HTC announced a serious looking upgrade for its Vive headset earlier this year at CES 2017. The ‘Deluxe Audio Strap’ replaces the original device’s harness and upgrades it with integrated headphones and a new, more robust adjustable head assembly.
Update (5/2/17, 3:16PM PT): HTC has confirmed both the price and release date of the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap: the accessory will launch on June 6th for $100. The company has also confirmed that all new purchases of the Vive ‘Business Edition’ headset will come standard with the Deluxe Audio Strap.
Original Article (1/4/17): At CES 2017, HTC may not be announcing the next generation of the Vive headset, but it is concentrating very hard on giving the existing Vive owner every opportunity to enhance their experience with their hardware. In a press conference today, the company released information on a significant number of peripherals for Vive.
When the HTC Vive went on sale in April this year, many reviews commented on the incredible experience the new hardware offered, but lamented that the consumer hardware perhaps fell short in the ergonomics and ease-of-use department. Chief among the concerns were around headset weight distribution and the niggling irritation of plugging in and then somehow donning a separate pair of headphones after you have the headset on. Compared to the (then) just-released Oculus Rift, the fit and finish of the Vive felt rushed.
Well, HTC is returning to the original design and offering those customers who feel the above issues are worth it, a full replacement assembly for the head-strap which addresses at least some of those concerns. The new Deluxe Audio Strap (catchy!) acts as a slot-in replacement for the original head-strap. It’s a much more robust looking all-in-one design which includes adjustable integrated headphones (which connect to the Vive’s on-board audio jack). Additionally, the Deluxe head-strap does away with the elastic action of the original and instead puts a solid harness with ratchet tightening disc, similar to that seen on the PlayStation VR. Simply turn the disc to tighten the fit. Additionally there’s also a new 3-in-1 cable guide along one edge of the headset.
“We’ve continuously improved the core Vive experience, making it more comfortable and easier to use,” said Daniel O’Brien of HTC’s Vive. “The Deluxe Audio Strap evolves this mission further, offering a seamless audio solution that also fits more comfortably for Vive users.”
The Deluxe Audio Strap will ship to retailers in Q2, and will be available to order on Vive.com. Pricing, says HTC, will be announced at a later date, which leaves us wondering how much we’d pay for such an accessory on an already fairly costly device. The answer depends on how comfortable is it and how good those integrated headphones are. Luckily, we’ll have a hands-on with the Deluxe Audio Strap for you shortly to give you insight into both.