from the virtually-assured dept.
The blog post in particular references a report from Digital Trends which talks about VR sales figures from Amazon, and proceeds to point out a number of ways which the data presented could be misleading.
Several points made by HTC Vive are ones that have also been addressed by VRFocus, as seen in an article about the modern VR cycle, and some comments in the weekly VR vs. article. HTC Vive were not pulling punches right from the very start, evening saying in the introduction: "Analyst reports are in and apparently, it's curtains for Virtual Reality (VR). Pardon us if we're not heeding the alarms. News of the so-called death of VR comes once a year and is greatly exaggerated."
From there, the blog post proceeds in a point-by-point fashion, discussing how early consumer VR was largely driven by smartphone-based devices such as the Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard. Not only have these devices been superseded by standalone units like the Oculus Go, which offer a better visual experience, but the promotional offers which were available for phone launches have now long since passed. HTC Vive also point out that PC-based VR companies are yet to release any solid sales figures, and that much of the growth of premium VR has been centered around location-based VR centres, something which the Digital Trends report did not address.
HTC's Vive Pro virtual reality headset is now open for preorders. Resolution has been increased to 2800×1600 from 2160×1200, a microphone for noise cancellation analysis has been added, and it has two front-facing cameras instead of one, possibly allowing it to detect objects and hand movements:
The Vive Pro was announced early this year at CES, marking the first major upgrade to the Vive since its launch in 2016. It substantially increases the Vive's screen resolution, using two OLED displays that offer 1400 x 1600 pixels per eye compared to 1080 x 1200 on the current Vive. It also includes a variety of ergonomic changes, including built-in headphones and a head strap that tightens via dial instead of velcro. You could get these options via a kit for the original Vive, but now they're built into the core device, and we've found the hardware to be a distinct improvement over its predecessor.
The Vive Pro will not come with accessories at its launch price of $799, although existing Vive accessories can be used:
HTC's higher-resolution Vive Pro, first announced back in January, is setting new records for the price of a mass-market virtual reality headset. In pre-orders starting today ahead of planned April 5 shipments, customers will have to shell out $799 for the improved Vive Pro headset, a price that does not include any controllers or Lighthouse tracking base stations.
[...] HTC currently sells Vive controllers for $130 each and tracking base stations for $135 each. That means new Vive Pro customers will have to pay $1,330 for a higher-fidelity version of the same basic hardware included in the package for the original Vive (which is being reduced to $499 today, from the $599 price it has held since last April).
Facebook/Oculus has launched the standalone Oculus Go, which is an untethered wireless virtual reality headset similar to smartphone-based VR systems such as Samsung's Gear VR, but with its own built-in Snapdragon 821 SoC instead of using a smartphone:
The Oculus Go, a self-contained headset that offers mobile virtual reality without a smartphone, is going on sale today in 23 countries. The headset's $199 base version has 32GB of storage, and a 64GB version will sell for $249. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called it "the easiest way to get into VR," and in our review, we've found that it's certainly easy to use — but it still has major limitations.
The Oculus Go lacks 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF), unlike the upcoming Lenovo Mirage Solo. It also has just about 1-2 hours of useful battery life before needing to be recharged for a couple of hours, and the company discourages you from wearing it while it is recharging. SuperData predicts that Oculus Go will outsell all other VR headsets this year. The low price of $200 and untethered design could bring VR closer to becoming mainstream.
At its F8 conference, Facebook hinted at some features coming to its future VR headsets, including variable depth-of-field using physically adjusted varifocal lenses, an increase from a 110 to a 140-degree field-of-view without increasing the size of the headset, and built-in hand tracking. (Also at TechCrunch.) Facebook also announced Oculus Venues, an app for displaying live sports events, concerts, comedy shows, etc. in VR. These live events will begin on May 30.
Also at Tom's Hardware, RoadtoVR, USA Today, and Digital Trends. MIT Technology Review has an interview with Rachel Franklin, Facebook's head of social VR, who admits "there's not much to do" in Facebook Spaces, the company's "social VR app".
Future generations of virtual reality headsets for PCs could use a single USB Type-C cable for both power and data. That's thanks to a new standardized spec from the VirtualLink Consortium, a group made up of GPU vendors AMD and Nvidia and virtual reality rivals Valve, Microsoft, and Facebook-owned Oculus.
The spec uses the USB Type-C connector's "Alternate Mode" capability to implement different data protocols—such as Thunderbolt 3 data or DisplayPort and HDMI video—over the increasingly common cables, combined with Type-C's support for power delivery. The new headset spec combines four lanes of HBR3 ("high bitrate 3") DisplayPort video (for a total of 32.4 gigabits per second of video data), along with a USB 3.1 generation 2 (10 gigabit per second) data channel for sensors and on-headset cameras, along with 27W of electrical power.
That much video data is sufficient for two 3840×2160 streams at 60 frames per second, or even higher frame rates if Display Stream Compression is also used. Drop the resolution to 2560×1440, and two uncompressed 120 frame per second streams would be possible.
Framerate is too low, and it's not wireless. Lame.
Facebook used its latest virtual reality conference, the fifth annual Oculus Connect, to finally confirm retail plans for its most ambitious standalone VR product yet: the Oculus Quest. Originally known by its prototype name, Oculus Santa Cruz, the Quest will ship in spring 2019 for $399.
In terms of the sales pitch, this is the Oculus holy grail: a wireless, hand-tracked, "six degrees of freedom" VR system with apparently legitimate 3D power and no required PC or phone.
The headset will include two bundled handheld controllers, and more than 50 games will be available at launch. The headset has a 1600×1440 per eye resolution (3200×1440 total resolution), compared to 1280×1440 per eye for Oculus Go or 1440×1600 per eye for HTC's Vive Pro, and has 64 GB of internal storage.
Five years after its $2 billion purchase of Oculus, Facebook is still pushing forward in its efforts to bring virtual reality to a mainstream audience. But one of the company's six co-founders now doubts Oculus will ever break through.
Jack McCauley told CNBC he doesn't think there's a real market for VR gaming. With Facebook positioning its Oculus devices primarily as gaming machines, McCauley doesn't believe there's much of a market for the device. "If we were gonna sell, we would've sold," McCauley said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
[...] The $199 Oculus Go has sold a little more than 2 million units since its release in May 2018, according to estimates provided by market research firm SuperData, a Nielsen company. The Oculus Quest, which was released this May, has sold nearly 1.1 million units while the Oculus Rift has sold 547,000 units since the start of 2018, according to SuperData.
[...] Since leaving in November 2015, McCauley has enjoyed a semi-retired life. He's an innovator in residence at Berkeley's Jacobs Institute of Design Innovation and he continues to build all sorts of devices, such as a gun capable of shooting down drones, at his own research and development facility.
The cheaper, standalone headsets are selling more units. Add foveated rendering and other enhancements at the lower price points (rather than $1,599 like the Vive Pro Eye), and the experience could become much better.
Related: Oculus Rift: Dead in the Water?
HTC: Death of VR Greatly Exaggerated
As Sales Slide, Virtual Reality Fans Look to a Bright, Untethered Future
Virtual Reality Feels Like a Dream Gathering Dust
VR Gets Reality Check with Significant Decline in Investment
Creepy Messages Will be Found in Facebook's Oculus Touch VR Controllers