HTC drops Vive to $499 and opens preorders for $799 headset-only Vive Pro

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HTC says it will charge $799 for its new, higher-resolution Vive Pro virtual reality headset — and we mean, literally, just the headset. Vive Pro preorders open today, with the first headsets shipping on April 5th. They’re designed to be swapped into an existing Vive setup, using the old Vive’s lighthouse tracking beacons and controllers. Meanwhile, the current Vive system will drop to $499, cutting $100 off the current price. Anyone who purchases a Vive Pro by June 3rd will get six free months of HTC’s Viveport subscription service, and a price for a full Vive Pro kit will be announced sometime in the future.

The Vive Pro was announced early this year at CES, marking the first major upgrade to the Vive since its launch in 2016. It substantially increases the Vive’s screen resolution, using two OLED displays that offer 1400 x 1600 pixels per eye compared to 1080 x 1200 on the current Vive. It also includes a variety of ergonomic changes, including built-in headphones and a head strap that tightens via dial instead of velcro. You could get these options via a kit for the original Vive, but now they’re built into the core device, and we’ve found the hardware to be a distinct improvement over its predecessor.

HTC has previously said it will keep selling the original system through 2018, and Vive US general manager Daniel O’Brien describes the Vive Pro as a way to push the upper level of tethered VR while letting HTC offer a relatively affordable version as well. HTC previously announced a standalone headset with Google Daydream, but it canceled that project, although a standalone device launched in China and may expand to other markets. (You can get a wireless adapter for the Vive or Vive Pro, but they still require a PC to work.)

For now, HTC is focused heavily on PC-based high-end virtual reality. This contrasts with its primary competitor Oculus, which is looking increasingly toward standalone and mobile VR. Oculus is expected to launch its $199 Go mobile headset in May and is developing a fully tracked standalone device codenamed Santa Cruz.

The Vive Pro is way at the high end of mass-market VR headsets — the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR systems cost $399, for instance — but HTC aggressively courts businesses, not just individual consumers. An arcade, design company, or other professional operation won’t suffer from quite the same sticker shock, particularly if they’re already paying $1,200 for the Vive’s “business edition.”

If you’re a non-Vive owner who wants to jump straight to the Vive Pro, you’re in a tough spot at the moment since the only option at launch is to get both a Vive system and the Pro headset. But HTC says that it will announce a Pro bundle price soon to fix this. For now, the Pro looks less like a direct second-generation Vive and more like a high-end offshoot of its current edition.


If I were Valve, I’d be furious over the cost if this. Final nail in HTC’s coffin.

What price, $799? It’s meant to appease the people who cried that there had to be a revision and a higher resolution device. It’s not practical or affordable, but it’s there.

The real story is the $499 Vive, which puts it at $100 more than the Rift, finally making it competitive.

The real story is the $499 Vive, which puts it at $100 more than the Rift, finally making it competitive.

That is until Oculus drops the price of the Rift again.

Now I just need crypto to go away so I can justify buying a graphics card that can handle VR.

They are really counting on the high-end of VR. I am not convinced it exists at a size that can keep HTC afloat.

Calling it now, Rift price drop to either $349 or $299 ($349 is probably more likely going to happen) is going to happen on the 28th (the Rift’s 2nd birthday).

I’m a long time Apple guy, so I’m used to paying markups for a premium product, but this just feels ridiculous. "Prosumer" pricing for Vr is 600. Charging double what their competitors do for an HMD only package feels like a great way to tank their VR division.

I was an early vive adopter, but I think I’m done. Hopefully Oculus puts out a rift 2.0 that isn’t just a low powered mobile headset.

Good they’re targeting the business sector primarily. We’re too overwrought with VR headsets right now. Few people are buying them, only a fraction of those people are actually using them on a regular basis. They need to figure out a killer App for VR or just keep it in the business and novelty sphere. The mass market cares more for Animoji than they do virtual worlds.

Are we still trying to do VR? I thought for sure the market would have abandoned it by the end of 2017, but it’s still hanging on for dear life in Q1 2018.

@mobile_phoney : This is the latest attempt of a company trying to promote something that is essentially useless, except for, perhaps, porn.

Right up there with voice UI.

Hopefully they’ll be able to hit the 350 range with some sales and I’ll bite.

Ho hum. A tech company drops the price of a useless, unnecessary piece of technology from $799 to $499. At any price, it’s still useless.

What a thoughtful and qualified comment.

I continue to be impressed at VR when I try it, continue to be underwhelmed at the expense and clunky execution (uncomfortable and potentially unsanitary headsets, wires, required high end PC and space). Buy yourself a Nintendo Switch and a handful of games and you’ll be better off IMO. Is it the same thing? No But you’ll be more entertained, much more conveniently, and have money left over.

That being said I have no problem with anyone who loves VR and doesn’t mind the expense and inconvenience as a hobby (in the same way I don’t fly drones but I understand the appeal), I just think it’s still a long, long way from being mainstream.

I agree. 3D died because people didn’t want to bother wearing the glasses. Was it cool and nice? Yes. It was also another step, and not worth the bother for most people in the long run. I still buy every 3d Blu Ray I can get my hands on. Almost everyone else does not, and most of what I watch is 2d. I think VR will become a similar niche, and not the grand shift some people imagine.

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