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HTC Unveils New Higher-Resolution Vive Pro VR Headset, Wireless Adapter

HTC used its virtual reality (VR) keynote at CES in Las Vegas Monday to unveil an updated version of its Vive virtual reality headset: The Vive Pro, as this new version is being called, will feature a higher-resolution display, capable of showing VR experiences with a resolution of 2880 by 1600 pixels, which represents a 78% increase over the resolution of the existing Vive.

The new headset will also come with integrated headphones, and is designed to be lighter and more comfortable than the existing Vive headset.

The Vive Pro will be backwards compatible with existing Vive applications as well as the company’s room-scale trackers. HTC is also planning to release a new version of the tracking hardware, which will allow room-scale tracking within a space of up to 10×10 meters — a bit more than 1000 square feet.

The company didn’t announce a price for the new device on Monday, but positioned it as a high-end product for enterprise and select consumers. “This is a product for these most discerning customers,” said Dan O’Brien, US GM of HTC Vive. O’Brien said that the Vive Pro will be available as an upgrade version to existing Vive users this quarter, with a full commercial launch planned for later this year.

In addition to the Vive Pro, HTC also introduced a new wireless adapter that will allow consumers to use the headset without being tied with cables to their PC. There’s no word on when the wireless adapter is going to be available, or how much it will cost.

A resolution upgrade is a significant step towards making VR experiences more comfortable and immersive. For comparison’s sake, the display of the Oculus Rift comes with two displays, each with a resolution of 1080×1200 pixels. That’s essentially the same as the resolution of the display used by the original HTC Vive, which delivers 2160×1200 for both eyes.

But some other companies have started to ship VR headsets with a higher resolution. The Samsung Odyssey, which runs Windows Mixed Reality, features a display with a 2880 x 1600 pixel resolution as well, just like the new Vive Pro.

HTC also used its keynote to announce a few updates to its Viveport platform, the most notable being that HTC Vive users can now shop for VR apps and experiences within VR. To make choosing for new experiences easier, Viveport is offering consumers a VR preview mode — a bit like a trailer for virtual reality, if you will.

The company also partnered with Vimeo to integrate more video content into a revamped version of its Vive Video app, and now lets users choose the next video while they still watch the current clip — perhaps laying the foundation for binge-watching in VR. “The time has come to move from a PC first to a VR first era,” said Viveport president Rikard Steiber.

HTC originally planned to release a mobile VR headset powered by Google’s Daydream platform, but scrapped that project by the end of the year. Perhaps as a result of that cooperation, HTC also released a version of its Vive Video app for Daydream Monday, allowing users of Google’s Daydream VR headset to browse Vimeo videos in VR as well.

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