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

      • Michael Jourdan

        Actually Rift is room scale now. You can add up to 4 sensors for full immersion. You can do a decent job with 2, but 3 is more than enough with the right room setup for room scale. Don’t believe every rumor you hear without proper evidence.

        • Ryan

          Oh you’re right. https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/25/oculus-room-scale-vr-tracking-is-still-a-bit-of-a-mess/
          But a headset not designed with room scale in mind is bound to handle it worse than the Vive and that leads to a fragmented vr customer base where devs will be less likely to design for roomscale oculus due to only a fraction of its users having it whereas rift developers know that every rift owner can take advantage of roomscale.

    • 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 ;)

    • CQCoder

      Well HTC isn’t really vested in making accessories for the Rift- nor should they be.

  • 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.

          • Ingo Gnito

            I think it is on purpose right now. There are just not enough high quality titles available, a lot announced for this year though. (I’m very excited for the Batman game. I liked the Arkham Knight series and hope it will be something as good)

            My point being that if Steam would add a good sorting option for VR content it would be obvious to all what VR headset owners already know: The content is lacking.

            Still I really appreciate the Wireless Add-On and probably will buy it there are a few games in which the cable really is the only thing that hinders my movement in real life thus reducing the immersion effect.

    • CQCoder

      Thank you for an even handed and intelligent post. Both sides get a bit rabid on which is better – I want them ALL to do well. Competition is what is making both systems (and well all the new ones) push the boundaries.

  • 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.

          • Jay

            Guaranteed you are under 30…

          • Lucidfer

            Well done on your other hypocritical comment, just because I’m above or below 30 wouldn’t justify a thing about me being a loser hypocrite, or at least that’s what my job asks of me and what my freedom permits.

    • CQCoder

      It’s pretty normal pricing for new products like this. Expecting it to be wireless right out the door is probably setting the bar a bit high. The cables are hardly impractical – they are simply annoying. An annoyance I cannot wait to be rid of, but an annoyance none the less.

      And of course the fun of watching videos of people barreling into walls once that little bit of ‘reality’ is no longer hooking them to it.

      • Lucidfer

        Tell that to the 100+ corporations, brands and institutions I met none of whom wanted to have anything to do with the Vive.

        Tell that to 3D TVs, 90s VR headset or Palms manufacturers…

        Wireless is not a choice, an annoyance or upgrade. It makes absolutely no conceptual sense on a head mounted display.

        • CQCoder

          Sure whatever. Everything was wireless right out the gate. Shall I rattle off everything that has wireless now but didn’t when it first came out? Nah. You’ve got a chip on your shoulder. Enjoy it – I’m certainly laughing.

          • Lucidfer

            I meet people with the stooge syndrome (http://rabble.ca/babble/babble-banter/stooge-syndrome) like you on the web everyday. But then I meet people who actually know their shit in real-life. Continue being a hypocrite and tell people how consumer smartphones, tablets, drones, earables…all used wires to work and an external wired controller box…I wish a good life.

          • Jay

            You know every one of those things are wireless versions of other things? Let me guess, you’re under 30? You don’t remember phones used to have cords? Laptops/tablets weren’t a thing and people used desktop computers…which are wired?

          • Lucidfer

            You’re so fucking hypocrite, I need not reply.

          • Jay

            And you have no concept of words or their meanings, or history for that matter. How am I a hypocrite? What have I railed against but still embraced in my actions? Do you know the meaning of the words you use? Look up this one: ignorance.

          • Lucidfer

            You just did it again. Bringing up a point I actually like about…well semantic is actually the word you were searching for, and then giving an actually false definition of hypocrisy…probably out of ignorance.

            My point was that saying that VR HMDs did not need to be wireless, because of a bullshit argument that somehow Laptops, Smartphones or Tablets, even though speaking about semantics they’re not called Desktop, Dial-phone, or Screens for the reason that they are different machines of which one of the most important aspect is that they’re wireless, is not only diverting the argument about HMDs HAVING to be wireless in their conception by “nature”, but also comparing them to machines that have either nothing to do in that you don’t were a screen, a dial-phone or a desktop on your body or head, but also that laptops or smartphone are precisely wireless because they are mobile and put in pockets or bags, which says a lot about the irrational non-sensical misconception of VR headsets ever having cables.

          • Jay

            WTF are you talking about:

            hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

            Nowhere did I demonstrate that. You are a moron.

          • Lucidfer

            First go look at actual dictionary, not Google, second:

            Definition of hypocrisy
            plural hypocrisies
            : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not : behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not.

            You did demonstrate that.

          • Jay

            Also, HMDs don’t have to be wireless by nature, because they don’t even exist in nature. They do exist, and guess what…they aren’t wireless.

          • Lucidfer

            Alas, I put by “nature”, but sure again you are either semantically illiterate or…hypocrite.

  • 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.

    • CQCoder

      Sure but I’m not waiting for a year or two to be wireless. I mean, by that logic…you’d never buy anything. A year or two? Six months..ok…but a year or two?

  • 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!

  • Steve

    Is anyone else having trouble pre-ordering wireless tpcast device on the chinese site? Doesn’t seem to function in FireFox, Chrome or IE. Thoughts?