The HTC Vive Pro’s upgrades make the Vive finally feel complete

Virtual reality’s second generation edges ever closer. We saw Oculus’s new Santa Cruz prototype this past October, and today HTC countered with its own plans: A “Vive Pro” upgrade, wireless adapter, and a new iteration of Valve’s SteamVR tracking.

Let’s jump in.

Vive 2.0

The Vive Pro isn’t specifically billed as Vive 2, perhaps because it runs all the same software. Make no mistake, though: This is the next step for HTC.

The most obvious change is that it’s…blue. Like, really blue. All the marketing materials for the HTC Vive Pro portray it clad in rich sapphire. I can’t say I’m a huge fan, and hopefully there’s a black version for those who want it.

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Try VR for cheap: Windows Mixed Reality headsets are on sale for nearly half off today

If you’re interested in trying out Windows Mixed Reality headsets, the time is now. They’re basically half off on the eighth day of Microsoft’s 12 Days of Deals, with savings up to $200 on three separate headsets.

The Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $399, now $199), the HP Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $449, now $249), and the Lenovo Explorer Windows Mixed Reality Headset (normally $399, now $199) are at heavy discounts. The higher-resolution Samsung HMD Odyssey Windows Mixed Reality Headset still commands a premium. It’s on sale too, but only $50 off at $449. All of the deals include a pair of bundled controllers.

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HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift vs. Windows Mixed Reality: What’s the difference?

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Standalone Vive Focus VR headset replaces HTC’s Google Daydream plans

In the battle for the best VR headset, HTC won’t concede an inch to Oculus. On Tuesday, the company announced the Vive Focus, a standalone mobile VR headset that doesn’t need a phone or PC to run. Oculus revealed the similar $199 Oculus Go a mere month ago.

HTC isn’t providing too many details about the device. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip powers the Vive Focus, and like Windows Mixed Reality headsets, HTC’s will offer inside-out position tracking so you can wander VR worlds without the need for external base stations. That suggests the Vive Focus may be more expensive than the Oculus Go and phone-dependent headsets like Gear VR and Daydream View, which only track the way your head is facing, not the position of you or your controllers in relation to the outside world. The simple controller in HTC’s Vive Focus images appears identical to the ones provided by the competition, though.

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SteamVR is coming to Windows Mixed Reality next week

A new world of experiences will open to early Windows Mixed Reality adopters next week, when a SteamVR preview comes to the Microsoft-powered headsets on November 15.

Windows Mixed Reality headsets just launched alongside the Windows 10 Creators Update on October 17, and the Mixed Reality apps in the Windows Store currently number in the dozens. SteamVR—which appeared in Steam when the HTC Vive launched in early 2016—offers more than 2,000 VR apps. Most are games but SteamVR also holds some interesting non-gaming software, such as Google’s superb Tilt Brush.

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HTC has a VR bundle with a Vive, GTX 1070, and Fallout 4 VR for $800

For those who want to get into virtual reality but lack the hardware, HTC is offering a nice deal on the Vive VR system and a graphics card. Right now for $800 at Vive.com, you can get the HTC Vive base system, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card, and a pre-order of Fallout 4 VR.

Overall this is a great deal. The Vive is normally $600; at today’s prices, the 1070 goes for about $400; and Fallout 4 VR is currently $60. All told, HTC’s deal gives you a discount around $260. Not bad for a beginner’s dip into the world of virtual reality.

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HTC Vive vs. Oculus Rift vs. Windows Mixed Reality: What’s the difference?

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Don’t be fooled: Windows Mixed Reality headsets are just VR headsets

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Hands-on: Oculus Santa Cruz proves stunning wireless VR isn’t a pipe dream

Going into my hands-on demo with Oculus’ Project Santa Cruz headset, think I forgot how it felt to be surprised by virtual reality. We’re coming up on three years since the last major advance in VR, which I’m going to peg as the first time I tried the HTC Vive’s room-scale experience. Since then we’ve seen a few refinements—Oculus Rift’s built-in headphones and lighter form factor, the remarkably comfortable and intuitive Oculus Touch controllers—but the fundamental tech has stayed pretty similar to the Vive demo I saw in 2015.

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