HTC has confirmed that the TPCAST wireless VR solution for the Vive VR headset will be available worldwide in Q2 this year at $249.

As predicted in our recent VR retrospective, there were a lot of companies showing solutions that promise to cut the cord on desktop headsets via wireless video streaming. The solution that HTC themselves have been promoting exclusively up to now however is the TPCAST ‘Wireless HD’ powered 60Ghz solution, developed inside company’s own ViveX incubator program.

TPCAST 's 60Ghz Wireless Transmitter
TPCAST ‘s 60Ghz Wireless Transmitter

We already knew TPCAST was on its way this year, indeed it’s already been available for pre-order via HTC’s chinese Vive online store since November 11th last year, but up until now it was unclear when the rest of the world would be able to get their hands on the kit. At CES this week, HTC announced the TPCAST solution would go on sale worldwide in Q2 2017 for $249, although no other regional pricing was announced. That buys you the headset’s wireless receiver, transmitter and a battery capable of up to 90-120 mins run time. A larger 5 hour battery (seen below alongside the standard version) will be available too.

tpcast-battery-small-largeHTC had a heavy focus on accessories and peripherals for their SteamVR powered system at CES this year, launching both the Vive tracker and the Deluxe Audio Strap, a replacement for the Vive’s head harness. Regarding the upgrade and the TPCAST wireless add-on, which places a wireless receiver/breakout box and battery on the headset itself, HTC’s Daniel O’Brien confirmed that despite the chunkier construction of the new Deluxe Audio Strap, TPCAST will attach to it just fine.

SEE ALSO
HTC and Intel Partner on New WiGig Wireless VR Solution

htc-vie-deluxe-headstrap-tpcast-wireless

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  • nargorn

    why does it not run with rift? would absolutely pay the price!

    • compwagon

      It actually might. They both just use HDMI and USB (standard plugs on the headset, just very well-hidden), so this is almost certainly just a HDMI+USB wireless transmitter/receiver.

      Theoretically they could build in firmware to check the EDID of the receiving device and refuse to receive unless connected to a Vive. That wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable considering that HTC is helping fund (and especially market) this, but considering the pushback Oculus got for similar efforts such as blocking Revive and funding “exclusives”, I would be a little surprised if Valve let HTC take that route.

      • nargorn

        Sounds promising…So we wait for the first to try this.

      • Nicholas

        Suspect the power supply is the problem. Unless you feel like rewiring the USB port…

      • M. Hoskins

        I have an HDMI splitter that passes along the EDID of the monitor it’s connected to, I imagine the same could be done with this piece of hardware, if they wanted to.

        • compwagon

          I wondered about that too, but since it decodes and compresses the signal before transmitting, I don’t know that they could get away with the same things that a pure HDMI pass-through device like a splitter could.

    • Frogacuda

      I read they intend to make a Rift version at a later point.

      • nargorn

        good to hear

      • Dave

        Trouble is I’m happy with how light the Rift is. I’m not totally convinced yet for either headset. The Rift will need to spool up the capble within the head design and have the power unit and reciver in there, thats significant wieght and oh yes it’s a batery, all bateries are shit in my opinion. Some uses many be good with this stuff, but PC owners playing simulation, racing games on there rift will get by without one I feel. Until a room scale killer app comes along I’m quite happy to be plugged into the Matrix until VR 2.0 comes along.

        • Frogacuda

          The cord thing should be a non-issue since the Rift’s cord is removable/detachable. The weight is potentially not a big deal if it’s balanced right.

        • You used the “killer app” cliche crusty journalist buzzword bollocks. That earns you a virtual smack in the face. Every time someone says “killer app” I get green with rage.

          • Badelhas

            Killer App

    • RogWilco

      I bet the only reason is the battery-to-HMD connection. I’m assuming the Rift and the VIVE have slightly different power connectors and possibly voltage/amperage requirements, and this currently outputs what the VIVE requires. No data to back this up, but it would explain why you couldn’t just buy it anyway and plug it into your rift. Otherwise it’s ultimately just a wireless HDMI/USB bridge with low latency that would work with just about anything.

    • Ryan

      Rift isn’t room scale so it’s not as necessary for it to be wireless

    • DougP

      Re: “why does it not run with rift?”
      Because Facebook told us that *exclusivity* is good for the VR market!

      Embrace this & hope it doesn’t come out for Rift…for the good of all. /s ;)

  • CURTROCK

    HTC has done a great job. Better head-strap, on board head phones, & an option for wireless. I can picture all this integrated into the next release of VIVE 2. Even though I am a Rift fanboy, I can appreciate all that has been added to make the VIVE even better than it was. It is an excellent alternative to the Rift, and will no doubt help to set the bar higher for all VR HMD’s. Kudos to HTC.

    • Rogue_Transfer

      The only two things they need to add to this for the release of the Vive 2 is support at the front of the head like PSVR and flip-up capability.

