Although HTC has hardly even hinted at a Vive 2, the company is continuing to make subtle improvements to their first headset that’s been selling in stores since April 2016. In addition to a 15% reduction in weight, the latest headsets are shipping with tweaked SteamVR Tracking (AKA Lighthouse) Base Stations and redesigned packaging.

The Vive just celebrated its one year anniversary last week and HTC was offering $100-off of the Vive system which includes the headset, two controllers, and two Base Station beacons which allow SteamVR Tracking to work its magic. If you jumped in on the anniversary sale, you might even end up with one of the latest Vive headsets which have seen a number of tweaks since the device’s launch just over a year ago.

Last week we reported that the latest Vive headsets rolling off the production line weighed 15% less than they did at launch. And now we’ve learned of some additional changes that have come since the launch of the headset.

Road to VR has confirmed that tweaked Base Stations are shipping with the latest Vive headsets. These are not the completely redesigned Base Stations that Valve said will begin shipping this year, but rather a subtle design change to the infrared LED array that’s essential to the operation of the SteamVR Tracking system.

Newer Base Stations can be identified by their 3×3 LED array | Photo courtesy Craig Albert

As far as we’ve seen, every consumer Vive has previously shipped with Base Stations that have a 15-LED array which you can spot if you look carefully through the black front of the unit. The newer tweaked Base Station has a more rigidly aligned 9-LED (3×3) array. Beyond this we haven’t spotted any other visual differences, though it’s possible there’s some internal differences that we wouldn’t find without cracking the case open.

The original 15-LED consumer Vive Base Station | Photo courtesy iFixit (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

Why the change? That’s a question we put to HTC, though they didn’t give us a specific answer.

“As you may know, we constantly are updating the hardware, but not making an specific announcements at this time,” an HTC spokesperson told us when we asked about the changes to the Base Station.

One guess is that the IR LED’s could be brighter, which could mean increased range. In side-by-side pictures, it does look that way, though as the images were captured with a visible-light camera, it’s quite possible that the new LEDs are not in fact brighter, but simply emit more light in the visible spectrum.

It has been said previously by Alan Yates—the Valve engineer credited with designing SteamVR Tracking (AKA Lighthouse)—that the range bottleneck of the system is the LEDs (which flash to serve as a ‘sync pulse’ that allows for a consistent timing reference, a critical part of the tracking calculations). The lasers can go out quite far while remaining eye-safe, but the LEDs can’t reach as far (whether it’s an eye-safe issue or not for the LEDs isn’t clear).

SteamVR Tracking Base Station prototype in slow motion shows the IR LED sync pulse in action | Video courtesy Alan Yates

Thanks to the assistance of developer Craig Albert, we were able to run a rudimentary range test with the new Base Stations, which involved quite simply using the Vive controllers and Trackers and moving backward from the Base Station until the point of tracking failure. In the tests the new Base Station seemed to offer strong tracking for about one extra foot further than the older Base Station, though given the unscientific nature of the test and the small apparent difference, this could easily fall in the margin of error, so I wouldn’t suggest putting any money on that finding.

SEE ALSO
HTC to Sell Shanghai Phone Factory for $91 Million, Invest Proceeds in VR Business

Even if the range difference is null, another potential reason for the change could be reduced cost. Yes LEDs are cheap, but there’s also the cost of placing components on boards. If each LED costs you 2¢ to buy and place, and there’s 15 on each Base Station (and two Base Stations per Vive), by the time you’ve sold 500,000 Vives, you’ve spent $300,000 on LEDs. If you were buying and placing 9 LEDs per Base Station instead, you’d cut your costs by $120,000 in the same number of manufactured systems—not a bad bit of pocket change for a little tweak.

The SteamVR Tracking Base Stations have seen a number of design iterations (including varying LED counts and layouts) throughout the creation of the tracking system. Above is a small gallery showing different configurations from three different pre-release prototypes.

Continued on Page 2 ‘New Packaging’ >>

1
2

This article may contain affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and buy a product we may receive a small commission which helps support the publication. See here for more information.


  • Me

    OK, I know I’ll be flamed to oblivion, but this is getting ludicrous.

    I understand the need to progress. I understand to necessity to reduce costs. But with all the iterative changes that the Vive is getting, is it still the same product as when it first launched ?

    It’s as this product was treated like a software as a service, with continuous tweaks and updates. It’s all fine and dandy, except that with hardware you’re stuck with what you bought, and you can’t update like you would with a software.

    This will create fragmentation, and I strongly believe it will hurt the brand at the end.

    • Rogue Transfer

      None of these small changes will affect software compatibility. Nor will most customers ever know the differences in weight and tracking a foot or so further.

      • Me

        As a customer who comes in a brick and mortar store, which probably has stock from several months, I guess you’d be pissed to have an outdated version while your friend who bought it online has a lighter, quieter, more energy efficient version. Granted, those are small changes and not everyone will care. It’s the principle I’m against.

        • killdozer

          You do know that products get changed their all life cycle? Thats a feature, not bug

          • Me

            It’s a feature only if it benefits the end-user, which has yet to be proven. My other points are still valid.

            I can’t understand how people are so brainwashed they can’t figure out the difference between improving the product for the user or for their own profit.

