HTC Vive Pro VR headset gets a hefty price tag and a release date

We wrote about HTC's announcement of the upcoming high-end Vive Pro VR headset just before CES a couple of months ago. Back then, the company was happy to talk about the Pro's 78% pixel count increase versus the original Vive (from 1080x1200 per eye to a screen-door-effect-reducing 1440x1600 per eyeball), but wouldn't let on the asking price for the higher-res model. HTC's now revealed that the Vive Pro will go for $799 for the headset alone. The standard Vive kit also got a permanent $100 price cut.

Compared to the regular Vive, the size of the Vive Pro's twin AMOLED displays is a tenth of an inch (0.25 cm) smaller at 3.5" (8.9 cm) each. That should help text and other on-screen elements look considerably sharper. The other big improvement is a redesigned strap that incorporates adjustable amplified earphones with noise cancelling. The Pro's 90-Hz refresh rate and 110° field of view are the same as the regular Vive.

The Vive Pro has a pair of outward-facing cameras, but the mechanical peepers are used for HTC's Chaperone accident-avoidance feature, not the inside-out tracking used in the company's Vive Focus standalone VR device. HTC says the Vive Pro supports SteamVR Tracking 2.0, but for now users will need the same type of base stations and touch controllers used with the original Vive.

The recommended PC specs are unchanged, though we imagine capitalizing on the increased resolution might take more GPU power than the suggested AMD Radeon RX 480 or Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 cards. The minimum recommended CPUs are an AMD FX-8350 or an Intel Core i5-4590. The Vive Pro connects using DisplayPort 1.2, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and Bluetooth.

The Vive Pro's heady $799 price tag doesn't include any controllers or sensor stations, though HTC throws in a a six-month subscription to its Viveport five-title-per-month content service. HTC is taking preorders now and expects headsets to start shipping on April 5. The original Vive launched at the same price in April 2016, but the package included two controllers and two base stations. That same kit is now available from Newegg for $499 after the permanent $100 cut. Since controllers cost $129 each and base stations are $135 a piece when purchased separately, prospective buyers that don't already own the regular Vive might as well purchase one and transfer the accessories over to their Vive Pro.

As a point of reference, the Vive Pro's displays are similar to the units in Samsung's HMD Odyssey. The Samsung unit's inside-out tracking should offer easy setup and eliminate the need for the pricey external sensors. Although the Vive Pro's build quality is likely superior, the HMD Odyssey's $499 asking price undercuts HTC's offering by hundreds of dollars before adding the required accessories.

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