HTC Vive Flow hands-on: Preorders, specs & more

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Virtual fact is not just an immersive way to perform video clip game titles — it can also make you more healthy. We have currently seen how the Oculus Quest 2 has improved lives with its engaging exercise apps, and now the VR vets at HTC want to give you an quick way to escape a frantic day and just take some time for your psychological well-getting with the new $499 HTC Vive Circulation.

These “immersive glasses” goal to reduce the friction of leaping into VR, with a tremendous-compact style that you can throw on any where to leap into a rapid meditation session or view an episode of your favored Netflix display.

The HTC Vive Flow’s journey-friendly style and broad selection of applications is compelling, but it arrives in at a steep price tag — and demands you to have an Android phone. Thinking if they’ll be value the splurge? Here’s what I feel immediately after an hour of arms-on time.

The HTC Vive Flow is readily available for preorder now for $499 and will get started transport in November. Those who preorder right before the conclusion of the thirty day period will get a absolutely free carrying scenario as nicely as a electronic bundle of “seven parts of information,” in accordance to HTC.

HTC is also launching a new tier of its Viveport subscription support built specifically for the Stream. This new $5.99-per-month solution will give you entry to a bundle of applications that focus on factors this kind of as wellness, mind instruction, casual gaming and productivity. That plan will join the current Viveport Infinity membership, which will get you hundreds of apps and game titles (like preferred picks like Superhot and Moss) for $12.99 for each month or $99 a yr.

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The HTC Vive Circulation is just one of the most compact digital fact headsets I have at any time gotten my palms on, with a structure that generally seems like an outsized pair of sun shades. I would not accurately wander about in public with one particular on (not that you genuinely can with these matters), but I’d sense considerably less conspicuous wearing these through a flight than I would with, say, a typical VR headset like the Oculus Quest 2.

The Vive Flow’s black plastic style is accentuated by a dim grey mesh cloth face masking, which attaches magnetically and can be very easily popped off and changed (additional gaskets will be obtainable for acquire in broad and slim sizes). This way, if you’re passing the headset to anyone else, you can each individual use your very own masking to stay clear of spreading any unpleasant encounter germs.

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’m not quite guaranteed why the Stream has two reflective eye handles — these aren’t true eyeglasses you can see by — but they certainly enable established it aside from other small VR headsets. On the within, you will uncover diopter dials for modifying the target of the headset so that you can see obviously. These have been quick to alter and authorized me to correct what was originally a to some degree blurry image excellent when I to start with set the headset on. The Oculus Quest 2 features only a solitary focal adjustment slider by comparison, so I appreciated the solution to adjust each individual eye separately on the Move.

Not like most VR goggles that wrap all over your head through a headband, the Vive Flow use substantially like common glasses — complete with movable arms on either aspect that you can modify to healthy your noggin. I felt a small little bit of stress on my temple when I initial set the Vive Move on, but thanks to the headset’s airy 6.6-ounce frame, I was fairly comfortable for most of my hour or so with the device.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Vive Move is being positioned as an simple way to soar into a rapid meditation session where ever you are, so the first application I tested on it was Tripp, a popular wellness system now readily available on numerous VR equipment. And as a very first-timer, I was rather amazed.

I started my meditation session in a virtual, colourful forest, and ultimately started floating upward into the sky and actively playing a minimal concentrate video game that challenged me to obtain cash out of the air. As another person who’s dabbled in audio-only meditation applications like Tranquil, I truly appreciated the extra visual component that Tripp provides, and the sensation of physically shifting by means of a virtual area felt enjoyable and engrossing. Tripp begins at $4.99 for each month and is currently out there on Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR, but it seems like an especially terrific fit for the compact, decide-up-and-perform encounter that the Vive Flow aims to produce.

Netflix was future on my list, and it performs likewise on the Vive Move to how it does on other VR headsets I have analyzed. I sat in a virtual black theater while I fired up some “Friday Night time Lights” and had an straightforward time zooming in and out although changing playback. Yet again, Netflix in VR is practically nothing new, but offered the Vive Flow’s compact design, I can see this currently being a improved choice for seeing videos on a plane somewhat than utilizing all those very small, grainy screens on the seat in entrance of you.

