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HTC Vive Flow Hands-on: Pre-orders, specifications, etc.

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Virtual reality is not an immersive way to play video games, it can also improve your health. We’ve already seen how Oculus Quest 2 changed our lives with a compelling exercise app, but HTC’s VR vet escapes a busy day and spends the new $ 499 time for mental health. I would like to provide an easy way to apply. HTC Vive flow.

These immersive glasses are designed to reduce the friction of jumping into VR, with an ultra-compact design that allows you to throw anywhere to dive into a simple meditation session or watch an episode of your favorite Netflix show.

The HTC Vive Flows travel-friendly design and wide selection of apps are attractive, but they are offered at a high price and require an Android phone. Wondering if they are worth the luxury? This is what I think after an hour of hands-on experience.

The HTC Vive Flow is currently available for pre-order for $ 499 and will begin shipping in November. According to HTC, pre-ordering will provide you with a free carrying case and a digital bundle of seven content.

HTC is also launching a new layer of Viveport subscription services built specifically for Flow. This new $ 5.99 / month option gives you access to a bundle of apps focused on wellness, brain training, casual games, productivity and more. This plan enrolls in an existing Viveport Infinity subscription and offers hundreds of apps and games, including popular picks such as Superhot and Moss, for $ 12.99 per month or $ 99 per year.

Mike Andronico / CNN

The HTC Vive Flow is one of the most compact virtual reality headsets I’ve ever had, basically designed to look like oversized sunglasses. I don’t walk around with one in public (I can’t really use these), but in flight than with a typical VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2, for example. Even if you wear these on, it will not be noticeable.

The Vive Flows black plastic design is accentuated by a dark gray mesh fabric face cover that is magnetically mounted and easily removable and replaced (additional gaskets are available in wide and narrow sizes). In this way, when you give your headset to someone else, you can use their own cover to prevent the spread of annoying facial bacteria.

Mike Andronico / CNN

I’m not sure why Flow has two reflective eye covers that cover these real glasses that can be seen through, but it helps to set it apart from other small VR headsets. Inside, there is a diopter dial to adjust the focus of the headset for clear visibility. These were easy to adjust and were able to correct the image quality that was initially slightly blurry when the headset was first put on. Oculus Quest 2 has only a single focus adjustment slider by comparison, so I appreciated the option to adjust each eye individually in the flow.

Unlike most VR goggles that wrap your head through a headband, the Vive Flow is a lot like traditional glasses with movable arms on both sides that can be adjusted to fit the noggin. I felt a little pressure on my temples when I first put on the Vive Flow, but most of the time I was pretty comfortable with this device, thanks to the headset’s airy 6.6 ounce frame.

Mike Andronico / CNN

Vive Flow is positioned as an easy way to take part in a simple meditation session wherever you are, so the first app we tested was Tripp, a popular wellness platform currently available on a variety of VR devices. And as a first person, I was quite impressed.

I started a meditation session in a virtual colorful forest and finally started playing a small focus game that floated into the sky and challenged me to collect coins from the air. As someone who got into an audio-only meditation app like Calm, I was really grateful for the additional visual elements that Tripp provided, and the sensation of physically moving through virtual space was relaxed and engrossing. Tripp starts at $ 4.99 per month and is already available on the Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR, but seems to be particularly well suited for the compact pickup-and-play experience that ViveFlow aims to offer.

Netflix is ​​next to my list and works with Vive Flow just like any other VR headset I’ve tested. While firing the Friday Night Lights, I sat in a virtual black theater and easily zoomed in and out while adjusting playback. Again, VR’s Netflix isn’t new, but given the compact design of the Vive Flows, watching a movie on an airplane rather than using the tiny grainy screen in the seat in front of you. You can see that it is a suitable option for.

While testing HTC’s virtual reality conferencing app, VIVE Sync, we experienced how Vive Flow can be used for work. When I attended the meeting, I was able to sit in a virtual outdoor space and take advantage of options such as sharing files and viewing videos. I personally don’t use apps like this often. You should try it with others to see how it actually works in everyday use. However, Vive Sync seems to have the potential to bring a fascinating pace change from the non-stop Zoom calls that have been made over the last 18 months or so.

I tried Space Slurpies to understand how Flow works as a daily gaming device. This is a more immersive and complex version of the classic snake game you were playing on your Nokia phone. It was a bit of a pain to control 3D snakes in virtual reality using only an Android phone (pairing a Bluetooth controller when playing Android games via screen mirroring). You will be able to ring). Still, there were some moments when I got into a good ditch, and it was fun to be able to capture the many colorful creatures that swirl inside and outside my field of vision.

Mike Andronico / CNN

The HTC VIVE Flow is fairly solid for such a small headset, located somewhere between a mobile powered headset like the Samsung Gear VR and a standalone Oculus Quest 2, based on limited hands-on time. Provided performance. Games and apps looked sharp and ran smoothly, but Id brought the visual quality closer to something like a previous-generation console rather than a high-end PC.

Apps like Tripp and Space Slurpies looked pretty colorful and crisp on the headset 3164 1778 display, and thanks to the wide field of view of 100 degrees, I was able to see a decent amount at once. The headset’s 75Hz refresh rate (which determines the overall smoothness) allowed the content to render fairly smoothly. Applying these numbers to context, the Quest 2 has a field of view of approximately 89 degrees and a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, allowing for smoother game and app refresh rates at 90Hz. There is a slight trade-off between flow and overall smoothness, but it gives you a wider field of view.

Impressed by the Flows space audio speakers built into the headset, I was able to clearly hear what was happening on the screen even in the busy outdoor space where people were talking. If you want more immersive audio, you can also pair your own Bluetooth headphones.

HTC

All of this has only one major problem. To use it, you need to pair ViveFlow to your Android phone. This is not the first VR headset to meet these requirements. The fact that your phone is doing the tedious work can be part of the reason why Flow can be so compact. You can also access the device’s home screen directly from your headset to check your email, browse the web, and launch entertainment apps without turning off the flow.

However, such requirements limit the number of people who can use the flow, and as an iPhone user, I’m a little dissatisfied with not being able to use HTC’s new headset on my current device. This makes the $ 499 flow a particularly steep investment compared to the $ 299 Oculus Quest 2, which provides a completely stand-alone, room-scale VR experience and also includes a controller for playing games. It feels like.

HTC Vive Flow is a neat concept. Even the most compact VR headsets available today are still quite bulky. The idea of ​​being able to wear lightweight glasses and quickly escape to a meditation app or virtual cinema is fascinating. But if the experience costs $ 499 and you need an Android smartphone, the flow starts to sound like a niche purchase.

Still, I wanted to spend more time with HTC’s ultra-compact virtual reality glasses. In particular, I saw how it overlaps with my favorite VR device in Oculus Quest 2. In the meantime, those who want luxury can pre-order. It became HTC Vive Flow.

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