HTC Announces Vive Flow, a Compact VR Headset Focused on Casual Entertainment & Wellbeing

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HTC today announced Vive Flow, its latest standalone VR headset. While the company just recently released the enterprise-focused Vive Focus 3, the Vive Flow aims for the consumer market with a compact size and feature-set that HTC has designed around casual entertainment and wellbeing apps.

Vive Flow Specs, Price, and Features

Priced at $500 and planned for release in November, HTC is positioning Vive Flow as a VR headset to help people relax, learn, and connect with friends.

Weight

Image courtesy HTC

The standalone headset aims to be both compact and lightweight; HTC says Vive Flow weighs just 189 grams, which is several times lighter than any major VR headset on the market today, standalone or otherwise.

Resolution, Field-of-view, & Audio

Image courtesy HTC

Vive Flow is said to have a “3.2K” resolution, though the company hasn’t specified the precise display. Based on the way they’ve marketed their most recent headsets, we understand this to mean roughly 1,600 × 1,600 per-eye.

Meanwhile, Vive Flow’s refresh rate is confirmed at 75Hz and the horizontal field-of-view at 100°. A diopter adjustment allows users to focus each lens to fit their glasses prescription, up to −6.0D. The headset also includes on-board audio and supports bluetooth headphones.

Processor & External Battery Power

Image courtesy Qualcomm

Vive Flow uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR1 processor with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.

While the device is standalone, it will rely extensively on external power from a USB battery pack (not included) or a phone. Vive Flow has a small on-board battery but it only lasts a “few minutes” and is designed to allow users to hot swap the headset’s tether between power sources.

Tracking & Input

Image courtesy HTC

The headset supports 6DOF head-tracking and users can pair an Android phone to be used as a 3DOF controller (head-based pointing can be used as a fallback). Hand-tracking won’t be supported at launch, though it may come in a future update.

In addition to running standalone apps, users can mirror content from their Android smartphone into the headset to watch video streaming apps, play flat Android games, and the like. iOS devices aren’t supported by the headset for use as a controller or content mirroring, though the company says they’re working on it.

Vive Flow Apps & Content

Image courtesy HTC

Beyond mirroring content from Android smartphones, Vive Flow can run standalone applications which will be served from a mobile version of HTC’s Viveport app store.

HTC says Vive Flow is built for “wellbeing, brain training, productivity, and light gaming,” and is focusing on serving those kinds of apps through Viveport.

We don’t have a complete list of the apps which will be offered at launch, but the company has given a few examples like the mindfulness app TRIPP, an original VR video series from MyndVR, and the company’s own social VR app, Vive Sync. We expect to hear more about specific apps that will support Vive Flow in the near future.

At launch, HTC will be offering a Viveport subscription plan for Vive Flow priced at $6 per month. It isn’t clear if this will allow access to the headset’s entire library of apps, or just select apps (as is the case with the company’s PC VR subscription library).

Accessories

Vive Flow carrying case | Image courtesy HTC

Since Vive Flow requires an external power source (but doesn’t include one in the box), HTC says it will be selling a 10,000mAh external battery pack. The company hasn’t announced the price, but we expect it will be priced similarly to the $80 battery pack the company has previously sold alongside its Vive wireless adapter accessory. Any power bank will work with Vive Flow, however.

HTC has also designed a carrying case for Vive Flow. Though also not yet priced, it will be included as a pre-order bonus.

Vive Flow Release Date & Pre-order

Image courtesy HTC

Vive Flow is set for a release date in November, but pre-orders start today. The Vive Flow price is $500, and pre-orders will receive both the carrying case and a bundle of seven apps.


Do you have questions about Vive Flow? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll try to get them answered!

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  • Source Caster

    1600×1600. LOL. Next.

  • Ad

    So yes, this is worthless.

    • Arturs Gerskovics

      not totally worthless. It can be used as a bad example.

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      • Arno van Wingerde

        Exactly! I suggest we can all start meditating on its uselessness…
        But who knows? maybe this thing takes off in China, and once people start using it for VR conferencing, it becomes a thing!

