HTC commercial launch of VR headset slated for April

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

HTC Vive Finally Gets A Release Date: April 2016.

Earlier this year, HTC said its Vive VR headset would launch in limited quantities before the holidays, ahead of a wider consumer rollout sometime early in 2016.

In an email to Vive developers and a blog post that is now down due to traffic, HTC finally clarified when they’d be launching their long awaited virtual reality headset, Vive. The company posted a statement on its blog (which is currently offline) attempting to “clear up speculation and misinformation” about the launch, confirming the delay. “We will be starting the new year by making an additional 7,000 units available to developers, followed by commercial availability in April 2016,” the statement continues. Having tried all of the major virtual reality headsets that are either on the market or on the way (Gear VR, all of the Oculus prototypes, Sony’s Playstation VR), I can honestly say: the Vive was the most impressive.

The tracking, built in collaboration with Valve, was just ridiculous — and paired up with the Vive’s crazy looking controller, it gave an instant sense of immersion. In August, it said that a limited number of commercial systems would be offered by the end of the year, with “larger quantities” shipping in the first quarter of 2016 — the same release window as the Oculus Rift.

While many of the lessons learned from tinkering with Oculus can no doubt carry over to HTC’s headset, the Vive’s take on VR is far more complicated, consisting of two extra hand-held controllers tracked by a pair of “base stations” that allow you to roam around a 15-by-15-foot physical space. Alas, Vive is also the most cumbersome of the lot: there’s a big ol’ wire dangling from your head, and you have to put a few big “light house” sensors around your room to handle the tracking. It’s not clear whether HTC and Valve haven’t achieved the “best experience” because they’re still working on the hardware, or whether the issue is getting enough games and other entertainment content to make a full launch. Compared to the wireless functionality of Samsung’s Gear VR (which uses a Samsung phone as the brains and display to keep wires out of the mix) or the plug-and-play simplicity of Playstation VR, that’s gonna be a tough sell to make to all but the most VR enthused. Either way, HTC promises more opportunities to demo the headset, including the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, the Game Developers Conference, and Mobile World Congress.

But we don’t know what will actually make it into buyers’ living rooms later this year, or how much it’ll cost — a question that every major VR headset developer has declined to answer. We remain committed to delivering the HTC Vive to a broader group of content creators and partners, and remain focused on delivering the very best experience possible for a consumer release.

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