In revealing these new virtual reality headsets, HTC Vive actually shows its commitment to both markets, seeing businesses and consumers as equally important and finding little value in a one-size-fits-all approach
➨ Both of the new headsets, the PC-based Vive Pro 2 and the all-in-one Vive Focus 3, feature 5K resolution and a 120-degree FOV as standard
➨ Vive Pro 2 is available to pre-order for a discounted £659/$749/€739 today
➨ Vive Focus 3 is going on sale on 24 June, for £1,060/$1,300/€1,180
HTC Vive has revealed the specs, prices and release dates for the two new headsets that it is debuting right now at ViveCon—and there is something for virtual reality users of all shapes and sizes.
The Vive Pro 2 headset is available to pre-order for a discounted £659/$749/€739 today. More on this special promotion and its aim below. The full kit, which includes Base Station 2.0 and Vive Controllers, is set for an August release, at £1299/$1,399/€1,399.
Vive Focus 3 is going on sale on 24 June, for £1,060/$1,300/€1,180. This cost includes 24 months of Vive Business Warranty and Services, and excludes VAT.
Vive Focus 3
The follow-up to HTC Vive’s Focus Plus, Vive Focus 3 is designed, built and delivered exclusively for business and professional users. It is an all-in-one or untethered headset, so no PC is required to use it.
The headset boasts 5K resolution with dual 2.5K displays, a 90 hz refresh rate and an ultra-wide 120 deg FOV.
Here, HTC Vive’s innovation and commitment to improving the user experience shows, with the company claiming that the headset’s fast-switching display panel uses real RGB subpixels and practically eliminates the screen door effect (the appearance of what look like black lines in between rows of pixels within high-end displays).
HTC Vive says the new visuals mean fine details such as text and overall fidelity are dramatically clearer, allowing for software design and user interaction to be more natural.
This is also a 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) headset, making it a direct competitor for business and professional custom to Oculus Quest 2.
The headset uses an AI-powered inside-out tracking algorithm for precise tracking. Here, HTC Vive is keen to point out that all tracking data is stored in an encrypted format on the headset, in case business and professional users are concerned about privacy.
The redesigned controllers are easy and intuitive to use, according to HTC Vive, and are among the lightest 6DoF input devices on the market.
They are also rechargeable, lasting up to 15 hours on a single charge. It is difficult to understand why this isn’t industry standard for controllers and business and professional users will welcome the news. HTC Vive says it is working on hand tracking and plans to support this in the future, following in the footsteps of Facebook/Oculus and XRSPACE.
In the same vein, HTC Vive is introducing swappable batteries with Vive Focus 3. These have been redesigned to suit the curve of the user’s head and sit at the back on the headset, bringing balanced weight distribution and better comfort in partnership with a new strap design.
HTC Vive says the battery pack can be changed in seconds, enabling continuous, long-term use, and quick charge provides 50% of battery life from just 30 minutes of charging. Also with business and professional users in mind, a new LED indicator shows colleagues and session leaders how much battery power any one user has remaining.
A new magnesium alloy frame underpins the headset that is 20% lighter and 500% stronger than traditional plastics. This should make it more comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
Vive Focus 3 also has a wide and fine-adjustable IPD (inter pupillary distance) range, so the headset displays can be better customised for each individual user. A quick-release button and easily removable magnetic front and rear face gaskets have been introduced, to suit large-scale sessions involving multiple users.
Continuing its business- and professional use-focused tweaks with the audio, HTC Vive opted for new open-back speakers featuring a pair of dual drivers. These are contact-free, so users can maintain environmental awareness while staying immersed in virtual reality. A special audio privacy setting allows users to stop others eavesdropping on their private conversations.
Under the hood is a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip, which provides twice the CPU and GPU performance and 11x the AI processing power of its predecessor used in the original Vive Focus. To maintain performance, HTC Vive combined the new chip with a copper heat pipe and cooling fan.
Commenting on Vive Focus 3, Graham Wheeler, general management for HTC Vive Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), says in pre-prepared remarks: “Vive Focus 3 heralds a new era of business VR—crafted for stunning visuals while also being durable and lightweight, with superior comfort and ease of use. Our new Vive Business solutions make it easier than ever for an organisation to use VR, so whether it’s a small start-up or a multinational, everyone can benefit from the transformative potential of VR.”
