The grand new HTC Vive Pro

Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2018 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: htc, vive pro, vr headset

The new HTC Vive Pro offers better resolution, 1440×1600 per eye or 2880×1600 in total and a new physical design which incorporates headphones into the body and the connection to the PC is a single cable which leads into a junction box to split into the various required connectors.  Ars Technica tested the new VR headset with a GTX 1060 as well as a 1080Ti and found both able to handle the new Vive Pro and to show enhanced performance compared to the original model.  In the end they questioned the value you get for the price, as the price increased significantly more than the performance did.

vivepro.PNG

"HTC's Vive Pro, launching this week, comes with a name and a price tag ($799 for an upgrade from the original Vive, or $1,099 for new Vive owners) that suggests a revelatory jump in the VR experience, well beyond what already wowed us in early 2016."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #492 - MyDigitalSSD, CalDigit Tuff Drive, and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2018 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: winml, vive pro, video, Tobii, SBX, rtx, qualcomm, podcast, pny, MyDigitalSSD, logitech, htc, G560, G513, dxr, CS900, corsair, caldigit, AX1600i

PC Perspective Podcast #492 - 03/22/18

Join us this week for MyDigitalSSD, CalDigit Tuff Drive, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Jim Tanous, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:08:16

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. RX Bar
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Picks of the Week:
    1. 1:00:55 Josh My kid loves them.
    2. 1:03:30 Jim: Xbox Game Pass
  5. Closing/outro
 
Source:

HTC announces VIVE Pro Pricing, Available now for Preorder

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2018 - 12:09 PM |
Tagged: vive pro, steamvr, rift, Oculus, Lighthouse, htc

Today, HTC has provided what VR enthusiasts have been eagerly waiting for since the announcement of the upgraded VIVE Pro headset earlier in the year at CESthe pricing and availability of the new device.

vivepro.png

Available for preorder today, the VIVE Pro will cost $799 for the headset-only upgrade. As we mentioned during the VIVE Pro announcement, this first upgrade kit is meant for existing VIVE users who will be reusing their original controllers and lighthouse trackers to get everything up and running.

The HMD-only kit, with it's upgraded resolution and optics, is set to start shipping very soon on April 3 and can be preordered now on the HTC website.

Additionally, your VIVE Pro purchase (through June 3rd, 2018) will come with a free six-month subscription to HTC's VIVEPORT subscription game service, which will gain you access to up to 5 titles per month for free (chosen from the VIVEPORT catalog of 400+ games.)

There is still no word on the pricing and availability of the full VIVE Pro kit including the updated Lighthouse 2.0 trackers, but it seems likely that it will come later in the Summer after the upgrade kit has saturated the market of current VIVE owners.

As far as system requirements go, the HTC site doesn't list any difference between the standard VIVE and the VIVE Pro. One change, however, is the lack of an HDMI port on the new VIVE Pro link box, so you'll need a graphics card with an open DisplayPort 1.2 connector. 

Source: HTC

CES 2018: HTC announces Vive Pro and Vive Wireless Adapter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 8, 2018 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: wigig, VR, vive wireless adapter, vive pro, vive, steamvr, Oculus, htc, CES 2018, CES

As it turns out, HTC's teasing of a new Vive product late last week was well warranted. Today, at their press conference before CES 2018, HTC announced two new hardware products—the Vive Pro and the Vive Wireless adapter.

Copy of VIVE-Pro_KV-B_FA.jpg

Just like their teaser indicated, one of the major features of this new Vive hardware is an increased display resolution. The Vive Pro's resolution is 2880x1600 (combined), a 78% increase from the standard 2160×1200 resolution shared by the original Vive and the Oculus Rift.

Currently, there are no details about upgraded optics in the form of new lenses, but considering Valve's announcement of new lenses for future VR headsets, I would expect these to be included in the Vive Pro.

Copy of Vive Pro Profile.png

In addition to the display improvements, there are also some design changes in the Vive Pro that aim to allow users to quickly put on the headset and adjust it for maximum comfortability. The Vive Pro now features a dial on the back of the head strap to adjust the headset rather than having to adjust velcro straps. This setup is very reminiscent of the PSVR headset which is widely regarded as one of the most comfortable VR headsets currently on the market.

Copy of Vive Pro Sizing Dial.png

While we've already seen some of these design changes like integrated headphones in the currently shipping Deluxe Audio Strap for Vive, the Vive Pro is built from the ground up with this new strap instead of it being a replacement option.

