HTC unveils Vive Pro 2 and Focus 3 with 5K display, 120Hz refresh rate, and eye-watering...

nanoguy

Posts: 772   +12
Staff member
In brief: Oculus currently accounts for over half the market for mixed reality headsets, but HTC is pushing back with two new Vive VR headsets that sport advanced 5K displays and an expansive, 120-degree field of view. The only downside: they cost a small fortune for the privilege, especially if you need the SteamVR base station and the Vive controllers.

If we go by Counterpoint Research numbers, Oculus captured around 53 percent of the mixed reality market in 2020, thanks in no small part to the popularity of the Oculus Quest 2, a headset that raked in five times as many pre-orders when compared to the first iteration. Its otherwise excellent value for the asking price of $399 is only marred by the requirement to use a Facebook account to use it, but a jailbreak to circumvent that is already underway.

Must read: Is Virtual Reality Missing Its Moment?

It's easy to look at the virtual reality space and see how it could be missing on, as companies have yet to figure how to bring VR technology into the mainstream. HTC couldn't be bothered to solve this puzzle, of course, at least judging by the announcement of not one, but two shiny new and expensive Vive headsets that are targeted at businesses, professionals, and high-end enthusiasts.

The HTC Vive Pro 2 is a souped-up version of the 2018 Vive Pro, itself a major upgrade -- particularly in the ergonomics department -- over the original Vive headset. The most notable change is the more advanced display that comes in at a resolution of 5K, or 2448 by 2448 pixels per eye. It also offers a 120 Hz refresh rate compared to the 90 Hz on the Vive Pro, as well as a wider, 120-degree field of view.

HTC says the Vive Pro 2 is the first VR headset that supports Display Stream Compression (DSC), which is something you'd typically see on high-end PC monitors.

In short, it's a visually lossless low-latency algorithm that makes more efficient use of the available bandwidth on DisplayPort and HDMI interfaces, enabling support for higher refresh rates and higher resolutions, going as far as 8K@120 Hz and 10K@100 Hz on HDMI 2.1.

The upcoming DisplayPort 2.0 standard will allow for two 8K displays to run at 120 Hz from a single USB4 port, or a single 16K display running at 60 Hz.

More importantly, the new display in the Vive Pro 2 is designed to minimize motion blur and virtually eliminate the 'screen door' effect that plagued many previous-gen VR headsets.

In the ergonomics department, the Vive Pro 2 has a more evenly distributed weight balance, adjustable head strap, a quickly adjustable sizing dial, and fine-adjustable interpupillary distance.

It also integrates a pair of Hi-Res Audio Certified headphones with 3D spatial sound, while allowing you to use third-party headphones of your choice. On that note, you can use all the accessories from the Vive SteamVR ecosystem, including the Vive Trackers, Vive Facial Tracker, Vive Controllers, Vive Wireless Adapter, and even Valve's Index controllers.

Those of you interested in the Vive Pro 2 can expect to pay $799 for the privilege of owning just the headset. If you need the full kit that includes the Base Station 2.0 and Vive controllers, you'll have to wait until August 4 and shell out $1,399.

HTC is running a promotion during the pre-order period (which lasts until May 31) that will shave $50 off the price of the headset if you sign up for the Vive newsletter.

Moving on to the new Vive Focus 3 headset, this is supposed to be the successor to HTC's Vive Focus Plus, with a 5K display running at 90 Hz, 120-degree field of view, and a hot-swappable battery mounted on the back. The design, however, is more refined on the Focus 3 than the Pro 2, making it look like a truly enterprise-grade alternative to the Oculus Quest 2.

The Focus 3 is lighter than the Focus Plus thanks to the use of a magnesium alloy frame, and HTC claims this is five times more durable than the plastics that are typically used in most VR headsets. Theoretically, this should make it more suitable in business environments where it would see a lot more use and abuse.

