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Race To 5K Has Been Won by The Vive Pro 2 And The Vive Focus 3

It’s finally here HTC has finally announced there are two newest headsets the Vive Pro 2 and the Vive Focus 3 Business Edition and both with 5K total resolution.

Vive Pro 2

Vive Pro 2 is the successor of the original Vive Pro: a PC VR headset devoted to prosumers and enterprises. https://www.youtube.com/embed/wt4mhl2fodE?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent HTC Vive Pro 2 launch trailer

Specifications

  • Display: Dual RGB low persistence LCD
  • Resolution: 2448 × 2448 pixels per eye (5K total resolution)
  • Refresh rate: 90Hz / 120Hz (only 90Hz with the wireless adapter)
  • FOV: 120°
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-C port for peripherals
  • Audio: Hi-Res certified headphones (removable), High-impedance headphones support (via USB-C analog signal)
  • Ergonomics: Eye relief with lens distance adjustment, adjustable IPD, adjustable headphones, adjustable headstrap
  • Tracking: Steam VR 2.0 technology (with support for Steam VR 1.0 base stations)
  • Controllers: Vive Wands

Minimum Required PC specifications

vive pro 2 office
A Vive Pro used in office settings (Image by HTC Vive)
  • Processor: Intel® CoreTM i5-4590 or AMD Ryzen 1500 equivalent or greater
  • Graphics: NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480 equivalent or greater
    • GeForce® RTX 20 Series (Turing) or AMD RadeonTM 5000 (Navi) generations or newer required for Full Resolution mode
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM or more
  • Video Out: DisplayPort 1.2 or higher
  • USB Ports: 1x USB 3.0 or newer
  • Operating System: Windows® 10

Price and availability

You can purchase the VIVE Pro 2 in two flavors, exactly as it happened for the Vive Pro:

  • Headset only: if you already have the base stations and the controllers, you can preorder just the headset for the discounted price of £659 / $749 / €739. Preorders open on May, 11th from 6 pm BST (British Summer Time).
  • Full kit: the full-kit VIVE Pro 2, which includes Base Station 2.0 and VIVE Wand Controllers, is available from August, for £1299 / $1399 / €1399.

Description – Key Selling Points

The Vive Pro 2 has the same shell of the Vive Pro, but its color is black and not blue (Image by HTC Vive)

The Vive Pro 2 is the successor of the Vive Pro, a headset devoted to prosumers and companies. It maintains a very similar look (apart from the black color of the shell), but it features important upgrades for what concerns the visuals and audio. Basically, the external shell is the same (because it was already comfortable enough, according to HTC), but all the internals have been revamped.

The new visuals have been clearly inspired by the Valve Index: finally, there are new lenses (with a dual-stacked-lens design), there is a new terrific display that sets a new standard for what concerns resolution (2448 × 2448 per eye is much higher both than the Index and the Reverb G2), a great field of view (120°) and very high framerate (120 fps). The resolution is what impressed me the most: the Valve Index, considered one of the best headsets on the market, has 1600 x 1440 per eye, while this has 2448 x 2448, across a very similar field of view (so even the pixel density is much higher on the Pro 2). HTC has also said that the eyebox for this headset should be larger than the one of the Index, so regarding the visuals, HTC wins on all the line. Since with the Reverb G2 I already had difficulty in seeing the pixels (they looked more like a noise than a real grid), I guess with his one the Screen Door Effect will be almost nonexistent. Great job Vive in offering a device with such stunning visuals.

Rear view of the headset: from here you can see that the lenses have a very different design (Image by HTC Vive)

Another very positive thing is the support for all the existing Vive gadgets, like the Vive Tracker, the Vive Face Tracker, the Vive Wireless Adapter, and all the other SteamVR accessories like the Valve Knuckles that let the new Vive Pro 2 become very versatile. This is exactly what the prosumers that use this kind of device want, and HTC has done a good job in providing it.

