HTC's 2nd-gen Vive boosts the resolution and cuts the cord
The next generation of consumer VR might be just beginning, with HTC making a few major Vive announcements at CES 2018. First up, the headset has been upgraded with the Vive Pro, significantly boosting the resolution and adding built-in headphones, while a new wireless adapter frees users from the constant tripping hazards of room-scale VR. The Viveport digital store has also been reworked to streamline the process of finding new games and apps.
The Vive Pro is the first hardware revision of the headset since the consumer launch almost two years ago. The main improvement is a 78 percent increase in the display resolution, up to a combined 2,880 x 1,600 pixels across both eyes, or 1,440 x 1,600 per eye at 615 ppi. That should let it break away from the long-standing tie it's held with the Oculus Rift that remains on a combined resolution of 2,160 x 1,200 – although it will now be on par with Samsung's Windows-based HMD Odyssey.
The other big addition is the integrated headphones, which solves one of the big problems of the vanilla Vive. The extra weight and pressure of a separate set of headphones made the Vive less comfortable than other VR headsets, so it's good to remove that issue – and saving a hundred bucks for the Deluxe Audio Strap is a nice bonus too.
Other ergonomic tweaks have been made, including a sizing dial like that on the PlayStation VR to easily adjust the headset to fit your weird-shaped noggin. The center of gravity has apparently been moved further back towards the middle, and HTC has also added dual microphones with active noise cancellation and dual front-facing cameras.
Wireless VR has always seemed like the inevitable long-term goal, and although we'd expect that to be built-in in the long run, the new wireless adapter looks like a decent stopgap. The adapter will stream video and audio from the computer to the headset with lower latency, using the 60 GHz band. But there's one last cord that needs to be cut – power. Presumably the adapter will need to supply its own rechargeable battery (like third party devices such as the TPCAST), but there's no word yet on how that will work or what kind of battery life we might expect.
And finally, the Viveport storefront is getting a major overhaul too. In the past, this system has basically been a Vive-focused mini-Steam, but a new VR version is designed to let users browse games and experiences by walking around a physical space, instead of navigating 2D menus. When you see something you like, you can play a short VR preview of it for free before purchasing. In a similar vein, Vive Video has had a tune-up that sees the addition of content from Vimeo.
HTC hasn't given any details on pricing or availability for the Vive Pro, but the wireless adapter is due to ship in the third quarter of 2018. Viveport VR is available now in early access form.
Source: HTC Vive