MWC 16: HTC Vive Launches in April for $799 USD

Subject: Displays, Shows and Expos | February 21, 2016 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: MWC, mwc 16, valve, htc, vive, Oculus

Valve and HTC announced that the Vive consumer edition will be available in April for $799 USD, with pre-orders beginning on February 29th. Leave it to Valve to launch a product on a date that doesn't always exist. The system comes with the headset, two VR controllers, and two sensors. The unit will have “full commercial availability” when it launches in April, but that means little if it sells out instantly. There's no way to predict that.

The announcement blog post drops a subtle jab at Oculus. “Vive will be delivered as a complete kit” seems to refer to the Oculus Touch controllers being delayed (and thus not in the hands of every user). This also makes me think about the price. The HTC Vive costs $200 more than the Oculus Rift. That said, it also has the touch controllers, which could shrink that gap. It also does not come with a standard gamepad, like Oculus does, although that's just wasted money if you already have one.

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Unlike the Oculus, which has its own SDK, the Vive is powered by SteamVR. Most engines and middleware that support one seem to support both, so I'm not sure if this will matter. It could end up blocking content in an HD-DVD vs BluRay fashion. Hopefully Valve/HTC and Oculus/Facebook, or every software vendor on an individual basis, works through these interoperability concerns and create an open platform. Settling on a standard tends to commoditize industries, but that will eventually happen to VR at some point anyway. Hopefully, if it doesn't happen sooner, cross-compatibility at least happens then.

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February 21, 2016 | 09:45 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

VR is dead


February 21, 2016 | 11:29 PM - Posted by James D (not verified)

No, its just been brought back to realistic expectation. Anyone with even the slightest understanding of the kind of tech in play here should understand where the cost is coming from. Its a device that shares the internals as a modern smart phone. An array of cameras, sensors and accelerometers and TWO full HD high refresh rate displays. Not to mention two wireless motion controllers far more sensitive than our only frame of reference: a wiimote/ps move that ALSO is fitted witha pile orfsensors and accelerometers. Then two very sophisticated IR emitters. ALL OF THIS entirely justifies this price tag. There is more here than just slapping a screwn to your face. You want that? Go grab a google cardboard. This isng the death of VR, its the beginning hopefully. That said im still in the wait and see crowd but not solely on the price. I was sold on the Vive from the start. My lersonal issue is going to be partly more compelling software. Most of my issue is to see if it plays nice with glasses. I need them for distances over a few feet and mu understanding is that the optics simulate depth. So i need vision correction for this. I tried and failed with getting contacts. Cant get them in and out of my eyes and i would rather no go and get lasik JUST for this. So if they fit with glasses or if some enterprising bunch comes up with prescription eye cups then Im all in.

February 22, 2016 | 01:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It doesn't matter whether the price is "justified" by the hardware; it is simply too high. For that much money (plus the cost of a high-end PC), there needs to be a large amount of high-quality content already available (not just promises), and there isn't, so only a few tech enthusiasts and rich people will buy it. The userbase will be tiny, and so no one will want to develop for it, and there will continue to be a lack of content, and people will continue to not buy it...

The PC gaming market may be relatively large, but most of that is people who just play COD/Moba/Battlefield/etc., who wouldn't really be interested in VR or being early adopters in general. Most of market remaining doesn't have a powerful enough PC, and of those few that do, most will not be willing to drop $800 on a very specialized peripheral that doesn't yet have much content.

It will be the same cycle as with Linux gaming - devs don't develop for Linux because gamers don't use it, and gamers don't use it because there aren't many games available.

Concepts and promises can work when the product is cheap (Wii), but at this price, it's just too risky for most people.

Consoles also get around this problem by selling the console itself at cost or even below initially, knowing that building a large userbase will pay off in the end. VR would have had a chance only if Valve and Facebook were willing to do this.

February 22, 2016 | 08:17 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

People said the same thing about the iPad (and tablet computers in general) when it launched at $499 without multitasking support...

They've now sold 100 million of them, and other manufacturers have sold millions more tablets. Which isn't to say VR will achieve the same install base, but it could mean the beginning of a robust new tech market. I'm excited to see where this goes.

February 22, 2016 | 11:26 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The Ipad is not at all comparable to VR headsets. It's a lot cheaper, it's a standalone device, and it's a general purpose computer - not a specialized peripheral that requires a powerful computer. It is also marketed to normal/casual computer users, who represent a massive market and aren't really bothered by the lack of multitasking. They also don't need specific content the way VR does; as long as they can access facebook, youtube, and email, they are happy. The enthusiast market that VR is targeting is far smaller and far more demanding.

Also, it's Apple - there are millions of people who will buy literally anything they release. Oculus doesn't have that luxury.

February 22, 2016 | 12:14 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Agreed, iPad is a bad comparison. 3D is far more applicable with regards to technology, content and user adoption / demand.

February 22, 2016 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

wow my doppelganger or did i wake up in my sleep and write that. So i was going to write that last night and this morning after reading the far cry primal reviews(after the embargo lift - i'm not getting that game at launch now... bargain bin) and reading about the LG G5, i really think VR is now going to be a mainstream Mobile platform for viewing events and casual gaming for the first few years.

My dream of utopia cockpit gaming (racing & flying) is just going to have to hold off a few more years.

Maybe Sony will undercut these 2 other launches but i highly doubt it. Looks like we are going to have to wait 4 more years to get some AAA gaming experiences.

I guess if respawn can get titanfall 2 to work on playstation VR i might change my mind.

