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.
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 2880×1600 (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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!