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How HTC lost me as a customer.


InfiniteJest
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encountered the dreaded flashing red light on one of my base stations today. I am familiar with how the devices function, and have never moved, jostled, hit, etc the unit, understanding the results would likely be catastrophic. I was very careful when mounting them, they are mounted on a 10ft ceiling, and have not been touched since initial installation. Until this morning, I hadn't played VR in a few months due to life getting in the way, and was thrilled to have the chance to play this morning. My hopes were quickly dashed when Steam VR informed me one of the base stations likely had a hardware error. With dread, I looked up and saw the blinking red. I used my phone camera in the dark to verify that the 2nd purple dot that should be present in the image, was not. 

 

I contacted customer support, because I did not know my warranty had expired. After a cursory search, I found many other cases of people having this specific hardware issue right after the warranty expired, along with a myriad of other issues with all parts of the kit. They informed me I would have to send it in, pay $90 and shipping, and wait a month to get it back. If I was so inclined, I would just purchase a new one!

 

Which brings this missive to a close. After this incident I decided that HTC had lost me as a customer. And, since I believe you make a better product (QA issues notwithstanding) than Occulus and all the other headsets out there, it saddens me. 

 

No action I took could have possibly caused the damage to the unit. So either it was damaged in transit and just manifested now, or your prod lines are cheaping out on components and quality assurance. In light of these facts, I don't think it would be outrageous of me to ask that the recently expired warranty be honored, and I send it in for repair, or if you're feeling extra generous, you could just send me a new one. I understand if the second option is a bit much. However, if you want to retain a customer, one of these steps must be taken. I really loved that device, but sheer principle prevents me from giving HTC any more of my hard earned money unless this issue is remedied. If it is, I'd likely buy the Vive Cosmos day 1. If it's not, the valve Index is starting to look appealing....

 

I apologize for this diatribe and its somewhat hostile tone. I am just so frustrated with this situation.

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@InfiniteJest It's worth noting, what's occurring here is because base stations are mechanical devices. A 1.0 base-station has two rotors, each spinning at 3600RPM. That equates to over 200,000 rotations per hour, per rotor, all of which need to occur with very high timing precision. A station can accumulate a pretty large number of rotations in it's lifetime - the best way to extend their lifespan is by using BT power management to power down the stations when not in use. The trade-off for external tracking is that you can get higher precision tracking but need external tracking elements, which in the case of base-station tracking means high speed mechanical devices which are subject to wear and tear.

You're going to see these sorts of issues with base-stations regardless of the manufacturer and design as long as base-stations are mechanical and not solid-state; moving parts = potential for mechanical issues. Index base-stations are privy to the same sorts of issues as they're mechanical - if you search around, you'll see customers with similar issues on 2.0 stations manufactured by Valve.

Cosmos uses inside-out tracking as it's default tracking mechanism which eliminates the need for external base-stations but brings with it a different set of pro's and cons.

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I understand how the base stations operate. My main gripe is that my total hours of use are ~20 since purchased it. I'd venture that's on the very low end of operating time. I should  note that since this post, 2 HTC employees have reached out to me, and seem willing to accommodate my request. For this, I am extremely grateful.

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