February 22, 2016 | 06:22 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I don't see how Sony could possibly undercut the other makers. The PS VR has to ship with a separate compute box since the current PS4 is not up to the task. There isn't a high enough bandwidth connection to allow both units to work on rendering, so the compute box will probably need to handle the rendering completely. The compute box will not be as expensive as a standalone PC since it will be use the PS4 for peripherals. It will just probably be a faster APU with memory and a power supply. Even selling at cost or even at a bit of a loss, I would not expect it to be any cheaper than the Rift or the Vive.

February 22, 2016 | 07:00 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A lot of people seem to be willing to drop $800 on a gaming specific computer display. Comparing VR headsets to othe periferals is not valid; it is a second display, not a mouse or keyboard. Gaming content does need to be tailored specifically to it, but it does not need to be made "from scratch". They could easily use most of the assets from an existing game and tweak the game play mechanics to better suit VR.

How many people have $800 gaming displays though? Probably not many at the moment. The features of $800 gaming displays will be available in a much cheaper display in a few years though, same thing with VR headsets. I don't think VR will be mainstream until the next console generation really. Those devices will have enough compute to run it out of the box. There could stand to be some more work on the technology before it goes mainstream anyway.

February 22, 2016 | 06:46 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

As far as I know, none of these devices use two separate displays. They use a single display with half of the display for each eye. This generation is roughly equivalent to a high end gaming display (high resolution, high variable refresh rate, etc) which most people don't have yet. The price range isn't that extreme when considered in this market. Also, while game play needs to be designed to work in VR, a game can use a lot of the same assets as a non-VR game. Most of the art assets can be directly reused with just adjusted game play mechanics. This will make development cheaper, but there could be confusion since the game play would be fundamentally different. A quick port without game play changes will probably make people sick, so that mostly doesn't work.

I don't think VR will really be mainstream until the next console generation. These devices will have sufficient power to run VR out if the box. The devices will be cheaper with higher volume and components specifically tailored to VR use. A lot of the problems will be solved and developers will have more experience developing for the platform. Until that time, it will be bleeding edge, with prices to match. If you are not a consumer willing to spend $800 for a second gaming specific display, then you are not a consumer who would be buying a VR headset either. At least not yet. A lot of the tech in a VR headset isn't particularly expensive. The motion sensors are quite cheap these days as they are integrated into the chips. The main cost is the display. These will come down with higher volume production. There is some interesting display tech being worked on, such as a light field type display, that will be the premium components of the future. The current tech will be available much cheaper though, just like you can get a very good display for only a couple hundred dollars now.

February 21, 2016 | 11:41 PM - Posted by holyneo

I am getting both. /popcorn

February 21, 2016 | 11:42 PM - Posted by Scott Michaud

Congrats! If you create anything, be sure to make it cross-platform. :p

February 23, 2016 | 10:29 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

s/both/all three.

Don't forget PSVR! I'll need an extra two heads (and 4 hands) at this rate.

February 22, 2016 | 04:17 AM - Posted by JohnGR

That Job Simulator? I am expecting the government here in Greece making a deal with Valve and HTC for exclusivity.

February 22, 2016 | 02:07 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

$200 for not having to sell your soul to Facebook in the EULA?
That's too much. My soul's worth $50 max.

February 22, 2016 | 07:12 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What is the resolution on the Vive display compared to the Rift? That seems to be the most important metric. Although, the Vive is trying to be a VR room style device rather than the sitting experience that the Rift is aiming for so they are fundamentally different. Though, I kind of think they need to come up with a wireless solution for these. I am not sure what current wireless display tech is capable of. Doing the high resolution and high refresh rate while keeping the latency low is presumably a really difficult problem. They may have to integrate such tech directly into a GPU/APU to get it to work. Perhaps I need to invest in a murphy bed (wall bed) to allow for a VR space.

February 22, 2016 | 10:44 PM - Posted by 3d Vr Virtual Reality (not verified)

Amanstino 3d Vr Virtual Reality Glasses with Headband for 3.5-6.0 Inch Iphone/Android phone

February 23, 2016 | 10:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

What they need to do is put some more computing power in the headsets, so devices like laptops, tablets and maybe even phones could drive the VR gaming goggles. AMD should look into developing some Dual APU gaming VR goggles where each eye display could have their own dedicated APU/processor.

2 of AMD's embedded processors could be made to run the necessary gaming graphics as well as some gaming physics with the connected device PC/laptop/Tablet/Phone SOC/APU offloading most of the heavy lifting as necessary to the VR goggle's embedded APUs! With an over USB Type-C Gen 2 connection and the Type-c plug able to provide the power necessary to run the embedded APUs in the VR goggles to get as much of the game's graphics running on the headset, and the PC/laptop/Mobile device's APU/SOC/GPU providing only the necessary assist according to the PC's, laptop's, mobile device's rated processing power, with more assist from a PC, and lesser assist from a laptop on down to a Phone. The VR headset could also support Display Port over USB Type-C for a little more bandwidth for PC driven gaming.

Putting More Compute in the head set will allow for more VR gaming from laptops, and other mobile devices that do not have all the processing power necessary to run VR games. AMD's low power embedded processors like the R series/newer could probably do a good job of outputting 4k to each eye and can easily be powered over a USB Type-C connection. Once AMD begins making embedded APUs on an interposer at 14nm it will probably be easy to make a VR headset with the necessary HBM to support high resolution gaming on the VR headset itself and even AMD's current Embedded APU can support 4k resolutions.

February 26, 2016 | 12:22 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Does it come with a groinal attachment?

February 28, 2016 | 04:25 PM - Posted by holyneo

On the fence on which one to get? Oculus vs Rift?

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