Standalone Vive Focus heading westwards later this year

Vive Focus

Hot off the heels of Vive Pro’s price announcement, HTC have now revealed that its first standalone VR headset, the Vive Focus, will also be making its way across the globe later this year. Originally limited to just shops in China, the Focus will become what HTC’s calling the first inside-out-six-degrees-of-freedom standalone VR headset to be available to regular folk like us. Uh-huh.

What that six degrees bit actually relates to is the headset’s tracking technology. With its built-in 9-axis sensor and proximity sensor, the Vive Focus is primed and ready to give you unlimited freedom of movement without having to spend hours setting up fussy base stations or fiddly external cameras.

It also doesn’t need a phone or PC in order to work, either, making it more convenient and user-friendly than both the regular Vive and its mobile-based rivals like the Samsung Gear VR, which requires one of Samsung’s latest top-end smartphones. Instead, the Vive Focus has its own Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor – the same chip found in many top-end handsets – to power the headset internally.

The Focus also has a combined resolution of 2880×1600 stretched across an AMOLED display and a 110 degree field of view, giving it a higher resolution and equal FOV to the regular Vive. Its refresh rate is only 75Hz as opposed to the Vive’s 90Hz, but that’s still a pretty decent-ish spec for a standalone headset, and it’s a significant step up from both the Gear VR, Google Daydream and Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

Then again, HTC haven’t actually spilled the beans on how much the Focus will actually cost yet, so any kind of edge it might have over the competition specs-wise could go straight out the window if it’s massively more expensive. In China, for instance, the blue one costs ¥4299 while the white one costs ¥3999, which equates to £480 and £450 respectively. That’s quite a lot for a mobile-based VR headset, even when you take into account the fact you get six (or four, if you go for white) free VR titles thrown in as well. Still, considering the normal Vive has just been cut to £499, I’d be surprised if the Focus remained so close to it in price.

Either way, on paper it looks like a pretty tempting entry-point for those after something a bit less intimidating than a normal Vive or Oculus Rift, but a bit more sophisticated than a Gear or Daydream. For starters, it has a built-in rechargeable battery that can last around three hours of active use or over a week in standby mode, as well as built-in microphones, speakers and microSD support for cards up to 2TB. It also comes with its own controller for navigating through apps and playing games, but content-wise you’re limited to what’s on HTC’s Viveport store. Hey, we never said it’d be perfect, right?

18 Comments

  1. potatoesy says:

    2880×1600 is exactly the resolution of the samsung mixed reality headset. Samsung Mixed reality headset is 90Hz. In what way is it a step up from the mixed reality headsets?

    • Panther_Modern says:

      Not to mention you can grab the Lenovo and HP ones with marginally lower resolution for $200, including controllers

      • fish99 says:

        Not in the UK you can’t.

        • ChucklesNuts says:

          Look into shipping forwarding services or an intermediary purchaser. Physical products UNLESS outright banned by a government are not imposible to buy overseas.

          It is harder to buy digital content.

    • stereo_future says:

      Dear RPS, Please give me your PO Box. I will literally buy you a Mixed Reality Headset so that you can stop spreading this kind of misinformation. I don’t have the Samsung model, which does have superior specs to this, but I do have the Dell model. For $250 it is an insanely underrated entry into VR and this is coming from someone who bought a DK2 and then a Vive. You can literally take it to a mate’s house and have room scale VR up and running in about 10 minutes.

      • iainl says:

        Unfortunately, most of the RPS staff are (like me) based in the UK. Here, the Dell is not $250. It is £450, and you can have a Rift for less. The same goes for all the other Mixed Reality sets over here; only the US are getting them cheaply.

        • stereo_future says:

          Thats fine. Cost is not really the issue I take with the painting of the WMR ecosystem by RPS. My issue is that the second paragraph is factually incorrect. Some WMR headsets have the same resolution, FOV and 90Hz refresh rate as this. Saying “it’s a significant step up from both the Gear VR, Google Daydream and Microsoft’s Windows Mixed Reality headsets” amkes this sound like a rote copying of a press release than an actual story.