Vive Pro Head on.png

HTC was very quiet about the change from a single front-facing camera on the standard Vive to dual front cameras on the Vive Pro. Having stereo cameras on the device have the potential to provide a lot of utility ranging from a stereo view of your surroundings when you are nearing the chaperone boundaries to potential AR applications.

vivepro-tracking.jpg

The Vive Pro will work with the current 1.0 base stations for positional tracking, as well as Valve's previously announced but unreleased 2.0 base stations. When using SteamVR 2.0 tracking, the Vive Pro supports up to 4 base stations, allowing for a  significantly larger play area of up to 10m x 10m.

Initially, the Vive Pro is slated to ship this quarter as a headset-only upgrade for customers who already have the original Vive with its 1.0 base stations. The full Vive Pro kit with 2.0 tracking is said to ship in the Summer time frame. Pricing for both configurations is yet to be announced.

In addition to new headset hardware, HTC also announced their first official solution for wireless VR connectivity. 

Copy of VIVE_Pro_Wireless_KV_Square.jpg

Built in partnership with Intel, the Vive Wireless Adapter will use 60 GHz WiGig technology to provide a low latency experience for wirelessly streaming video to the HMD. Both the original Vive and the Vive Pro will support this adapter set to be available this summer. We also have no indications of pricing on the Vive Wireless Adapter.

HTC's announcements today are impressive and should help push PC VR forward. We have yet to get hands-on experience with either the Vive Pro or the Vive Wireless adapter, but we have a demo appointment tomorrow, so keep checking PC Perspective for our updated impressions of the next generation of VR!

Source: HTC

CES 2018: HTC Teases new VIVE device announcement

Subject: General Tech | January 5, 2018 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive focus, vive, valve, steam vr, Oculus, knuckles, htc, CES 2018

In the run-up to CES 2018, the HTC Vive account on twitter tweeted an image teasing their press conference on Monday, January 8. 

While we've already heard about the standalone Snapdragon 835-powered HTC VIVE Focus set to start shipping in China later this month, it seems unlikely for this teaser to be referring to that device which HTC has already shown off to the public and press.

IMG_4482.jpg

Rather, it seems more likely that HTC is ready to start to talk about their next generation VIVE device for PC.

Both the graphic and tagline of "New Year's Resolution" obviously seem to be alluding to improved visual quality, and hopefully less of a screen door effect when wearing the headset. Whether or not this is achieved by a higher resolution display, or improved optics, or both has yet to be determined. 

vive_knuckles.jpg

Another thing to look out for at this event will be the long-awaited "Knuckles" controllers showed off by Valve earlier this year. With a new generation of VR headset, I would expect the Knuckles controllers to be the bundled option going forward.

We'll be at HTC's VIVE press conference on the 8th, and have some time scheduled late in the week for demos of whatever they are showing off, so stay tuned for more details about their announcements as they happen!

Source: HTC

HTC Vive Price Drops to $599

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2017 - 09:56 PM |
Tagged: pc gaming, vive, htc vive, valve, htc, price cut

While it looked like HTC and Valve wouldn’t budge on their launch price, the Vive has just been reduced $200 USD, from $799 down to $599. This is still significantly above the $399 USD price tag during their competitor’s summer sale, but it might be close enough for those who prefer the Vive for one reason or another.

I should note that their website still has payment plans through PayPal, which breaks up the $599 price tag into, they say, twelve chunks.

For me? This price cut came just a week and a bit late. I already picked up the Oculus. For us Canadians, it looks like the Vive sale price is $800 CDN on Amazon, versus the $550 mark for the Rift with Touch and two sensors. That said, if I didn’t jump on the Oculus... would I consider the Vive? At this price, I’m still not sure. I’m wary of a hardware refresh, now that these devices are hitting the one-and-a-half year mark. The Oculus, during its sale, is priced in the “Meh” territory. It would have served its purpose until it’s replaced. The extra couple hundred dollars on the Vive might just push it out of the “eh, if it’s replaced, so what” range.

On the other hand, the Vive can be upgraded with a wireless kit, and I do have issues with the Oculus sensors being obstructed. It’s an interesting move for sure.

Source: Vive

Podcast #461 - AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2017 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: podcast, wolfenstein, wdc, Vibe, Vega Nano, Threadripper, ryzen 3, radeon rx vega, QLC, htc, Fanatec, Clubsport lite elite, BiCS3, amd, video

PC Perspective Podcast #461 - 08/03/17

Join us for AMD Ryzen 3, Threadripper, Logitech Powerplay, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:20

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:25:45 Ryan: Logitech G903
    2. 1:34:05 Allyn: Things I would have loved to grow up learning / playing (pixel kit): 1 2
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

HTC Vive Standalone VR Headset to expand VR market with low cost, dedicated hardware

Subject: Mobile | July 27, 2017 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: htc, vive, VR, virtual reality, qualcomm, snapdragon, snapdragon 835

This article first appeared on MarketWatch and Shrout Research.

