HTC Vive Deluxe Audio Strap review: The Vive finally feel complete

When I reviewed the HTC Vive last April, I wrote that Valve and HTC had created “the most forward-thinking VR headset on the market,” with one huge exception: design.

The Vive had its sole competitor, the Oculus Rift, completely beaten—this amazing room-scale experience, motion controls, Steam integration—except that the Rift was simply more comfortable to wear for long stints of time. “The Vive is in line with the Rift’s second-gen developer kit,” I wrote, and I stand by it. The Vive felt like a work in progress.

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HTC’s Vive VR headset will use WiGig to ditch its cumbersome cables

HTC will launch a wireless version of the Vive virtual reality headset in early 2018.

A prototype of the new headset was unveiled and demonstrated at Computex in Taipei on Tuesday during a keynote by Intel, which said it’s working closely with HTC to realize the system.

The wireless HTC Vive looked similar to today’s cabled model with the addition of a box of electronics worn on the head of the user. Intel didn’t provide any details about the system, but that’s presumably where the electronics and radios are fitted to make wireless VR possible.

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Google’s Standalone VR and VPS address the clutter and clumsiness of virtual reality

Google said it has solved key problems with both augmented reality and its cousin, virtual reality, with a new standalone VR headset and a way to navigate indoors using visual reference points as a sort of indoor GPS, called VPS.

Google said it was working with both HTC and Lenovo to deliver the first standalone VR devices later this year. Meanwhile, Google said consumers should expect the Asus Zenfone AR, a second-generation phone that uses Google’s Project Tango technology, to go on sale this summer.

Most manufacturers now see virtual reality and augmented reality as a spectrum of capabilities, and the lines between the two are beginning to blur even as the devices remain separate. One of the big challenges, however, has been to give virtual reality users, whose vision is occluded by a headset that’s physically tethered to a PC, some freedom of movement.

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Will Windows 10-on-ARM PCs support Mixed Reality headsets?

A Windows-on-ARM PC is getting closer to reality. Microsoft showed off a prototype mini-desktop with an ARM processor running Windows 10 at last week’s Build conference, with the PC running applications like Office.

The PC was shown in a video posted on the Channel 9 website. The presenters reinforced Microsoft’s previous message saying that all x86 applications will work on Windows-on-ARM PCs.

Microsoft has maintained that the experience on Windows 10-on-ARM PCs will be similar to x86 laptops, but many questions remain. One revolves around whether Windows 10-on-ARM PCs will support Windows Mixed Reality headsets.

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Hands-on: How Microsoft’s mixed-reality devices could learn a lesson from the HoloLens

At Microsoft’s Build conference this week, Microsoft set up what it calls a “shared immersive experience”: a group of HoloLens users perched high up in a virtual sky, directing another group of mixed-reality users on the “ground” through a short maze. It’s easy to see this as a metaphor to describe the relationship between the two devices.

And in some ways, it works. Microsoft’s HoloLens is priced at a lofty $3,000 for commercial partners and developers; mixed-reality devices are literally a tenth of the price, or $300. I’ve tried both. I’m cautiously impressed with the Acer Mixed Reality Developer Edition that will be sold as a consumer device this holiday, but it could still learn a trick or two from the HoloLens.

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Here’s what your PC needs to run Windows 10’s Mixed Reality VR

Windows 10’s blurring of physical and digital barriers is inching closer towards reality.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mixed Reality headset partners—including Acer, Asus, Dell, and HP—were at the Build 2017 conference this week talking up their hardware. The initial models will also be priced at $399 or less, which is significantly cheaper than gaming-centric virtual reality headsets like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive.

The new Windows 10 headsets are expected to start rolling out in the summer in the form of “Developers Edition” headsets by Acer and HP, with a wider consumer release scheduled for the holiday season. That’s the plan, anyway. At one point Microsoft hinted that these headsets would launch a lot closer to the April release of the Windows 10 Creators Update, so who knows if we’ll see more delays?

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Google takes a big VR leap with Owlchemy Labs acquisition

Google has only been in the serious VR game for a few months with Daydream, but that doesn’t mean it’s a small player. Many of its interactive and immersive efforts extend beyond the limitations of its phone-based headset, including Title Brush and Google Earth VR, and a new acquisition looks to take VR to the next level.

Relja Markovic, engineering director of VR and AR at Google, has announced that the company has acquired Owlchemy Labs, the studio responsible for award-winning titles such as Job Simulator and Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality. However, Owlchemy says it is “free to pursue raw creation and sprint toward interesting problems,” despite its new owners.

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Microsoft’s mixed-reality devices undercut the Rift and Vive with lower prices

Microsoft is bringing a new spurt of energy to its mixed-reality efforts. On Thursday at its Build conference in Seattle, the company announced partner devices with features and prices that challenge rivals like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Of particular interest are the motion controllers, which will be bundled into kits with mixed-reality headsets from Acer and others. 

Acer, which has already shown its Mixed Reality Developer Edition headsets at Build and elsewhere, plans to ship a consumer version by this summer: $299 for just the headset, and $399 for the headset and controllers, Microsoft said. HP will also announce a mixed-reality developer kit on Thursday, priced at $329 for the headset alone. HP’s headset will also ship by summer, while headsets from other manufacturers like Asus and Dell are expected later in the year, closer to the holiday season.

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