The HTC Vive successor was rumored to debut at CES, but we won't be seeing the Vive 2 virtual reality headset just yet. HTC had plenty of other announcements at its press conference, however.
When we first tested the HTC Vive, we remarked how the headset was uncomfortable, weighs your face down and has three long cords that rest atop your head and run down behind your neck. The cords can be quite annoying and often get in the way. You frequently have to adjust the wires so you aren't tangled up while you move about and explore in virtual reality. At CES HTC announced its TPCast adapter, which alleviates these complaints by making the headset wireless, without affecting latency.
Priced at $250, the adapter clips on to the headset and has a battery that lasts just under two hours. If you want even more battery life, HTC will be selling a larger battery later this year that lasts over five hours. We don't think the larger battery is necessary since most people only have 30-minute sessions in VR. The adapter is extremely convenient, though, so you will probably forget you're wearing it. However, it isn't 100 percent wireless since there is a cord that connects to the battery, which you keep in your back pocket.
Despite not releasing a new headset, HTC still revealed some other new hardware at its press conference. The company announced its Vive Tracker – a small accessory which will allow you to track almost anything in virtual reality.
It'll be interesting to see how third-party accessory manufacturers incorporate the new tracker. We tested a rifle that was created for shooting games, and some Noitom Hi5 haptic gloves that both really helped make an already immersive experience even more incredible.
HTC is also tinkering with audio for the Vive. It announced the Deluxe Audio Strap, an accessory that will make the Vive similar to its competition, like the Oculus Rift, which has built-in headphones. The strap goes over the top of your head and can be adjusted. You can use the included headphones or your own if you choose. We believe the newer strap makes the headset almost as comfortable as Sony's PlayStation VR headset. We always found the HTC Vive to be front-heavy, and the new strap levels things out quite a bit. HTC didn't discuss pricing, but the strap will be available around April 2017.
Lastly, HTC announced some updates to its VivePort app store. In early 2017, HTC will launch a subscription service for VR apps, experiences and games. The store will be similar to Netflix and will allow you to rent certain titles. HTC's president of Viveport, Rikard Steiber, said HTC wants people to be able to experience quality content at an affordable price, which the new update should help HTC achieve. The company is also trying to work with arcade owners by creating a service called VivePort Arcade, which will bring virtual reality experiences to arcades without the burden of licensing issues from developers and content creators.
Although we would have loved to see a new HTC Vive, we think HTC is still at the forefront of VR and the future looks quite promising.