Enterprise companies also don’t love to change their computers very often, and so another incredible feature is that this new monster headset requires the same exact specifications from your PC as the original Vive Pro. This is also possible thanks to the magic of Display Stream Compression. HTC VIVE worked closely with NVIDIA and AMD to utilize Display Stream Compression, which basically applies a lossless compression to the visual stream that goes from the graphics card to the headset, reducing the required bandwidth of the cable: so this headset is also backward compatible with DisplayPort 1.2. Even graphics cards which supported VIVE Pro will see a benefit with VIVE Pro 2.

Comment: An interesting headset, but…

htc vive pro 2
The Vive Pro 2 on a mannequine head. At least this time it is not spinning… (Image by HTC Vive)

The Vive Pro 2 is the successor of the Vive Pro, a headset that has been very successful among enterprises: if you remember well, there was a period where all LBVR venues were using Vive Pros to make you play. Enterprise has been always the sector where Vive has thriven, and I think that the choice of not trying to compete with consumer brands has been a good decision by HTC. Also because this headset has clearly features and a price that are aimed at the B2B or at the prosumers market. If you also add to the mix that now the average consumer is going towards the standalone segment, the choice of offering a premium PCVR headset makes even more sense.

I think it is a very solid headset, a worthy successor of the Pro, and I’m amazed by its resolution and FOV. Of course a headset must be tried to understand its quality, and I hope that HTC will send me a review sample soon, but for now, on paper, it seems a very interesting device. Not one that will have big percentages on Steam, but one that could be used by many companies. In the B2B sector, it can completely crush the competition of the Index, since this device has a higher resolution, and so it can appeal to all those companies for which visuals are everything (e.g. architecture firms), and it also has the typical solid manufacturing of HTC. We all know that Index has no clear enterprise licensing, plus it has manufacturing issues (many people are doing RMAs), so companies would prefer the Pro 2. I myself would personally advise companies to get a Pro 2 and not an Index. The real competitor here is the HP Reverb G2, that is cheaper than the Pro 2 and offers ergonomics controllers… but its controllers have terrible tracking, and the resolution and the field of view are inferior to the ones of the Pro 2. So, pros and cons of both solutions, with the Pro 2 looking a bit more premium.

But… but… even if on paper all looks cool, I think the whole enthusiast community will also have some negative remarks on it, for the following reasons:

  • The shell is the same as the Pro. So, even if all the tech specs have been revamped, psychologically speaking, it still seems the old one. This may make the device appear less innovative, and this is a problem especially because it is not cheap;
  • It is still a bit pricey. HTC is not famous for cheap prices, and this headset in my opinion should have been €100 less to hit a sweet spot; costing €100 less, it would have been a very dangerous competitor for the G2;
  • To the price of the headset you have to add the one of all the accessories you want to buy (e.g. the wireless adapter);
  • The controllers are still the Vive Wands. When I asked HTC about this, the answer was “there are already many valid SteamVR controllers on the market, creating just clones wouldn’t have added value to the user”. It makes sense, but if this was the approach, probably they should have offered bundles with the Valve Knuckles, or some haptic gloves, or other premium controllers of other brands, and not a package with the wands;
  • The Pro line is not substituting the Cosmos line. They have good reasons to do that, but at the same time this represents an issue because the choice may confuse some users.

So, it’s a solid device but carries with it some of the usual problems that the VR community has notified HTC, and some enthusiasts will complain about this. I don’t think all the above will be a problem for companies that need a headset, though, so this shouldn’t affect its enterprise plans.