            In general, it’s nice to replace a faulty design with a better one that doesn’t break as easily. But sometimes, companies just find a way to use cheaper components for greater margins with no benefits for the customer. And as all the reviews are based on the first batch, they remain hidden to the general audience. I find it quite mean.

            When Sony slimmed down it’s PS3 and PS4, they got at least facelift and/or a new name to make sure they’re different products. I strongly prefer this way of doing business.

          • killdozer

            There was 3 years between ps3 and slim model, you want to wait 3 years for vive slim model?

          • Me

            You’ve got the idea of what I meant, no need for provocative assertions.

          • Strawb77

            *cof* firmware updates

          • ipodderx

            Its not always that straight forward. Some times its due to components getting cheaper to manufacture over time. Some times, its due to an alternative (but better) components that were too expensive before but now is affordable now, so HTC can replaced with that new alternative components without affecting the profit margin much.

            You bring up PS3 and PS4, but you do know that Sony do have such minor incremental updates too for their consoles right? And I am not referring to the Slim or Pro model either. These Playstation incremental updates have no facelift and new names too.

            http://zrzhub.com/ps/comparing-ps4-skus-cuh-1000-cuh-1100-and-cuh-1200/

          • D.L

            There are many sub-revisions of the PS3 and PS4 (and PS1 and PS2) that were caused by part substitutions and cost cuts. One of the first revision of the PS3 effectively had an entire PS2 in it for backwards compatibility that they removed later on.

        • Pete Mobroten

          You may not be well suited as an early adopter for technology in general if this really bothers you for the first couple years. That’s just part of the deal.

        • Rogue Transfer

          That’s always a risk with competitive hardware. There’s lots of minor changes going on inside technical devices & even outside them, throughout their life cycle.

          These changes get introduced gradually as research & manufacturing deals with third parties get thrashed out and demand can be shown to justify investment & production changes by other parts’ makers.

          Like any complicated device, it relies on other companies – the many different manufacturers of the hundreds of individual parts assembled & tested together by HTC to make a VR system.

          It’s a problem with buying from brick and mortar stores, who pay upfront to have stock waiting to offer you the benefit of an instant walk-in and buy.

          That’s the benefit you get there over your friend using online, who will need to wait usually days for delivery and not be able to inspect/try the product he receives before he pays, or be able to haggle for a reduction/benefit. He has the risk of a differently made product, that he may not like as much.

          But device makers need to maximise revenue & reduce returns/failures; to help justify future iterations. These benefit all of us, because we’ll have greater choice and fewer producers leaving the marker.

          Plus, we’ll gain by overall increased satisfaction and more recommendations, increasing the amount the third party support & software made for our earlier product too.

          There’s a bigger picture than just ourselves. In an ideal world, everywhere would throw away the older stock and replace it. But it’s not feasible to expect that for every cumulative change over a year.

    • killdozer

      I dont think you know what fragmentation is

      • Me

        Yeah ? Part of my job is IT support. I think I know what I’m talking about when 10 people come in with the “same” hardware that all require a different fix because actually they’re not the same at all. Fragmentation means having to adress multiple targets instead of just one, and is not limited to software.

        • killdozer

          So, they fragmented putting 9 leds instead of 15? OMG

          • Me

            No need to be sarcastic. I talked about the principle, if you’re fine with it, good for you.

          • Fanatoli Guyoff

            He may be sarcastic but you’re being a bit dramatic. People are unlikely to take these units to any IT guy for repair. I am an electrical engineer myself and a difference of LED types / number is negligible as far as electronics repairs go, although they would almost definitely be going back to vive anyway so what exactly does it matter?

          • Get Schwifty!

            Exactly…

        • yexi

          It’s not because you give a different pakaging or a different cable that the product significantly change. For the Lighthouse, it’s only make them more reliable, but they work exactly the same.

        • Skaffen Amtiskaw

          A better example of fragmentation would be all the different android handsets. Some are compatible with certain software, some are not due to their specs. These new base stations are fully compatible with Steam VR with only a minor manufacturing change. No one is going to be ‘coming in off the street’ with these to be fixed. It’s early gen stuff rather than a ‘full’ consumer product so will be send back to manufacturer if required.

        • D.L

          You’re complaining about something that happens throughout every facet of consumer electronics. Manufacturers shouldn’t be afraid of making their products better (including cutting cost without strongly affecting functionality) to save a few buyers from being jealous of later adopters having slightly better equipment.

          You buy a product, you should expect it to work. You shouldn’t expect the world to stand still.

    • yexi

      No fragmentation will be create. I have 2 HTC, with different packaging/lighthouse/cable/… and they each work perfectly with the accessory of the other without any problems (except in shows, with a Pre models you can blind consumer lighthouses). You can use the pre-lighthouse on a new HTC with the new cable and the old controller if you like.

      The upgrades they make only make the product more reliable and stable, and remove some discomfort…. in addition they add them for free (some brand sell v2 of product for less that that), so I don’t see a reason to be angry or anxious.

    • cactus

      It happens the same thing in laptop / pc industry. Where a model comes out with different inner components during it’s production lifetime, sometimes are the wifi cards, sometimes the manufacturer’s hdd, but it’s always the same model, same price, same main specs. Nobody (as far I know) pretend to get a specific Part Number or S/N range when buy a new pc, and nobody claims that kind of inner differences ‘fragmentation’.

