- Review Price: £300
We take an opening look at the Vive Wireless adapter
Give anyone with a proper virtual reality headset one wish to make their VR experience better, and they’re likely to ask for wires to be banished.
And this is just what the Vive Wireless Adapter promises. I put it through its paces playing Doom VFR – and boy was it liberating.
Before I go into detail about my experience with it, it’s worth mentioning the challenges that HTC has had to overcome – and the reason this is such a big deal. Note, also, that the Vive Wireless adapter is neither the first nor only wireless VR solution on offer.
I tried the TPCAST HTC Vive Wireless VR Adapter briefly last year. Although the demo didn’t go well due to technical issues, it’s now on the market and available to buy for around $300/£300.
Vive Wireless Adapter – Better than life
There’s no getting away from it – the wires attached to VR headsets such as the Vive, Oculus Rift and PSVR limit your immersion. There’s a constant nagging in the back of your mind about the presence of wires, and as such you move more cautiously. You do get used to it after a while, but there’s no denying that the threat of tripping over, or knocking down your PC, remains with you.
There are two problems with going wireless, however: power and latency.
A lack of wires means you’ll need some way to power the Vive and its newly announced upgrade the Vive Pro. A simple battery pack solves this issue, but usage will be limited to the length of time it lasts.
The second is more difficult to address. You need to find a way to stream a LOT of data to the headset very quickly to avoid lag. Lag is a nightmare for gamers, and potentially even worse when it comes to VR. This is because without a stable frame rate things become – how can I best describe it – nausea-inducing. Any disconnect between moving your head and the image on-screen matching it exactly is a big issue when it comes to virtual reality immersion.
The Vive Wireless Adaptor features Intel’s WiGig technology, which promises a premium VR wireless experience that operates in the interference-free 60GHz band. This means lower latency and better performance.
“Wireless VR has been on nearly every VR user’s wishlist since the technology was unveiled,” said Frank Soqui, General Manager Virtual Reality Group at Intel Corporation. “By collaborating with HTC to commercialise Intel’s WiGig technology, we will guarantee that wireless VR meets the most discerning quality bar for home users and business VR customers.”
Related: Best VR games
Vive Wireless Adapter – How good is it?
The adapter locks on to the top of the Vive; it doesn’t add much weight or change the level of comfort at all. A power pack then attaches to the headset, and you can clip it to your belt or pop it in your pocket. It seems simple and elegant, although I’ll want to set it up on a Vive myself before passing final judgement.
I tried the Vive Wireless Adapter playing Doom VFR on the original Vive.
I haven’t played Doom VFR before, so it took me a while to get to grips with fast-paced teleporting and shooting. But this isn’t the point; the point is that playing on a Vive with the Wireless Adapter was just like playing my Vive at home.
In fact, for the first five minutes I simply forgot I was wireless; I was like a dog that had been leashed to a post for too long. I was still moving gingerly, shackled by my muscle-memory of being tethered on my Vive at home.
However, within 10 minutes I was dodging and ducking without a second thought – and it was liberating. Room-scale VR really needs wireless.
What about lag? Since I hadn’t played Doom VFR before, it was difficult to judge whether anything was amiss. But if there was anything, I certainly didn’t notice it. There was another person trying out the Wireless Adapter before me and he said it “felt like there was 2ms of input lag”. If this was the case, it had no negative effect on the experience – although, if you’re playing Echo Arena competitively then you might feel differently.
The suggestion was that the battery pack would see you through up to two hours of use, but the good news is that you can use third-party packs too. If, like me, you’ve accrued a few over the years then they’ll come in handy when the Vive Wireless adapter goes on sale.
Vive Wireless Adapter release date and price
The Vive Wireless Adapter will be available to buy in Q3 2018 according to HTC. It will work with both the original Vive and the upcoming Vive Pro. Pricing information wasn’t yet confirmed.
I do hope it isn’t quite as pricey as the £300/$300 TPCAST’s adapter.
The Vive Wireless Adapter offers the single biggest improvement possible to your room-scale virtual reality experience. Wireless is the future of VR.