In a world where virtual reality consoles are campaigning for mass appeal, HTC made a left turn in Las Vegas, showing off an even more pricey concept for their already exclusive VR headset.
Back in 2016, three VR headsets emerged setting the definition of virtual reality as a consumer product: the Oculus Rift, PSVR, and HTC Vive. The Vive and Rift both require your own top-of-the-line gaming PC to properly run them, the Vive being the most expensive and most demanding. PSVR on the other hand was the cheapest at $399 and most accessible, requiring any version of the PS4 which can easily be bought used for around $250.
18 months later, we have reason to believe that Sony’s VR unit has roughly sold double of the Vive and the Rift. While the least powerful, PSVR has been in the spotlight for its comfortable design, software curation, and accessibility. So you would think that with new iterations on the horizon, the competition would take serious note.
On January 9th at the Consumer Electronics Show, easily one of the largest conventions each year in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled its new console. The Vive Pro is more powerful, more demanding, and more pricey than its predecessor. The new headset easily impressed show goers and media alike with its stunning resolution and almost absent screen door effect. Probably the most impressive feature was the wireless receiver, which disappointingly will be sold separately, adding to the even more steep point of entry.
As a personal fan of cutting edge tech and owner of a PSVR, I definitely want to see this market flourish and wish the best for HTC’s new VR headset. I’m having a difficult time seeing how this is going to help the general public adopt virtual reality, which will bring forth more practical applications. The non-gaming possibilities are endless, but in order to get there, we need it in more homes. During Nvidia’s opening keynote, they revealed their expectation of 50 million VR headsets being sold by 2021. The company who can grab the biggest share of this will have found the right combination of power, software, and accessibility, and while HTC wowed the audiences at CES, I’m not sure the Vive Pro is the answer.