    • Pablo C

      elaborate?

      • Source Caster

        An example of how not to do.

    • ViRGiN

      Funny coming from someone shilling for Lynx as Quest competitor lol.

    • Till Eulenspiegel

      Yes worthless indeed. How many people can use it? Not only are they excluding iPhone users, only people with new Android phones can use it – for what? As a remote controller. They could have just bundled a simple controller like Oculus Go.

  • johnny

    epic fail, as expected

  • Arturs Gerskovics

    epic fail

  • Bart Grudzien

    POS like I thought. That presentation was EPIC cringe. HTC, just STOP!

    A device for NOBODY. Maybe if it had OLED display it might be cool for media but fuck it with LCD displays.

    • Cless

      Exactly this. Who the hell wants to watch content on a shitty LCD display for $500? FFS, for that much you can buy some second hand VP1…

      • mirak

        But you need a PC for the VP1.
        The direct candidate would be the Quest 1 second hand, that has same screens as VP1, that’s what I was looking to buy to replace my Gear VR that isn’t compatibly with the S21 Ultra.
        The Flow loses OLED but it wins on the form factor, the weight the transportability.
        But would I accepte to lose OLED, that remains to be seen.

        • Cless

          That is a good point!

      • sfmike

        The lack of an OLED display for a headset mainly used for viewing content is a truly stupid decision making it useless.

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      • Charles

        They didn’t specify whether or not it has the automatic screen brightness adjustment the VP2 has, but I would guess not.

        This product is impressive in its extremely light weight. Its mostly-respectable specs seem to make it worthy of a $200 fun gadget to have around, IF it has the automatic screen brightness adjustment. At $500 + $80-$160 for 1 or 2 batteries, the price is far greater than the value.

        • Cless

          Yeah, that is the problem, the price. For the specs its not really worth it. Maybe 2 or 3 years ago? Sure, but now? No way.

    • Till Eulenspiegel

      It was cringe, it looks like it was made for woman but in actually reality – it’s a sexual wellness VR tool for men.

      • Cless

        The reason this exists is because other companies released something identical in Chinese markets and its kind of working.

        • Till Eulenspiegel

          Not at that price.

  • Bart Grudzien

    There marketing is mental health? seriously WTF? Pretty sure the Vive Flow is not gonna do that. LMFAO

  • mappo

    $500 and it’s BYOB (battery)?!?

  • So, other than being lighter, there’s basically no reason to buy this over a Quest 2.

    • Cless

      Well, yes there is. Maybe you want to spend more money for what seems to be a worse product!

    • shadow9d9

      The whole purpose is to be much much lighter and more comfortable for viewing media.

  • Cless

    The only interesting thing about the product is… the glasses graduation thinguie. It would be nice to have that on all headsets, or have an addon you can put that does that…

    • Duane Aakre

      Except for those of us sitting at a diopter of -9. But maybe I’m just in the 99th percentile of bad eyes.

      • Cless

        Yeah, sadly :/
        It would only fix my diopters, it would not fix my other eye issues either, but well, better than nothing I guess? Maybe in the future we get better stuff in that regard.

  • Holdup

    I like the fact that they separate the battery from the headset to make it lighter, I wish oculus would do the same, they can put the battery in the back of the headset strap, or I don’t mind putting it in my pocket or around my waste or something. Other than the lightweight, compact this thing is pretty much garbage.

    • Yeah but HTC doesn’t give you a strap to attach the battery to. Where is it supposed to go?

      • Pulstar44

        Amazon or Etsy to the rescue?

        • Jan Ciger

          For a $500 device? When Quest 2 is $200 cheaper &

          more capable?
          Why would you want to buy this?

          • Pulstar44

            It’s called preference and being an enthusiast. Vote with your wallet, not mine

      • Andrew Jakobs

        Hell, they don’t even give you the battery…

    • Arno van Wingerde

      eh… for the price difference you can easily add an elite strap with battery. But then the Quest is still 3x as heavy and far less portable.

