HTC and Valve have just broken cover with price information on their much-anticipated upcoming Vive VR hardware, and it's bad news if you were hoping it'd be cheaper than the contentious $600/£500/€700 pricetag on the Oculus Rift.
Hell, it's bad news if you were hoping it'd cost the same - in fact, the headset, wireless motion controller & location-tracking base station package costs an almighty $200 more than the Oculus. Though it is a bigger bundle of hardware (and theoretically capable of many more things) than the Rift, bear in mind the quoted $799 price is before we even know the full damage of shipping and tax.
First up, here's a look at the consumer version of the hardware (also pictured above):
Granted, it's a big bundle of hardware: while the Rift is 'just' a headset and a desk-mounted head-tracking sensor, the Vive includes two of Valve's wavy-wand motion controllers, 'lighthouse' base stations to track whereabouts in your room you are and a front-facing camera on the headset to help you avoid obstacles.
HTC also announced today that the whole shebang can hook up with your mobile phone: you can "receive and respond to both incoming and missed calls, get text messages and send quick replies and check upcoming calendar invites directly through the headset", without having to leave your virtual reality wonderland. The IV food-drip add-on can't be far behind, right?
Pre-orders open on the 29th Feb - i.e. next Monday - with the initial batch of purchases set to arrive in April. I'm guessing that, as with the Oculus, that date will become later if you're not amongst the first-flush of pre-orderers.
And I wonder how many of those there will be, given they each need to find $799 plus an as-yet unknown extra for shipping and tax. If, in the impossible event the $799 figure is the complete total, the Vive won't cost dramatically more than the Rift did, but more likely there'll be up to $100 more - so we're looking at final invoice which rivals that of a brand-new mid-spec PC.
At current exchange rate, the price comes to £555 and €717, and I'm guessing that the final total will be something like £650 and €800.
While the price is a shocker, don't forget that Oculus are not including any motion controllers with the Rift and will instead charge separately for them - though they won't even be available at launch. At least the Vive comes with everything in the box. You'll also get 'free' copies of Job Simulator and Fantastic Contraption (the Rift comes with EVE Valkyrie and Lucky's Adventure instead).
Man, what a big number, though. I want one of these so badly, but unless I can convince my partner that we're not having a holiday and/or hot dinners this year, it ain't happening right away.
I understand that the Vive couldn't realistically be cheap and that the price is very probably a fair one for what's involved: this is a major piece of hardware, not a mere peripheral, but $799+ is very much locking VR's most exciting contender off to a relatively rare few for the time being. And here was me worried that the $600 Rift risked stopping VR before it could truly get started...
A few more details and quotes are available here, but we won't know the full costs and timelines until pre-orders open on the 29th.
If you do have the money to spare but remain torn on which hardware to get, here's how the Vive and Rift compare, based on what we know so far.