HTC Vive Drops To $499, Vive Pro VR Headset Preorders Open At $799 Without Controllers Or Base Stations

HTC Vive Pro

If you have been holding off buying a virtual reality headset in anticipating of newer, higher resolution models coming out, HTC has some good news. The company announced today that it is accepting pre-orders for its Vive Pro head mounted display (HMD). It's priced at $799, the same as what the original Vive debuted at, with the first batch of pre-orders slated to ship on April 5.

That's the good news. The not-so-awesome news is that the pre-order price covers the headset only—it does not come with any touch controllers or base stations, nor does it include a wireless adapter. That is a major bummer for anyone who does not already own a current-generation Vive system. Those who do can use their existing base stations and controllers with the new Vive Pro, though having to retain those will undoubtedly hurt the resale value.

First-time buyers who are interested in the Vive Pro will have to purchase the touch controllers and base stations separately, a proposition that significantly adds to the cost. Alternatively, you can wait a bit—HTC is planning to announced a Vive Pro kit at a later time.

The Vive Pro represents a bump in resolution to 2880x1600 via dual OLED displays, up from 2160x1200 on the original Vive. According to HTC, jacking the resolution up by 78 percent enables the Vive Pro to display crisper visuals. In addition, the Vive Pro features integrated, high-performance headphones with a built-in amplifier with noise canceling capabilities.

"These improved graphics and audio allow for users to experience VR with enhanced clarity, making it the most realistic and immersive VR experience on the market today," HTC says.

HTC Vive Pro Side

HTC also redesigned the head-strap to balance the weight of the headset more evenly, and made it so the Vive Pro fits better when using it with glasses. In other words, it is an upgrade over the original Vive in several ways, rather than repurposing the exact the same headset with higher resolution OLED displays.

As for the original Vive, HTC plans to continue selling it through the remainder of the 2018 (perhaps longer), and at a reduced price. Effective today, the original Vive costs $499, versus its previous $599 price tag. And unlike the Vive Pro, the $499 Vive comes with two base stations and two touch controllers.

It is a welcome price cut, though the Oculus Rift is still cheaper option—it costs $399 and comes with a pair of touch controllers and two motion tracking sensors. How that plays out among VR adopters remains to be seen, though it seems to us as a missed opportunity for HTC. Had it dropped the price to $399 to match the Rift, or even $449, it would have made a stronger case for picking the Vive over the Rift.

"With the Vive Pro we are delivering the best quality display and visual experience to the most discerning VR enthusiasts. Our goal has always been to offer the most premium VR platform available and to drive adoption for VR," said Daniel O’Brien, GM US Vive. "By lowering the price of the current Vive, we are making VR more accessible while expanding the potential market for developers. Whether you're a VR enthusiast or new to the platform, there’s never been a better time to join the most complete VR platform available."

If you are interested in the Vive Pro, follow this link to place your pre-order. Purchase made before June 3 come with six free months of HTC's Viveport subscription service.