HTC on Tuesday announced that Vive owners will be able to preorder its upcoming wireless adapter for a cord-free VR experience starting September. It will be available in the US at Amazon, Best Buy, Microsoft, Newegg, and direct from Vive's website, and will ship on September 24.
The cost of going wireless is not cheap—HTC is pricing the wireless adapter at $299. Owners of the Vive Pro (the best high end VR headset) will need to add another $60 for a "compatibility pack" that includes foam padding and a special attachment for their upgraded headset.
Going wireless addresses one of the downsides of premium VR headsets like the Vive, which must be tethered to a PC. HTC's adapter requires installing a PCI Express card to deliver the wireless signal, with a sensor attached. It has a broadcast range of 6 meters with a 150 degree field of view, and runs in the 60GHz band using Intel's WiGig spec.
"Since the first demos of Vive, we’ve known that to deliver on the best of premium VR, we wanted it to be wireless," said Daniel O’Brien, GM Americas, HTC Vive. "But we learned that delivering a great wireless experience takes time and really smart partners. We’ve brought the engineering expertise together to deliver a truly first of its kind wireless VR experience. Thanks to Intel and DisplayLink for helping to make this vision a reality."
The primary challenge, presumably, was ensuring that latency would not be an issue. On the wireless adapter's product page, HTC touts a "near-zero latency VR experience."
Another one of HTC's selling points is that going wireless makes it easier to team up with friends and family. Assuming you know other people who also own a Vive and are willing to splurge on a wireless adapter, it would indeed be easier to play in small groups of two or three people, at least until one of you flails about and unintentionally smacks someone in the face.
HTC says the wireless adapter lasts up to 2.5 hours per charge. The adapter will come with a single PowerBank, which can also be used to charge smartphones. Additional PowerBanks will be available to purchase as well, though HTC did not say how much they will cost.