Vive Focus, the first consumer-available standalone headset with six-degrees-of-freedom (6DoF) positional tracking, has officially launched in China. While HTC isn’t shipping Vive Focus outside the country, fresh reports of the headset’s tracking capability seem to be promising.

Richard Lai, Engadget China’s Senior Editor-in-Chief, got a chance to go hands-on with Vive Focus recently, saying the headset’s ‘World Scale’ tracking technology was “quite impressive.” For testing purposes, Lai got down on the ground for a tense fire fight in Kukrgame’s Mercenary: The Italian Ops shooting game, and even did a few cartwheels in efforts to throw off the headset to no avail.

This wasn’t Lai’s first time trying the headset though. He got a chance to play with a pre-production prototype back in November where he noticed some hitches due to poorly-optimized games that noticeably reduced the headset’s tracking capabilities. Now Lai reports that many of the demos he tried perform “quite well” in their current state.

Lai says he had to get used to the Vive Focus’ 3DoF controller, but “still managed to enjoy this slightly odd shooting sensation.”

We haven’t found any more English-language hands-on videos of the latest model besides Engadget’s, but we’ll keep our eyes open in the coming weeks.

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While reporting in Japanese, our friends over at MoguraVR got a chance to try on the pre-production headset, which although has since been improved in build quality, maintains the same basic ergonomic strap system as the current version. The gif below shows how to adjust the head strap for a tight fit.

Vive Focus packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 mobile processor, a 2,880 × 1,600 AMOLED display (75 Hz refresh rate) with a 110-degree field of view. The headset is kept cool by an internal fan, and powered by a battery that provides up to three hours of game time. The headset has a number of what we’d call ‘premium’ features, including IPD adjustments, USB-C ‘fast charging’ port, microSD slot, headphone jack, head-mounted volume rocker, and integrated stereo speakers.

HTC previously told us Vive Focus is using its own ‘World Scale’ positional tracking algorithm—not to be confused with Google’s ‘WorldSense’ tracking. Up until HTC announced it would no longer be shipping its headset outside of China, it was assumed the company would use both Google’s Daydream app store and ‘WorldSense’ tracking. Now, the China-bound headset runs the company’s own ‘open source’ API Vive Wave and a mobile version of the Viveport store.

Vive Focus is available for pre-order now starting at around $600 from Vive’s China-facing site. Pre-orders go until January 12th, with expected shipping date some time in January.

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  • Doctor Bambi

    While I’ve seen a number of Vive Focus hardware articles up to this point, I don’t think I’ve seen a single one talking about the available software. I know it’s supposed to be running some form of Viveport, but what’s the launch line-up look like? Or how about just some impressions about navigating and using this version of Viveport itself?

    I don’t understand how they expect to sell this thing if they aren’t being vocal about the games and apps you can use on it, especially with that price tag. :/

    • robotbrain

      I have a feeling that’s why they decided to make it China only. If they can build up some software for it within China before taking it worldwide, it’s less likely to be a letdown. Seeing as Google doesn’t officially exist in China, it’s more of a closed market.

      • Doctor Bambi

        I don’t know, I would think this information would still be crucial to a successful launch anywhere in the world. One of China’s main tech stores has the pre-order numbers available to the public and it was somewhere around the 260 units pre-ordered on day one. It would seem they are not off to a strong start. (http://en.yivian.com/day-one-only-260-vive-focus-units-sold-on-tmall/)

    • silvaring

      Do you speak Chinese? Are you aware of the Vive port store / hub and how its been going for over a year? Fresh content every month too.

      • Doctor Bambi

        Yes, Viveport has been around for some time and it’s available in western markets. It even has a monthly subscription service that’s pretty novel. But all of it’s current content is built for the Vive.
        Focus is going to require and entirely new catalog of games and experiences built specifically for it. Where are they? There’s nothing on the Viveport storefront suggesting or highlighting Focus specific content.

        • silvaring

          Its expected given a lot of the experiences on viveport (initially at least) weren’t the kind that made use of the controllers (if at all). Also don’t forget about the Vive streaming pilot they are conducting in Taiwan (40mbps). The Vive Focus most certainly would benefit from streamed content as its beginning to take off (with the Go in early 2018).

