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New HTC Vives have redesigned Lighthouse stations and packaging

Why it matters to you

The Vive is becoming easier to transport and the new sensors could help reduce the cost of future versions.

Although HTC isn’t likely to launch a second Vive virtual reality headset this year, that doesn’t mean it isn’t gradually improving on the original design. Since launching the original headset in April 2016, it has reduced the weight of the headset on sale by 15 percent and launched new accessories, and now it seems the latest headsets are shipping out with tweaked base stations and boxes, too.

Although there are lot of features people are hoping for in a second generation of consumer VR headsets, like wireless operation and inside out tracking, HTC has been making subtle changes to its original Vive headset since its release. The latest is a tweak to the Lighthouse laser sensors which track the user, where the number of LEDS has been changed and arrayed in a new pattern.

The Lighthouse base stations of the Vive have changed a lot throughout its pre-release development and now since release. It’s not a size reduction this time though, but a reconfiguring of the LEDs that make tracking possible. RoadToVR has it that instead of the 15-LED array that earlier releases had, the new base stations come with just nine in a rigid three by three grid.

Although there has been some speculation that the LED change could affect the tracking or range of the sensors, that has now been put to bed by HTC itself. We reached out to the Taiwanese company and were told that, “it is a material change only within the stations. It does not affect the playable range, tracking, or otherwise.”

It is still possible that dropping the number of LEDs does reduce manufacturing costs, which in turn could help cut the price of the HTC Vive in the future.

Alongside the LED changeup, new Vives are also shipping in a new box design that reorients the way the controllers sit and adds a carry handle to the box to make transport easier. Although hardly a revolutionary change, travelling with a bulky piece of equipment like a full HTC Vive VR setup should be much easier with a handle, so the update will be a welcome addition for those who enjoy showing the technology to friends and family.