HTC today announced the Vive Flow, its smallest and lightest VR headset yet. While the reflective lenses on the outside make it seem like this may be an AR headset — one that lets you see the outside world — this is strictly a VR affair. The $499 device tethers to an external power source and is more focused on lightweight immersive experiences than the high-end gaming VR headsets are normally used for.
HTC says the Vive flow is “taking technology in a new direction, focusing not on what we do, but on how we feel.” To this end, the company says the headset is aimed at use with meditation and brain training apps, as well as to allow you to watch TV and movies on your own “personal, cinema-sized VR screen.”
Spec-wise, the device is packing a 3.2K resolution, a 75 Hz refresh rate, and a 100-degree field of view. It packs 3D spatial audio, although you can use it with external Bluetooth headphones as well. But really, its claim to fame is its(relatively) svelte design.
The headset weighs 189g. HTC helpfully notes is about the weight of chocolate bar, so you can strap some Hersheys to your face if you want to get a sense of how it would feel to wear it. The low weight and folding design makes the headset decently portable, so you can stuff it in a small bag — something you can’t comfortably do with most other bulky headsets. That said, you’ll need to connect it to a power source, so it’s not quite as seamless as a chunky pair of glasses.
Still, I can see the Vive Flow being useful for some buyers. Its small size means you can bring it anywhere, and there’s even a dedicated carrying case that kind of looks like a big coffee mug. The headset itself kind of looks like a chunky sleep mask, so you might be able to get away with watching an Imax-sized film in VR on an airplane, or play some immersive games in a hotel room.
On the other hand, it’s hard no to balk at the price tag, considering you can pick up an Oculus Quest 2 for $300 with seemingly better specs and included controllers. It remains to be seen whether people will really be willing to pay such a premium for the added portability.
Pre-orders for the Vive Flow open today and the device goes on in November.