HTC Vive Pre-Order Live: What You Need to Know

Today, HTC put up the live pre-order page for its own virtual reality headset, the HTC Vive. If you order today, you can expect your unit to start shipping sometime in April.

It’s February 29th, and you know what that means! Yes, it’s Leap Day, but more importantly, it’s the HTC Vive pre-order day! Feel free to celebrate accordingly, unless you happen to be a bank account. If you’re living in the U.S., you can expect to shell out a whopping $799 to get your Vive headset; that’s $200 more than Oculus Rift, but it includes additional hardware that Oculus isn’t yet selling, like two VR-aware, motion-sensitive controllers.

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Like the Rift, anyone who pre-orders the Vive will receive some free content for their trouble. HTC is partnering with the developers of Fantastic Contraption and Job Simulator to include both titles for free in the HTC Vive pre-order. A recent announcement revealed that Google will be offering the VR sculpting title Tilt Brush for free to Vive owners as well.

The HTC Vive price is…

Thanks to recent surges in the strength of the U.S. dollar, international pricing may be more than some were expecting: in Australia, you’re looking at $899 USD, in Canada, $1149 CAD, in the UK, £689, and everywhere else in the EU is €899. While some of these prices seem substantially higher than in the U.S., most of them also include sales tax in the MSRP. A notable exception is Canada, where you can expect to pay an extra 5 – 13%, depending to which province the Vive will be shipped.

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The HTC Vive headset, two motion controllers, and two motion-tracking base stations.

The HTC Vive headset, two motion controllers, and two motion-tracking base stations.

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HTC originally planned on coming up with a different version of the Vive to ship to customers, but the version showed off at CES, internally known as the Pre, has become the consumer model as well an a bid to save money and remain competitive against the Oculus Rift.

When will the HTC Vive ship?

So far, we know it’ll start shipping in April, but that’s where certainties end. Most people who pre-order today are likely to receive their headset sometime in that month. It’s difficult to compare this to the Oculus shipping pattern, because neither company is going to release solid numbers on how many pre-orders have been made.

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One of the HTC Vive’s VR-aware, motion-sensitive controllers.

Oculus, for example, is now listing delivery dates of July if you submit a pre-order today – unlike HTC, however, Oculus isn’t an experienced manufacturer of high-tech products; it’s possible that even if HTC experiences the kind of heavy order volume that Oculus did, that they’ll be able to fulfill all the orders within April.

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While it’s no kind of serious study, a survey of approximately 1000 VR enthusiasts on Reddit showed 40% of them selecting the Oculus Rift, 30% of them exclusively choosing the HTC Vive, and 30% of them opting to buy both, and deciding which to keep after trying them both.

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A view of the lenses and internal display on the HTC Vive headset.

Each headset will be powered by its own kind of storefront; HTC is partnering with Steam and their nascent SteamVR storefront and interfaces, while Oculus is rolling their own. Both Steam and Oculus have made statements to the effect that their individual stores won’t be locked to any specific hardware, so it’s possible that you’ll be running Oculus content on the Vive at some point in the future.