          As for price, I don’t know if Amazon is as popular in the UK as it is in the US, but prices look comparable right now, with the most expensive sets being at price parity with the Vive and the cheapest being 70 less. While there are tradeoffs, with WMR headsets having higher resolution and not needing towers and the Vive headset having higher precision by using those towers, I just feel RPS is doing a disservice as a PC centric blog by not trying WMR and frequently reporting factually incorrect information about them.

  2. HamTake says:

    As someone who doesn’t know what’s on the Vive Store, and has to be educated on it by their Marketing – if it even reaches me. This device is literally useless out of the box because I can’t even consider using it with existing games I have due to the limitation. Am I correct?

  3. geldonyetich says:

    Standalone headsets were Facebook’s ace in the hole to stay viable in case the PC platform tanked, so looks like Zenimax is going right for the throat with their own competing product line.

    That said, we could be looking at the future. The face of PCs was bound to change sooner or later. Imagine wearing your PC wherever you go and using a touch interface to do things in it. They’re bulky headsets and manipulating devices today, mere contact lenses that do not require interface devices tomorrow. Talk about your personal computers. In 20 years, will desktop still be a thing?

    • fish99 says:

      I’m confused what anything in this story has to do with Zenimax. Did they buy HTC or something?

      • geldonyetich says:

        You’re right, I am the derp. I had figured that big Facebook vrs Zenimax thing was because Facebook owned Oculus and Zenimax owned the Vive and they were in competition. But actually Zenimax doesn’t own the Vive, so I guess Zenimax’s entire beef was the thought that somebody made off with their rightfully acquired VR technology that they don’t actually use for producing hardware. Having cleared that up, I might actually have more grounds for being confused than you do.

        That said, having learned that the Vive is entirely a Taiwan product has a fairly brimming with irrational nationalism that the Oculus I did buy actually was made in the west. I’m not particularly nationalistic, but I suppose considering our economy strikes me as being more smoke than mirrors lately, it’s good to have supported something real.

        • Don Reba says:

          Vive is a Taiwanese product to the same extend as the iPhone. All IP on it belongs to Valve.

          • geldonyetich says:

            Citation needed. I’m pretty sure HTC is more in partnership with Valve, and not that all rights to the Vive are owned by Valve.

            In fact, if I look at the official vive website, HTC Corporation is mentioned in just about all of the documentation links, with Valve being conspicuously absent except for a “Steam VR” logo on the bottom of the front splash page.

            From this, I would judge that HTC believes themselves owners of the hardware and Valve is more of a primary software distributor for the platform. Like if Oculus decided to outsource their Oculus desktop app to another company, that other company would be to Oculus as Valve is to HTC.

          • Don Reba says:

            Here you go: link to arstechnica.com

          • geldonyetich says:

            Well, then… my propensity to unintentional falsehood remains disappointedly resilient.

        • fish99 says:

          Someone can correct me if I’m wrong here, but I believe what happened is John Carmack, while being employed by id helped Oculus with the software for the Rift, then Zenimax bought id, and John Carmack continued this work. Carmack then left id and joined Oculus, taking his VR work with him. Then Facebook bought Oculus, and Zenimax became aware of a fantastic opportunity to use the fact that Carmack was their employee while helping Oculus, to sue the living bejesus out of Oculus.

          So as such, Zenimax or Bethesda never worked on any VR technology, but since any tech created by an employee belongs to their employer, they won in court.

  4. Raoul Duke says:

    So what can this actually run, and how well?

    • Jernau Gurgeh says:

      This.

      What can it actually DO? Can I play any of the 500 or so games I already own across various platforms on it? Or will it be just another fancy pants proprietary pretty thing with nowt but a bunch of short’n’shallow tech demos?