It was nine long months ago now that HTC and Valve announced the HTC Vive, a brand new PC based virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) to rival the Oculus Rift. When it was first unveiled it was thought that the device would launch for consumers by the end of the year. This sadly didn’t happen, but the pair are hitting the ground running in 2016 with the long awaited reveal of a new HTC Vive, the Vive Pre, announced today ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it will be on display.
HTC promised to reveal a ‘very, very big breakthrough’ for this edition of the device and this appears to be present in the Vive Pre. It’s a redesigned HMD with a ‘brighter’ display and a front-facing camera that can integrate the real world into VR, allowing players to locate real world objects without needing to take the HMD off. The controllers have been redesigned too, including ‘updated ergonomics and softer edges, greater balance, new textured buttons, and grip pads for a more comfortable feel in the hand.’
“When we first announced Vive ten months ago we had an ambitious goal of fundamentally changing the way people communicate and interact with the world – forever” said Cher Wang, chairwoman and CEO of HTC. “Since then Vive has received a phenomenally positive reception from media, industry commentators, consumers, and the hundreds of partners and brands we’ve been working with to deliver inspiring and dynamic VR content. For too long, the promise of virtual reality has been little more than a promise. Today we stand on the precipice of a new era. Vive is creating a world where the only limit is human imagination.”
It’s certainly exciting to finally see a new version of the device, though the HTC Vive is still a few months away from a full launch. Pre-orders for the kit will be opening in February 2016, with the first shipments taking place the follow April. This pits the device just behind the release schedule for the Oculus Rift, which will launch pre-orders tomorrow at 08:00 PST before delivering them later on in this quarter of the year. HTC does have one advantage, however, in that the HTC Vive will arrive with its position-tracked controllers whereas the Oculus VR equivalent, Oculus Touch, has now been delayed until H2 2016.
VRFocus will have a full hands-on report of the new HTC Vive very shortly.