Instead of revealing a brand new Vive 2.0 of some kind, which HTC already told us wouldn’t be happening, the Taiwan-based company is using CES 2017 to unveil a slew of new accessories consumers can integrate into their already purchased HTC Vive VR headsets. One of the most surprising new additions is the “Deluxe Audio Strap.”
If you’ve ever seen or used the Oculus Rift then there’s a good chance you recognize the design. One of the biggest differentiating features between the Rift and Vive is that, from the very start, Oculus’ debut headset included integrated audio, while the Vive required plugging in your own headphones. Now, the Deluxe Audio Strap lets you replace your stock headstrap with on-ear devices that look essentially just like the Rift’s.
According to a press kit briefing from HTC, the Deluxe Audio Strap features “interior padding, a new 3-in-1 cable path and an easy-to-adjust sizing dial”. Installation of the new headstrap looks simple and the form factor and fit are similar to the existing headset’s design, albeit much more structured and less reliant on velcro straps.
High-quality sound is an incredibly important piece of a VR experience — perhaps just as much as the visual stimulation itself — putting you into digital worlds with a believable sense of immersion and presence as the sound surrounds you.
We asked HTC Vive’s general manger Daniel O’Brien about the deluxe headstrap and why it wasn’t a feature for the headset at launch. He responded by saying that it “wasn’t ready at launch” and that his company didn’t want to release something unless it was up to snuff. He also spoke to the eventual commercial launch stating that Vive is currently “working with retailers now to determine whether it makes more sense to sell the new strap as a new SKU. Right now it’s just an accessory and we may leave it that way so as not to force anyone to use only our audio.”
O’Brien stated during the announcement press conference that the Deluxe Audio Strap would be shipping in “Q2 2017” and that they would be announcing a price closer to that date.
With this new headstrap, the wireless Vive accessory from TPCAST and the new Vive tracker accessories shown today as well at CES, there are more ways than ever to iterate and improve on the base model of the HTC Vive without the need for a brand new iteration just yet.
Update: According to Daniel O’Brien, HTC Vive’s GM of VR, this headstrap is fully compatible with the TPCAST wireless accessory we unveiled last year. Here he is taking to Twitter with visual confirmation:
— Daniel O’Brien (@obriend17) January 5, 2017
We’ll continue updating you on all of the HTC Vive announcements from CES 2017 as they come in. What are your questions about the Vive’s Deluxe Audio Strap?