Technology

HTC Vive Flow test: our opinion –

While we wait for our full test, here is the handling of the HTC Vive Flow by our colleagues at CNET.com.

Six years have passed since HTC released its first virtual reality headset. But the brand’s latest product, Vive Flow, takes a whole new approach. These are virtual reality glasses connected wirelessly to the smartphone that integrate an integrated diopter adjustment system. This means that you can do without your glasses, as long as the correction is suitable for the user. The Vive Flow will be available in November for € 549.

HTC prefers to talk about connected glasses rather than virtual reality glasses. But they’re not exactly glasses, as you can’t see through them unless you activate your external cameras. Vive Flow marks a return to virtual reality via smartphone, a trend that has been neglected a bit lately but could be resumed with the arrival of 5G.

The Vive Flow can be worn and folded like classic glasses. They are kept in a case that can be easily stored in a small backpack or handbag. To power them, you must connect an external battery that is not supplied. You can use the battery of your choice through the USB-C connector.

Unlike standalone virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 or Vive Focus 3, these goggles are connected to a smartphone running the apps. The connection can be wired (a single adapter allows you to connect the VIVE Flow to both a power source and your smartphone) or wireless (Bluetooth 5.0 and Wi-Fi).

But one of the most surprising features of these VR glasses is undoubtedly this diopter adjustment that allows you to adjust the vision correction to your needs and thus avoid having to wear your glasses or lenses while using Vive Flow. The correction can be up to -6 at most. There is no interpupillary distance adjustment, so if your eyes are slightly closer or farther than average, you may experience eyestrain with prolonged use.

The field of view is 100 degrees and the poster combines two 2.1-inch LCD screens (1600 x 1600 pixels per eye) for a maximum definition of 3200 pixels with a 75 Hz refresh rate. About fifty applications will be available at launch via the Viveport User Interface. There is no joystick to control the Vive Flow which also does not detect hand movements. At the moment, the glasses can only work with certain compatible Android smartphones. “The VIVE Flow is currently not compatible with devices running iOS or Exynos processors,” HTC says on the product page. To be eligible, your Android smartphone must have at least one of these features: 5GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth and / or Miracast and / or HDCP 2.2 compliant or similar standards.

Care of

The Vive application on the smartphone connects to the Vive Flow and turns the mobile into a kind of laser pointer or three-degree-of-freedom controller. The glasses offer six degrees of freedom to move and lean forward thanks to the integrated cameras. The virtual controller constantly floats in front of you. During the presentation in New York, some applications were unveiled: the TRIPP meditation and wellness application and a game called Space Slurpies from Starcade Arcade. Vive Flow can also cast whatever is on the phone’s screen, turning the glasses into a second screen for videos, browsing, emails, or apps. The glasses can also be associated with a nearby television thanks to Miracast technology.

If you want to see the world around you without removing the Vive Flow, simply activate the two front cameras. A function that can be useful to understand your own play zone limits, in fact, the glasses can create automatic limits from 1.80 to 3 meters, but they may not correspond to your personal space.

A possible springboard for 5G glasses connected to smartphones

Unlike other virtual reality products from HTC, the Flow is a mobile accessory. At this time, the glasses do not necessarily do everything that virtual reality can do and may not be as easy to control as virtual reality glasses. But accessories for the Vive Flow could arrive soon, perhaps early next year.

Today, many companies are exploring this world of small handheld devices for a virtual or augmented reality experience. “We all try to solve different pain points and we all test the market in different ways,” says Dan O’Brien, head of HTC’s US branch. “As the market matures, at the end of the day, we will all wear these glasses, and they will have tiny little speakers, and we will connect them to our USB connections, and the tints of the lenses will just change depending on the environment, be it a reality experience. virtual or augmented ”.

O’Brien evokes a more distant future, but in the immediate future, Vive Flows could be a way for HTC to enter the world of mobility through 5G and the applications it enables. And if these glasses are designed for wellness and meditation applications, it would make sense if they could work with fitness bracelets or smart watches to display health data like heart rate. “If you wear a tracker that tracks the position of your elbow and wrist [avec accéléromètre]And that measures your oxygen, your heart and all those other constants, that has enormous value, ”confirms Dan O’Brien.

Who is Vive Flow for? MyndVR, a company that offers experiments and brainstorming exercises, will offer its app at launch. The low weight (189g) and size of the glasses can promote long wear and attract a newer audience to VR.

The Vive Flow costs € 549. It is cheaper than the Vive Focus 3, but you have to add the price of a 10,000 mAh external battery and the carrying case that is also sold separately. That price may seem high, but the Vive Flows are much more interactive and immersive than the Ray-Ban Stories glasses from Facebook.

CNET.com article adapted by CNETFrance

Image: Russell Holly / CNET

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