Xbox One X vs PlayStation 4 Pro: The console wars level up with powerful new hardware

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Hands-on: Intel’s wireless HTC Vive add-on teases a cord-free future for VR

“I just can’t stand the wire,” is probably the most common complaint about virtual reality—at least on the hardware side. And for those people, I have exciting news: Wireless VR might be here within the next year, thanks to Intel’s WiGig technology, which we tested using the HTC Vive. No more tripping over cables, or doing that awkward kick-move to untangle your legs.

And while Intel’s WiGig add-on still has quite a ways to go before it’s ready for consumers, the remaining hurdles lie in design and manufacturing more than the underlying wireless tech. The core functionality is rock-solid.

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Why VR was a conspicuous no-show at Microsoft’s Xbox One X launch

After originally touting the powerful new Xbox One X (formerly Project Scorpio) as a VR-capable console last year, Microsoft backed way off during its formal E3 2017 launch—not even mentioning virtual reality.

To be fair, Microsoft previously signaled that virtual reality was not going to be a priority for the Xbox One X at first. Microsoft already said that it would add VR capabilities to Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One X in 2018, and then revealed to Polygon that it would not be showing off VR technology at E3. 

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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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