  • Lucidfeuer

    Is it that fucking hard for those multi-billions companies to conceive and release ONE single correct (I’m not talking about good or incremental at this point) headset that do those the few simple things everybody has been expecting for 2 years now: a standard 4K/120°FOV, inside-out tracked, hand tracked, PC tethered headset?

    At this point I don’t even expect them to figure out an efficient wireless beaming system, basic see-through AR or anything else really. But it seems like they’re not even capable of providing a simple, underwhelming and way passed due upgrade to their headset.

    • Marcus

      You are looking for a PC headset. I am looking for a stand-alone headset. These are simply different kind of products. No need to be upset.

      • Lucidfeuer

        Depends on what you call upset. If you “need” a standalone headset or whatever headset actually, would you not be upset that the market fails for this cycle because of badly governed decisional cells at manufacturers?

        Standalone headset is great for events, showcases and meeting demos, but VR is going nowhere as such.

        • Marcus

          My IPD is higher than average. So AFAIK there is no suitable stand-alone headset on the market for me yet. Not even first gen. In the meantime I just do other things, e.g. table tennis.

          However, I am quite optimistic about the potential of standalone headsets. Snapdragon 845 should be powerful enough to bring e.g. minimalistic games like Superhot in high resolution and high frequency to standalone headsets.

          Your priority is graphics. My priorities are freedom of movement, no PC, no cables, no system administration. There is no product which can do both. So it must be different products for a different user groups.

        • Marcus

          I think it’s quite the opposite: PC headsets are great for system administrators, not for the masses.

          • Lucidfeuer

            Well I was rather referring to console and mobile headsets. There’s a reason why these are the most sold VR headsets, one being for the mass-installed and single-optimised couch experience, the other being for the double convenience of a high-end smartphone and portable VR system. Now if we’re talking about a 200$ standalone Oculus Go, I’ll bite.

            But in any case, VR headset is meant to be wirelessly tethered/untethered to any systems, the most common being PC, consoles and smartphones. Having a standalone headset is like having a TV you could not plug a PC, console, blu-ray player, cable service, internet box…

          • Marcus

            Adding acceptable (i.e. ultra-low) latency wireless PC connectivity is not trivial and would make a standalone headset even more expensive and heavier.

          • Lucidfeuer

            I would say that given the current state of wireless standards (both hardware and software) this is not only trivial for start-ups with already existing solution, so there’s not even a question that it should be for corporations.

            And research for smarter implementation are not far fetched…and in fact exist.

            But in the time being, I think what some people mention above which is that there is no reason for a pricey standalone headset not to act as a pluggable pass-through for other devices is an obvious solution.

          • Marcus

            So which wireless standards allows ultra-low latency (without introducing annoying compression artifacts)?

          • Lucidfeuer

            Since 2016 (and this year more specifically) the Wifi.ad (60ghz band beaming) standard has been implemented in real-world products, and various codecs allow for almost lossless (depending on compression and speed) streaming of high-specs videos, like VP9 or the upcoming AV1 .

            The only challenge is figuring out how to best optimise and implement VR-specific pipelines (asynchronous and warp technics) with them. When one has hundreds of millions of R&D money, they have no excuse.

            Most importantly when you have little start-ups of nobodies like Riftcast or Nolo already allowing wireless “casting” with any on-board means, or even actual products like TPCast or DisplayLink, the question is not even about feasibility anymore.

          • G-man

            or it’s like having a 3ds you cant plug a dvd player into. because we all know how crappy the 3ds sales are because they only operate as a mobile stand alone device. oh wait.

          • Lucidfeuer

            You are comparing a full-fledge handheld console to an interactional device, a console which is of course an obsolete format with the advent of smartphones. Oh and talking about sales the 3DS sold less than any other Nintendo handhelds and even the PSP.

          • G-man

            an “interactional device”? can you not talk pseud intellectual gibberish?
            consoles are obsolete? because your phone can do what a console does? are you drunk, or high or something?

        • Andrew Jakobs

          I think it’s actually these standalone headsets that will advance VR, as the specs you want will require expensive GPU’s which only a handful of people will have. Once the GPU’s have advanced as such they can easily run 4K@90+fps with everything set to full, than you’ll see better headsets. But I guess by then the standalone headsets also have improved so much already that most people don’t even bother with a PC.

