HTCâs PC-powered VR rig is set toÂ get one of the plusses of cheaperÂ mobile virtual realityÂ systems early next year, after the company announced a wireless add-on that will let users untether the headset from the gaming PC requiredÂ to power it.
So instead of worrying about getting feet tangled in the connector cable, Vive users will be able to roam around their room-sized gaming space freely, air-slashing bag guys and/orÂ air-brushing virtual art works to feel even more immersed in a pixelated alt reality.
UploadVRÂ saw a demo of the forthcoming upgrade kit, which is not made by HTC itself but rather byÂ TPCAST: one of the first batch of startupsÂ to joinÂ HTCâs virtual reality accelerator, Vive X, when it opened its doors this summer.
The wireless add-onÂ goes up for pre-order at 7am PT Friday (today), viaÂ Viveâs Chinese website, although quantities are said to be limited and priority will be given to existing customers with a valid Vive serial number (although thereâs no restriction on international buyers beyondÂ shipping cost).
Itâs being priced atÂ 1,499 RMB (~$220) plus shipping. Pre-orders will be fulfilled starting in Q1 2017.
The wireless add-on includes a standard battery thatâs good for around one and a half hours of play, according to HTCâs China regional president,Â Alvin Graylin, who spoke to UploadVR after demoing the peripheral.Â He claims the wireless add-on results inÂ no ânoticeable differenceâ when it comes to things likeÂ latency â a crucial factor for VR given the risk of nausea from a degraded experience.
TPCAST is also apparently planning to offerÂ a biggerÂ battery eventually â which would sit in a userâs pocket, rather than on the back of the headset itself.
Commenting on the TPCASTÂ a statement, Graylin added: âWe are also very proud and supportive of teams that develop great accessories and game changing peripherals to the Vive ecosystem.Â The fact that this was developed in such a short time, and delivers such high quality is remarkable. It will allow Vive customers worldwide to gain untethered mobility in VR from their existingÂ devices, while satisfying the biggest feature request of potential PC VRÂ customers.â
As UploadVR notes, other wireless add-on kits for Vive are in the works, but TPCASTâs VIVE tether-less upgrade kit (preview edition), to give it its full name, looks set to be first to the punch.
And so the total cost of room-scale, untethered pro VR looks to comeÂ out at around $2,000 â which is:Â $800 for the Vive system, ~$950 for a gaming PC and $220 for the wireless add-on. So still a lot cheaper than a one-way ticket to Mars.