The HTC Vive is a remarkable success story in the recent technology history. While Oculus spent years making hype towards the release of its consumer VR headset, HTC and Valve entered and stole the show with the Vive that had full room-scale VR tracking and controller support far in advance of the Oculus Rift. While the Oculus has made some ground by dropping the price of the Rift to as low as possible, HTC has made it clear that it is more interested in advancing VR technology than engaging in a race to the bottom. To that end, there is the HTC Vive Pro. It is the most powerful VR headset on the market both by its specifications and its price tag.
The most obvious thing that the consumers would notice about the Vive Pro at the first glance is that it is a different color. In the place of the black plastic of the original Vive, there is a sort of dark bluish-purple. The guts of the Pro are a huge step up from its predecessor. The original Vive had an OLED display with 2160×1200 resolution. The Vive Pro tops it with an AMOLED display at 2880×1600 resolution that is 1440×1600 per eye. The field of view and the refresh rate stay the same at 110 degrees and 90 Hz, respectively. The numbers are pretty impressive but it is not until one actually compares the experience of the two headsets and really sees the difference. If consumers play a handful of new and old VR titles with the original HTC Vive and the Vive Pro back-to-back to get a feel for how big of a change it actually is, they could say without a doubt that once they have used the Vive Pro it is not easy to go back to the original Vive or the Rift.
In mega-nerd VR circles, the most sought-after aspect of the VR experience is “presence,” that is the user’s ability to suspend his disbelief and feel like he is really in the game. No matter what headset the consumers choose, a number of various things are constantly fighting to pull them back to reality. Accidentally hitting a real-life wall with their hand, tripping over their cat, or having to adjust the headset mid-game is a few common examples of the things that could ruin their feeling of presence.
The original Vive’s display was quite good, but as with every other VR headset, the consumers would never forget that they are actually looking at a digital screen. The Vive Pro, on the other hand, is the first VR headset that actually would let consumers feel like maybe they were really there. The screen door effect has been dramatically cut down, making small text easier to read and allowing consumers to spot tiny details that would likely be entirely lost on a lower resolution headset.
For the most dedicated VR early fans and adopters, the Vive Pro is a package which the price of admission makes very clear. At 799 dollars it is launching at the same price that the original Vive launched at in the year 2016. As HTC is likely seeing it as a big upgrade for the current Vive owners, however, the headset is being sold on its own, and would not come with the controllers or base stations.