      • Me

        I wouldn’t mind if it were just switching one manufacturer for another for the same component. Here it’s not the same. In your analogy that would be switching an HDD with an SSD, an OLED screen with an IPS one, an aluminium case for a plastic one. Those are drastic changes, and IMHO they should be tied to a product name change, or at least a variant or just a plain “revision B” on the box when you buy it, just to be sure you’re getting what you want when you spend your hard earned money.

        • Dario Cannizzaro

          Well, if you bought a Vive at launch, you knew what you were buying. How is small improvements to a product bought 1 year after yours something bad?

          • Me

            I like to know exactly what i’m buying especially when it cost 900 bucks. As a customer, if I want the Vive with its slim cable I would be pissed to get the large one … and don’t tell me to buy it afterwords because I’ve tried and got the same I’ve already had. When I reached HTC to replace it, they just never responded back. That’s the kind of things that pisses me off

          • J.C.

            As others have said, this sort of thing happens ALL THE TIME. Your original Vive works just fine, and you knew what you were getting when you ordered it. These very minor changes are nothing to be concerned with. If they started boosting resolution or FOV, THAT would be cause for concern.
            I’m 95% sure you’re the same person from the weight thread that stated it was resale value you were concerned with, as you think someone looking for a secondhand Vive is gonna care which minor revision one they get. When the second-gen Vive headsets come out, the old ones will get sold off to those who weren’t willing or able to pay the original price. Their only concern will be “does it actually work”, not “did I get the one with the 9-LED basestation”. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that.

        • Charles Alexander

          No, it really wouldn’t. This would be like a laptop revision using 9 bigger backlight LEDs instead of a previous 15 as a cost savings measure (before going through the same diffuser making the change nearly invisible).

          There are minor revisions like that all the time in hardware products, especially as suppliers change. It wouldn’t do anything but add confusion to make a new model out of it. They could call it a rev b lighthouse or something and probably already do on the label on the back of it.

          It isn’t at all like switching from HDD to SSD.

        • cactus

          Change to an SSD from a HDD is a huge modification, totally different prices, totally different performances, totally different main specs. It’s has nothing to do with my analogy.

          The lighthouse update don’t have a comparable improvement, it’s a minor (but appreciable) change, like using a different stock of the same component, or a different device’s manufacturer with the same exact specs.

        • Caven

          Those are drastic changes, but that’s not what’s happening with the Vive. To use a laptop comparison, it would be like the manufacture replacing a dual-platter HDD with a single-platter HDD of the same capacity from a different manufacturer. The single-platter model relies on higher data density on the disk, which allows it to remove the second platter. The absence of the second platter has the effect of making the single-platter HDD lighter, which also results in some power efficiency. This is the sort of thing I encounter all the time when servicing laptops. No computer manufacturer is going to go to the trouble to discontinue a product line and create a new, virtually identical product line just to account for minor parts variation between suppliers. They’re not going to create two parallel product lines to differentiate them, either. If a customer orders a laptop model that promises a 1TB 7200rpm HDD in it, that’s what theyr’e going to get. The HDD might be made by Toshiba, Western Digital, Seagate, Hitachi, or some other manufacturer. It might have one platter, or it might have two. But the laptop WILL come with a part that meets the advertised specifications.

          It’s the same with the Vive. The different Vive cables all allow a Vive to connect to the breakout box. The headsets still display the same sort of image, despite minor differences in weight. The Lighthouses still allow the Vive HMD and controllers to figure out where they are in the room, whether 9 or 15 LEDs are used for timing.

          The explicit division between hardware revisions that you’re advocating for just isn’t practical in a world where parts suppliers can go out of business, discontinue the manufacture of parts, or get replaced by suppliers who can more reliably meet the customer’s requirements. Creating a whole new product line every time some minor revision occurs simply isn’t practical. Is a store expected to equally stock all revisions of the same product? Is the manufacturer expected to recall all older model units and refurbish or dispose of them? If anything, keeping them all within one product line helps reinforce customer expectation that the devices are all cross-compatible, and that the manufacturer will support them all equally. If my day-one pre-ordered Vive and a unit fresh off the assembly line this very day are both compatible with the same Vive accessories and replacement parts, I don’t see the problem. I may not have all the latest design tweaks in my headset, but on the other hand I’ve had access to my Vive for nearly a year now, instead of having to wait for product updates. I don’t have to worry about HTC giving up support for my headset by making accessories that only work with the “new” Vive. And if my Vive should need warranty support, knowing that HTC has continuously improved their product means that replacement parts won’t necessarily have the same problem that caused the unit to fail in the first place. New users get that last benefit straight out the gate, and they don’t have to worry that software made for the “old” Vive won’t work with the “new” Vive. Day-one users don’t have to worry that new software won’t work with the “old” Vive. They may not all be technically identical in terms of exact hardware, but they all do everything that they were advertised to do.