Further references

You can read more about the Vive Pro at its official website: vive.com/vive-pro2

Vive Focus 3 Business Edition

Everyone was waiting for a new standalone HTC Vive device and it has arrived: it is called Vive Focus 3 Business Edition, and it is amazing, but strongly focused on Enterprise. https://www.youtube.com/embed/CK1jFEZFtCs?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent Launch trailer of the new Vive Focus 3

Specifications

  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2
  • Display: Dual RGB low persistence LCD
  • Resolution: 2448 × 2448 pixels per eye (5K total resolution)
  • Refresh rate: 90Hz
  • FOV: 120°
  • Connectivity:
    • 2x USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C peripheral port with OTG support
    • Bluetooth 5.2 + BLE
    • Wi-Fi 6
  • Audio:
    • Dual microphones with echo cancellation
    • 2x Dual driver with patented directional speaker design
    • Privacy Mode
    • Hi-Res Certified 3.5mm audio jack output
  • Ergonomics:
    • Ergonomically curved battery module mounted in the rear as counterweight
    • Magnetically-attached front gasket and rear padding with easy to clean PU leather trim
    • 150mm-wide facial interface accommodates wide eyeglasses
    • Eye comfort adjustment supporting IPD range of 57mm to 72mm
  • Tracking: Inside-out, with 4 tracking cameras, up to 7m x 7m play space
  • Battery: 26.6Wh, hot-swappable
  • Controllers: Touch-like controllers with rechargeable battery
    • Hall sensors on Trigger and Grip buttons
    • Capacitive sensors on Trigger, Joystick, and Thumb-rest area
    • G-Sensor, Gyroscope
    • Ergonomic Grip button
    • Analog Trigger button
    • AB / XY buttons
    • System / Menu buttons
    • Joystick

Price and Availability

VIVE Focus 3 will be on sale from 24 June, for £1060 / $1300 / €1180 + VAT (it includes 24 month VIVE Business Warranty and Services).

Description – Key Selling Points

vive focus 3 in the office
A girl using the new Vive Focus 3 (Image by HTC Vive)

I have already described the astonishing visuals that the Vive Pro 2 should provide and… well, they are the same here on the Vive Focus 3 BE! Great resolution, wide field of view, comfortable eye box, all the package is here too. The Vive Focus 3 BE will set a new quality standard for visuals in an enterprise headset.

The clear business-orientation is highlighted in some important features of this device:

  • Its weight is balanced, so it can be worn for multiple hours by people doing a meeting or a training session. The 50/50 weight balance (50% on the front, 50% on the back) makes a huge difference in comfort;
  • All the design, in general, is built around the comfort of the user, and this headset has even granular IPD settings, so you have no compromises like you have on the Quest 2;
Side view of the Vive Focus 3. The battery on the back guarantees a balanced weight for the user, while the shape of the headband is made so that not to touch your ear, for improved comfort (Image by HTC Vive)
  • All the cushions that touch the user can be easily removed so that the headset can be sanitized;
  • The frame is not made in plastic but in magnesium alloy, that should be 20% lighter and 500% stronger than traditional plastics, meaning that this headset could be used for many hours at work without breaking;
  • There is a new cooling system that makes the headset exploit all 100% of the power of the XR2 chipset;
vive focus 3 active coolying system
This system can keep the Snapdragon XR2 cold enough to perform its operation at the best temperatures (Image by HTC Vive)
  • The battery of the headset has an external indicator to verify the charge, and this is crucial for instance for LBVR operators. The battery is hot-swappable, so LBVR centers can continue using the same Focus all day, just changing batteries on the fly. The battery has a fast charge feature, and in 30 minutes it can already charge at 50% of its full power;
  • The audio speakers are integrated, but much attention has been given to the quality of the sounds they emit. And most importantly, they have a special “privacy” mode that reduces a lot what the other people in your same room can hear about what you are doing in VR. Basically, the headset emits a soundwave towards your ears and the opposite wave towards the external space: the result is that while you hear the VR music, the other people receive these two opposite waves that basically cancel themselves and so they hear almost nothing of what you’re doing. HTC markets it as a feature so that people having VR meetings or VR playing sessions in a LBVR close to each other don’t disturb each other… but we all know that this has been done only for porn. Admit it, HTC;
  • HTC also promises that the tracking algorithm has been completely revamped from the Vive Focus Plus and now it works on par with the one of its competitors;
  • The headset has strong attention on privacy, and all the tracked data is only used on the device, and they are encrypted so it is impossible to access them. For the same reason, at the moment (it is an ongoing discussion) passthrough vision is not enabled in the SDK, because it would let 3rd parties access the images of the environment of your company;
  • The controllers have been re-designed, and now follow the industry standard of having the same layout as the Oculus Touch. The battery is rechargeable and every charge lasts for 15 hours. Hand tracking support is coming in the future;
vive focus 3 controllers
The two new controllers of the Focus 3. They are clearly inspired by the Oculus Touch (Image by HTC Vive)
  • The headset can be attached to a PC to be used as a tethered headset. Support for Wi-fi streaming is coming in the future (This is a business feature added separately: see below)