  • Corey_Faure

    Where did the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR1 CPU information come from? I can’t seem to find mention of that from HTC.

  • Pulstar44

    I’m guessing there’s no ipd adjustment. That’s why they use clear aspherical lenses like the psvr to compensate.

    • mirak

      that’s what I hated the most on the Gear VR.
      IPD adjustement really helps for fatigue.

      • Pulstar44

        So true. But it worked on psvr for me and my ipd is 70mm

  • Rudl Za Vedno

    Sub 4K 75Hz LCD with “up to” 100 FOV (probably diagonal)??? I was expecting at least micro OLED panels. And the price… Why would anyone want to pay 569€ (price in Europe) for this? Another day another missed opportunity from HTC :(

    • Cless

      You are 100% right, but to be fair… Facebook is heavily skewing the market by heavily subsidizing their headset. Which again, begs the question, why would I ever recommend this… when the Quest 2 exists at the price it does?

  • Rogue Transfer

    Truly a bad device spec-wise for 2021 and needing to pay an extra ~$80 for the battery, just to run it! Wow… It’s really a poor choice.

    The only positives are its low weight and form factor, but the FOV at 100° diagonal, is likely more constrained than anyone would like. There are similar, but cheaper devices like this already on the market. Not that near anyone would seriously considering buying such a limited device compared to a full VR device with tracked controllers.

  • Source Caster

    Oculus: we kinda expected competition… should we wait for another 2 years?

  • xyzs

    That’s almost painful to watch.
    Every time they release a product is a screwing up example.
    Lcd, no controllers, and beyond Apple: no charger AND no battery included.

    I think they have some staff who need to be replaced.

  • Lhorkan

    Interesting that it’s pitched as a device to help us disconnect from our phones, while its primary feature is immersing you entirely onto your phone’s screen.

  • MosBen

    Man, this strikes me a really cool, just one generation too early. I’m perfectly fine with an HMD that is relatively low powered, but lacking 6DOF for hand/controller tracking is just such a huge limitation. It’s tempting, but unless the reviews are really positive it’s probably a no from me.

    • MuTau

      That’s along my thoughts as well. It’s a good step, just not a very well executed one.
      Personally, I’d prefer twice the weight but better balance (I had experience with a ~250 grams device in “glasses” form factor, and let me tell you – you’re not sitting with THAT through even one full movie)
      And of course no good method of control is a non-starter for a consumer space. Just imagine that you were given a laptop with a trackpad, and ONLY a trackpad (no keyboard). And no USB ports.
      That’s why I’m so rooting for Lynx – they seem to “get it” on many accounts. Yeah, FOV is not as great as most devices; yeah, controllers are Finch tech; yeah, it has only 2-3 hours of advertised battery life. But it’s got hand tracking, good balance (on paper, remains to be tested!), not to mention mixed reality stuff they’re getting up to, which can be a big game-changer. And they’re doing all that at Flow’s price point.

  • Mario Baldi

    I was prepared to be disappointed, but this is horrible on so many levels…
    If it was priced like an Oculus Go it would have a chance, but as it is really is worthless

    • Arno van Wingerde

      Well, it may be in the 10€ bin after a few months….

  • DG

    To me this seems like a proof of concept for the next step of VR system miniaturization. But yet, it needs to become much more powerful before being actually usable.

  • mepy

    Nah, give me XR2 and better resolution than the Quest 2 and I would sell the Quest 2 and buy this. But I’m not downgrading the screen resolution when I want something better than the Quest 2 for media viewing.

  • Sven Viking

    From UploadVR’s hands-on it sounds like it really is extremely light and comfortable compared to other VR headsets, and that’s a big advantage for media viewing. Unfortunately it also sounds like that’s about all it has going for it, though. (Well, I also like their per-eye focus adjustment.)

    • Ad

      With a strap like this rather than a counterweight and battery on the back, plus the lack of hand tracking, it just screams desperation. It’s also trying to look smaller than it is.

