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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.

Virtual Reality Doesn’t Replace Real Life. Strapping on a virtual reality headset is an amazing experience. In fact, it’s so realistic that you almost feel as if you’re visiting a location or taking part in an activity. But the key word in this sentence is “almost.” Virtual reality isn’t meant to replace real life, but instead enhance it. One of the best examples of this is how the travel industry uses virtual reality. For destinations and hotels, virtual reality is a research tool that enables potential guests get a glimpse of what it would be like to visit or book a room.

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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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 Conventions Are A Hit. Among the biggest reasons behind the rising popularity of virtual reality are the tech conventions. These are the venues where people might first learn about virtual reality and where the first time users experience it as well. The others go to not miss out on the latest. Some of the conventions are becoming really popular and ticket prices are skyrocketing. Companies that produce virtual reality headsets are using the conventions to build some hype for their upcoming products for users.

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

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