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Valve has been publicly working on finger-tracking Knuckles VR controllers for long enough that the word “new” doesn’t seem appropriate any more, even though they haven’t yet shipped to consumers. Now the developer has debuted yet another version, Knuckles EV3, with a series of small but welcome improvements that users will appreciate whenever they become broadly available.

The biggest improvement to Knuckles EV3 is in battery life — sensor efficiency improvements led to a two-hour boost, equating to a total of between seven and eight hours of use per charge. Valve also improved the triggers for greater reliability, calibrated grip force sensors for consistency across units, and recessed both the system button and USB port for ergonomic reasons.

Unlike the EV2 release, which saw a substantial set of new design elements, EV3 appears to be all about refining something that works. By comparison with EV2, which added hardware such as thumbsticks and sensors alongside a considerably revised strap design, EV3’s updates are small tweaks — a few more to refine the strap, plus other fit and finish enhancements that make the new version look ready for wide manufacturing.

Valve says that “EV3 kits are being produced in much greater quantities than EV2,” which was said to have been made for “hundreds” of developers to evaluate. The company plans to ship EV3 both to EV2 testers and newly interested developers, the latter after filling out a request form that will go online “soon.”

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Given that EV3 is just about to start making its way into developers’ hands in late September, it seems unlikely that a final version of Knuckles will be released for consumer purchase this year. But at the rate things are going, Vive users can probably expect to see these in stores early in 2019, barring a last-minute surprise of some sort. Like the release date, pricing is still a question mark.

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