      • Sven Viking

        Possibly they were thinking a battery on the back wouldn’t be ideal for something intended to be used while lying back on a pillow or similar.

        • Ad

          I’m not convinced this will work on your back.

    • Bob

      No IPD adjustment could be an issue.

    • VRFriend

      battery. no battery.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    If it had handtracking from release it might be interesting as a immersive meeting tool. But come on, for the price they ask I’m really baffled they even released this thing. For the price the cannister should be standard, not a pre-order goody.

    But when I saw the presentation I already could guess what the comments here on road-to-vr would be.

  • 144Hz

    You can’t hold much pron with just 64gb especially with the high bitrate 6k vr180 vids being around 12-18gb on average. It’d be nice if there’s a larger storage option or an sd card slot.

    • Pulstar44

      Folks we have an expert LOL

    • Arno van Wingerde

      You can stream it from your mobile phone…

  • VRFriend

    Not good, not good with 3,2 mpix crap resolution, 75Hz, LCD, 3DOF controllers for over 500$. Silly. They have made wrong choices and they know about it.

  • Corey_Faure

    So support got back to me about my XR1 question. It’s an XR2, not an XR1.

    • all other outlets (who mention the processor) mention XR1. I tried to correlate a few to see if they used the same source and they did not. And the spec sheet on vive dot com for the Flow doesn’t even mention the processor.

      • Corey_Faure

        Would you like me to forward the support email?

        • ViRGiN

          That’s literally the worst source of info. You could ask if it has the latest XR3+, and they would just say yes

        • citing sources is always a good practice during discussion. just as an FYI: apparently the HTC site originally listed XR1, then pulled it. A YouTube (thrill seeker) mentioned meeting with them and being told XR1. So it seems the information is somehow not pinned down, which is odd for a release. Wouldn’t be the first time confusion reigned, but…

          • Corey_Faure

            This is what confused me. Thrillseeker and Road To VR were the only ones that mentioned the XR1 for a little bit. There were some reports of the XR1 on the actual HTC site before it was immediately removed, which is what prompted my email to support. I guess time will tell what on earth this thing has.

          • so what was the email you received?

  • MasterElwood

    The next fail in a loooong line of HTC fails…

  • wcalderini

    Well. The could have just CALLED IT the HTC Porn Viewer and it would have been a lot more honest.

  • sebrk

    Serious question: how does HTC make money? Their mobile division made error on error failing and everything since the Vive is just crap. Are they surviving on interest alone? Can’t get my head around this. Never seen a company do so many bad business decisions and still somehow make more.

    • Source Caster

      I just realized that… They didn’t create Vive… Valve developed Vive. HTC only manufactured it. How cool is that? That explains a lot IMO.

    • Lucidfeuer

      Stock markets. They don’t actually need to sell products, just appear to be creating value.

  • pedrw

    Why is it costing 560 euros for Europe ????

  • pedrw

    Why is it costing 560 euros for Europe?

  • Lucio Lima

    Why is it costing 560 euros for Europe ????

    • ViRGiN

      Because you’re not paying with your data!
      Oh wait, it requires htc account and agreement to several pages long TOS

  • B_Lines

    I’m shocked at the negative reactions to this. It might not tick all the right boxes but it’s a step towards more compact, comfortable, and decent looking VR headsets. I think the HTC design team should be commended for that. To be so compact relative to everything else out there while still including things like active cooling and diopter adjustment is impressive.

    • Source Caster

      Imagine you have very thin (3mm) foldable smartphone. Cool? Yes. But it doesn’t have Wi-Fi, and there’s no touchscreen. Would you still use it?

      • ViRGiN

        “there is a market of people who don’t have access to WiFi”

        Every “enthusiast”ever who is out of touch with reality, virtual or not

        • Source Caster

          Good advice: Never try to start a business with sales involved.

    • shadow9d9

      Just rabid fans who are insanely insecure.

