[MWC2016] HTC officially releases the Vive consumer edition VR headset

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IA - TIME

At one point in time, Virtual Reality (VR) headsets seemed to have been the next big trend that almost every smart mobile device manufacturer was rushing to produce. The hype simmered down quite a bit but now it looks as though it’ll be making quite a comeback as HTC recently revealed their complete Vive system here in Barcelona.

If you don’t already know, the Taiwanese company’s Vive VR headset was created in partnership with Valve, the makers of online game distribution service Steam and popular games such as Half-Life and Counter-Strike. HTC first showcased it during last year’s Mobile World Congress and this time round, they announced that the consumer edition of the ViveTM VR system will be available for purchase April this year.

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During the announcement, HTC also unveiled that the new Vive comes with yet another new technological innovation – Vive Phone Services. This new service enables users to stay connected to the real world, without having to step out of the virtual one. With the Vive Phone Services, users will be able to receive and respond to both incoming and missed calls, get text messages and send quick replies and check upcoming calendar invites directly through the headset. I’d personally use a smartphone for calls, but hey, whatever turns you on.

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Not only does this set a new standard in VR but it also creates a hybrid reality that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for consumers and businesses.

But that’s not all, as the consumer edition has updated features that were introduced in the Vive Pre. These include features such as updated wireless controllers with haptic feedback and dual stage triggers and a front-facing camera that blends physical elements into the virtual world. Additionally, it features a redesigned headstrap that offers better stability and balance and an improved visual system with brighter displays to give users a deeper sense of immersion.

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While it was essentially created for gaming, HTC has mentioned that they are working with developers to foster the creation of content that spans multiple sectors including entertainment, retail, education, design, healthcare and automotive.

The Vive consumer edition will be available to pre-order from February 29, with pre-order fulfilment and full commercial availability starting in early April. It comes in at a fairly hefty price tag of US$799 (MYR3,350). However, seeing as this is the first complete VR solution, buyers will also get a two wireless VR controllers, room scale movement sensors, and an Head-Mounted Display (HMD) featuring a built-in camera and phone.

Also, for a limited time, the consumer edition will ship with two full-fledge VR experiences to get users started in the VR world. These include titles such as:

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  • Job Simulator: The 2050 Archives – A game by Owlchemy Labs that takes place in a world where robots have replaced humans at all their jobs. Players will step into a ‘Job Simulator’ to learn what it was like ‘to job’.
  • Fantastic Contraption – by Northway Games in collaboration with Radial Games. This game sets players in a grassy island floating in the sky and allows them to build machines the size of a horse with their own two hands and then watching it roll out into the world.

With all that said, the sad thing about is that the Vive might not make it officially to Malaysia. During MWC, HTC only mentioned that the Vive will be available in 24 countries which include: US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland, Sweden, Taiwan, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand.

Which is virtually a shame, because it’s by far the best-looking and best-built VR headset out there.

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