When HTC first announced its HTC Vive headset, it almost felt like a me-too attempt to get in on the VR excitement generated by the Oculus Rift, but pretty quickly it became apparent that its room-scale VR resulted in a uniquely immersive experience.
Now rumors are circulating that HTC is working on a follow-up, the HTC Vive 2, and it’s been codenamed ‘Oasis.’
This shouldn’t be confused with the upcoming standalone headset called the Vive Focus that’s set to bring PC-free VR gaming to China when it launches.
Details are scarce on the new hardware, but we’ve collected everything we know about the upcoming headset below, and we’ll be updating this page frequently as new information emerges.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? A follow-up to HTC’s existing Vive headset
- When is it out? It’s currently unclear
- What will it cost? Potentially cheaper thanks to new base stations
HTC Vive 2 release date
With no official confirmation regarding the HTC Vive 2 release date, it’s unclear when we might end up seeing a follow-up to the VR headset.
Whether HTC will end up following the phone model (where hardware refreshes are produced every year) or the console model, (which typically sees new hardware once every six years), is currently unclear.
The original HTC Vive headset was released on April 5 2016.
HTC Vive 2 controllers
We’re already seeing new prototype controllers that might end up being the controllers that accompany the HTC Vive 2.
The controllers were spotted at last year’s Steam Dev Days, and feature a strap that attaches the controllers to your wrist, allowing you to completely let go of the grips in order to simulate ‘dropping’ a virtual object.
Exact spec details of the new controllers are unconfirmed, but one report claims they contain a total of 21 sensors.
Without official confirmation from Valve we don’t yet know if these controllers will be available for the current headset or an updated model, but current estimates suggest the new controllers will be available later in 2017.
More photos of the new Vive controllers! #SteamDevDays #Vive #VR pic.twitter.com/o99QHPZvvDOctober 12, 2016
HTC Vive 2 features
We don’t know too much about what features the new HTC Vive 2 might end up sporting, but some recent developments give us some interesting clues about the direction HTC is taking the hardware in.
Recently, HTC announced an audio strap, which adds some headphones to the headset’s strap in a similar vein to what the Oculus Rift currently provides. Without the audio strap you’re left to struggle to put on both the headset and headphones simultaneously, but with it the whole unit is left as one and should hence become much easier to take on and off. We hope that this ends up being something that’s included as standard with the HTC Vive 2.
Based on the work of various startups, we’d be surprised if the HTC Vive 2 didn’t end up going wireless.
Back in September we reported that Bulgarian company Quark VR was working alongside HTC to build a wireless prototype headset.
More recently, a startup called TPCast has developed a wireless add-on for the existing headset, which it hopes to ship in early 2017. The company claims that the lack of wires introduces no noticeable latency which, if true, is impressive.
These developments suggest that HTC isn’t looking to leave behind the graphical horsepower of the PC anytime soon. While its China-exclusive Vive Focus headset does all its processing internally on a smartphone processor, the HTC Vive 2 looks like its going to rely on an external computer to do the graphical heavy lifting.
A recent report suggested that the Vive’s inconvenient Lighthouses are getting a re-design. The new Lighthouses will apparently make use of fewer moving parts, swapping out the dual-rotor laser sweeping system currently used in favor or a single rotor movement. This will reduce manufacturing costs and make them less prone to breaking, too.
What we’d like to see
There are a number of things we hope HTC fixes with the next iteration of the headset.
Although the resolution of the current headset means that images are fairly sharp when up close to your face, we’d still like to see resolutions go higher. A pair of 4K screens would be an utterly decadent addition to the headset, but is probably unlikely because of how difficult they’d be to drive at an acceptable framerate.
We’d also like to see a more convenient technology to enable the headset’s room-scale technology. The current Lighthouses are pretty tricky to get set up right, and their short power leads make them more inconvenient still. In an ideal world we’d like to see them disappear entirely, but if that’s impossible then making them more convenient to set up would be ideal.
As a final point, Sony’s PlayStation VR has proven how it’s possible to make a very capable VR headset that also looks great. In contrast, the first generation of the Vive looks more like a piece of industrial equipment. It’s definitely good looking in its own right, but it hasn’t got the sleek finish of the PS VR.
A sleeker look for the HTC Vive 2 would make what is already a fantastic bit of kit, an absolute necessity.