New Vive Pre VR headset features front-mounted camera

Vive Pre

HTC and Valve have revealed the second phase of Vive VR's evolution. The Vive Pre virtual reality suite includes redesigned wireless controllers, a slimmer headpiece, screen improvements and a front-mounted camera to hopefully stop users from bumping into things. It's described as a "developer edition", so the final consumer edition due in April may be different.

The new camera is the most interesting feature, and possibly the "very, very big tech breakthrough" that recently delayed the Vive's release. "Being able to take a seat, find your drink, and carry on conversations without removing your headset is only the beginning of what's possible," says HTC. It will be up to developers to experiment and come up with some inventive augmented reality uses for the camera.

According to press release, the straps have also been redesigned to make the (now smaller) headset more stable. Inside, "brighter displays and image refinements lead to increased clarity". That sounds like a screen quality improvement, rather than a boost in pixel resolution.

In addition, the Vive's controllers have been retextured, and now feature two-stage triggers, haptic feedback, and will last four hours before requiring a recharge via USB cable. Also the base units that fire lasers to pinpoint the headset and controllers are now "more compact, quieter, and provide improved tracking".

The announcement matches the pic found by redditor Heaney 555, shown above, with the camera clearly visible. There's still no news on how much the final consumer edition of the Vive will cost, however. The same goes for the Oculus Rift, which you'll be able to pre-order from tomorrow.

We're going hands-on with the Vive at CES 2016 this week, so we'll bring you impressions as soon as possible. We're only five days into the new year and the VR battle is already heating up. Vive VR or Oculus—who has your vote?

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.