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HTC Vive: Virtual reality headset finally delivered to customers

The first HTC Vive headsets have been delivered to customers, a week after the Oculus Rift began shipping.

The Vive began life as a prototype created by developers at the Valve game studio in 2014, and has been highly awaited ever since.

To mark the occasion, HTC hand-delivered the headset to their first Taiwanese customer, Professor Lin Xuan from Taiwan's National Chengchi University, a stone's throw from the company's headquarters in Taipei.

HTC successfully managed to ship a lot of headsets to some pre-ordering customers in time for the 5 April launch day, but large numbers of Vive fans, especially those in Europe, have no idea when their devices will arrive.

At the very least, the Vive doesn't seem to have been afflicted with the same production problems as the Rift - Oculus emailed customers last week to say a "component shortage" may delay some deliveries, and a number of people have criticised the company for poor communication.

The First Head-Mounted Displays – The Telesphere Mask and the Headsight. You might think that strapping a display on a person’s head is a relatively new idea, but it is not. The first head-mounted displays were developed as early as the 1960s. The Telesphere Mask was the first example of a head-mounted display, which provided 3D stereoscopic and wide vision with stereo sound. However, the device lacked certain immersion, because of it being a non-interactive medium. In 1961 two Philco Corporation engineers, Comeau and Bryan, came up with the Headsight. A head-mounted display, much like the Telesphere Mask, the Headsight featured magnetic motion tracking technology, which was connected to a close circuit camera. While the goggles can be named a precursor to modern virtual reality technology, they were not developed for entertainment purposes. Instead, they were developed for the military with the idea that a person would be able to immerse themselves in the remote viewing of dangerous situations.

However, the Vive's launch isn't going entirely smoothly - some pre-ordering customers complained their payments had been declined by their banks and cancelled by HTC, a fault which the company put down to a processing error.

Shipping problems have persisted, especially for customers who paid by card, rather than PayPal. HTC has been hit with complaints about poor customer service, seemingly non-existent 'express' delivery and a lack of shipping information. The Independent has contacted the company for more information.

Priced at £689, the Vive is more expensive than the Rift, its main rival in the high-end VR market. However, it comes with two motion-tracking controllers which players can use as 'hands' during games, rather than the stock Xbox One controller bundled with the Rift.

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Popular Science

The battle between the Rift and the Vive is VR's first platform war, although the different headsets may appeal to different consumers.

Based purely on the list of launch games, the VR experience on the Rift is more grounded in traditional gaming. Games on the Vive, on the other hand, seem to take more advantage of the immersive possibilities of VR, even if they don't have quite as much depth.

But there's more similarities than differences between the two, and the gap should be narrowed further when Oculus releases its own motion-tracking controllers later this year

Virtual Reality Doesn’t Have to be Expensive. The idea that virtual reality is expensive to produce comes up over and over from businesses interested in creating an experience. The truth is although virtual reality can be expensive, it isn’t always expensive. Like most things, virtual reality’s price greatly depends on the scope of the project. Companies can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars investing in the technology. However, other companies like YouVisit can create the same type of experience with costs ranging in the low to mid five figures.

This article was updated on 6 April to add more information about shipping problems.

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