The HTC Vive was originally supposed to launch right around now (if not earlier), before the end of 2015 – potentially giving the PC-based virtual reality headset a head start on the Oculus Rift and Playstation VR in winning over VR early adopters. Though we'd already heard that the Vive's widespread launch had been delayed into 2016, the company has now made it official that consumers won't get to step into the room-sized VR experience until April.
The company made the announcement in a blog post, laying out its updated plans for the headset. HTC promises it "will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers, followed by commercial availability in April 2016."
HTC also says it will be launching the second-generation version of its developer kit at CES 2016. At just three months or so before the scheduled consumer launch, it's hard to imagine that Vive DK2 being more than a cosmetic difference from the upcoming consumer product (we'll be at CES and will hopefully get a look at it there).
During our hands-on with the Vive earlier this year, we initially thought it was in a league of its own – as it lets you walk around an entire room (about a 15 x 15 ft. space) with its sensors tracking your position in space. The sense of "presence" (feeling of being somewhere else) is heightened when your entire body is part of the equation and you have that much room to roam.
That opinion changed a bit, though, after spending extended time with the consumer Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controllers at the company's developer conference. Both headsets showed us extremely impressive demos, but Oculus has showcased much more content (and much more advanced content) – and in our latest hands-on with the Rift and Touch, we could walk around (roughly) a 5 x 5 ft. space with it, creating a similar – though not quite as free-roaming – effect. And since none of these first-gen PC-based headsets are wireless, the less mobile ones give you fewer worries about tripping over or getting tangled up in cords. They also don't ask you to set aside an entire room in your house for a brand new product category.
There's still no word on when the Rift will go up for pre-order (the last we heard, it would be sometime in 2015, ahead of a Q1 2016 launch) and we also don't know pricing for either headset. Stay tuned, as the next few weeks could tell us a lot.
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