HTC announces new Vive Pro headset and 'VR-first' Viveport redesign

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HTC Vive almost came out of nowhere in the VR headset race to take a hefty market share - in part due to its ambitious room-based tracking technology. The company is now further pushing its technical advantage over the competing Oculus Rift with a new Vive Pro headset and Vive Wireless Adaptor.

The new headset is the big news, with dual OLED displays with a combined resolution of 2,880x1,600 - that's a 78 per cent boost over the current headset and the Rift, which both have 2,160x1,200 resolutions. We'd also expect the newer displays to have improved contrast and colour accuracy. Other additions are built-in headphones, a new headstrap with better ergonomics, dual microphones and dual front-facing cameras as well, giving developers further options.

There's no pricing available yet, but it certainly looks to be the premium VR experience on the market. While improved hardware isn't as key to VR's continued adoption for games as solid software support and must-have titles, HTC's willingness to spend on developing the hardware offering is encouraging - a newer headset should also precipitate a price drop in the older model as well.

“There’s a clear need in the VR market for a premium VR experience with high resolution display, integrated audio and the best components available today in a headset,” said Daniel O’Brien, US general manager at Vive. “Vive Pro offers an immediate upgrade for both VR enthusiasts and enterprises that want to utilise the best VR experience.”

The company also announced a Vive Wireless Adaptor, making it first to market with such a solution - which will work with both Vive and Vive Pro. Trailing cables have ben a serious hindrance for the format since launch, and especially for Vive with its ability to track players around a room.

The adaptor is based upon Intel's WiGig technology. “Wireless VR has been on nearly every VR user’s wishlist since the technology was unveiled,” said Frank Soqui, general manager Virtual Reality Group at Intel Corporation. “By collaborating with HTC to commercialise Intel’s WiGig technology, we will guarantee that wireless VR meets the most discerning quality bar for home users and business VR customers.”

Finally and perhaps most importantly for developers, there's a huge overhaul of Viveport, ditching a 2D catalogue for fully interactive 'VR First' content browsing. This will give 'a room-scale preview' of the experience before purchase, though how much additional work that ends up being for developers is yet to be understood.

“Viveport is moving to a VR first experience model, and with the all-new Viveport VR, we are changing the way consumers discover, experience and acquire VR content,” said Rikard Steiber, president, Viveport.  "Until now, there has not been a shopping and browsing experience that takes advantage of the full functionality of VR. Available in early access today, Viveport VR increases interaction with content and offers developers a preview that showcases the quality of their titles and experiences.”

Read our recent interview with Vive's Graham Breen on the platform's successes and plans.