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Useful Notes / HTC Vive

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The HTC Vive is a Virtual Reality headset and Dueling Products with the Oculus Rift. The Vive was the first commercial VR platform to make use of Room Scale VR technology. While the earliest VR headsets only allowed you to move in virtual space with the use of a controller, the Vive was designed for the user to physically walk, turn, and flail around freely within a real space - preferably, a square about 3m to a side. It was also the first platform to use wireless tracked controllers to emulate the user's hands in virtual space.

The HTC Vive was developed by HTC with technology by Valve Software. Prototypes of a Valve-produced virtual reality system were demonstrated during 2014, and in 2015 Valve announced "Steam VR" - an add-on to Steam to enable VR games and programs on the Steam platform. The HTC Vive itself was officially released in 2016, and continues to be marketed to Steam users.

The initial price of the HTC Vive headset, controllers, and base stations was $799 - pricier than the Oculus Rift, but with (at the time) unique Room Scale features. The Oculus Rift would later develop its own tracked controller - the Oculus Touch - along with Room Scale enabled by adding an extra Constellation sensor to the base Oculus package. This has kicked off an ongoing feature-development arms race between Oculus and HTC.

In 2018, HTC unveiled the HTC Vive Pro - an upgraded version of the Vive headset with higher resolution, a redesigned headstrap for better comfort and balance, and integrated headphones. The price of this headset - by itself - was $799. Throwing in new base stations and controllers brought the price up to $1,399. This version of the Vive is marketed more to commercial users, as opposed to home consumers. In addition to visual improvements, the Vive Pro comes with upgraded base stations that allow for a much larger play area - a square about 6m to a side. You can also use more of the upgraded base stations for better tracking and less occlusion. Later the same year, HTC also released a wireless adapter - for an additional $299, you could replace the the cables that normally connect the Vive or Vive Pro headsets to a PC with some hardware that would wirelessly transmit information between a dongle on top of the headset and a chip slotted into the PC's motherboard. A version of the Vive Pro, the Vive Pro Eye which adds built-in eye tracking, was released on June 6, 2019. A successor to the HTC Vive Pro series, the HTC Vive Pro 2, was released on June 4, 2021, sporting the higher 2448×2448 resolution per-eye, 120-degree field of view and 120 Hz refresh rate.

HTC later released the Vive Cosmos. The Vive Cosmos has the 90 Hz display with 1440x1700 resolution per-eye and has an ability to swap the module faceplate on the front of the headset, with each faceplate provide different functions, such as inside-out tracking and XR passthrough. The Vive Cosmos was offered in four variants with different faceplates: The basic Vive Cosmos Play, the mid-tier base Vive Cosmos and the mixed-reality-focused Vive Cosmos XR models use inside-out tracking and come with two, newly deisgned 6DoF controllers, while the Vive Cosmos Elite is the only model that use the old-school outside-in tracking and the full kit of it comes with the old Vive Wand controllers. The Vive Cosmos starts at $699.

That's not to say that PCVR-only headsets are the only things that HTC had released. HTC released the Vive Focus on January 2018 in China initially and later released internationally in November of the same year. Unlike the previous, PCVR-only Vive headsets, the Vive Focus is a standalone VR headset, has inside-out tracking, and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC. HTC later released the Vive Focus Plus in 2019, which comes with the new 6DoF controllers that the original Vive Focus lacks. The Vive Focus and Vive Focus Plus were priced at $599 and $799 respectively.

A successor to the Vive Focus and Vive Focus Plus, the Vive Focus 3, was released on June 27, 2021, sporting the 90Hz display with 2448x2448 resolution per-eye and is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 SoC. It also comes with the HTC Vive XR controllers, which has 6DoF tracking. HTC later released the facial tracker and eye tracker add-on for the Vive Focus 3, providing face and eye tracking to the headset. Vive Focus 3 is significantly more expensive than the previous Vive models, priced at $1300.

An upcoming model in the Vive headsets, the Vive XR Elite, was announced in January 2023. One thing that makes the Vive XR Elite stands out from other standalone Vive headsets is the ability to swap the back rest (which also contains battery), effectively making the headset's battery hot-swappable. It also features the pancake lenses with diopter adjustement. The Vive XR Elite, which comes bundled with the Vive XR controllers, is priced at $1099.

Today, a new (basic) HTC Vive costs $499, this includes the headset, two controllers, and the tracking stations for room scale.

