The second major VR headset of 2016 is coming.
The HTC Vive, a surprise product announced about a year ago from a company best known for its smartphones, will be available in April for $799. You can pre-order the Vive starting February 29.
That steep price tag is $200 more than the Vive’s closest rival, the Oculus Rift, which costs $600 and also launches this spring. Oculus is owned by Facebook.
The Vive will come with two free games: “Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives” and “Fantastic Contraption”. You’ll also need a powerful PC to power the HTC Vive, so expect to spend at least another $1,000 if you don’t already have one.
HTC announced a new feature for the Vive Sunday called Vive Phone Services. It connects to your smartphone and lets you receive calls, texts, and other basic alerts while using the headset.
The Vive was developed in collaboration with Valve, the computer gaming company best known for running Steam, the largest online marketplace for PC games.
The headset attaches to a PC and includes two wand-like controllers. You place sensors around the room that detect the headset and the controllers, creating a unique experience for the user that feels like you’re walking around a virtual world.
The Vive really is incredible, but it’s almost impossible to put into words what it’s like to use. If you get a chance to try the Vive, do it. You’ll be blown away.
But the Vive has huge challenges ahead of it. The Oculus Rift, which has better optics, richer supporter from game developers, and a cheaper price tag, appears to be the early favourite in the VR platform war.
It’s still early, but HTC will have to come up with a compelling case to choose the Vive over the Oculus Rift, given the massive price difference. Sony also plans to release its own VR headset for the PlayStation 4 later this year. That device has a built-in advantage because tens of millions of people already own the PS4.
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