          What you’re asking for just isn’t practical from a manufacturing or retail standpoint, especially when you factor in revisions by parts vendors. How is Dell supposed to know how many platters are in a Hitachi HDD? How is Lenovo supposed to know which brand of laser made it into a Sony optical drive? Even if all vendors diligently reported all hardware updates, then what? Reboot a product line six times because different component makers updated or replaced certain parts? Put all that information on a spec sheet? Who’s going to read that? I can guarantee you’ve never once bought a computer and researched the weight and platter count of a HDD going into the computer. A Vive spec sheet that mentions 9 LEDS instead of 15 LEDs is not something people are going to pay attention to, especially when it doesn’t change whether or not the product does what it’s advertised to do. And people rarely care about the exact shape of a cable, so long as it has the right plugs and is the advertised length. From my own perspective, flexibility of a cable is more important than its shape, but I can’t realistically expect a manufacturer to provide published specs for cable flexibility, especially if there aren’t any alternatives. Sure, HTC has an alternative cable, but they’re not advertising it as a “slim cable” the way you describe in another post. In fact, they don’t actually show the main section of the cable in the product picture. They’re treating it as just a cable, since they all still connect a Vive to a breakout box, and no matter which cable model they send out, it will do what it’s advertised to do. And since it appears that HTC is planning to phase out the old cable in favor of the new one, it doesn’t make sense to turn them into two separate product, especially since one product would start life as a discontinued product.

    • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

      They should keep all the hardware upgrades for the next generation. I’d advise anyone thinking about buying an headset to wait. By the time its delivered they’d have upgraded the hardware and yours will be outdated even before you’ve strapped it on.

      More info from HTC, Valve and Oculus on hardware upgrades would be nice at this point. If they’re going to upgrade their hardware on a regalur basis then they have internal dates of when that’ll be happening right? Let consumers know so they don’t feel like they’ve wasted their money. But again, wait for the next generation.

    • OverBorg

      I do agree with you in some parts, like doing hardware upgrades on “old” product. It would be better if they could just push all those new upgrades with the new HMD release.

      I do not however think that this will hurt the brand much. The HMD upgrades are painful ones that should not be done, but upgrading other things like lighthouses and controllers are fine, if they manage to drop the box price even little, it could bring new users in.

      And the best thing about the Vive system is that you can use older or newer hardware (for example the single rotor lighthouse coming this year) with each other. I believe that when Vive 2 HMD releases (or the LG one if it supports it), you could buy only the HMD and use that with the older system, making it easier to upgrade.

    • Lucidfeuer

      It doesn’t matter. The Vive nor the Oculus are real “products”, they are still proto-VR headset prototypes.

      People need to insert that fact in their head: something that barely sales 200k ad has no practical or entertainment uses but experimentations and demos is NOT a “product”, it’s a public prototype.

      • iThinkMyCatIsAFlea

        They are consumer units.

        • Lucidfeuer

          You can argue they are consumer units, but they are no consumer products as their is no consumer market for it.

          • MosBen

            There IS a consumer market for it, it’s just not a large market yet. Whether a product is a consumer product or not is not determined by some arbitrary threshold that you pull out of your ass. These are retail products being mass produced for sale to people with money to spend in online or physical stores, otherwise known as consumers. I bought my Rift a few weeks ago in a Best Buy. It’s a consumer, though currently niche, product.

          • Lucidfeuer

            In business and market economics, there is no such thing as “not a large market”, there is either profitable and sustainable or non-existing market. What you call arbitrary threshold are timeless marketing matrice that your ignorant ass should maybe take as suppository before talking about some magic rules that seem to apply to VR in which a non-practical consumer or prosumer device, in non-existing market, somehow has an infinite amount of time to grow into an existing market. I (well, or my agency) bought the DK2, the OSVR, the Vive, the CV1, the GearVR, the PSVR, the Xiaomi Mi VR and some other stuffs you haven’t heard of. Also we call something niche when it’s already sustainable in a particular segment/ocean.

          • Get Schwifty!

            I still say its going to take a console with HMD, and idiot-proof base stations plus controllers for say $500 to take the market by storm but only IF there is sufficient content that is readily accessible. Give the market that, and a way to demo them easily just traipsing through the store and they will sell like hotcakes, just like the original Atari’s did when I was a kid in the late 70’s.

          • J.C.

            I’m hoping the Scorpio is precisely that, although probably a bit pricier. A console for VR is honestly THE way to do it, so devs have a specific hardware target. VR is so heavily reliant on smooth framerate that the PC route is honestly the Worst Possible Plan. There are SO many ways it can go wrong, from idiots with wildly underpowered machines, to idiots with tons of garbage software dragging their well-within-spec machine down.

            The only catch is tracking. I don’t think inside-out is “there” yet, which will make the console HMD a bit of a harder sell. People are intimidated by plugging power and HDMI up, adding ANYTHING else seems insurmountable to an embarrassing percentage of the population.

          • Sponge Bob

            inside-out is impractical on stationary VR installations (not AR on the go)

            eats CPU/GPU cycles much needed for rendering and not very precise

          • NooYawker

            Whats your thoughts on smart watches?

          • Lucidfeuer

            Oï NooYawker, I don’t think smartwatches exist. Like smartphones aren’t remotely phones anymore, but fulfil their conceptual premise of being a pocket multi-operator (computer if you will, but more specifically it does everything prior similar pocket devices, calculators, walkman/ipods, cellphones, palms, portable consoles, remotes, pocket cameras etc…did), I believe “smartwatches” are not remotely watches, yet they sit as a bracelet attached to the wrist with a small screen that doesn’t matches the purpose of such portable devices or even smartphones.

