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HTC’s Vive Pro gets sharp enough to read text, goes wireless

The HTC Vive is big, expensive, the resolution isn’t great, and with the recent price cut its competitor the Oculus Rift has seen, it’s not as appealing as it once was. Luckily for HTC adherents out there, there’s going to be a new HTC headset with a number of improvements over the original — according to the official CES 2018 announcement.

The HTC Vive Pro Headset

The new HTC Vive Pro headset, as it will be called, features an improved resolution of 2,880 x 1,600 — the original headset only had a max resolution of 2,180 x 1,200. That’s a 78 percent increase in overall resolution, with 615 pixels-per-inch. HTC claims the resolution is now high enough to comfortably read text on the new headset. It features built-in headphones, like its competitor the Oculus Rift. It will also feature built-in dual microphones.

One improvement that will be music to the ears — and nose — of anyone who wears glasses. The new Vive Pro features a lighter overall weight, and it’s been redesigned to be more comfortable while wearing corrective eyewear.

The new headset is backwards compatible with the original base stations, and features a 10m x 10m tracking space.

The new Vive Pro headset will not supplant the original Vive headset, but they’ll be sold as contrasting options — like the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, the basic model and the premium model. What that means is the Vive Pro will likely be very expensive, and the original HTC Vive might see a price cut similar to what we saw out of the Oculus Rift earlier in 2017.

The Vive Wireless Adapter

HTC Vive Wireless Adapter

On top of that, Vive Pro will support a new “Vive wireless adapter” that will finally let you experience VR without being tethered to a computer. The wireless adapter mounts to the top of the headset, like a set of high-tech antlers, and it will use Intel’s WiGig to minimize interference from other wireless devices and deliver a seamless experience. A battery pack is included, too.

The new Vive Pro headset could go a long way toward addressing two of the key complaints about the HTC Vive’s current headset — that it’s starting to show its age with such a low resolution, heavy screen-door effect, and that being wired to a computer isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to immerse oneself in the virtual realms.

The brand-new Viveport

There’s another big change coming to the Vive platform, but this one is software-based. The Viveport platform, HTC’s store for VR content and experiences, is getting a major overhaul. According to the announcement today, Viveport will now feature a fully VR interface, like a virtual storefront you can explore, instead of the simple layover it featured before.

This is a move HTC describes as a VR-first storefront model. It sounds a lot like how the Oculus’ Store has worked since launch.

“Viveport is moving to a VR first experience model, and with the all-new Viveport VR, we are changing the way consumers discover, experience and acquire VR content,” said Rikard Steiber, president, Viveport.  “Until now, there has not been a shopping and browsing experience that takes advantage of the full functionality of VR. Available in early access today, Viveport VR increases interaction with content and offers developers a preview that showcases the quality of their titles and experiences.”

Though the announcement was leaked earlier, the official press release features a bit more information about what we can expect from the changes to the platform going forward. The HTC Vive Pro is scheduled to hit store shelves sometime in the summer of 2018.

Updated 1/8/2018 to fully reflect information in the HTC Vive Pro press release. 

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