©HTC. The HTC Vive Pro isn't worth the enormous price-tag.
HTC just launched an enhanced version of its Vive virtual reality headset. The headset, which boasts a higher resolution and integrated headphones, costs $799. However, it doesn't come with controllers or base stations, making it more of an upgrade option for early adopters than anything.
I'm here to tell you not to purchase this headset, and not just because there are cheaper options out there, though that is one reason. Laying down $800 on a headset, or $800 more dollars if you already purchased the original Vive, is quite frankly insane. Here's why.
1. VR isn't ready for prime-time.
VR can be fun. I've played some games I really enjoyed. But mostly it's still very rough around the edges. Buying an $800 headset is basically just an incredibly expensive way to sign up as a guinea pig. Even with a boosted resolution and the convenience of built-in headphones, the Vive will still have a very real problem: The games still don't justify the cost. Until there are better games out there for VR, I don't think you should buy an headset, even much cheaper ones like the PSVR.
2. A tethered headset is a pain.
One of the things that really ruins the VR experience for a lot of people. It's a pain to move around in your HTC Vive headset and get tripped up on cables. Until HTC releases a wireless headset with a built-in PC, you're basically just playing with expensive test hardware. Wait for untethered VR. That's when things will start to get a lot more fun.
3. The HTC Vive Pro doesn't come with controllers or a base station.
If you're buying a new Vive, it makes more sense to purchase the now-cheaper $500 original Vive and the new $800 Vive Pro. That's $1300 but it's still cheaper than buying the Vive Pro, two controllers (at $130 a piece) and two base stations (at $135 each.) That's a total of $1330, or $30 more than buying both headsets. Either way, it's too much money to pay for VR.
4. You can get cheaper headsets if you're determined to play VR.
If you are determined to get a VR headset there are many cheaper alternatives. If you have a PS4 already, Sony's PSVR headset is a great option. It's not as high-end or technically advanced, but it gets the job done and there are plenty of games available for it. You can find one for around $250. An Oculus Rift will set you back about $400 and gives you access to PC games. For under $100 you can get a Google Daydream headset or Samsung Gear and use your mobile phone. That's a good option both to save money and because there are no cables (see #3.) Or you could just buy the now much-cheaper ($500) original Vive.
5. Graphics cards are expensive right now.
The HTC Vive Pro boasts a 2600 x 1800 resolution, or about a 78% boost over the original. That means it's more demanding than ever on your PC. If you're not already running a pretty powerful, modern GPU (see spec requirements here) you'll need to upgrade your graphics card and possibly CPU. Right now graphics cards are still more expensive than ever thanks to the Bitcoin craze. Crypto-currency miners use graphics cards to mine for Ethereum and other crypto-coins. The sudden GPU scarcity has translated into wildly inflated GPU prices. So not only will you spend $800 (or much more) on the headset, you may also have to drop hundreds more on a pricey graphics card.
All these factors add up to one important fact: This is just way too much money to spend on a VR headset, even if it's the best one out there. The games simply do not justify the expense. Even the best VR games aren't worth this kind of financial investment.