While the Vive is often criticized for its front-heavy weight, the headset has actually managed to slim down over time thanks to manufacturing improvements. HTC has managed to shave 15% off of the original 550 grams (1.21 pounds), bringing the headset’s weight in line with the Oculus Rift.
Beyond the obvious wants of next-gen headsets like higher resolution and field of view, comfort is still a major hurdle that needs to be improved going forward. Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for a completely new Vive headset to see some improvements there.
In addition to explicit improvements through accessories like the slimmer 3-in-1 cable and the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap, HTC has been refining the manufacturing process over time, resulting in what is now a Vive headset that’s 15% lighter than when the unit first started shipping.
“We are always looking to improve the core Vive experience in terms of comfort and durability. We’ve made several improvements since launch including a new 3-in-1 cable,” an HTC spokesperson tells Road to VR. “We’ve also made smaller improvements to the weight due to component swaps and improvements in manufacturing. This has resulted in a 15% decrease since the Vive PRE.”
The Vive Pre was a nearly-final version of the headset that went out to developers ahead of the consumer launch of the Vive. The Vive Pre, and the first consumer headsets to ship, weighed in around 550 grams (1.21 pounds); a 15% reduction in the latest headsets rolling off the manufacturing line brings the weight down to 468 grams (1.03 pounds), putting the device right on par with the Oculus Rift’s 470 grams.
HTC says the 15% reduction in weight is a measurement of the headset alone, which means the 3-in-1 cable offers some slight additional savings as well.
The improvements to the Vive’s weight came over time, rather than all at once, the company says. Depending upon when the headset was manufactured, it seems a given device could fall between the original 550 grams and the current 468 grams.
15% is a solid improvement, though weight alone is surely not the ultimate measure of comfort in a VR headset. In fact, I’ve argued that PSVR has a slight edge on comfort despite being the heaviest VR headset in its class at 610 grams (1.34 pounds). Meanwhile, the Oculus Rift DK2 was actually slightly lighter than the Rift CV1, and yet the CV1 is clearly favored in comfort thanks to the improved head-mounting design.
Similarly, the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap will surely add some weight back to the headset with its rigid straps, foam, and headphones, but we expect it will still be a net gain to the headset’s comfort, thanks to a better distribution of weight than the flexible straps can provide.
Thanks to Hago Boghossian of DigiKinesis fact checking assistance for this story.