The HTC Vive virtual reality headset will be available to pre-order from February 29th, HTC's chief executive has told The Telegraph. This news arrives a week after the Oculus Rift headset started accepting pre-orders and announced its $600 price tag.
It's still unknown how much the Vive will cost, of course, but I'm betting it'll be in the same ballpark.
Last week also brought other Vive news, as HTC revealed that an earlier delay was so they could add a camera to the front of the headset. This let's you see out into the real world without taking your headset off, and should also allow games to blend elements of reality into the game world as you play. Good news given the small size of the living room I'm likely to be using the Vive in.
Unlike the Oculus, the Vive is designed for 'room-scale' VR, meaning you walk around physical space while wearing it and your steps are mapped into the game world. That's what won me over when I tried an early version of the device at Valve's GDC booth last March. The Oculus Rift feels great in cockpit-based games and slightly strange in anything else, whereas the Vive hints at potential for new and unique experiences.
In that same Telegraph story, HTC chief executive Cher Wang said that the release of the Vive marked a shift in focus from smartphones and towards the VR market. "Yes, smartphones are important, but to create a natural extension to other connected devices like wearables and virtual reality is more important," she said. This is in part because the company was struggling in that market. "I think the problem was competition," said Wang. "Apple, Xiaomi, these companies spend tons of money on communications and marketing, they pump a huge amount of investment into the market."
I'm unlikely to be able to afford the Vive when it's released, and although I'm excited to use it, first generations of new technology are normally nowhere near as good as even the second or third generations, which are bound to be cheaper, too. Come February 29th, will you wait for reviews, wait for the next iteration, or pre-order instantly?