HTC Vive Flow hands-on: preorders, specs and more


Digital actuality shouldn’t be solely an immersive technique to play video video games, it could actually additionally make you more healthy. We have now already seen how the Oculus Quest 2 has changed lives with its partaking train apps, and now HTC’s VR vets wish to provide you with a straightforward technique to escape a busy day and take a while on your psychological wellbeing with the brand new $499 HTC Vive Stream.

These “immersive goggles” purpose to cut back the friction of leaping in VR, with a super-compact design that you should utilize wherever to leap into a fast meditation session or watch an episode of your favourite Netflix present.

The HTC Vive Stream’s travel-friendly design and broad choice of apps are interesting, nevertheless it comes at a excessive value – and also you’ll want an Android telephone. Questioning if they’re well worth the splurge? That is what I believe after an hour of hands-on time.

The HTC Vive Stream is now available for pre-order for $499, and can ship in November. Those that pre-order earlier than the top of the month will obtain a free carrying case and a digital bundle of “7 items of content material,” based on HTC.

HTC can be launching a brand new tier of its Viveport subscription service constructed particularly for the Stream. This new $5.99 monthly possibility provides you entry to a bundle of apps that concentrate on issues like wellness, mind coaching, informal gaming, and productiveness. This plan will probably be consistent with the present Viveport Infinity subscription, which will get you a whole lot of apps and video games (together with standard selections like Superhot and Moss) for $12.99 monthly or $99 per 12 months.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The HTC Vive Stream is likely one of the most compact digital actuality headsets I’ve ever gotten my arms on, with a design that mainly appears like outsized sun shades. I wouldn’t actually exit in public with an on (not that you just actually can with these items), however I’d really feel much less conspicuous on a flight sporting it than I might with a typical VR headset just like the Oculus Quest 2.

The Vive Stream’s black plastic design is accentuated by a darkish grey mesh material face cowl, which attaches magnetically and is definitely eliminated and changed (extra gaskets can be found in broad and slender sizes). This fashion, should you cross the headset on to another person, you may every use your personal cowl to keep away from spreading nasty facial germs.

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’m not precisely positive why the Stream has two reflective eyecups – these aren’t actual goggles you may see via – however they actually assist set it other than different small VR headsets. Inside, you’ll discover diopter dials that permit you to regulate the headset’s focus for higher viewing. These had been simple to regulate and allowed me to revive the considerably blurry picture high quality after I first put the headset on. The Oculus Quest 2 solely has a single focus adjustment slider by comparability, so I appreciated the power to regulate every eye individually on the Stream.

In contrast to most VR goggles that wrap round your head through a scarf, the Vive Stream wears identical to conventional goggles — full with movable arms on both facet that you may regulate to your noggin. I felt somewhat little bit of stress on my sleep after I first put the Vive Stream on, however because of the headset’s ethereal 6.6-ounce body, I felt fairly snug with the machine for many of my hours.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Vive Stream is positioned as a straightforward technique to soar into a fast meditation session wherever you might be, so the primary app I examined on it was Tripp: a well-liked wellness platform at present out there on a number of VR units. And as a first-timer, I used to be fairly impressed.

I began my meditation session in a digital colourful forest and finally began to soar to the sky and play somewhat focus sport that challenged me to gather cash from the sky. As somebody into audio-only meditation apps like Calm, I actually appreciated the added visible component Tripp offers, and the sense of bodily transferring via a digital house felt stress-free and fascinating. Tripp begins at $4.99 monthly and is already out there on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, nevertheless it appears to suit particularly effectively with the compact, pick-up-and-play expertise the Vive Stream goals to ship.

Netflix was subsequent on my record and it really works the identical approach on the Vive Stream because it does on different VR headsets I’ve examined. I sat in a digital black theater as I turned on some Friday Night time Lights, and had a straightforward time zooming out and in as I tweaked the playback. Once more, Netflix in VR is nothing new, however given the compact design of the Vive Stream, I can see that it is a higher possibility for watching motion pictures on an airplane moderately than utilizing these small, grainy screens on the seat in entrance of you. .

