The 2016 Consumer Electronics Show is big on virtual reality and HTC is kicking off 2016 by releasing their second VR development kit, the Vive Pre. The consumer variant of the HTC Vive is set to begin shipping this Spring in April, so this is a last minute developer kit. But it is coming for good reason, as it is a refreshed headset with some new features.
For starters the HTC Vive Pre has a refreshed design that makes it more comfortable to wear and it increase the sense of immersion into the virtual world. It has redesigned strap that provides better stability and balance, along with brighter display and deeper sense of presence. This leads to increased clarity and a more immersive experience. On the side the Vive Pre now has interchangeable foam inserts and nose gaskets, which will let each user customize so it fits them right.
The biggest change would have to be the addition of front facing camera, this allows you to do more both in the virtual world and outside the virtual world when wearing the headset. It will blend both physical elements and virtual elements together. This makes it possible to find a seat, have a drink, and talk with others with out removing the headset. It essentially is the solution for what virtual reality has been looking for, how can you interact with the “real world” while wearing a headset.
Lastly, HTC has slightly redesigned the Vive’s controllers, they have new ergonomics, softer edges, new textured buttons, grip pads, and greater balance. They now deliver haptic feedback which will give you more interaction and reactions within the virtual reality world. The controllers themselves have integrated recharge lithium polymer batters that should last over 4 hours on one charge.
The HTC Vive is still set to be the first VR hardware to support SteamVR, and since they first announced Vive many more developers have joined and are developing experiences for it. The Vive is still on track for a commercial launch in April of 2016, but in the meantime HTC and Valve will be kicking off 2016 by offer an additional 7,000 units of Vive Pre to developers.
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