            I believe what we call smartwatches, will not only have to be the first smart wearable, as in something people will buy with the main premise of it being a fashionable accessory but also did every we could expect from a body tethered device: health. I can think of numerous things like blood tracking, skin-acids/proteins tracking, but also TENS devices (use to send micro-signal for numerous purposes like reducing stress or anxiety, motion sickness, but also inducing cold or warm). I can’t get my head around exactly what the full conceptual idea should be like I do for VR, but I believe the only point in “smartwatches” is to become that health and information tracking but also extension.

          • Get Schwifty!

            Apple is committed to the approach of the wearable as a health device… but its very complicated indeed. The evolution with a smart-band is the first step, but when to market is the question (if ever).

          • NooYawker

            The real question how much is possible. Can wearable ever be able to continuously measure blood pressure? I have a Kardia a one point ekg device for the iPhone. Can something like that be integrated? And many other health monitoring systems. What is possible? Because right now all it can do is heart rates really. If it could do more I’d buy one for me and my wife in a second. And I’m sure so would millions.

          • Lucidfeuer

            That’s an interesting case study: it’s nicely designed and it’s Apple, no matter what shit they have it’s supposed to sell isn’t it?

            Well that’s the thing about conception: the majority of people couldn’t live without their smartphone, and they do have a watch, yet they have zero interest in an Apple Watch or any smartwatches for that matter. It means that even when it’s at least well designed, nobody has interest in a wrist-mounted ipod/android nano because that idea doesn’t conceptually fare in the common human mind.

            That’s why 3D TVs, Palms, Wii U, Google Glass etc…never sold AND most importantly NEVER had a chance to sell because of how they were conceived. The question to be asked is: why would a significant number of people buy VR headsets like Oculus or Vive today? The numbers already published speak for themselves…

          • Sponge Bob

            “buy VR headsets like Oculus or Vive today? ”

            what do you mean by that ?

            a tethered externally tracked headset ?

            contrary to what you think I believe there is huge future market for light (<400g) ergonomic TETHERED headsets with just dumb display and IMU sensors inside

            it will be a separate market from wireless VR headsets with different use cases in mind

            But still quite huge

            VR hardware development will split into different use cases

          • Lucidfeuer

            I responded in another comment. It’s about more than few components for me.

          • NooYawker

            :) I figured you had a strong opinion about smart watches and you didn’t disappoint. Personally I think you’re completely on point.

      • MosBen

        200k sales isn’t a product? Tell that to Tesla.

        • Lucidfeuer

          Comparing a $100K car to a 600$ headset? Tagged hypocrite.

          • MosBen

            You definition of hypocrisy needs some reviewing. You didn’t qualify that 200k in sales doesn’t qualify something as a consumer product if that product costs less than X. If that’s how you’re going to define it, then actually give that definition. At what retail price does 200k in sales become a consumer product? Or is it the type of product (ie, cars vs. headsets). I’m sure that many local coffee shops sell less than 200k cups of coffee in a year, and those coffees cost a lot less than $600, but I’m also pretty sure that those coffee shops consider their sales to be “consumer products”.

            Ultimately, like in so many discussions here, you come in hot with a bold statement that isn’t backed up by any kind of evidence or reason, and when people point out that what you’re saying doesn’t really make sense, you call them names. This, I might add, is not a particularly effective rhetorical technique (current President notwithstanding).

          • Lucidfeuer

            Well to be more precise, there are many ways to ponder an existing market or something that is not yet a sustainable thing: put simply it’s about scope of products and price x sales. Cars are a huge market, but let’s say Tesla is the particular niche of electrics: selling 200k cars at 100k which means 20B of revenue for one company is a huge feat, but is it though? Nope it’s about the scope and strategy of this particular company. If Toyota only sold 200k of one of their models, they would ponder wether it’s worth it or not.

            But we’re still not talking about market: the scope of a market is basically how many people are buying a type of product compared to how many prospect consumer there is ie. how many people driving or buying cars. If 600-900$ smartphones just had sold 10 millions units since 2007, they would’ve already disappeared. Well VR headset is of the same scope: this is a market which at it’s maximum perceived-value price (meaning you’ll never sell a model at 2000$ or 100K$) can only be sustained if sells at least 10 millions first and then grows y-o-y.

            The best and most contextually relevant exemple are smartphones: the first iphone was 600$ yet sold 6 millions. 10 years later, there are an estimated 4B smartphones users. VR headset not only have already existed (in fact the first Virtual Boy sold ~800k in less than a year), but it’s also been been sold since aug. 2012 whatever the retail channel. Today, there’s probably around a maximum of 400K Oculus AND Vive sold…but NONE of what I just said matters at all. My point is and is always about the fact that VR Headsets are not an everyday practical device unlike the Tesla S or the iPhone or the PS4. Even for Cinema I couldn’t develop the reflex of casually using a headset instead of a screen, even though almost everyday I use or test VR in my office. My main argument to take away is this, sale numbers (which never lie) are only clear speaking result of VR headset not being usable consumer products. The day it is, you’ll see me making over-enthusiastic (although calculated) market prospectives, now it’s just not possible as these numbers (which we predicted by a 20k units error) are just the natural results of the actual thing being sold.

