Since day one of its troubled development, the HTC and Valve-co-manufactured Vive gear exuded this superior vibe of professionalism, power and futuristic skill compared to the Oculus Rift. But the 2012 startup that was acquired by Facebook two years later had way more time for tests, experiments and development kits, with the first consumer edition now up for pre-orders.
As far as the HTC Vive is concerned, its makers promised the recent delays would be the last hurdles blocking the VR head-mounted display’s path to success, and April is reiterated as the new ETA at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.
The Consumer Electronics Show is also where the Vive enters its second-gen dev-friendly Pre stage of evolution, after a number of visual, software and hardware enhancements. Designed to offer greater comfort to wearers, the HTC Vive Pre is more compact than its experimental predecessor, with superior stability and balance provided by an “updated strap.”
There doesn’t seem to be just one major breakthrough on the table, as suggested last month, but rather a sum of critical little improvements, including a “newly developed front facing camera” that blends “physical elements into the virtual space”, “overhauled and enhanced controllers” featuring textured buttons, grip pads and a dual stage trigger, and vastly augmented haptic feedback.
Of course, we’ll have to take the HTC Vibe Pre for a spin to check out the polish of all these user interface upgrades, so it’s a good thing we’ve sent our biggest, baddest team of writers, video content producers and testers at CES this year. Hopefully, they’ll hear something on the retail cost front too, and perhaps add a few names to the mysterious list of “thousands of developers and partners” creating exclusive virtual reality content for the device.