Earlier this year when Valve and HTC surprised the world with the announcement of the Vive VR headset and controls, development kits were promised for spring of 2015. The two companies just made good on their promise.
Valve quietly announced that the first wave of developer kits have been shipped. Early recipients of the free kits include movie studios, triple-A game developers and even a selection of small indie studios. Some are said to be working on their very first titles. Developer kits will continue to be deployed throughout the summer to more and more studios.
The version of Vive being sent out now differs somewhat from the version shown to the media months ago. The headset itself is almost the same, but the cameras that were located in the front are now blocked out.
The lighthouse sensors are now much smaller than the previous version and include an updated sensor cluster. Work is supposedly being done to shrink them down even further before retail release.
Also included with the dev kits are updated controllers. The new controllers have seen a slight revision in that the side grip has been moved up higher on the side, making grip while doing quick actions like throwing more viable. They are also wireless, with the option of plugging in through USB, though the micro-USB cables are not included.
Because this is a Valve product, you had to know the company would throw in something to make things a little more enjoyable. It's no secret that company documentation, such as the orientation booklet for new employees, is comprised of a series of goofy, yet highly entertaining, comic strips. These illustrations are used for each step of the instruction manual, and not only make it very entertaining, but the instructions are highly detailed and do a very good job communicating how to set up the Vive. Have a look for yourself here.
The instruction booklet sheds some light on how the headset is hooked up, as well. Similar to the Rift DK, the Vive relies on a break-out box between the HMD and the computer. HTC's solution, however, has no permanent cables, which should make storing it a little bit simpler. From the headset there is a USB, HDMI and a power plug. These three cables run down the back of the head strap and connect into the break-out box. On the other side of the box, a USB and HDMI cable will go to the computer, and a power cable will run to the wall. The break-out box includes a power switch, so unplugging the headset will presumably not be necessary.
Several developers have posted images and video with their shiny new kits, including Cloudhead Games.
There's still no update on when the retail version will be open for pre-orders; however, with the promise of dev kits on track, there's no reason to expect the launch this fall to be any different at this point.