pro version would cost $799, but it did not include the controllers and base stations. In March, the entry-price of the original Vive was dropped to $499. The kit included controllers, base stations and a two-month subscription to Viveport and Fallout 4 VR.

On Tuesday, to clear up the confusion around the HTC Vive Pro upgrade, HTC announced the Vive Pro Starter Kit. According to the company, the kit will be launched on the two-year anniversary of the original Vive launch, i.e., on Thursday. “We’re also sweetening the pack-in offer for existing Vive owners that have purchased Vive Pro, where we will offer a $100 Viveport content credit and extend the Viveport Subscription offer to 1 year,” the company said in a post.

HTC Vive Pro, which is a hardware update to the PC-connected Vive, enhances the screen resolution by deploying two OLED displays that offer 1400×1600 pixels per eye compared to 1080×1200 on the current Vive. HTC also infused a string of ergonomic changes such as built-in headphones and a head strap that tightens via dial and not velcro. These upgrades are available for the original Vive as well as through the kit, but the latest hardware comes beefed up with all the features.

HTC Vive Pro is heftier than the original, but it offers more balance. In addition, there is a rear headrest and bracket tightening feature. The new headset does not exert pressure on the face, unlike the original one, which was not that comfortable to wear. Further, the Pro is more cushiony and does not leave depression marks after a long session, notes Wired.

HTC Vive Pro is possibly equipped with the same lenses as its predecessor with concentric rings fading towards the center of each lens. These circles are more visible at the outside, and the lens distorts the virtual scene, meaning if a user places the focus at the edge of a lens rather than center, the image could be blurry and distorted, according to UploadVR.

On the audio front, Pro comes with on-ear headphones that are a good fit, given the user has adjusted the strap and fixed the dial on the back. However, the Pro’s audio lacks bass when compared to Rift. When UploadVR asked about the same, HTC said that they were aware of the issue, that it is limited to some titles and that they are working with both developers and the engineering team to address the same. However, the issue was even observed while listening to a song on YouTube.

Currently, HTC is pushing its limits in PC-based high-end virtual reality. On the other hand, rival Oculus is focused on the standalone and mobile VR. Oculus is expected to unveil Go mobile headsets worth $199 in May. The Facebook-owned company is also developing a fully tracked standalone device dubbed as Santa Cruz. Compared to the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR systems which cost around $399, Vive is more about high-end marketing, including businesses.

HTC has already expressed its willingness to sell the original Vive throughout 2018. Previously, Vive U.S. general manager, Daniel O’ Brien, said that the Pro version is primarily for the high-end VR spot, and the company will continue to sell the affordable version as well. Earlier, HTC canceled the plans of making standalone headsets with Google Daydream. However, the standalone device launched in China and could arrive in other markets as well, notes The Verge.

Undoubtedly, HTC Vive Pro sits at the helm of the VR headset space right now. But, the price is a bit of a concern given the fact that it is not a massive advancement over the original headset. Not to forget, it still is a tethered experience. A Vive Wireless Adapter is expected to release sometime later this year.

Meanwhile, with the upgraded version of the Vive coming soon, fans might also want to know the games that would guarantee them the best VR experience. First on the list is Skyrim VR, released just a couple of days before the HTC Vive Pro announcement. Then there is La Noire: The VR Case Files. The game first debuted in 2011, but the title seems to have been rejuvenated after its Nintendo Switch and VR formats were released. Other games that promise to offer a mystical experience on the Vive are Fallout 4, Thumper, Tilt Brush, Elite Dangerous, The Talos Principle VR and so on.