HTC’s $799 Vive virtual reality headset opened for pre-orders this morning. The headset will begin shipping April 5 in the U.S., just a week or so after the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift, which launches March 28.
Pre-orders can be placed on the HTC site for shipment to the U.S. and 23 other countries.
The $799 package includes the headset, a pair of controllers and two “Lighthouse” laser-tracking sensors. The bundle also includes (while supplies last) a trio of quick-and-fun games that show off some of the flexibility offered by the Vive’s room-scale tracking and motion-tracking: office destruction physics game Job Simulator, whimsical puzzle game Fantastic Contraption and Google’s 3D painting tool Tilt Brush.
I’ve tried the Vive quite a few times and have loved what I’ve seen. It offers a much more rich out-of-the-box experience than the Oculus Rift, thanks to its included wireless motion controllers, which allow you to move your virtual hands with ease. The $599 Rift currently includes an Xbox controller as its primary input device; the company has not yet announced a ship date for its similarly featured Touch wireless motion controllers.
Worth reiterating is that you need a gaming PC with decent specs to power the Vive; HTC recommends that your PC rocks a Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 graphics card (at a minimum). Valve has put together a nice little system checker to see how well your PC can run VR content, so if you have any questions about your specific rig, best to give the system test a whirl. HTC has specified they will likely follow Oculus’s move and begin selling VR-ready PCs bundled alongside the headset, but nothing has been announced yet.