HTC’s most-advanced VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye with built-in eye-tracking, is now available in North America.
The VR headset was announced at CES in January and first launched in China and Europe. At $1,599, the Vive Pro Eye is double the price of HTC’s Vive Pro, which was released in 2018.
It’s an expensive VR headset for sure, and it raises an obvious question: Why would anyone buy the Vive Pro Eye over the wireless Oculus Quest, which starts at $399?
It’s not really fair to compare the HTC Vive Pro Eye to the Oculus Quest. They’re two different classes of VR headsets.
The Vive Pro Eye has higher resolution and eye-tracking technology, requires a power PC, and needs additional “base stations” for room-scale body-tracking.
Meanwhile, the Oculus Quest is a completely wireless headset powered by a mobile processor and has weaker graphics.
Still, the comparison will be made and for most people, buying a Vive Pro Eye doesn’t make any sense. Not only is the headset expensive, but the setup to dive into VR is clunky. The Quest, however, is a much simpler and intuitive VR setup.
That said, if you want the best VR headset HTC is selling, the Vive Pro Eye looks pretty solid. The headset has a 2,880 x 1,600 resolution (1,440 x 1,600 per eye) and the built-in eye-tracking has the potential to do things other VR headsets can’t, like “create more expressive avatars for immersive virtual interactions in meeting and collaboration tools” and “capture real-time user feedback through heat mapping and gaze tracking to gain insight into user behavior and decision processes,” according to HTC.
When we tried the Vive Pro Eye at CES, my colleague Karissa Bell was mostly impressed by the VR headset.
She said the “gaze-oriented menu navigation” that’s controlled with your eyes “worked pretty much as expected, though it was only available with the in-game menus.”
Additionally, eye-tracking could provide people with disabilities with an alternative way to control things in VR if they’re not able to use the Vive’s standard hand controllers.
Like all PC-based VR, the HTC Vive Pro Eye is for enthusiasts invested heavily in VR for the long haul. Its cutting-edge features might never become mainstream, but that’s okay because HTC seems to be increasingly courting hardcore and enterprise VR users as opposed to average consumers. For these early adopters, being first to experience the latest VR tech is worth the premium cost.