Huh. The smart money was on the Vive (and indeed Oculus Rift) not embracing the wireless future is so desperately needs until a full second generation of the hardware, but seems like we might get to cut the cord a whole lot sooner than that. An HTC partner company is about to start selling a little bolt-on box that makes the existent Valve-friendly headset entirely wireless. Finally, we can frolic freely, like Lawnmower Lambs.
In principle, it’s great news. There’s a holy trinity of drawbacks to current VR: comfort, image quality and cables. The latter is a particularly acute problem for the Vive, as it’s got that fancy-nancy room-scale stuff, but leaping and rolling and sprinting into the wall is rather tempered by having a heavy dangling cable attached to the back of your head.
TPCast, a company HTC chucked some cash into as part of a Vive development investment program, have come up with a tetherless add-on unit that’s being listed alongside official Vive accessories on HTC’s Chinese site and heartily endorsed by HTC at UploadVR, who broke this story.
Another company, QuarkVR, is working on a wireless wotsit for Vive also, in case you’re having a ‘wait a minute…’ moment, but this one has resolutely beaten it to the punch.
Most technical details are scarce – we don’t yet know whether it can truly manage the 2160×1200 resolution and 90 frames per second maximum of the Vive, given that other current wireless HDMI thingers aren’t exactly a perfect tech yet. It may be that some bandwidth-based compromise is involved, further hampering image quality.
However, it does make the headset entirely wireless – even power is supplied by a strap-on battery pack. Apparently that can power the thing for an hour and a half, which may not sound like much, but realistically VR gaming involves short sessions anyway.
The good news is that pre-orders open today, with launch set for early next year. The bad news, this is currently only for Chinese Vive owners. No doubt a Western release will follow, but HTC are coy on the matter for now. Pricing for the Chinese model is 1,499 RMB, which is about $220 or £800000.
Hopefully we’ll know more soon. I’d love to have this, but at the same time I’d rather save my money for a generally better second generation entirely.