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HTC Vive Flow Hands-on Review: A Weird, Compact VR Headset

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I’m not a tough individual to promote on VR. I owned an Oculus Rift and had a room-scale base station setup earlier than it was cool (it was by no means cool), I personal an Oculus Quest, and I’ve as many hours in Skyrim VR as common Skyrim. Regardless of all this, the HTC Vive Circulation nonetheless required fairly a little bit of promoting on my half, and I’m nonetheless not wholly positive who it’s for nor why.

HTC, for its half, did its finest to persuade me of assorted use circumstances starting from mediation and wellness to make use of in care properties and hospices, in addition to serving to relieve a number of the loneliness and stress brought on by COVID. Admirable aspirations in precept, however the $499 worth was the sticking level for me, as I believe it’ll be for most individuals who examine its sparse {hardware} to the $299 Oculus Quest 2, which is able to doing way more when it comes to multimedia and gaming.

HTC Vive Flow with battery.
Ajay Kumar/NFH

Consolation and match are the largest promoting level

On first look, the HTC Vive Circulation appears to be like like a pair of welding goggles, full with the bug-like mirrored entrance panel that’s immensely reflective and was fairly an ordeal to {photograph} below the cloudy sky. With its cloth end, black plastic, and versatile headband, the massive promoting level right here is that it’s compact at 189 grams, feeling and looking extra like glasses than the usual top-heavy VR headset.

I discovered the match to be comfy, and I used to be even capable of shed my glasses as a result of there are built-in diopter dials. I might principally see all textual content and graphics on the most stage with out blurring regardless of my very excessive index. That’s good to have, and it’s preferable to having to suit my glasses into the headset or getting modified lens attachments.

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There’s apparently a cooling system built-in that pulls heat air away out of your face. I can’t communicate to if any fan noises are noticeable since my testing was in a reasonably noisy space.

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What’s truly in right here?

The {hardware} on the Vive Circulation is a bit obscure to me because it’s not totally a stand-alone headset in the best way the Quest 2 is. Whereas it does have a Qualcomm XR chip and runs an Android-based OS, it’s not sufficient for gaming and principally serves as a method to get onto the Viveport platform, which can be your important portal for varied apps and video games. Your telephone additionally doubles as your Bluetooth controller and your important level of interplay with the Circulation, so no different distant or controller is included.

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Other than these apps, you’re additionally capable of mirror the display screen and run varied streaming companies and video games off your telephone, PC, or laptop computer. I used to be ready to connect with Netflix and begin watching Squid Video games with none actual downside. It basically simply creates a cinema-sized VR display screen as most headsets do. I can see it being helpful for airplane journey.

HTC Vive Flow feature image.
Ajay Kumar / NFH

The Circulation has a 3.2K show, a 100-degree area of view, and a 75Hz refresh charge. It helps 3D spatial audio and might hook up with Bluetooth headphones and earbuds. There are additionally two front-facing digicam sensors for 6DoF head and hand monitoring, however you’re not likely meant to be taking part in room-scale video games right here, and I used to be solely capable of check it with House Slurpies, a VR multiplayer arcade sport that has you controlling snakes. Utilizing a telephone because the controller was janky at finest, however I’ll reserve judgment since I used to be speaking to 3 folks at a time whereas taking part in.

There may be an onboard battery, however it’s solely meant for warm swapping. The whole time you employ it, the Vive Circulation wants to connect with an exterior energy supply. Throughout my hands-on, I used to be linked to one of many Vive-branded 10,000mAh energy banks the whole time I used it, however it ought to work with any USB-C suitable battery pack. Based on HTC, these ought to preserve you going for 4-5 hours of steady use, so it’s not what I might contemplate a wi-fi headset the best way the Quest 2 is since there isn’t any inner cell and also you’ll all the time have to be tethered to one thing.

Am I presupposed to meditate with this factor on?

The opposite main operate of the Vive Circulation is mediation and normal wellness. There are meditation apps, mind coaching apps, conferencing apps, and extra. I examined TRIPP, which affords a bunch of psychedelic guided meditation experiences with colourful visible and immersive music. There’s a pretty wide selection of meditation experiences with plans, although add extra. You need to have the ability to do new experiences for a month or two,

I’ve by no means meditated in my life, and I’ve no plans to ever achieve this sooner or later, so I couldn’t inform you if that is helpful or that people who find themselves into that kind of factor truly need. I’ll say that the expertise of sporting what’s basically a extremely linked piece of expertise in your face to loosen up, unwind, and disconnect from the world appears counterintuitive. However what do I do know?

Who’s the HTC Vive Circulation for?

HTC Vive Flow with phone and battery.
Ajay Kumar/NFH

The HTC Vive Circulation will run you $499, and also you’ll have the ability to purchase it straight from Vive and different retailers. Pre-orders begin October 14 and can embody a carry case and a bundle with seven items of content material. Open gross sales begin November 2021.

The value appears a bit steep for me, subsequent to the $299 beginning worth for the 128GB Oculus Quest 2. Whereas the Circulation is extra comfy, the Quest 2 comes with a set of bodily controllers somewhat than utilizing your telephone making it a greater person expertise to navigate. It could actually additionally join each wired and wirelessly to your PC in case you wish to do some desktop VR gaming, and it’s able to working video games and doing room-scale monitoring as a very standalone gadget while not having to tether it to anything.

All of this makes me surprise, why pay more cash for the Vive Circulation to do much less when you should purchase the Quest 2 and obtain as many meditation and wellness apps you need with out limiting your choices for gaming and multimedia? That’s a query I’ll hopefully have the ability to reply after reviewing it.

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