VR

HTC Vive Flow; A Decidedly Different Approach To VR

Right from the beginning consumer VR gaming, HTC has always been a top contender. However, with the Vive Flow, HTC is taking a different approach.

HTC has been a strong competitor in the Virtual Reality market right from the beginning, however, the rapid growth of this space means that innovation is key to survival – and HTC believes that the Vive Flow’s differing approach to VR offers exactly that.

Since 2015, HTC shifted its focus from the smartphones that had helped the Taiwanese corporations gain the International acclaim it enjoys – a direct result of increased competition from Apple and Samsung, to fighting for a leading position in the fledgling Virtual Reality market.

To that end, HTC spent a good part of the past half a decade or so concentrating mostly on commerce-oriented Virtual Reality solutions – even though the company’s Vive range offered headsets that were up to task for the purpose of VR gaming.

This time, the HTC Vive Flow brings the company’s focus right back to the entertainment focused VR consumers – everyday people like you and I trying to get a taste of the latest in immersive entertainment technology. However, one should not look at the ultra lightweight Vive Flow as a direct competitor to the Oculus Quest 2 – even though the MSRP of $499 might have you thinking that it is.

Key features and specs

One of the HTC Vive Flow’s most noticeable characteristics is how it looks – visually, this headset definitely doesn’t follow the same design ethos of the typical VR goggles that we see on the market. It’s front end features a pair of sizable mirrored lenses that give it a Magic Leap AR Glasses x WW2 pilot goggles look.

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That said, the Vive Flow’s price tag should not get the gaming focused VR enthusiast too excited as this headset was not developed with Half Life Alyx in mind – you won’t find any handheld controllers for this pair of VR goggles. Instead, HTC made portability and convenience their main areas of focus of the Vive Flow.

“We wanted to get to something lighter, more wearable, easier to travel with,” noted Dan O’Brien, the head of HTC’s VR division.

A goal that O’Brien and his team definitely fulfilled, the Vive Flow weighs in at an ultra light 189g – especially impressive when considering the Oculus Quest 2’s comparatively hefty weight reading of 500g – and works by connecting to your Android device.

However, to achieve this goal, some concessions had to be made. Beyond almost completely ignoring the rapidly growing VR gaming market with the Vive Flow, this VR headset relies mostly on external sources to power it. According to HTC, using a fully charged 10,000 mAh power bank should get you roughly 4-5 hours of immersion – or simply plugin to the nearest USB-C port.

That aforementioned immersion is experienced through two 1600 × 1600 resolution displays – giving you a total resolution of 3,2k – with a 75Hz refresh rate. The field of view seems a little restricted at 100 degrees, especially when compared to the Quest 2’s 120 degrees.

On the inside, the Vive Flow is powered by the Qualcomm’s XR1 processor and 4GB of RAM. The Vive Flow gives the user 64GB of memory – which cannot be expanded – and has two cameras on the front end that are responsible for motion tracking.

Final thoughts

From it’s rather unique design, to it working via an Android device, the HTC Vive Flow is substantially different from any other VR headset on the market – in fact, it could easily be mistaken for a pair of Augmented Reality glasses.

That said, the fact that it isn’t meant for gaming puts a lot of restrictions on the headset’s use cases – especially at that price point. For many everyday consumers, $499 might be a little too steep for the simple pleasures of VR during a flight or a long haul bus ride – even with the 100-150 apps it supports.

 

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Joel Bonga

A part time cryptocurrency trader, mostly a hodler, and Blockchain/crypto freelance writer. Plus an occasional contributor at BIZZNERD.
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