HTC’s Vive XR Elite does virtual reality and augmented reality for $1,099

HTC saw what Meta was trying to do with its Quest headset, saw all the rumors of Apple’s long-term foray into virtual reality or augmented reality headsets, and said to themselves “we’re HTC, VR is the thing we can do better.” And they did, as they did. They’ve introduced the completely self-contained Vive XR Elite headset that hits all the marks: it’s compact, lightweight and powerful.

The Vive headset line thus far has focused primarily on VR, so expanding into AR means taking a fresh approach to some of HTC’s strengths. Chief among them was the addition of passthrough cameras to show accurate color and space to the outside world — what you see with a headset should reflect exactly what you’d see without it.

The Vive XR Elite also has hand-tracking cameras without a motion controller, though it includes a couple of these as well. By bringing all this together into a headset that’s powerful enough to run on its own, HTC hopes to engineer experiences that bridge the two realities and augmented reality, such as “playing games where characters run on your furniture, with real-time overlays on musical instruments like the piano even You can learn, and even have the perfect workstation with multiple virtual screens while still using your keyboard and mouse in the real world.” One hundred VR and AR games and apps will be available for the HTC Vive XR Elite at launch, with many more planned for the rest of the year.

If you’re doing something that requires more power than the Vive XR can muster, you can switch to a more traditional VR headset setup by hooking up the headset to a computer via USB-C—a huge upgrade from the early days of the Vive VR where wired-in hardware had to be connected. Separate HDMI, USB, power and audio cables to your head. But with built-in Wi-Fi 6E for high-speed wireless transmission and low latency, HTC hopes you won’t have to connect your computer at all. Heck, you can even use that Wi-Fi connection to stream from a compatible Android phone. Granted, a lot of this content won’t be in VR, but you can use the Vive XR Elite’s built-in Personal Theater mode to create a virtual screen that will feel like 300 inches from one corner to the other.

HTC made sure to design the Vive XR Elite in a modular way. If you’re okay with staying plugged in with a power cable, you can drop the rear battery pack and wear it like a pair of goggles – reducing the weight to less than half the full 625-gram block. Or you can swap battery packs without having to turn everything off and back on. Or, you can add eye-tracking modules and wrist-tracking controllers for even more precise motion tracking.

Inside the headset you’ll find a pair of 2K monitors with individually adjustable diopters for each eye. This isn’t groundbreaking for a VR headset in 2023, but it’s still very good. All of this is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 processor (vintage 2021, but also the latest available now), bolstered by 128GB of storage and 12GB of RAM.

benefit? The HTC Vive XR Elite is available for pre-order now, with shipments beginning in late February 2023. And the $1,099 price tag gets you a headset, two HTC Vive 3D hard controllers, and a headset battery holder.

VR and AR

HTC Vive XR Elite headset

HTC Vive XR Elite

This might be the best VR headset we’ve seen — and this includes AR, too. It’s hard to argue that the HTC Vive isn’t the best dog in VR, and the Vive XR Elite pushes the boundaries even further.

Source: HTC Vive

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