Sunday came with sticker shock for those interested in virtual reality.
Leading into Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, HTC announced details of its upcoming Vive headset, headlined by a $799 price tag.
That's about $200 dollars more than the Oculus Rift, whose price was a pain point for many back in January.
In both cases, buyers will also need to consider whether the PC they have will be able to support either system's requirements, meaning buying a high-end VR experience could spiral into a computer upgrade as well.
It should be noted, though, that the Vive will ship with its two natively-built VR hand controllers, unlike the Rift, whose Touch controllers will be out at some point in their latter half of 2016. The Rift will initially ship with the Xbox One wireless controller. No word yet on a price for the Touch controllers, so it's possible they could close the price gap between the Rift and the Vive somewhat.
In addition, the Vive differs in that it's a full room experience, meaning that three sensors placed around a room allow the user to get up and move around a limited space (though still tethered to the computer.) It also offers a front-facing camera. HTC also announced Sunday a microphone that would let the user make calls or answer them while still wearing the headset. On the other hand, the Vive doesn't come with built-in headphones, like the Rift. While these two products make up the high-end of the VR spectrum, they do have their differences.
Pre orders for the Vive will be available Feb. 29 at 7:00 am PT, and the HMD will start shipping in early April. The Vive will comes with game titles Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives by Owlchemy Labs and Fantastic Contraption by Northway Games and Radial Games.
The $799 price will make it hard for some to justify a purchase, but Oculus' already upped price managed expectations to some degree—this stuff won't be cheap. Enthusiasts may be willing to dive in and experiment with both—there's a certain crowd that has been waiting a very long time and might be more likely to splurge (a lot).
But for businesses wanting to poke around with VR, these price points could be a solid push toward the middle to lower end of the spectrum with the Samsung Gear VR or Google Cardboard, at least at first.
- It will cost you $799 to walk around in Vive's virtual world (CNET)
- How Google Cardboard became the flag bearer for VR, and what's next (TechRepublic)
- What would it mean if Apple joined the VR fray (TechRepublic)
- Hands on with the HTC Vive: Why it could be the VR headset to beat in 2016 (TechRepublic)
- Will hands and controllers be the difference between HTC Vive and Oculus Rift? (TechRepublic)
Erin Carson has nothing to disclose. She doesn't hold investments in the technology companies she covers.
Erin Carson is a Staff Reporter for CNET and a former Multimedia Editor for TechRepublic.