As you can see the list of improvements over the previous model and also over other competitors is very long. This is a headset that is truly innovating the market.

Business Software

If you need a motor on your desk, with this device, you can (Image by HTC Vive)

Just selling the hardware without any software wouldn’t be a good idea for a company aiming at the B2B market, so Vive has also launched a whole new Business software ecosystem.

Here the feature that is worth a highlight is the Business AppStore: the Focus 3 Business Edition doesn’t feature Viveport M, but a store completely dedicated to the enterprise segment, with applications offered by selected partners through an ISV (Independent Software Vendor) program. This means that if you are building an enterprise-oriented VR solution, you could contact HTC and be published in this special store to increase your commercial opportunities. It’s a good opportunity both for who offers and who is looking for enterprise solutions.

Comment: this is the HoloLens of standalone VR headsets

Yes, HTC has lots of heads on which to put its headsets (Image by HTC Vive)

While I was listening to the presentation of the Vive Focus 3 Business Edition, I could only think “Wow”. On paper, this looks like the new king of standalone devices. It ticks all the boxes, from comfort, to resolution, to fast charge, ergonomic controllers, streaming from PC… everything that a company would need from a standalone headset is there. It lacks eye tracking, but I would bet that 7Invensun will probably release an add-on to offer it soon. Especially the resolution and the FOV crush completely the competition of Quest and Pico Neo 3: when HTC told me that this headset was going to feature the same display and optics as the Pro 2, I couldn’t believe it. Companies needing astonishing visuals will probably buy this one without even thinking. Even all the software package is very well-conceived to help companies in performing their work in VR, and it is very positive that you are not forced to buy it (like in Oculus For Business), but you get it only if you need it.

All of this package is also in a wonderful new design, that is cool and lightweight. All these features together make the Vive Focus 3 a very compelling solution for companies.

Another view of the device (Image by HTC Vive)

It reminds me a lot of the HoloLens 2: a VR headset superior in specifications to all its competitors but with a price so high that is devoted only to big corporates. The Focus 3 BE is probably the best standalone for a company that wants to implement VR in its production processes. Of course, we are just talking about what we can see on paper, and I hope to try it soon, but if it actually delivers what it promises (especially regarding the precision of the tracking of the controllers), this is an unbeatable headset. BUT it is incredibly expensive: $1300 is almost double the cost of the Pico Neo 3, which costs $699, and is anyway a very good headset. This is not only an enterprise headset, this is a premium enterprise headset.

lenses of the vive focus 3
The new innovative lenses of the Vive Focus 3 (Image by HTC Vive)

This has clearly been a strategic decision, and when speaking with HTC, I’ve told them that the market will tell them if they’ve made the right choice. I mean, when you price a device so high, it means that you want to position yourself in the market in a completely different way than Pico or Facebook. You want to target big corporates, exactly as Microsoft is doing, you want to offer the very best for a lot of money. Is this what companies really want? Maybe yes, maybe no… I guess we will discover this in the next months. For sure it is interesting that HTC is aiming at something different, and from the sale numbers in the next 6 months, we will discover if companies prefer a solid headset with an enterprise price like the Neo 3 or a super headset with a super price like the Focus 3. Or maybe they will have both good sales numbers because they are targeting different target segments.

Further References

You can discover more of the device at this page: vive.com/vive focus3

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Recommended MicroSD Card for use with the Fusion 360 camera 

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