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Standalone Vive Focus heading westwards later this year

Focusing the mind

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 2880x1600 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?

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