          • Sponge Bob

            Well, IPhone was a cell phone PLUS all the rest – inet, apps, games
            VR headset is just that – a VR headset
            Until there are killer apps and use cases it’s just a curiosity item
            you might impulse buy around Christmas time and then forget about it (unless you are a gamer)

          • Lucidfeuer

            Nope, an iPhone never was a cell-phone, it’s what we associated it with at first until it’s core concept naturally grown into people’s mind as this universal pocket terminal.

            VR is what? What is just “that”? Where do VR Headsets stand in the vast landscape of device people have in their home or office?

            The thing is nobody seem to have an idea, because nobody conceived it in a concret practical product. Therefor as such, it will NEVER pick-up by magic and random “just that”.

            To me, Virtual Headset are an interactional device. A visual one, which means it aims at replacing on the middle-long term the main visual interface we’ve used: screens. But not just that, because there’s also the way you actually interact with screen: for a century from the first radar screen in military, we’ve interacted with limited, single purpose buttons. Then modulator, joystick and mouse. Well it doesn’t make sense to use them with VR or even be limited to them like we’ve been limite to a flat, framed, physical screen: hand-tracking, remote controller as well as voice are all compulsory VR interactional inputs.

            And finally the difference between TV or smartphone screen and device we have interaction is that these sit in our real physical environment as functional but enclosed extension of it. So for Virtual Headset it doesn’t make any sense to be occluded from our environment and not be able to interact and extend it: see-through (as in through mobile cameras) AR overlay is also a compulsory conceptual make-up of what a VH is supposed to be. As I always say, given how they both (AR/VR) use absolutely the exact same inside-out IR camera, IMU sensor, hand tracking, screen, lenses, spatial tracking and overlay, there’s actually no difference between the two as from a single virtual object overlay in our environment, to our whole environment being immerse in a different virtual environment, they’re both the continuity of the “virtual”.

          • Sponge Bob

            hold on..

            the use cases for VR and AR can be completely different and not even overlapping

            VR: mostly in home use for productivity and entertainment apps

            AR: mostly on the go use for inside and outside

            Therefore- completely different reqs

            IR tracking – does not work outside in bright sunlight. period.

            VR tech will split in a big way….

          • Lucidfeuer

            As I explain, if you read carefully, they are the same things: AR is not mostly outside because nobody will wear an AR Headset outside. Also not everybody plays Pokemon Go. AR is about being able to be in your home, office or workshop, and having your environment extended with virtual applications and interface, wether it’s simple virtual screen instead of physical one, but then why need a screen at all if you can for exemple have a 3D modelling app over your desk, a virtual synthetiser and DAW on your couch, a virtual board-game on the floor, a point-cloud analysis interface on a table etc…

            I think that instead VR will be used for entertainment mainly rather than productivity. Also if IR tracking doesn’t work outside why would AR work? It’s more complicated: IR does work if the camera and software know how to differentiate the bright light sources and the precise IR feedbacks, but it’s still complicated indeed.

          • Sponge Bob

            IR does not work or is severely degraded in bright sunlight – at least when facing the sun
            IMUs will still work, optical (visual) can work – depending on light conditions
            complicated indeed, much more difficult than pure in-home VR and decades away from now (for on the go use – google glasses type of thing – but actually useful)

      • killdozer

        Vive is at 500K+ by now

        • Bryan Ischo

          Don’t feed the troll. Just block him – I have.

          • Lucidfeuer

            “Don’t feel the troll”, go away in your bubble filter SJW coward inbred, and yes please do not interact with me.

        • Lucidfeuer

          Nope.

      • NooYawker

        We’re early adopters, we pay ridiculously high prices for not perfect products. The first HD TV was well over 10k and was the CD recorder. People paid because they wanted to and really wanted the tech. I’m more than glad I did it, I enjoy my prototype very much.

        • Lucidfeuer

          It’s not about the price, although of course there’s affordable and then there’s expensive. But the very first iphone was 600$ yet it didn’t prevent 6 millions people from buying because it was a fully proficient and practical device. I think we’re not there at all after 4 years of prototypes, yet a first true Virtual Headset is just around the corner if manufacturers do their job.

          • NooYawker

            I don’t think VR is a life changer the way the smartphone was. Plus they the genius of carriers splitting the price of the phone into the monthly service cost. VR is more like consoles, for gaming. Not to mention the need for a powerful computer to run it.
            AR on the other hand has so much potential outside home entertainment, I think that’s where the next big thing will really happen.

    • Graham J ⭐️

      I get what you’re saying and it makes sense from a support perspective, but that’s HTC’s problem, not ours. I want the product as advertised and for as cheap as possible. HTC bringing down the price by tweaking the components is fine as long as it remains compatible. When I call in for support and give the serial number it’s up to them to determine the best course of action given my hardware revision.

      • Me

        That’s the fairest comment I’ve had on this discussion. I’m glad there are still people able to think on their own. I agree with you, you made a point.

    • Pete Mobroten

      Valid points, but I think this is to be expected with the first several generations of any new technology sector. The rules are a little different when you’re pioneering an entire industry vs. iterative design of a well established technology.

      Yes, it will cost them in maintaining multiple hardware versions. It’s worth it to stay ahead of the curve this early in the game. In a couple years I’d be more cautious about adopting release-early-release-often for hardware.

    • Fanatoli Guyoff

      Yes it’s still the same product. I have a launch vive and one ordered last week during the anniversary sale (one in my computer room and one in my living room). they function exactly the same other than one feeling slightly lighter. you wouldn’t know there’s any difference.