Just like with the Oculus Quest 2, the main selling point of the Vive Focus 3 is the ability to do away with wires and enjoy the freedom of a self-contained, wireless VR solution. This is powered by Qualcomm's 5G-compatible Snapdragon XR2 chipset, which is also present in the Oculus Quest 2 and offers 11 times the AI processing speed compared to previous solutions such as the Vive Focus Plus that relied on the Snapdragon 835.

The swappable, curved battery pack offers up to 15 hours on a single charge and supports quick charging so you can go from 0 to 50 percent in around 30 minutes, and a convenient LED indicator lets you know just how much juice is left in the headset. The ergonomics, at least on paper, are impressive: a fine-adjustable inter-pupillary distance, a quick-release button, removable magnetic front and rear face gaskets, and open-back speakers with dual drivers so users can maintain some environmental awareness.

If you're worried about the sound leaking out of the open-back speakers, HTC has included a special audio privacy setting for the Vive Focus 3 -- this care for privacy extends to all the precise tracking data collected by the headset, which is stored encrypted on the device. The redesigned controllers closely mimic those of the Oculus Quest 2, and the only remaining gap in functionality is hand tracking, but HTC says that will arrive via an upcoming software update.

If you are looking to play games on the Vive Focus 3, you can also use Vive Business Streaming to tether the device to a PC, and HTC is working on adding wireless streaming in the near future. However, the company really doesn't target the Vive Focus 3 at consumers, even as it still maintains the Viveport game store. HTC Vive General Manager Dan O'Brien confirmed as much during the ViveCon event, explaining the company is interested in a different business model than its competitors.

Specifically, it's not interested in the Oculus model, which subsidizes the otherwise expensive hardware through the data collection that Facebook uses to monetize users by tracking their behavior and preferences. On the other hand, the HTC Vive Focus 3 is designed around a complete suite of software and services called Vive Business so that companies in manufacturing and education can use it to "find the return-on-investment, their savings on efficiencies, and time to market, within six months of buying."

When you consider the $1,300/£1,060 price of the Vive Focus 3, it makes even the Valve Index look comparatively cheap and further solidifies the notion that this isn't meant to be an impulse buy for a VR enthusiast, despite its impressive specs.

At this point, it's not clear if HTC is still interested in making more consumer-grade VR headsets such as the Vive Cosmos, but O'Brien leaves some room for that possibility. He notes, "the consumer story is still yet to be told from HTC, but that’s something to be told in the future." Looking at the VR headset market as a whole, it's easy to see the hesitation, as the two most popular options seem to come from Oculus and Sony, who are both subsidizing their VR solutions in the hope of making more money down the line from user data or paid content strategies.

Permalink to story.

 

Puiu

Posts: 4,599   +3,438
TechSpot Elite
The screen door effect won't be fully eliminated until we go past 8K resolutions, 5K is still a tad too low for that to happen, especially in a wider field of view which reduces pixel density per degree vision.

Looking at the specs of the Vive Pro 2 (resolution and FOV), it should have a very similar pixel density as the Quest 2 (around 20PPD for the horizontal). While optics and screen subpixel arrangement do play an a role in perceived screen door effect, it should still be slightly visible.

I wonder if a VR HDM with the same 5K screen and an FOV between 100 to 110 would strike a better balance for the mainstream market (it should allow to keep the device's physical size and weight smaller too).
 
Last edited:

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,910   +5,453
I had an HTC Vive which is currently sitting in my office.

But at home, I'm using Oculus Quest 2. I bought the 64GB version for $299. I see no reason to spend more for the $399 model if it doesn't, come with the overprices Link Cable or the PRO headstrap.

OC2 is absolutely fantastic. I love that I can bag it up in 3 pieces and take it anywhere I want to take it - or lend it to siblings who have a USBC charging cable.

In DCS WORLD, it works perfectly. It's smooth, the colors are sharp and it makes flying feel more natural.

I played Superhot and CREED on it and was even more amazed. It's a great device.