      • Xim3ng

        It is already available…. on the vive 1 :P

      • Dave

        …and free sessions with a chiropractor…

        • Rogue_Transfer

          Ah, yes, very true – lightness or balance needs increased for the headset. But I was talking about only ‘this [head strap]’. :)

      • Badelhas

        What we need is proper content. AAA quality. And, please, stop with the “early acess” BS.

        • maestro72x

          We need some kinda filter.. I m so tired of downloding demos and shit that are just plain crap.. not even worth downloading.. i wish steam had better options for us to sort what we see. Id hide early access and anything under 3 stars.

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    It’s a good move forward, only the price is ridiculous IMHO.
    Just wait for some chinese alternatives at a much lower price as those devices are not that hard to manufacture.
    Even 60ghz chips cost less as wifi, it is a shame they just go for an extreme high profit margin for such a simple device.

    Those guys need to understand making VR extrme expensive will not let it grow and at the end nobody will win.

    • Foreign Devil

      There will probably always be 2 VR markets. . the Premium market. . which will remain very small and PC based. . .and then the much larger mainstream market with much cheaper untethered or smart phone based HMD’s.

      • Get Schwifty!

        The PC market may be smaller than mobile, but your discounting the growth of the PC gaming market. The other likely area that will see growth and I suspect become the dominant form over both the PC and mobile as it is far too limited is a console type system optimized and tuned for VR. I suspect this will become the norm in time as systems develop and people get a taste for VR beyond the capabilities of phones and devoted VR systems become the norm and mobile based systems are the “everyday” VR experience. Compare watching movies on your phone vs the widescreen television at home vs going to the theater, with the powerhouse PC being the theater grade experience. A similar tiering of VR/AR is inevitable.

        • Foreign Devil

          Good point. Yeah probably a home based VR console system that braodcasts to the HMD will be the most widely adopted system . That way you would not have to have the performance sacrifice of smartphone based portable systems. But have the standardization and cost cutting effect of mass production of a VR console. Who knows Sony may lead the way with a next gen VR dedicated console that is un-tethered..

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        I predict that most VR on phone based will actualy not be real VR games thats going to be used the most but rather video 360 degree instead.
        Hardcore gamers still on PC and Console, handheld games more for killing the time during travel or so.

  • Does the TPCast connect to a receiver that plugs into the standard breakout box that comes with the Vive? My Vive activities happen in a different room than my PC is in, so I hope it does connect to the breakout box.

    • Nicholas

      I think it could, although it looks like a drop-in replacement for the existing link box. Would like to see how they’re mounting this in terms of cabling and how many transmitters are being used (I’m guessing just the one, which would mean an overhead ceiling mount of some kind).

  • JustNiz

    Awesome. Can’t wait to buy one.

  • Augure

    250$ more to remove the impractical cables of the Vive…holly molly…really hope announcement of prototypes will come soon enough or I will really have trouble convincing anyone to invest in VR in 6 months from now.

    • DukeAJuke ✓σοφός

      I don’t know if you’ve tried a Vive or Oculus yet, but if you did, you would probably invest in one of the two immediately. I was pretty blown away at just how good VR with these headset actually is. I pretty much use my Vive daily.

      • Lucidfer

        I have had them for a year, and have been working on VR for 3 years. But then overtime the initial amazement fades and you starting pondering, rationalising with a step-back about it’s implications. Maybe because that’s one part of my job that brings me to quickly conceive things on the longer term.

        • DukeAJuke ✓σοφός

          I think the one thing that is holding back VR at the moment is the motion/travel issue. We all know that just pressing forward on a controller to move causes motion sickness and the “blink” method kind of sucks. However, running or walking in place as means to move in VR games has been proven to work well and not cause motion sickness. What we need are the controllers/sensors for this.

          • Lucidfer

            Exactly, which is why ANY VR headset by it’s nature needs to be untethered and have integrated inside-out sensors. Otherwise it’s just an unfinished gun gadget like in the 90s.

  • Cool! Price is not that bad, either!

  • PacoBell

    That name, TPCAST, is that a nod to TP-Link, the Wi-Fi product manufacturer? Also, that chipset they’re using for this solution, UltraGig, is made by Silicon Image, a Lattice Semiconductor subsidiary (and the people that invented the HDMI standard). That’s a 4-year-old chip by now. You’d think they’d have 8K60p transmission capability by now or, at least, 4K120p.

  • NooYawker

    I have a tendency to go nuts and buy every peripheral I can find for my new toys. But I’m going to resist picking this up. I predict my Vive will be replaced in a year or two by next gen VR gear and I don’t want to be stuck with 1000’s of dollars of useless peripherals.

  • maestro72x

    Is that an anker batter pack on the back?

  • DukeAJuke ✓σοφός

    I hope their factory is up to snuff because pretty much all Vive owners will be buying this immediately!