Smartphone specialist turned VR headset honcho HTC is expanding its lineup of Vive hardware. The latest device is the Vive Focus, a design formerly restricted to the Chinese market, coming to 37 new markets next week including the US and Europe.
The Vive Focus has been around since late last year, when it was introduced as a standalone, mobile-powered alternative to the expensive Vive for PCs. It uses a Snapdragon 835 processor—also seen in 2017’s top Android smartphones—which might lead you to believe it’s intended to compete with the upcoming Oculus Go. But in fact, HTC says that the Vive Focus will be marketed for enterprise applications, such as retailers hoping to give virtual tours to customers or educators hoping to make VR simulations.
That’s a good thing, since its $600 price tag doesn’t make it competitive with either the $400 Oculus Go or entry-level PC-powered VR headsets. The standard model doesn’t even include a controller with six degrees of control—an essential part of full-scale VR gaming—though a $750 upgraded model does.
The Vive Focus is running Android software, but it doesn’t use Google’s Daydream platform, instead using a modified version of HTC’s Vive Wave software and app/game store.
In short, while a “new Vive” might sound exciting, it doesn’t look like this one will be making it into many consumer hands. Which is a shame, since HTC’s experience with VR hardware and a surprisingly high-res set of 1440×800 screens (one for each eye) would have enabled much more impressive experiences than currently available via Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR.