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Vive Pro is the high-resolution upgrade VR fans have been waiting for

HTC Vive Pro

While the likes of LG, Samsung and Sony stole the spotlight on Monday at CES 2018, HTC sneaked in a surprise announcement of its own before the day was over. The VR headset you see in the image at the top of this post is the Vive Pro -- an upgraded head-mounted display from HTC featuring dual-OLED displays with a combined resolution of 2880 x 1600, a redesigned headstrap and integrated headphones with a built-in amplifier.

While the Vive is arguably the most advanced VR HMD on the market, it's also undoubtedly one of the most unwieldy and uncomfortable. Therefore, it's no surprise to learn that the updated headstrap was built with comfort in mind, and the included sizing dial will keep the headset from being weighed down at the front.

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Vive Pro is the high-resolution upgrade VR fans have been waiting for originally appeared on on Tue, 9 Jan 2018 at 11:53:57 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

HTC’s Vive Pro will add more pixels to an otherwise familiar-looking VR system

Enlarge (credit: HTC)

Nearly two years after the launch of the HTC Vive virtual reality system, its creators have finally revealed a hardware revision for the headset: the HTC Vive Pro. The naming convention hints at what to expect. The refreshed headset, which currently has no price, will arrive in "Q1" of 2018, and it adds one huge upgrade, and a few small ones, to an otherwise familiar-looking Vive.

During a CES 2018 press conference, HTC confirmed details from a leak earlier on Monday, which indicated that the Vive Pro's screen will include a combined resolution of 2880x1600 pixels. That's a 78-percent jump from the original Vive headset's screen resolution of 2160x1200. The new headset also includes built-in headphones, a new strap to "improve balance," a second microphone to assist with noise-cancellation features, a second "stereo" outward-facing camera, and reduced headset weight. HTC hasn't disclosed exactly how much lighter it will be.

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Virtual reality’s best experiences and biggest (teleportation) steps in 2017

Enlarge / The three big home-VR dogs face off for another great year of software. (credit: Ars Technica)

If 2016 was the year that true home-VR systems arrived, 2017 may be best described as the year that they didn't die. Backhanded as that may sound, this compliment is indeed sincere. In spite of a lack of major, industry-changing hardware arriving, virtual reality games and apps continue to be produced, and aging headsets continue to sell (thanks, in part, to dropping prices and cheaper compatible computers).

As a result, the year in VR was less about holy-cow-wow innovations and more about smarter, more-compelling VR content finding its way to system owners. And with more users, true VR multiplayer is starting to emerge, which means it's getting a little less lonely inside of these headsets.

In the end, the best VR content stands out for delivering experiences that are altogether impossible on flat screens, and that rule guides my picks for the best VR content in 2017. Games dominate this year's list, if only because last year saw so many incredible applications that have yet to be topped. But this list contains a couple of exceptions. (Last year, I called Google Earth VR and Tilt Brush "killer apps," and I further stand by those compliments thanks to major, free updates to both apps in the past 12 months.)

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YouTube launched a VR app on Steam, but it’s broken

Enlarge / The YouTube VR interface while playing back media. (credit: Samuel Axon)

Google has released its YouTube VR app, previously available on Daydream, on SteamVR. The app allows users to browse YouTube videos through an interface in 3D, 360-degree space, and watch any of the innumerable 360-degree videos available on YouTube. It also allows for virtual big-screen viewing of standard format YouTube videos, in a setup similar to that found on, say, the Hulu app for PlayStation VR.

You can download it for free right now and try it out.

Unfortunately, the YouTube VR app doesn't seem to be working for many users, who have taken to the app's Steam community page, reviews, and discussion forums to complain about crashes and other problems. Users are posting their hardware specs as they report that it crashes on startup every time. Additionally, users have complained that it makes poor use of only one of the Vive's controllers, that quality is low, and that many SBS stereoscopic 3D videos are not working—which is obviously a huge omission

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HTC Vive Tracker review: A new way to experience virtual reality

htc vive tracker review

The promise of virtual reality has always been to escape the bounds of your living room or office and enjoy an entirely new world where the same rules don't apply. High-end VR headsets like the HTC Vive have largely delivered on that promise, but if you've ever dabbled in VR you'll know that sometimes you wish you could bring real-world objects with you into the digital realm. HTC's new Vive Tracker promises to allow you to do just that, and I've taken it — and a handful of the compatible accessories — for a spin.

Just to get it out of the way, I'll say that I already think the HTC Vive should be your default choice for a virtual reality headset, period. The games, compatibility, support, and hardware quality are simply better than the competition. Having played with both the Vive and Oculus for more hours than I wish to admit, I can safely say the Vive's room-scale VR is the most immersive virtual reality experience available today. With that in mind, adding some funky smart trackers to mix should just be icing on the cake, right? Well, the short answer is "yes," but the longer answer is a bit more nuanced.

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HTC Vive Tracker review: A new way to experience virtual reality originally appeared on on Thu, 14 Dec 2017 at 09:00:57 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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