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

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.


Welcome improvement, but I’m not seriously considering changing my room for a VR setup until they push at least 4K. Till then, PS VR is more than enough.

I fell in love with Longbow while trying at a local VR Hackathon, but not so much that I was ready to get for a new PC and VR setup. Flash forward a year and I broke down, getting a PSVR after the holiday price drops. The biggest complaint I have so far is the resolution (…and motion sickness when playing Scavenger’s Odyssey after a big meal). But it’s not bad enough that I’d pay for a PC setup. Seems to be good enough for now.

I’ve gotten a couple non-gaming family members to try it out. "This isn’t my thing, but I’ll try because you asked nicely." Within a few minutes, they’re oohing and aahing and screaming. I’m surprised my mom liked it as much as she did.

I had the same exact reactions! But honestly, my PS VR has been collecting dust for some months now. The game selection isn’t really growing quickly enough, and with all the amazing AAA titles releasing these days, I just can’t find the time to play it.

There’s a lot of good games out now. Be sure to pick up Starblood Arena as the free PS+ game this month, and Farpoint with the AIM controller is amazing. Arizona Sunshine also released a patch with a two-handed (rifles, shotgun) gun mode specifically designed for the AIM controller. Also Resident Evil 7 and Skyrim are two full AAA games for PSVR if you haven’t gotten to them already. With bundles selling out like mad this holiday season, I expect we’ll see quite a bit more good PSVR games in the pipeline.

Played all of that besides Skyrim since I’m not a fan of fantasy RPGs. They are fun games, but most have been out for quite a while, and it’s not really a big selection still. There are less than 10 titles if we talk AAA quality.

sweet, now we just need the release date

So what’s the holy grail for VR? 8k per eye at 120fps?

It’s probably different for different people, but for me it’d be a lot lower than that. The overall graphics detail is more important than the resolution for immersiveness; in other words, if there’s a tradeoff in going to high resolution of having to dumb down the graphics, that is going to be counterproductive. That would actually make VR worse.

Low resolution VR with high detail graphics feels kinda like living in real life with glasses that aren’t quite strong enough. But high resolution VR with low detail graphics would feel more obviously like playing a computer game. It’s not the result you want.

Of course, high res and high detail would be great. But modern PC’s can’t really do that. And if the goal is convincing VR, resolution isn’t really all that important. Frame rate and detail are a much bigger deal.

…and different for different moods. Job Simulator and Super Hot are fun without needing to be hi-res or super detailed. I’m be fine with essentially being in the Simpsons. Not to say it’s a replacement for Skyrim. Both have their place.

I would actually go the opposite of that. I prefer a higher resolution to better graphics.

The main reason is this: the use cases for VR beyond gaming blow wide open when you can get a sufficiently high resolution image. For example, if I wanted to use a virtual desktop, where I have a virtually unlimited space for monitors, etc., then I want to be able to view any text on those floating monitors.

Plus, if you needed graphical fidelity – you can always turn down the resolution in software. You can’t upscale your resolution in software. So high-resolution HMD’s are the way to go, I think.

Foveated rendering could help, by only rendering the parts of the screen that you’re looking at in high resolution, and everything else at a somewhat lower resolution. nvidia already supports this without the eye-tracking part, to render the edges of the screen which are less visible due to lens distortion.

I guess one question is whether 2K upscaled to 4K/8K is any worse than a native 2K display. Some games have more cartoonish graphics where having really crisp lines (even with simpler textures) would be better, while more graphically detailed games might opt for a lower resolution (like those console games that render at 792p instead of 1080p). Also, 360 degree video could take advantage of the higher resolutions.

These days I think my biggest issue is the field of view rather than the resolution, though.

Yep that at 240fps

The resolution announced (2880×1600) puts this helmet on par with the Samsung Odyssey Windows MR helmet, not beyond (although other WMR headsets use 2880×1440).

Since this has 2 cameras at the front. I guess that is for Windows Mixed Reality compatibility?

Not sure. The cameras angle does not match what is currently in use by all the Windows MR headsets.

I would guess it is to provide you a stereoscopic image of your outside world, thus achieving some sort of AR capabilities.

Here’s a sizzle reel for the new headset

I assume this thing is going to be pretty astronomically priced, especially with the wireless adapter. That said, it is what I want.

Yeah, I’m betting $999.98 plus tax.

Still though, it’s exciting and the price will eventually drop. I’m just happy to see iteration and improvements coming for the VR headsets and not just release a product and move on to other things cause the market didn’t explode out of the gate.

The bastardization of the word pro has gone too far.

That’s the end of the cooperation between HTC and Valve. Does this mean the new controllers from Valve will be released with a new headset from Valve? Only valvetime will tell.

FOV remains the same?

Still no inside out tracking?

The tracking IS inside out on both this and the original Vive. It uses known reference points (the ‘Lighthouse’ base stations’ laser sweeps), but all sensing is done from the headset itself (and controllers themselves).

That is technically true but usually inside out tracking means that you don’t need special trackers or reference points.

No, it means that the tracking is done from the inside out. That’s it.

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