Fri. Mar 31st, 2023
Sebastian saw the light in the HTC/Valve Vive VR headset

Any excuse to show Ars’ Sebastian Anthony in a Vive headset in Spring 2015 is a good excuse.

Sebastian Anthony

After speaking earlier this month about the impressive virtual reality experience offered in a hands-on demo of the HTC Vive (co-developed with Valve), I noted that the only thing that could really sour me right now is about the potential of the hardware, was a large price tag, which remains unannounced. Now, an HTC executive warns that consumers should be prepared for “a slightly higher price” when the headset is released to consumers later this year.

In an interview with MCV magazine, Jeff Gattis, HTC Connected Products’ executive director of marketing, says the company aims to “deliver the most premium VR experience the world has ever seen.” He further emphasizes that this is not just marketing hyperbole, but an actual reflection that “this is at the high end” of the market.

“Starting with the premium experience, even if it has a slightly higher price point, is the right choice from a strategic point of view,” continues Gattis. “Price can always come down as the market grows. We know there’s some pent-up demand, so there’s not that much price sensitivity to begin with. But to get the broader consumer adoption that we’re all hoping for, the industry will need to lower the price to make it more accessible. Whether we do that with Vive or other form factors and devices, we understand the importance of lowering the price to achieve adoption.”

When HTC says to expect “slightly higher price points,” it’s probably fair to use Oculus’ Rift headsets as a basis for comparison. Oculus charged $300 in 2013 for its initial development kits and $350 for an updated development kit released last year that also included its own webcam for motion tracking. Oculus founder Palmer Luckey said last September that the company aims to “stay in that $200-400 price range” for the final consumer release of the Rift headset (although the timing of that release looks somewhat uncertain). Sony has not announced any pricing plans for Project Morpheus, which is expected in early 2016.

It’s not shocking that HTC expects the Vive to come at a higher price point given the hardware involved. Both the headset and the two wireless handheld controllers (not included in Oculus’ pricing) are equipped with dozens of laser sensors, placed at angles to pick up coded tracking data from two external “Lighthouse” transmitters. Even if the individual tracking nodes (and the transmitters) are relatively inexpensive on their own, such a system will likely still cost more to produce than the single-camera tracking solution currently used by the likes of Oculus and Sony.

The Vive’s two 1200×1080 displays probably don’t add too much to the relative cost, given how much the mobile phone market has driven down LCD and LED screen prices in recent years. But getting those screens with a 90Hz refresh rate and in the most lightweight form factor can also increase the cost of production.

The question now becomes how high is the price HTC has in mind for this whole setup, and what the early adopter market will put up with getting their hands on the system. Keep in mind that you’ll probably also need a gaming rig with a pretty powerful graphics card to drive two separate 3D perspectives in VR, especially for the kind of high-end graphics experiences that will make everyone salivate. Hey, no one said the future would be cheap.

Elsewhere in the interview, Gattis says brick-and-mortar retail partners will be key to getting the Vive in front of a skeptical audience, with in-store displays that can provide the hands-on experience needed to really understand the Vive’s appeal. Despite the retail enthusiasm, Gattis doesn’t see VR becoming an overnight success following the release of Vive, even though he thinks releasing a consumer product in a shorter time frame will “set our competitors on fire.” “.

By akfire1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.