      • K E

        No, they are not “simply different kind of products”. The distinction between stand-alone and PC headsets is completely arbitrary. It would be trivial for manufacturers to enable PC connections for their standalone headsets. They just don’t do it because of their own perceived need to play Steve Jobs and “control” the “ecosystem”.

        • silvaring

          I hope this isn’t the correct answer but I fear the worst.

        • Marcus

          So a PC gamer would buy such a standalone headset including PC connections if it costs hundrets of dollars more than a regular PC headset just because of a SoC like Snapdragon 845 which is useless for him/her? Unlikely.

    • G-man

      you sure bitch a lot about thing other people havent done for you. go do these things yourself. let us all know how easy they are to do. when you have a cheap headset that does all these things being mass produced and shipped world wide. Even with a billion dollar budget i doubt you could do it.

      • Lucidfeuer

        A billion would be way overkill. But then, for now, that’s not my job. So go suck the corporate weenies you want, and justify how EA’s lootboxes is good for people as you probably would.

        • G-man

          okay, you are full on stupid now. who was talking about loot boxes? thats all you can come up with, say i like loot boxes? who was even talking about fucking ea.

          fucking weirdo.

  • Marcus

    Given that there is only one display, how can IPD adjustment work?

    • Yaotar5

      right on,
      due to poorly settings of IPD on HTC VIVE, which I used last night,
      It was so badly today in my head that I was literally scared.
      Seriously, the pain was so strong across the entire left side of the head, which
      came in waves, that I was reflexively scrambling with pain.
      I’m not exaggerating in this, since I feel this kind of pain for the first time in my life.
      I was looking for a similiar expreiencies in forums, and everyone is complaining about headaches …
      But this was not a headache; this was a separation from life.

      • Marcus

        The Vive has two displays and the IPD can be adjusted quite easily, see e.g. https://de.ifixit.com/Teardown/HTC+Vive+Teardown/62213#s130834

        • Yaotar5

          Great mate, will check it out… just to get back to normal :)

          • RFC_VR

            If your optician has your IPD it’s worth making a call, it’s also easy to self measure using Vernier caliper and mirror.

            Once IPD is good, hmd may require slight rotation on face to suit individual, as majority of human being don’t have level eyes relative to facial interface (forehead and cheekbones) of hmd

    • RFC_VR

      It’s typically adjusted in software, to match lenses physical adjustment. You don’t use the entire panel so there is spare real estate for lateral (IPD) adjustment.

      Daydream view does a similar trick for recentring the single display when you load the phone into HMD (phone is often sitting slightly left or right when loaded).

      Capacitive knobs on the HMD contact the display surface which adjusts the centre (relative to fixed lens). Cardboard used to be tricky to centre. Unfortunately Daydream doesn’t have adjustable IPD.

      It’s easy to sync mechanical IPD adjustment (lenses physically moving) to display IPD adjustment in software.

      • Marcus

        PSVR has a pure software IPD adjustment which doesn’t seem to do anything. No moving lenses. It’s always fuzzy on at least one of my eyes. Terrible. So on the Vive Focus it should be different? Did HTC mention anything about the exact mechanism? Is the distance between the lenses really adjustable?

  • Why only 1 Controller? Most of us have 2 hands… Right?

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  • Ted Joseph

    Having a blast with my Rift until the next wave of headsets come out. I want 200Deg FOV, so I may have to pickup a Pimax… I definitely want to pickup the Go for stand alone 3 deg freedom in my bed at night watching vids. When the Santa Cruz comes out that will be another good purchase… Damn.. Too much too fast… Wait, what about PS5? I bet Sony is working on some cool tech for their next Gen system? Wireless? 200 deg FOV? BRING IT ON! Good time to be alive!!!

  • fuyou2

    Another Useless Shit.. OK what’s next lets move on..

  • Clan Virtu

    The Focus is a fantastic bit of hardware, but as you might expect, currently lacks content. If the content can catch up and work within the limitations of the 3 DOF controller and Snapdragon 835 processor, it will be an awesome headset. You can checkout our full review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaa8aPi8qNY