During the ChinaJoy 2017 event in Shanghai, VR pioneer HTC announced its standalone VR headset aimed at the China market. This marks the first major player in the virtual reality space to officially reveal a standalone product intended for the broad consumer market that requires a more affordable, portable VR solution.

Standalone VR headsets differ from the current options on the market in two distinct ways. First, they are disconnected from a PC and don’t require attachment to a desktop for processing or display output. The current HTC Vive product that ships in the market, as well as Facebook’s Oculus Rift, require a high-end PC to play VR games and use HDMI and USB connections to power the headsets. This new standalone design also moves away from the slot-in design of the Samsung Gear VR and doesn’t require the user to monopolize their smartphone for VR purposes.

Though mobile-first VR solutions like Gear VR have existed for several years, selling on the market before the PC-based solutions were released, the move of HTC from tethered virtual reality to a wireless standalone unit signals a shift in the market. Consumers see the value and quality experiences that VR can provide but the expense and hassle of in-place configurations have stagnated adoption.

Caption - VIVE Standalone VR headset designed for the Chinese market and....jpg

HTC is using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform to power the Vive Standalone VR Headset, the same chipset used in many high-end smartphones on the market today. Qualcomm and HTC can modify traits of the processor to improve performance without worrying about the sensitive battery life of a consumer’s phone. Though we don’t know the specifics of what HTC might have modified for the configuration of this standalone unit, it likely is a mirror of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 VR hardware development kit that was announced in February. That design includes the capability for six degrees of freedom tracking (moving around a space accurately without external sensors), high resolution displays for each eye, and a full suite of graphics and digital signal processors to handle the complex workloads of VR experiences.

Though HTC is the first to announce and a complete standalone VR product, HTC and others announced their intent to release standalone units in the US later this year through Google’s Daydream program. Lenovo plans to build a VR headset using the same Qualcomm reference design for the Daydream platform.

Facebook-owned Oculus has not officially announced its intent but rumors in July point us to another Qualcomm-powered headset that will sell for around $200. Facebook plans to reveal the hardware in October.

HTC’s decision to target the China market first is driven by its ability to promote its custom Viveport software store in a region that does not offer Google services like the Android Play Store or Daydream. HTC will leverage a customer base that is larger than North America and Western Europe combined, and one that is expected to grow rapidly. IDC statistics show VR headset shipments reaching 10.1 million units this year and target 61 million units by 2020 worldwide. iResearch Consulting estimates Chinese VR market revenues to reach $8.1B in that same time frame.

Growth in VR and AR (augmented reality) is driven by the consumer markets but it is the enterprise implementations that provide the push for expanded usage models. Medical professionals already utilize VR technology to analyze data and mechanical engineers can dissect and evaluate models of products in a virtual space to improve and speed up workflows. Target fields also include factory workers, emergency personnel, the military, delivery drivers, and nearly all facets of business. As VR technology improve usability, comfort, and general societal acceptance, the merger of virtual and augmented reality hardware will create a new age of connected consumers.

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Background and setup

A couple of weeks back, during the excitement surrounding the announcement of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, NVIDIA announced an update to its performance reporting project known as FCAT to support VR gaming. The updated iteration, FCAT VR as it is now called, gives us the first true ability to not only capture the performance of VR games and experiences, but the tools with which to measure and compare.

Watch ths video walk through of FCAT VR with me and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen

I already wrote an extensive preview of the tool and how it works during the announcement. I think it’s likely that many of you overlooked it with the noise from a new GPU, so I’m going to reproduce some of it here, with additions and updates. Everyone that attempts to understand the data we will be presenting in this story and all VR-based tests going forward should have a baseline understanding of the complexity of measuring VR games. Previous tools don’t tell the whole story, and even the part they do tell is often incomplete.

If you already know how FCAT VR works from reading the previous article, you can jump right to the beginning of our results here.