Technical Specifications

Vive HMD
  • Dual 1080x1200 OLED panels with 90 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; their spacing can be adjusted to account for user IPD.
  • Integrated microphone and an 8mm jack for any set of compatible earbuds or headphones - HTC includes a set of earbuds with the headset. You can also buy a separate "Deluxe Audio Strap" that replaces the elastic cloth from the basic headset with an adjustable plastic crown and headphones.
  • "Lighthouse" Room Scale tracking system using two base stations.
  • One external camera.

Vive Pro, Vive Pro Eye, Vive Pro 2 HMD

  • Vive Pro and Vive Pro Eye has dual 1440x1600 OLED panels with 90 Hz refresh rate and IPD range of 61-72 mm. Vive Pro 2 has dual 2448x2448 LCD panels with 120 Hz and IPD range of 57-70 mm.
  • Integrated microphone and (removable) headphones similar to the Deluxe Audio Strap for the basic Vive.
  • Vive Pro Eye has eye tracking built-in.
  • "Lighthouse" 2.0 Room Scale tracking system using up to four base stations.
  • Two external cameras.

Vive Cosmos HMD

  • Dual 1440x1700 LCD panels with 90 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; IPD range is 61-72 mm.
  • Integrated microphone and (removable) headphones similar to the Deluxe Audio Strap for the basic Vive and Vive Pro series.
  • Swappable module faceplates that provide different functions, such inside-out tracking and camera passthrough. Module faceplates are also sold separately.
  • Capable of either inside-out markless tracking or outside-in "lighthouse" tracking depending on the equipped module faceplate.
  • Two external cameras at the side of the headset provide inside-out tracking when paired with the Play and Basic module faceplates.
  • The entry Play model, the basic model and the XR model comes with 6DoF controllers bundled; The Elite model, being the only model with the outside-in tracking faceplate, comes with the Wand controllers instead in addition to the tracking stations.

Vive Focus and Focus Plus HMD

  • Dual 1440x1600 OLED panels with 75 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; IPD range is 60.5-74 mm.
  • Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC, with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage.
  • Inside-out tracking just like the Vive Cosmos. Has grayscale passthrough.
  • Integrated microphone, integrated speakers and an 8mm jack.
  • 4000mAH non-removable battery
  • The Vive Focus only comes with a single 3DoF remote-like controller, while the Vive Focus Plus come bundled with a pair of 6DoF controllers

Vive Focus 3 HMD

  • Dual 2448x2448 LCD panels with 90 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; IPD range is 57-72 mm.
  • Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 SoC, with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, with a SD card slot for expansion.
  • Inside-out tracking just like its predecessors and has grayscale passthrough.
  • PCVR possible via Vive Business Streaming app.
  • Integrated microphone, integrated speakers and an 8mm jack.
  • 7000mAH non-removable battery.
  • Come bundled with a pair of Vive XR controllers.
  • Face tracking and eye tracking possible with the facial tracker and eye tracker add-ons.

Vive XR Elite HMD

  • Dual 1920x1920 LCD panels with 90 Hz refresh rate, one for each eye; IPD range is 54-73 mm.
  • Pancake lenses with diopter adjustment.
  • Powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 SoC just like Vive Focus 3, but with 12GB of RAM and 128GB of non-expandable storage.
  • Inside-out tracking just like its predecessors. Also has color passthrough unlike previous Vive models.
  • PCVR possible
  • Integrated microphone, integrated speakers but lacking an 8mm jack.
  • Ability to swap the battery/backrest for battery hot-swapping.
  • Come bundled with a pair of Vive XR controllers.

Vive wands

  • One analogue trigger
  • One pair of squeezable "grip" buttons on the side of the wand.
  • Two menu buttons per controller - one to open an in-game menu, and the other to open the Steam VR menu.
  • One trackpad per controller, which is also a button
  • "Lighthouse" tracking system, same as the headset.
  • Rumble feedback.
  • Integrated rechargable battery per controller; estimated battery life is about 6 hours, although that duration depends heavily on how much rumble feedback there is.

Vive XR Controller

  • A pair of controllers.
  • One analogue stick, one analogue trigger, one grip button, three face buttons on each side of the controller.
  • Touch and capacitive sensors for finger tracking.
  • Rumble feedback just like the Wands
  • outside-in tracking via the headset's cameras.
  • Integrated rechargable battery that last about 16 hours.
  • Come bundled with Vive Focus 3 and Vive XR Elite. Also sold separately.

Games with HTC Vive support: