HTC presents the Vive XR Elite, a consumer headset that wants to play on equal terms with the Quest Pro

After a pronounced teasing for several weeks, HTC presents this January 5 its new virtual reality headset, the Vive XR Elite, on the occasion of CES 2023. As its name suggests, it stands out from its predecessors by its capabilities not only of virtual reality, but also of reality augmented by a “video passthrough” system similar to that of the Meta Quest Pro.

In general, both in terms of technical characteristics and price, the Vive XR Elite seems to be positioned as a direct competitor to the Quest Pro. And unlike past years, it has at least one clear price advantage, with an advertised price of 1399 euros (against the 1799 euros for the Quest Pro).

Vive Flow DNA

What do you get for this price? First, DNA very clearly inherited from Long Live Flow, with a similarly designed front and the same compactness made possible by the use of pancake lenses. But where the Flow was intended for a vague “lifestyle” use, the XR Elite is mainly aimed at gamers. This is HTC’s first all-in-one headset to target the B2C market in the West. A hundred applications will be available at launch, including Demeo, Hubris, Yuki, Maestro, Les Mills Body Combat, FigminXR, Unplugged or Finger Gun.

Hardware-wise, the Vive XR Elite features LCD screens that between them provide “4K” resolution (1200 ppi) with a 90Hz refresh rate. It has the same built-in vision correction system (which corrects from 0 to -6 diopters, only myopia being supported). The interpupillary distance adjustment wheel is located on the underside of the helmet to simplify adjustment. The part in contact with the face attaches magnetically and can therefore be easily extracted for cleaning.

The sound is provided by speakers integrated into the branches, as usual. They are larger and have been redesigned to better direct sound towards the user’s ears.

Color camera and depth sensor

The computing power is provided by a chip Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1 (same as Vive Focus 3, Pico 4 and Meta Quest 2). The controllers are the same as those of the Vive Focus 3. Four front cameras manage the monitoring of the positioning of the headset in space, supplemented by a color camera for passthrough. A depth sensor (not present on the Quest Pro) comes as a backup to provide 3D mapping of the environment and help with hand tracking. In addition to hand tracking and controllers, the Vive XR Elite is also compatible with Vive Wrist Trackers.

The headset weighs 625 grams in total, with a removable battery located at the rear and shaped in a curved shape for comfort. Its autonomy is “up to two hours” when the headset is working alone, but “can go well beyond for PC games streamed to the headset”. As it is removable, HTC judges that autonomy is not a problem. It also manages fast charging at 30 watts via USB-C Power Delivery.

Another aspect inherited from the Vive Flow: the possibility, by removing the battery, of switching to “glasses” mode, for example to watch a film on the plane. In this case it is necessary to use an external battery, as for the Flow, or simply connect the device to the seat of the plane (assuming that the power delivered is sufficient). In this mode, the temples of the glasses have been revised compared to the Flow to better fit the contours of the skull and be more comfortable.

Pre-orders are already open for the Vive XR Elite, which will be delivered with its two controllers, a charging station for the headset, and five free games. The first deliveries are scheduled for February. It should be noted, in terms of games, that Shen Ye, product director of the brand, commented during the press briefing that HTC “does not believe in obtaining exclusives” and that “AAA games do not move the market as much as people think”. On good terms.

A version for companies will be marketed by the end of the year, as well as an accessory allowing eye and face tracking. HTC explained during a presentation to the press that these features are not popular today and that it therefore sees no interest in integrating them by default.

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HTC presents the Vive XR Elite, a consumer headset that wants to play on equal terms with the Quest Pro

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