Measuring and validating those claims has proven to be a difficult task. Tools that we used in the era of standard PC gaming just don’t apply. Fraps is a well-known and well-understood tool for measuring frame rates and frame times utilized by countless reviewers and enthusiasts, but Fraps lacked the ability to tell the complete story of gaming performance and experience. NVIDIA introduced FCAT and we introduced Frame Rating back in 2013 to expand the capabilities that reviewers and consumers had access to. Using more sophisticated technique that includes direct capture of the graphics card output in uncompressed form, a software-based overlay applied to each frame being rendered, and post-process analyzation of that data, we could communicate the smoothness of a gaming experience, better articulating it to help gamers make purchasing decisions.

vrpipe1.png

For VR though, those same tools just don’t cut it. Fraps is a non-starter as it measures frame rendering from the GPU point of view and completely misses the interaction between the graphics system and the VR runtime environment (OpenVR for Steam/Vive and OVR for Oculus). Because the rendering pipeline is drastically changed in the current VR integrations, what Fraps measures is completely different than the experience the user actually gets in the headset. Previous FCAT and Frame Rating methods were still viable but the tools and capture technology needed to be updated. The hardware capture products we used since 2013 were limited in their maximum bandwidth and the overlay software did not have the ability to “latch in” to VR-based games. Not only that but measuring frame drops, time warps, space warps and reprojections would be a significant hurdle without further development. 

vrpipe2.png

vrpipe3.png

NVIDIA decided to undertake the task of rebuilding FCAT to work with VR. And while obviously the company is hoping that it will prove its claims of performance benefits for VR gaming, it should not be overlooked the investment in time and money spent on a project that is to be open sourced and free available to the media and the public.

vlcsnap-2017-02-27-11h31m17s057.png

NVIDIA FCAT VR is comprised of two different applications. The FCAT VR Capture tool runs on the PC being evaluated and has a similar appearance to other performance and timing capture utilities. It uses data from Oculus Event Tracing as a part of the Windows ETW and SteamVR’s performance API, along with NVIDIA driver stats when used on NVIDIA hardware to generate performance data. It will and does work perfectly well on any GPU vendor’s hardware though with the access to the VR vendor specific timing results.

fcatvrcapture.jpg

Continue reading our first look at VR performance testing with FCAT VR!!

Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

VR Performance Evaluation

Even though virtual reality hasn’t taken off with the momentum that many in the industry had expected on the heels of the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift launches last year, it remains one of the fastest growing aspects of PC hardware. More importantly for many, VR is also one of the key inflection points for performance moving forward; it requires more hardware, scalability, and innovation than any other sub-category including 4K gaming.  As such, NVIDIA, AMD, and even Intel continue to push the performance benefits of their own hardware and technology.

Measuring and validating those claims has proven to be a difficult task. Tools that we used in the era of standard PC gaming just don’t apply. Fraps is a well-known and well-understood tool for measuring frame rates and frame times utilized by countless reviewers and enthusiasts. But Fraps lacked the ability to tell the complete story of gaming performance and experience. NVIDIA introduced FCAT and we introduced Frame Rating back in 2013 to expand the capabilities that reviewers and consumers had access to. Using more sophisticated technique that includes direct capture of the graphics card output in uncompressed form, a software-based overlay applied to each frame being rendered, and post-process analyzation of that data, we were able to communicate the smoothness of a gaming experience, better articulating it to help gamers make purchasing decisions.

pipe1.jpg

VR pipeline when everything is working well.

For VR though, those same tools just don’t cut it. Fraps is a non-starter as it measures frame rendering from the GPU point of view and completely misses the interaction between the graphics system and the VR runtime environment (OpenVR for Steam/Vive and OVR for Oculus). Because the rendering pipeline is drastically changed in the current VR integrations, what Fraps measures is completely different than the experience the user actually gets in the headset. Previous FCAT and Frame Rating methods were still viable but the tools and capture technology needed to be updated. The hardware capture products we used since 2013 were limited in their maximum bandwidth and the overlay software did not have the ability to “latch in” to VR-based games. Not only that but measuring frame drops, time warps, space warps and reprojections would be a significant hurdle without further development.  

pipe2.jpg

VR pipeline with a frame miss.

NVIDIA decided to undertake the task of rebuilding FCAT to work with VR. And while obviously the company is hoping that it will prove its claims of performance benefits for VR gaming, it should not be overlooked the investment in time and money spent on a project that is to be open sourced and free available to the media and the public.

vlcsnap-2017-02-27-11h31m17s057.png

NVIDIA FCAT VR is comprised of two different applications. The FCAT VR Capture tool runs on the PC being evaluated and has a similar appearance to other performance and timing capture utilities. It uses data from Oculus Event Tracing as a part of the Windows ETW and SteamVR’s performance API, along with NVIDIA driver stats when used on NVIDIA hardware to generate performance data. It will and does work perfectly well on any GPU vendor’s hardware though with the access to the VR vendor specific timing results.

fcatvrcapture.jpg

Continue reading our preview of the new FCAT VR tool!