I bought a style of how the Vive Flow can be applied for do the job even though screening Vive Sync, HTC’s virtual truth conferencing application. After I joined a assembly, I sat in a digital out of doors house, with possibilities for carrying out points like sharing documents and presenting videos. I don’t individually see myself utilizing an app like this often, and I’d have to check out it with other people today to see how it truly retains up in day-to-day use. But it undoubtedly seems like Vive Sync could give an partaking transform of tempo from the nonstop Zoom calls we’ve all been on for the earlier 18 months or so.

To get a sense of how the Flow is effective as an each day gaming product, I attempted out House Slurpies, which is primarily a much more immersive, intricate edition of the classic snake game we all utilised to participate in on our Nokia telephones. I experienced a little bit of a more difficult time with this one, as managing a 3-dimensional snake in virtual actuality making use of just an Android cell phone didn’t come to feel pretty intuitive (you will be equipped to pair a Bluetooth controller when participating in Android games by way of monitor mirroring). However, there have been a handful of moments in which I obtained into a excellent groove, and there was some exciting to be had getting in the a lot of colourful creatures whirling in and out of view.

Mike Andronico/CNN

The HTC Vive Stream sent some rather reliable functionality for these types of a little headset — I’d place it somewhere concerning a cell-driven headset like the Samsung Equipment VR and the stand-by yourself Oculus Quest 2 primarily based on my constrained arms-on time. Online games and applications looked sharp and moved fluidly, but I’d place the visual top quality closer to one thing like a former-generation console alternatively than a significant-end Pc.

Apps like Tripp and Place Slurpies seemed pretty colourful and crisp on the headset’s 3164 x 1778 exhibit, and I could see a decent quantity at as soon as, thanks to the large 100-diploma area of see. The headset’s 75Hz refresh fee (which dictates general smoothness) authorized content material to render really fluidly. To place these numbers in context, the Quest 2 attributes approximately an 89-degree area of see and a resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels for each eye, and can pump out a smoother 90Hz refresh rate for game titles and apps. You are building a slight trade-off on overall smoothness with the circulation, but you will have a broader area of see.

I was amazed by the Flow’s spatial audio speakers created in to the inner sides of the headset, which authorized me to obviously hear what was going on on-monitor even in a busy out of doors place with people today speaking. If you want far more immersive audio, you can also pair your individual Bluetooth headphones.


There is just one massive capture to all of this — you are going to need to have to pair the Vive Flow to an Android cell phone in purchase to use it. This isn’t the first VR headset to have this kind of a prerequisite, and the actuality that your telephone (and an exterior battery pack) are doing some of the major lifting is very likely part of why the Circulation is capable to be so compact. You can even entry your device’s home screen proper from the headset to test emails, look through the internet or launch amusement applications without having having the Stream off.

But this sort of a requirement boundaries the amount of persons that can use the Move, and as an Iphone user, I’m a very little bummed that I will not be in a position to use HTC’s new headset with my existing machine. You will also have to offer your own moveable battery to energy the Movement, or get one from HTC. This all tends to make the $499 Flow experience like an specially steep expenditure in comparison to the $299 Oculus Quest 2, which is completely stand-alone, provides room-scale VR experiences and even contains controllers for taking part in games.

The HTC Vive Flow is a neat notion. Even the most compact VR headsets you can purchase ideal now are however pretty cumbersome, and the notion of remaining able to throw a lightweight pair of eyeglasses on to speedily escape into a meditation application or digital film theater is compelling. But when that expertise fees $499 — and needs you to have an Android telephone — the Circulation starts to seem like somewhat of a market order.

Nevertheless, we’re eager to expend extra time with HTC’s super-compact digital reality eyeglasses, specifically to see how they stack up to our most loved VR system in the Oculus Quest 2. In the meantime, those people willing to make the splurge can preorder the HTC Vive Move now.