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HTC unveils higher-resolution Vive Pro VR headset with built-in headphones

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HTC Vive Pro

HTC is refreshing its Vive headset with a new Pro model today. The original Vive debuted nearly two years ago, and the new Vive Pro is clearly designed to address some of the complaints of that earlier headset. HTC is increasing the resolution of the dual-OLED displays to 2880 x 1600 (1400 x 1600 per eye, and 615 ppi), a 78 percent increase from the 2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye) resolution in the current Vive. This resolution increase should help with clearer text rendering and overall graphics, and the bump puts the Vive Pro beyond the Oculus Rift or Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Alongside the resolution increase, HTC has also redesigned the Vive Pro’s headstrap and added built-in headphones. One of the complaints of the original Vive was that it was difficult to adjust and heavy, and you had to plug in headphones, creating another cable dangling to potentially upset your VR experience. The Vive Pro’s head strap includes a sizing dial so the headset is a lot more balanced, and it hopefully won’t feel too top heavy at the front. We’ll be testing it out later today to find out if this redesign has helped with the comfort, and whether the headset feels lighter as a result.

HTC has also added dual microphones and dual front-facing cameras, which are designed for developers to take advantage of. The headset itself looks far less clunky than the original, and HTC has added a blue color to the key elements and the front display. The two front-facing cameras look like eyes, and it’s a design that will clearly differentiate it from the original Vive. HTC is promising release dates and pricing will be “available soon,” but the company is not providing either today.

HTC’s Vive Pro is also backwards compatible with both 1.0 and 2.0 SteamVR tracking, and you can use up to four base stations for room tracking on the Vive Pro. HTC says the current Vive will remain on sale throughout 2018, and HTC will sell the Vive Pro headset standalone to existing customers this quarter. A full bundle, and pricing, will be available later.

Alongside the Vive Pro upgrade, HTC is also improving its Viveport app store experience for the Vive. Most Vive owners probably buy apps and games from SteamVR, but HTC is introducing “VR Previews” to tempt Vive and Vive Pro owners to buy VR content. Available in early access today, Viveport VR lets Vive owners trial content with a room-scale preview of what they’re going to buy before purchasing or subscribing. HTC is also introducing a Vive wireless adapter today, increasing the pressure on Oculus’ Santa Cruz standalone headset prototype before it’s even shipped.