    • Sabreur

      I’ll try to disagree with you *politely* instead of flaming! ;-)

      So far, all of these changes are compatible with each other – my “old” headset still tracks fine, my “old” base stations still work. I’m not locked out of any content. From a software perspective, the hardware is identical – there’s no need to write separate code for each type of base station. The tracking method is the same, the programming interfaces are the same. As long as these iterative improvements don’t change the OpenVR standard, fragmentation can’t occur. It might make the hardware maintenance more complicated for the manufacturer, but for the consumer the process is still “If it’s broke, send it back to get fixed”. My understanding is that these new base stations are still using the same core technology as the old stations, just better implemented; I don’t think this will impose much burden on the manufacturer, either.

    • Tyler Soward

      I bought the Vive pretty early on, so my headset is 15% heavier than the ones shipping today, my sensors are the old style, and had I not had an issue with my 3-1 cable I’d be using the older bulkier version of that as well. I’m glad the product is continually improving, but I agree that it’s a bummer to be stuck with the older hardware.

      • Nicholas

        Also have the older version, but not that bummed at all. The neat thing is you can swap the cable and lighthouses for the newer variants if you really want to. But I doubt you’d notice any performance difference, and there are reports that the newer cable, while lighter, gets internal twists and loops far easier than the thick ribbon cable. Wait for wireless instead.

        15% weight savings on the HMD would be nice, but I’d prefer a better balanced HMD, which hopefully the new strap will help.

    • Elijah

      Everything works the same. No need to be a complainer everyski manufacturer does this, you probably just don’t pay attention. And no there won’t be fragmentation because it all works exactly the same and gets repaired at the same place.

      Next time, don’t buy technology as soon as it comes out.

    • NotARiftUserUnlessUnderDuress

      you are an idiot

  • Lucidfeuer

    “Even if the range difference is null, another potential reason for the change could be reduced cost”

    Pfeww, I thought you wouldn’t mention the obvious reasons. As long as it works as good or better, this is an added step towards cost thus price reduction.

  • Graham J ⭐️

    This strikes me as mostly about cost savings, which is totally fine. I’m sure it’s no coincidence they’re offering $100 discounts – perhaps that’s how much they’re saving with tweaks and scale.

    • Sabreur

      Strongly agree. The biggest obstacle to VR right now is the cost of entry – there’s a lot of people who are holding off on VR until it is more affordable. Whoever can drop the price low enough to claim the causal market without sacrificing performance will be THE household name in VR.

      • N P

        Better getting the casual gamer interested in paying full price.

      • Michael North

        I think that the biggest barrier to entry is the lack of awesome games and applications. I know several people who spent close to $800 buying consoles and accessories just to play console exclusives. More people might get a Vive if it were cheaper to play what’s already available but if there was something really worth playing they’d find the cash.

        • The biggest obstacle is almost certainly hardware. Even a lot of gamers don’t have GPU to run VR at a decent framerate. I think that’s all we’re really waiting on, the apps etc will come with demand.

          I have a game and app in the works that I hope will fill the void but I see this period as a time to experiment with ideas. :)

      • Herman Munster

        those people are gonna be buying my used stuff off Craigslist when I upgrade to Gen2

  • dogtato

    If you need the extra range wouldn’t you just use the sync cable?

    • Sabreur

      The tracking stations need to be at the corners of the play area, so for most people that would mean running a long cable right through the area they’re trying to use for gaming. It’s not a deal-breaker, but a wireless solution is better.

      • dogtato

        The sync cable is 15 meters long, so if you have base stations in corners you can run the cable 7.5 meters along each wall. 7.5^2 + 7.5^2 = 10.6^2, so unless your lighthouses are more than 10 meters apart, you don’t have to run the cable through the play area at all. If you’ve got a 7.5×7.5m play space or bigger, then… wow.

        • Robert Cole

          Sync cable is 25m in length, we certainly put it to full length with good results during 3 weeks of “roomscale plus” experimentation in an industrial premises (3 big empty spaces).

          We found the PC to link box the limitation, and experimenting to extend with active usb and hdmi did not work.

    • benz145

      Sync cable is for syncing the Base Stations together when they cannot see each other (ie: situations where they cannot be mounted above the headline of the player, or front-facing setup). All the other tracked objects in the system need to see the sync flash too, so even with the cable, the LED power is still a limit.

  • Good to see confirmation of this change, it was getting quite confusing on the SteamVR forums as nobody, not even HTC support apparently, had heard about this design change.

  • I want a Vive 2, one with the new head strap, wireless option and double or tripple the resolution. I have been waiting and it is agony. Hurry up!

    • J.C.

      Won’t be double or triple the resolution for a LONG time, unless eye tracking and foveated rendering are included. A 1080 ti can’t run Raw Data at max settings (that includes boosting SS) on a current headset, how on earth do you expect it to run it at twice or 3x the resolution?

      • I do not need max quality settings and Raw Data is a bad example as it has many issues with graphic settings, there are huge Reddit discussions on it. But maybe resolution on its own is not the be all. What I want is to be able to read small text. So foveated rendering, VR Sli anything really as long as you can not see the pixels and text is clear. I want to do my everyday work in VR. You can already get 2K, 4K headsets and soon even 8K head sets so it is not a long time away, it is here already(ish). Somebody will release something very soon that fits my requirement, that is my belief anyway :)

        • J.C.

