HTC originally announced a new version of the HTC Vive, dubbed the HTC Vive Pro, during CES 2018 in Las Vegas. The company has now confirmed that the new device is available to order and will be shipping 5 April 2018.
This new model comes with a number of improved features including an enhanced resolution and high-res audio support.
What does HTC Vive Pro offer and how does it stack up against the original device? We've got all the details you need to know.
HTC Vive vs HTC Vive Pro: Design features
- HTC Vive: Single front-facing camera, adjustable velcro straps
- HTC Vive Pro: Dual front-facing cameras, adjustable comfort dial
The HTC Vive Pro is immediately recognisable despite some striking design changes. Where the original headset came in black, the new HTC Vive Pro comes in a bold blue with two new front-facing cameras.
The classic pocked-marked design remains - the sensors still a key part of the VR tracking experience, but the new design now includes some of the comfort features missing from the original Vive.
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Where the HTC Vive features three velcro straps that need adjusting to get the right fit, the HTC Vive Pro has an updated design that allows for a more comfortable fit and easy adjustment. The new design is similar to the deluxe audio strap which is an optional extra for the HTC Vive but standard for the HTC Vive Pro. A dial at the back allows for easy fit and comfort adjustment.
The new design of the HTC Vive Pro also features enhanced ergonomics to give a more balanced fit by decreasing weight on the front of your face while you play. This includes a redesigned face cushion and nose pad combination which blocks out more light than the current design on the original HTC Vive.
The original HTC Vive has a single front-facing camera which allows for a room view while gaming. The new HTC Vive Pro has two front-facing cameras that look like eyes on the front of the headset. These are primarily designed for developers to take advantage of, but will likely allow for better tracking of your environment as you game too.
Where the HTC Vive uses an HDMI cable for connecting to your gaming machine, the HTC Vive Pro uses a DisplayPort 1.2 connection. This is something to bear in mind if you're considering the upgrade or purchase of the HTC Vive Pro - as not all graphics cards have a DisplayPort output. The Vive Pro wouldn't work with our gaming laptop, as an example.
HTC Vive vs HTC Vive Pro: Display resolution and specifications
- HTC Vive: 1080 x 1200 per eye (2160 x 1200 overall resolution)
- HTC Vive Pro: 1400 x 1600 per eye (2800 x 1600 overall resolution)
- HTC Vive: 110-degree field of view, 90Hz refresh rate
- HTC Vive Pro: 110-degree field of view, 90Hz refresh rate
The biggest change with the HTC Vive Pro is the increase in resolution. With the HTC Vive Pro, HTC has increased the resolution of the dual-OLED displays to 2880 x 1600. That's 1400 x 1600 per eye compared to 1080 x 1200 per eye on the original HTC Vive. Now with 615ppi, the HTC Vive Pro is said to have had a 78 per cent increase in resolution.
This resolution change improves clarity during gaming as well as enhancing immersion for gamers. The HTC Vive Pro offers clearer text rendering and a crisper picture whether playing games or watching videos while using the headset. In-game textures are smoother and more realistic as well as stunning to look at.
The HTC Vive Pro does not offer a 4K resolution, but this means that the headset is still accessible to a wide market of gamers without requiring extreme gaming machines.
Both headsets require a similarly specced PC in order to run. The recommended specifications are:
- Processor: Intel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, equivalent or better.
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce® GTX1060 or AMD Radeon RX480, equivalent or better.
- Memory: 4 GB RAM or more
- Video out: DisplayPort 1.2 or newer
- USB ports: 1x USB 3.0 or newer port
- Operating system: Microsoft Windows 8.1 or Windows 10
HTC Vive vs HTC Vive Pro: Audio quality and features
- HTC Vive: 3.5mm headphone input/concealed USB input
- HTC Vive Pro: High-performance Hi-Res certified headphones with a built-in amplifier and 3D spatial sound
- Both offer built-in microphones, the HTC Vive Pro includes dual microphones with active noise cancellation
High-quality audio is now integrated as standard. Where the original HTC Vive only had 3.5mm connections allowing you to use your own headphones or headset, the new HTC Vive Pro includes earcups built right into the design. These headphones offer a similar design to the Deluxe Audio Strap upgrade for the HTC Vive, but with further improvements to enhance them further.
The HTC Vive Pro includes high-performance headphones with a built-in amplifier that delivers a superior audio experience including a "heightened sense of presence" and better spatial sound. The specification of the new headset includes Hi-Res certified headphones which 3D spatial sound capabilities as well as support for high-impedance headphones.
This is a welcome design improvement as plugging your own headphones into the original device meant adding more cables to the headset that could get in the way during gaming and ruin immersion. The new HTC Vive Pro only requires a single cable to connect to the link box which then attaches to your PC, so there are far fewer cables to get in the way as you game.
Improved audio in the HTC Vive Pro in terms of quality and spatial sound enhances the virtual reality experience, something that's missing from the original HTC Vive.
The new headphones click down into place when you need them and click up out of the way when you don't. The HTC Vive Pro offers a much more comfortable design as there's no need to plug in your own headphones or headset, the Vive Pro has it all built in which makes life easier and gaming more enjoyable.
The new design of the HTC Vive Pro also includes dual built-in microphones with active noise cancellation for a superior communication experience when playing multiplayer or co-op games. These headphones also include volume controls and a mic mute button built right into the design for easy access while you play.
HTC Vive vs HTC Vive Pro: Tracking compatibility and upgrades
- HTC Vive: Two standard base stations for VR tracking
- HTC Vive Pro: Backwards compatibility with original base stations (sold separately)
The HTC Vive Pro is compatible with the current HTC Vive base stations meaning theoretically if you own the original VR device you can just buy the new headset and it will work fine with the original setup. New and improved base stations will come in future along with the official wireless adapter. The updated base stations are said to offer an increased level of Room-Scale tracking with up to 10x10 metre playspace available in future.
The HTC Vive Pro is currently being sold as headset only at £799/$799 with a separate purchase required for the base stations (£119.99/$134.00 each) and controllers (£119.99/$129.99 each). You'll also be able to purchase the Vive Pro Starter Kit from Vive.com which includes everything you need for £1048/$1099. Even with the starter kit this certainly makes the HTC Vive Pro a more expensive option unless you're upgrading from a current HTC Vive and already have the extra accessories. The price of the current HTC Vive has now been dropped to £499 making it more accessible too.
HTC Vive vs HTC Vive Pro: The main changes
The HTC Vive Pro represents a welcome upgrade to the VR experience from HTC. This new device delivers a new level of comfort that was sometimes missing from the original, but the real improvement here is the resolution upgrades and audio enhancements. A better visual experience offers improved immersion and superior VR gaming on a platform that's already pretty incredible.
The HTC Vive Pro is currently available to pre-order on Vive.com, Scan, GAME and Overclockers. It will be shipping globally on 5 April. Purchases of the HTC Vive Pro also include a free six-month trial to Viveport subscription which gives users access to five VR games a month from a catalogue including over 400 games.