Virtual Reality freedom — Vive wireless adapter at E3 2018

HTC’s Vive is an amazing and iterative piece of hardware. They’ve updated the headset several times, madeit lighter, updated the lenses, provided an optional Deluxe Audio Strap (our review here), and even bumped the resolution with their newly-released HTC Vive Pro. Now, they are looking to remove the last remaining literal tripping hazard for a true virtual reality immersion experience — the cables.

At E3 2018, Lead Editor Kay Purcell and I got to test out the latest prototype of the HTC Wireless Adapter, getting up close and personal with the technology, and finally taking it for a spin.

The Wireless Adapter is born of HTC’s own Vive X accelerator program. Intel’s WiGig technology powers the device, operating in the 60Ghz band, well above any other household electronics to maintain flawless connectivity without interference. Beyond Intel’s contribution is HTC’s partnership with DisplayLink. DisplayLink provides their own XR codec for this new foray into wireless virtual reality. This partnership being flawless is crucial when any latency would potentially cause nausea.

It’s amazing how light this device really is.

Talking with Troy Edwards, Director of PR for HTC, my first and biggest question was in regards to battery life for the device. He was happy to reveal that their testing has shown play time of roughly 3.5 hours of constant use thanks to the 10,500 mAh QuickCharge 3.0 battery pack — a reasonable amount of time for any VR adventure before needing a recharge. Talking through the rest of the specs, the device works within roughly 20 feet of the transmitter (19.69 feet, or six meters, specifically), and can be operated in the same space, though everyone will need their own transmitter, obviously.

The Wireless Adapter is shaped like a capital letter T, sitting directly on top of the HTC Vive’s head strap, and thus, the user’s head. The team smartly located the almost imperceptible amount of weight near the rear of the unit, and after a minute of use I had forgotten it entirely.

During our demo at E3, we got to play a somewhat odd, if awesome, choice of VR titles to demo the technology — Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope. Sure, we could play that with just the Vive and the wands, but that simply wouldn’t do. Instead, we strapped on massive custom spinning miniguns and began to gun down Beheaded Kamikaze, Gnaar, Khnum, and Arachnoids. Sure, it’s not the most demonstrative of room scale VR, but one could also argue that E3 is likely not the best place to showcase that sort of thing anyway. Instead, it’s what we couldn’t see that demonstrated the power of the wireless display adapter best.

HTC Vive Wireless Adapter - E3 2018 Hands On Preview [Gaming Trend]

E3 is a literal wireless soup of conflicting wireless bands smashing together in a horrific battle for control. In this space it’s often difficult to even reliably get a phone call, much less a stable and fast wireless connection. Still, amidst all this interference, we see not one, but two headsets operating concurrently, and without nausea.

There’s still a lot to learn about DisplayLink, including a release date and a price, but what we’ve seen here was a fantastic (and fun) demonstration inside horrible conditions. With games like Beat Saber, Creed, and the rise of haptic wearables like the Woojer vest, the wireless adapter is a must-have for anyone with the space to take advantage of it.

The weight is shifted to the rear of the head, making it more comfortable for extended wear.

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