  • Hivemind9000

    Everyone is bagging this for the specs, but I can see the market for it. It’s “VR Lite”, and is aiming at lightweight, convenient media consumption and casual gaming. Given that goal, the specs are fairly decent (though OLED would have been nice), but the big problem is the price. At $299 or less (pref. $199) I would buy one just to chill with, mainly due to the form factor and weight. They need to get that price down to meet the market they are aiming for. Meanwhile the borg minions at Facebook will be tinkering on their own version of this market segment, and probably hit the market at the right price point.

    • ViRGiN

      That’s like saying that is a market for one eyed people. Why pay for two screens, or single large one when you can’t even see it?

  • The lack of any substantive internal battery is what makes this DOA for me. It’s a very interesting product with a clear coherent vision for how to resuscitate the market left behind by the Go, but knowing now that that little USB-C tether is there for you to somehow run a power supply yourself to somewhere ergonomically convenient is just dogshit. Horrible choice that makes this product totally worthless, no one is going to buy that.

  • guest

    Wonder how much of the cost is the diopter adjustment.

  • VR5

    I’d buy it if it had an HMDI in, to watch any 2D content (blu-rays, video games) on a cinematic screen. Turn your biggest weakness (tether requirement) into a strength.

    Passthrough would also have been nice.

  • Geoff

    Maybe something schools can get pupils into, well, senior pupils because I think VR is 13+ If Minecraft EDU works on it then I can see this being an entry point.

  • JB1968

    For all those bitching about the price. Compare the hardware with the shitty Facebook’s Rayban spy glasses and now the prize makes more sense IMHO.

    Not that I’m saying I’m gonna buy Vive Flow but I can see the same type of people that buy the Rayban thing might actually buy this as well.

    The most positive message for me is that it is possible to make really slick VR headset and it seems the era of bulky boxes in front of our faces is at it’s end (hopefully).

  • DeanVega

    I see many people commenting on the fact that HTC ‘accidentally’ released the perfect HTC Vive Flow porn viewer. Although the pitch was for work-related activities and wellness, I don’t see what the problem is if this headset sells for porn as well. Let’s be fair, anything technological will get turned into something sexual. This is how humankind works – sex is a huge part of our customs.
    I don’t want to upset anyone but you can’t pretend people don’t watch porn. In fact, every VR headset was, is, or will be the perfect gateway to VR porn. You can pretend to not see it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

  • Lucidfeuer

    Obviously a non-product to justify tech tax laundering, but even as a prototype the design fails with the size of the front “glasses lenses” which are too stupidly big.

    Otherwise in terms of form-fact overall, this is what the Quest and Focus should have been by now.

  • Till Eulenspiegel

    Apple users don’t need to apply, they are excluded just like the tethered desktop VR.

  • ShaneMcGrath

    If they are going to rely on an external power source then they shouldn’t be stingy on the specs, Should have bumped up the resolution and FOV a bit more.
    Next headset for me needs to have more FOV even if it’s just another 5-10%.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      You mean more FOV as the current ‘consumer’ ones, as they are already a bit low for about 5 years into the second VR generation.

  • oomph2

    c h i n e s e
    no no

  • johann jensson

    LOL. Just compare where HTC was 5 years ago… It seems that the cooperation with Valve was the only thing that made them succesful. What a sad tale. :-/

  • Toplite – LED3D

    please allow me to make some guesses of this VIVE FLOW.
    1. Folded light path optical solution, most likly same with HUAWEI VR GLASS
    2. I cannot see any introduction of display screen, one LCD or two Micro OLEDs?
    This is important when a VR hmd is using folded light path optical solution, which leads to great light loss from display to human eyes.
    3. Folded light path optical solution allows making much compact form VR product with wide FOV, but user will feel a dark, not clear and uniform enough image, and also apparent distortion. This is fatal for users who really want to use it to watch HD/UHD video.
    4. The sound leaked from the small speakers may disturb other people, you will feel embarrassed on the journey.
    5. Is axial fan used in the middle? Its noise may be annoying.

    Maybe more!!!