At the ending section of last year, HTC announced the Vive Focus. This is a stand-alone Virtual reality headset in the county of China. This particular product signaled the end of HTC’s plans to bring a standalone Daydream headset to the rest of the world, instead of seeing the company focus on its more vibrant Chinese market. That’s a shame, because I got the chance to use the Focus last week at MWC Shanghai, and it’s pretty high. The neon blue version of the Focus has a design that is not subtle, but it is comfortably placed and is ergonomic than the regular Vive.
The Gadget has intriguing specifications that excite anybody introduced to it. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor and has a resolution of 2880 x 1600 with a 75Hz refresh rate and a field of view that felt every bit as wide to me as the Vive. It charges over USB-C, and the battery lasts between two and three hours, according to HTC reps. The most important specification of the Focus is its inside-out, six-degrees-of-freedom tracking, which allows you to move around virtual environments while wearing the headset freely. It works through two front-facing cameras that scan the world around you and translate that data into your virtual movements. The technology behind it is exciting and useful to be identified with.
The vive focus works perfectly well. It is very possible to play games on it as if you’re in the game world in reality. In games like Super Mario, you could walk along tricky edges, jump over gaps, duck hazards, and so on. The graphics were deliberately stylized and low-polygon, so this isn’t the same as running a high-end Vive game. Although for the basic tracking, field of view, and resolution they are outstanding. And that’s before I even mention the fact that all the processing takes place within the headset itself, no need for gaming PC or tether. It is indeed an emerging technology that HTC has introduced.
In the issue of pricing and rates, with a bit of flexibility for custom controllers, something like the Vive Focus could be a far cheaper and more practical solution for this kind of experience. For regular consumers, the benefits might be a little harder to comprehend at the initial level. The Vive Focus rates at about 3,999 yuan in China. This is close to the local pricing for the regular Vive, which has a lot more content readily embedded in it. But this headset is a definite technical step up from the Oculus Go, and its technology is only going to get cheaper over time. The ability to move your head around a virtual space is the most intriguing difference between phone-based VR and more advanced implementations. The Vive Focus crosses that threshold convincingly. Unfortunately, it may not be making its way out of China anytime soon.