Some weeks ago I dedicated an article on Vive Focus and Vive Wave. This is a new standalone 6DOF virtual reality headset announced by HTC and that will be initially sold in China and then in the rest of the world. During the announcement event, few details of the headset have been revealed and only some selected journalists have been able to try it. Today things have changed and Vive has revealed all the details about it… and I’m going to share them with you!
Let’s start with the main specifications of the device, that you can easily find also on its official website:
- Display: 3K AMOLED, resolution 2880 x 1600
- Refresh rate: 75 Hz
- FOV: 110 degrees
- Adjustable IPD: Supported
- Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon™ 835
- Storage: MicroSD™ slot,up to 2TB MicroSD™ external memory
- Audio input/output: Built-in microphones, built-in speakers, 3.5mm stereo audio jack
- Connectivity: Wi-fi, Bluetooth, USB Type-C connector
- Power and battery: Built-in rechargeable battery, QC3.0 fast charging, up to 3 hours of active use time, over one week standby time
As you can see, the device reflects basically what I already said in my past article reading the reviews on Engadget:
- the display resolution is better than the one of Oculus and Vive, but not extraordinary like in the Pimax 8k. The fact that it is an AMOLED screen guarantees a visual quality superior to the one of most Microsoft headsets;
- the refresh-rate is better than the one of a GearVR or Cardboard, but worse than the one of a tethered headset;
- the FOV is the same of Oculus and Vive;
- the headset is confirmed to be based on Snapdragon 835 VR reference design and in fact, its specs are very similar to the reference sheet that I quoted in my previous article;
- integrated speakers and mic are great news, especially for social VR experiences.
- battery time is good, but a maximum of 3 hours of active use means for instance that it is not possible to do long working or gaming sessions. This also means that if you take such a device to an exhibition, it is recommended to have a companion one to cover all the needed hours;
My impressions looking at the specs is that they have made a lot of compromises, trying to offer a premium experience but taking in count that the device is a standalone one, so it has limited resources (especially because they have also to try keeping the price low). IMHO they’re good specifications, even if the refresh-rate that is less than 90Hz is a bit a nuisance because this means less smooth VR experiences.
About the controller (that will be sold together with the device):
- Buttons: Touchpad, app button, home button, volume +/- button, trigger
- Power and battery: Two AAA batteries, up to 30 hours of active use time
30 hours of active use time is not bad. What is bad is that this controller is a 3DOF one, it is just a damn remote with which you can control the device. As I’ve already said in my previous article, this is, in my opinion, the biggest problem of the Vive Focus wrt its upcoming competitor Oculus Santa Cruz: Santa Cruz will have two ergonomic 6DOF controllers (very similar to Oculus Touch), while this one is just a remote. It will be very handful to point at stuff and to make videos start and stop, but it will be hard to use it to interact naturally with the virtual world you move in (imagine playing Job Simulator with a remote…). Anyway, Vive highlights in its press release that the headset can connect via Wi-fi, Bluetooth or USB connector to other devices… and I think that this leaves the door open for a future release of some 6DOF controllers (even if the problem will be that the device should track these controllers somehow…).
About comfort, HTC highlights how the device has been engineered to be comfortable and easy to be used by all people:
It can be put on and removed in just a couple of seconds and immediately turns on/off by sensing the user’s head. Its water-resistant padding and ergonomically balanced design allow for all-day wear. It’s even designed to be glasses-friendly, so there’s no need to remove one’s eyewear before use.
About content, the device will access all content on Viveport platform, starting with all the applications that partners have made available since day 0, like:
If you pre-order now, you get 4 VR titles for free.
Focus will be available for pre-orders in China from 12th December at 12.00 am Beijing Time (12/12… a Chinese girl told me that is some kind of special day there… and they sell the device at 12 am), both on physical (e.g. Gome, Suning) and online (i.e. Vive.com, JD.com, Tmall.com) stores. Shipping is expected to start in January 2018.
About prices and colors, you can choose between:
- Almond White (3999RMB, that is circa $600)
- Electric Blue (in limited edition for 4299RMB, that is circa $650)
The white color is a big nope for me (because… come on!), so I hope that the blue won’t really be in limited edition.
About the price, the first thing I wanna say is that I’m a magician since I guessed it right in my previous post! Let me quote myself:
Once someone said that the price for the standalone Vive would have been similar to the one of the Vive v1, so I expect something around $600-$800.
Apart from this self-glorification, I think that it’s quite fair for an innovative device that offers an all-in-one VR solution with 6DOF tracking. Oculus Go costs a lot less, but it is only a 3DOF toy, it is surely easier to engineer it (there’s not all the tracking part to be implemented, that it is also a lot resource consuming). I still ask myself when the 6DOF controllers will come out (if they’ll ever come out), what will be their price. It may also be that they avoided adding tracked controllers to keep the price low.
Anyway, I don’t think that consumers will get crazy for spending $600 to buy a VR headset (especially in China), so I still see it a product for innovators and for enterprise usages. An interesting product with interesting features… I’m very curious to follow the sales numbers to see where it gets.
If you’re interested, follow the countdown on the official website and then buy it!
(Header image by HTC Vive)
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