Before VRWorldTech turns to Vive Pro 2, business and professional users should consider the launch of Vive Business, a new suite of software and services unveiled in parallel with the new enterprise-focused headset that aims to support their specific needs.
Vive Focus 3 users can opt to use the Vive Business Device Management System to deploy their new headsets. It is ISO-certified and capable of helping IT departments to quickly and easily see the status of each headset on the network, remotely install new business apps and update software.
Users with their own MDM (mobile device management) solutions do not need to take up the Vive Business Device Management System, however. The headset is designed to work with Android Enterprise MDM, so it can also slot into pre-existing solutions.
Other software and services unveiled with Vive Business include a new app store of enterprise-focused apps and tools specially curated for business and professional users, as well as a new training service for sessions of any size.
This connects to Android mobile devices for easy oversight, and Vive Business Streaming means Vive Focus 3 can connect to a PC via a cable, with fully wireless streaming support coming in the future.
There is also the opportunity for businesses and professional users to sign up to Vive Sync and XR Suite. HTC Vive says organisations can choose to take up Vive Business services or they can simply pay a one-off cost for the headset and integrate it into their existing setup, with no recurring fees and the freedom to use the hardware as they choose.
Vive Pro 2
When Wheeler spoke to VRWorldTech Magazine, he made it clear that HTC Vive would not forget PC virtual reality users, on both sides of the consumer-enterprise divide.
PCs are essential to high-end experiences demanded by gamers and businesses alike, and Vive Pro 2 is HTC Vive’s latest offering to suit their needs. As Wheeler summarised in his pre-prepared remarks: “Vive Pro 2 delivers an amazing immersive experience, with beautifully fluid visuals, comfort, and precise tracking, for when every pixel and polygon counts,”
The headset boasts the same 5K resolution display that delivers 2.5K to each eye as Vive Focus 3, as well as a fast-switching panel with real RGB sub-pixels. Vive Pro 2 features a new bespoke dual stacked-lens design that delivers a 120 deg FOV.
HTC Vive worked with Nvidia and AMD to use Display Stream Compression for the first time in a virtual reality headset. This ensures maximum visual quality and is also backwards compatible with DisplayPort 1.2, so even graphics cards that supported the original Vive Pro will see a benefit with the new headset.
The new headset also boasts fine-adjustable IPD, an evenly distributed weight balance, an adjustable head strap, and a quick-adjustable sizing dial. For improved audio, it provides 3D spatial sound with Hi-Res Audio-certified headphones, and supports third party headphones.
As Vive Pro 2 is a more consumer-focused device, HTC Vive wanted to go above and beyond to demonstrate its commitment to everyone who has supported its virtual reality hardware and software since the company’s inception.
As a result, HTC Vive has ensured that all Vive SteamVR ecosystem accessories will work with Vive Pro 2, including its trackers of any generation and the new facial tracker.
HTC Vive says the headset will slot into an existing SteamVR setup, whether it’s Base Station 1.0 or 2.0, Vive Wireless Adapter, Vive controllers, or even third-party devices such as Valve’s Index ‘knuckle’ controllers.
And for true HTC Vive fans, the Vive Pro 2 headset-only version that is available for pre-order today is being offered at discount for anyone who wants to upgrade—so the prices of £659/$749/€739 mentioned above—ahead of going on sale from 3 June.
All in all, this is quite the announcement from HTC Vive and a lot to digest. Both headsets follow what Wheeler told VRWorldTech Magazine last month, that the company wants to build a virtual reality ecosystem that can meet both consumer and enterprise needs.
HTC Vive sees both markets as equally important and sees little value in a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, the company is offering pixel and polygon power with Vive Pro 2 for consumers/gamers and business and professional users in need of those capabilities, alongside the freedom and flexibility that comes with an all-in-one solution such as Vive Focus 3.
It remains to be seen what these new headsets mean for HTC Vive’s older models, but the fact the company is making Vive Pro 2 backwards compatible in many respects suggests a future for them. See also the company’s recently announced partnership with iFixit.
ViveCon is taking place today and tomorrow, so stay tuned for social media updates from VRWorldTech on what is being discussed, plus write ups on anything noteworthy, particularly from 12 May, when several HTC Vive partners discuss what they are doing with the new headsets.
Images: HTC Vive