          The 4K headsets aren’t aimed at consumers, but maybe they’ll be available to purchase anyway. Running a virtual desktop is significantly easier on the hardware, so your use for a high res VR headset might actually perform fine on current hardware. Gaming on that same headset would be miserable, and if it required VR SLI (which about 4 titles currently support), that lowers the possible market for the headset to a worthless percentage. Getting the resolution high enough that you can’t distinguish the individual pixels requires such a ridiculously high resolution that there’s currently no way to pack that many into a display that small.

          Raw Data is an example of the visual quality that will be REQUIRED to get the mainstream onboard with VR. Valkyrie also has some gorgeous graphics, and does run much better. Neither would run even sort-of playably on a 4K headset.

          Maybe you’re right and some manufacturer will offer a crazy high resolution option soon. But considering devs are struggling to make games run smoothly on currently top-end video cards on the relatively low rez Vive/Rift, it seems like an unlikely business decision.

          • Some 4K headsets can be purchased right now by you or me, it is the 8K ones that are still being tweaked unless when you say consumers you mean gamers? Doom is hitting 89 fps on “ultra” settings at 4k with a 1080 Ti and the graphics on that are pretty epic so drop a few options and you blast past the 90fps point. 4K projectors have been out for ages now too so high quality miniature panels are out there in multiple consumer products. Introduce foveated to this and I would think you are plain sailing. Software, optics and hardware all play a part getting it there. It is moving quite fast for a new industry so I do have hope. Graphics alone do not sell a product as is evident with the vive and rift as they stand, more VR AA games will do that. For business it will be the ability to read text and stay in VR/AR all day long.

            Have you read the VR report posted on R2VR? it has some interesting insights and predicts mainstream use will happen in the next 5 years. That is not long for something as game changing as VR which shows it has very high demand across multiple industries.

            With 8K Pimax, it renders to one eye then the other eye, this happens so fast that you do not notice it so you get a full 4k per eye with the GPU rendering out at 4K (not 8) so you get a perceived 8K image with no pixel structure at all. From what I have read it sounds promising. I think it also uses Lighthouse tracking too.

            Most of these games out now are UE4/Unity builds whos engines are also adapting to new VR shaders and engine tweaks. It is all happening at once. Devs will get better tools, manufacturers will invent better drivers and technologies, better optics will come down in price, LCD/OLed will improve etc. They are all happening at the same time due to sudden demand. In one year the Rift has dramatically reduced minimum PC specs and that is just the software. It is a fun time to be alive really (ignoring N.Korea) :D

          • J.C.

            Again, I hope you’re right, honestly. But the Rift lowered its specs by throwing “90 FPS target” out the window for “45 FPS most of the time”. Space/time warp only can do so much, and is NOT a valid replacement for 90 FPS.
            Also, I think we’re discussing different resolutions. When I say 4K, I assume PER EYE, which is effectively 8k. The effect they use for the “one eye at a time” rendering you’re describing works for movies where the actual content only changes at 24fps, or even up to 45. If you’re running at 90 FPS, and each frame is different (as in, gaming), back-and-forth would be a brain-wrecking mess.

            Who has a higher resolution headset out, right now, available for purchase? Also, what’s the price difference? This board is packed to the GILLS with people who think VR headsets should drop out of gumball machines, so higher than the current headset prices is clearly a no-go.

          • Caven

            Alternate frame rendering works for more than just movies. Nvidia’s 3D Vision relies on alternate frame rendering, with each eye getting 60 frames per second, for a total framerate of 120fps. It works just fine for games (barring screen-space shader oddities), and isn’t a “brain-wrecking mess”.

            I don’t think alternate frame rendering is a particularly useful solution for VR due to the limited view overlap found within the physical confines of a VR headset, as well as potential issues with ghosting. Plus, having two separate screens at 4K is still going to be about as demanding as one 4K screen driven at twice the framerate, so alternate frame rendering isn’t really going to buy you any resolution or performance boost. But in terms of framerate, alternate frame rendering is perfectly viable.

        • Nicholas

          Pssst….Raw Data supports VR SLI ;-)

  • I think that all of that reduces cost a lot. Even packing: being more compact, it allows more Vives to be carried inside the same single Vehicle, reducing transportation costs.
    Great job Vive

  • Hacker4748

    “This time around, the lid can be securely closed with a top flap that has protrusions that insert into the sides of the box, and the whole thing is essentially one single piece, whereas the original separated into a top and bottom half. The top of the new box has a handy plastic handle which will surely be a blessing to those who end up toting this high-tech package to and fro.”

    Umm, nope? I have a Vive packaging bought in Dec 2016 in front of me and it:
    – can be securely closed with a top flap that has protrusions that insert into the sides of the box
    – is essentially one single piece
    – has a handy plastic handle

    Also it does not separate into a top and bottom half.

    I am not saying the packaging didn’t change (eg. the claim about lots of foam in the old packaging is true) but either the european packaging as of Dec 2016 has been different than the packaging in the rest of the world or the description is off.

  • Sponge Bob

    heck, why don;t they just use cable for sync signal vs LEDs – that thing still needs power cable anyway ?
    It’s a stationary installation anyway so who cares ?