I acquired a style of how the Vive Stream can be utilized for work whereas testing VIVE Sync, HTC’s digital actuality conferencing app. As soon as I joined a gathering, I used to be in a digital out of doors house, with choices to do issues like share information and current movies. Personally, I don’t see myself utilizing an app like this fairly often, and I ought to strive it with different folks to see the way it actually holds up in on a regular basis use. However it actually appears like Vive Sync may supply an thrilling change of tempo from the continuous Zoom conversations we’ve all had for the previous 18 months or so.

To get an concept of ​​how the Stream works as an on a regular basis gaming machine, I attempted out House Slurpies, which is actually a extra immersive, intricate model of the traditional snake sport all of us used to play on our Nokia telephones. I had a little bit of a tougher time with this one, as a result of controlling a three-dimensional snake in digital actuality with simply an Android telephone didn’t really feel very intuitive (you may pair a Bluetooth controller when taking part in Android video games through display screen mirroring). Nonetheless, there have been a couple of moments the place I acquired into a superb groove, and there was some enjoyable available with the various colourful creatures swirling out and in of sight.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The HTC VIVE Stream delivered some fairly stable efficiency for such a small headset – I’d put it someplace between a cell headset just like the Samsung Gear VR and the standalone Oculus Quest 2 based mostly on my restricted hands-on time. Video games and apps seemed sharp and moved easily, however I’d put the visible high quality nearer to one thing like a previous-gen console moderately than a high-end PC.

Apps like Tripp and House Slurpies seemed pretty colourful and brilliant on the headset’s 3164×1778 display screen, and I may see a good quantity without delay because of the broad 100-degree subject of view. The headset’s 75Hz refresh charge (which is mostly clean) allowed content material to be displayed fairly easily. To place these numbers into context, the Quest 2 has a subject of view of about 89 levels and a decision of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye, and might pump out a smoother 90Hz refresh charge for video games and apps. You make a small tradeoff in general smoothness with the circulate, however you’ve a wider subject of view.

I used to be impressed with the Stream’s spatial audio system constructed into the within of the headset, which allowed me to obviously hear what was taking place on the display screen, even in a crowded out of doors space with folks speaking. If you need extra immersive audio, you too can pair your personal Bluetooth headphones.


All of this has just one disadvantage: you must pair the Vive Stream with an Android telephone to make use of it. This isn’t the primary VR headset to have such a requirement, and the truth that your telephone (and an exterior battery) does a few of the heavy lifting might be a part of the rationale the Stream could be so compact. You possibly can even entry your machine’s dwelling display screen straight from the headset to test emails, browse the online, or launch leisure apps with out turning off Stream.

However such a requirement limits the quantity of people that can use the Stream, and as an iPhone person, I’m somewhat bummed that I can’t use HTC’s new headset with my present machine. You have to additionally provide your personal portable battery to energy the Stream, or purchase one from HTC. All this makes the $499 Stream really feel like a very steep funding in comparison with the $299 Oculus Quest 2, which is totally self-contained, provides room-scale VR experiences and even consists of controllers for taking part in video games.

The HTC Vive Stream is a pleasant idea. Even essentially the most compact VR headsets you should buy proper now are nonetheless fairly cumbersome, and the thought of ​​having the ability to throw on a pair of light-weight glasses to rapidly escape to a meditation app or digital cinema is interesting. However when that have prices $499 — and it’s essential to have an Android telephone — the Stream begins to sound like some form of area of interest buy.

Nonetheless, we’d like to spend extra time with HTC’s super-compact digital actuality goggles, particularly seeing how they evaluate to our favourite VR machine within the Oculus Quest 2. Within the meantime, these prepared to splurge on the discharge can: pre-order the HTC Vive Flow now. | HTC Vive Stream hands-on: preorders, specs and extra


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