I can't see blowing a thousand plus on a toy I'll barely use. I'd rather spend that $1000 on a 38" AW3821DW
 

grumblguts

Posts: 397   +351
5k wow so its using 5k screens for each eye very nice.
they cant mean to just add up the vertical lines and not the horizontal surly because they would be misleading and a lie. if that is the case its a 2.5k headset using 2x 2560x1440 screens.
 

duckofdeath

Posts: 375   +480
Facebook's acquisition of Oculus soured me on VR pretty much immediately, long before I decided to delete Facebook. Hopefully HTC makes inroads against them in the space but I'm going to stick with monitors and speakers for the time being.
It does look like HTC has a desire to fail at everything they do. Very few people are going to spend 1,400 bucks for a VR headset. Oculus has proven that "everybody" are happy to get onboard if it's 350 bucks.
 

Aceseven

Posts: 25   +51
They realized they cant beat the fb/oculus price, so its smart to go after enterprise users who are willing to pay top dollar for something, even if all that means is they can boast its facebook free.

sadly imo thats the future, gamers are cheapskates, quest2 is the king because its cheap yet has the ability to pair itself with a top end pc so it can cover the ranges for 300 smackers and thats crazy cheap for what youre getting. so either let a dubious company cover some of the expense(which I did) or pony up and pay for the tech, from what quest is showing though the cheap option will win out in the end.
 

scavengerspc

Posts: 1,177   +1,117
TechSpot Elite
I'm going to hold out and see what HP comes up with. They're collaborating with Valve and Microsoft for a "Best of Both" Index\Mixed Reality VR headset due in 2022. Till then my Samsung HMD Odyssey+ is still killer.

EDIT - Looks like the Omnicept will be enterprise focused, so I guess only the current model is for gamers.
 
Last edited:

Raunchy

Posts: 19   +5
The screen door effect won't be fully eliminated until we go past 8K resolutions, 5K is still a tad too low for that to happen

This thing is nowhere near 5K. It's only 2448 by 2448. The fact that there's a display for each eye doesn't mean you add their resolutions together. Not only does the writer fail to call out HTC for its "5K" lie, but actually regurgitates it.

Meanwhile, can you buy these without the headphones and anything else that's unnecessary for those who simply want a head-mounted display device?
 
Last edited:

Puiu

Posts: 4,599   +3,438
TechSpot Elite
This thing is nowhere near 5K. It's only 2448 by 2448. The fact that there's a display for each eye doesn't mean you add their resolutions together. Not only does the writer fail to call out HTC for its "5K" lie, but actually regurgitates it.

Meanwhile, can you buy these without the headphones and anything else that's unnecessary for those who simply want a head-mounted display device?
It's 5K total. 2.5K per eye. the Math checks out.
 

Raunchy

Posts: 19   +5
Of course not, because the screens do not create a continuous span. Both eyes can see a single 2.5K screen, but that doesn't make it 5K.
By the "logic" cited here, the resolution of a display is dictated by how many people are looking at it.
 

Raunchy

Posts: 19   +5
it 5000 pixels wide thus 5k, why are you confused about it?
Because it ISN'T 5000 pixels wide. The panels aren't showing a continuous span, dolt. And each eye can only see ONE of them. If you look at a 5K image on a screen, EACH eye can see an image that's 5000 pixels wide. Does that happen here? NOPE.

Apple doesn't call its 5K iMac a 10K iMac simply because both eyes can see it.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,599   +3,438
TechSpot Elite
Because it ISN'T 5000 pixels wide. The panels aren't showing a continuous span, dolt. And each eye can only see ONE of them. If you look at a 5K image on a screen, EACH eye can see an image that's 5000 pixels wide. Does that happen here? NOPE.

Apple doesn't call its 5K iMac a 10K iMac simply because both eyes can see it.
It's 2 panels that are in total about 5000 pixels wide. Period. You are really confused for some reason, these are the technical specs not some subjective view on how to do math. You iMac argument shows us only one thing: you don't understand how VR works, you are not looking at the same screen with the same image twice (creating the perception of depth requires 2 different images).

Let's put in more simple terms, elementary school style:
If your left eye sees 2.5k pixels and your right eye sees a completely different set of 2.5k pixels (which also show a different image), how many pixels are there in total?
 
Last edited: