The HTC Vive XR Elite is cheaper than expected, but still overpriced

The HTC Vive XR Elite was introduced at CES 2023 as a virtual/mixed reality headset with an incredibly small form factor but a disappointing price. CES hosts some of the biggest tech announcements of the year, and a new headset from HTC was announced ahead of the event. Rumors had it priced around $1,400, which would put the device just below the $1,500 price tag of the last Meta Quest Pro. Now that the XR Elite has been officially announced, its price drops below the rumors, but it’s still way higher than it should be.

Virtual reality has been in a dry spell for the past couple of years, with little hardware innovation leaving the roguelike Meta with little to no competition. In the standalone VR space, the Quest 2 remained untouched until the Pico 4 was released in October 2022 as a true alternative thanks to a comparable price of around $425. With the HTC Vive XR Elite, the company is looking to capture more of that standalone market share. However, even with the XR Elite’s advanced features and impressive form factor, its $1,099 price tag makes it a tough buy for most consumers.

HTC XR Elite specs and pricing explained

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HTC has been producing VR headsets since 2016, when it released the original Vive version in collaboration with Valve, then VIVE Pro 2. With the XR Elite, HTC improves on its previous hardware in many ways. At around 625 grams, the XR Elite has slightly higher tech specs than the Meta Quest 2, but weighs almost 25% less. This is possible in part through the use of thinner pancake lenses and HTC’s decision to move the battery to the back of the headband, acting as a counterweight to help distribute the weight.

The HTC XR Elite sits somewhere between the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro in terms of specs and features. It features a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor, 1920 x 1920 per-eye resolution (3840 x 1920 combined pixels), 90 Hz refresh rate, up to 110-degree field of view, 12 GB of memory, 128 GB of storage, and Wi-Fi 6 + 6E. The XR Elite also features a depth sensor for enhanced mixed reality experiences and allows users to connect to a PC wirelessly or via USB-C cable for PCVR gaming.

Standout features include a foldable design and magnetic forehead, plus IPD and diopter dials that allow easy adjustment for different eye positions and prescriptions. Diopter allows those who wear glasses to enjoy clear views without them, although the range for this adjustment is no more than -6. There’s also a USB-C port on the bottom of the headset for external add-ons like an accessory that adds face and eye tracking for the Metaverse.

Despite all the XR Elite’s smart design choices and impressive specs, the device is hurt by the fact that the HTC XR Elite costs nearly three times as much as a Quest 2. At $1,099, you’d think the device would compete with the Quest Pro, but considering the XR Elite is aimed at consumers and the Quest Pro is aimed at businesses, the price is simply too high. The Quest 2’s starting price of $399 puts it more in the mainstream segment, unlike the XR Elite.

The XR Elite’s small size is certainly its biggest selling point, along with HTC’s stance on data privacy – reiterating in its announcement that it’s not interested in selling anyone’s personal data. This is a clear blow to Meta, as the company continues to come under scrutiny for selling personal data to advertisers for monetary gain. It’s becoming more and more important to many users, so even with its high price, it may be reason enough for some to choose the HTC over the Meta.

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