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HTC Vive debuted its Vive XR Elite virtual reality and mixed reality headset at CES 2023. It shows that HTC Vive is willing to compete with rival Meta, Pico and Sony in the next generation of virtual reality.

The Vive XR Elite (preorder link here) includes both VR and MR capabilities, with full-color RGB camera for passthrough viewing. Lightweight at just 1.4 pounds, and that includes the battery weight.

You can preorder it starting today. Based on the specs, it is a close competitor to the Meta Quest 2, but pricing at $1,100 has it squarely in between the Meta Quest 2 at $400 and the Meta Quest Pro at $1,500.

HTC said the headset is perfect for gaming, fitness, productivity and more.

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“The VIVE XR Elite all-in-one represents the next milestone in the progression towards the fully immersive internet, going beyond today’s VR with accurate pass-through video to open up a new realm of realism in learning and playing,” said Cher Wang, chairwoman of HTC Corp., in a statement. “This advanced yet compact device offers the best of all worlds for consumers, providing the ideal physical gateway to the universe of experiences offered by Viverse, our version of the metaverse, with the widest variety of content inputs even up to the very latest standards such as WiFi 6E.”

Vive XR Elite includes hand-tracking, which enables a whole new dimension of MR scenarios. This can include playing games where the characters are running on your furniture, having real-time overlays on musical instruments like a piano so you can learn, and having a workstation with multiple virtual screens while still being able to use your real-world keyboard and mouse.

Lots of immersive content

Figmin XR
Figmin XR

Vive XR Elite will see HTC Vive’s biggest range of launch titles ever, with 100 new pieces of MR and VR content arriving in the launch window – from new games to classics – with more to follow.

That includes, Demeo, Hubris, Yuki, Maestro, Les Mills Body Combat, FigminXR, Unplugged, Finger Gun, and more. Post-launch, even more content will arrive, such as Everslaught: Invasion, and later in the year full MR games like Eggscape.

Vive XR Elite can be connected easily to a PC via USB-C to access PCVR content from Viveport and Steam and supports wireless PC streaming over WiFi or the latest generation – WiFi 6E with low latency and great graphics.

You can stream content wirelessly from a compatible Android phone to Vive XR Elite, which opens a wider selection of entertainment. In the headset, your cinema screen will seem like it’s 300 inches wide. You can view content from services like Netflix and Disney+ or games like Fortnite, and you can connect a Bluetooth controller to your phone for a full gaming experience.

All-in-one XR

The side view of the HTC Vive XR Elite.

Vive XR Elite has a modular design that can easily be transformed into a glasses form factor. You remove the battery and fit the Vive XR Elite temple pads. You can change the physical configuration so it works best for whichever situation you’re in, whether that’s at home, in the office, or travelling on a plane.

The redesigned hinge means the extended arms of Vive XR Elite cup your head just like the front and back of a traditional all-in-one. There’s a USB-C connecting cable on the right-hand side, which you can plug into a power source like a battery bank or airline seat.

Intuitive control with precise tracking

With four wide field-of-view cameras, exceptional 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) spatial accuracy, a depth sensor, hand-tracking and capacitive sensing for your finger movements on the controllers, developers have options to use VR and MR content for accurate movement.

Vive XR Elite has both physical controllers and hand-tracking for accuracy when gaming, using productivity apps, or learning. Vive Wrist Tracker is also compatible to deliver enhanced hand tracking, or it can be attached to objects you want to track in XR.

Compact design, superior performance

You can the Vive XR Elite in glasses mode.

The visual impact is sharp with a wide 110-degree field of view and 4K resolution (at 2K per eye) which runs at a 90Hz refresh rate. Vive XR Elite has adjustable lenses so you can take off your glasses and still see a clear picture with greater comfort. You can find your perfect sweet spot without having to remove the headset, with a built-in fine-adjustable IPD slider placed on the outside of the headset.

The battery is placed at the back for balance and is curved for optimal comfort, and delivers up to two hours of full XR use. The battery is removable and hot swappable, so you can keep going whether it’s changing to another power source or changing to another battery. It has 30-watt fast charging and is charged via USB-C power delivery.

It also has a removable fabric face gasket, connected by magnets to make it easy to clean or switch out for a fresh one. The sound stage is enhanced by adding larger speakers that allow layers of immersion with enhanced bass, balance and directional audio that adds up to better clarity in any XR experience, without having to rely on external solutions.

Vive XR Elite uses environment-first packaging which is 99.9% paper, made from 99% recycled materials, and is 100% recyclable.

Step into the Viverse

Viverse vision

Vive XR Elite lets you dive into the Viverse, which is HTC’s take on the metaverse. You start in a two-floor customizable social space that acts as the launchpad of your adventures – simply look at the shelf in your space to launch your favorite XR games and experiences or look at the paintings on the wall and use them as portals into new worlds.

A dedicated living area means you can invite friends over to hang out and to help with keeping that work/life balance, you can go to the second floor and check out your agenda for the day.

HTC is working with a variety of technology and content partners to bring its vision of an open, interoperable, and imaginative Viverse to life, the company said.

Viverse growth and optimization

Neal Stephenson's Lamina1 startup is aimed at the open metaverse.
Neal Stephenson’s Lamina1 startup is aimed at the open metaverse.

Viverse continues to demonstrate leadership in supporting OpenXR and WebXR standards and is accessible from a wide range of connected devices that support a web browser. HTC has partnered with the character creation company VRoid Studios, which makes it easy to bring avatars into Viverse leveraging the open VRM standard.

3D modelling platform Sketchfab is another technology partner, allowing users to import a wide range of free 3D objects into their home base in Viverse.

HTC is also collaborating with Lamina1 to accelerate the open metaverse ecosystem for society. HTC’s Viverse platform will be using Lamina1’s layer one tools to enable more efficient cross-world cross-platform asset distribution and management, so users can seamlessly keep their digital assets (avatars, clothes, artwork, etc) with them as they traverse the metaverse.

Lamina1 was co-founded by Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson, who coined the term metaverse back in the early 90s, and Crypto Pioneer Peter Vessenes.

Pricing and availability

Vive XR Elite is available to pre-order globally from January 5 via vive.com and participating authorised retailers. Pre-order shipments are estimated to begin from late February. Vive XR Elite comes with the headset itself, 2x controllers, and the headset battery cradle, and will cost $1,100.

HTC Vive’s latest headset launch with a promotional offer of an XR games/content bundle, in certain regions. Vive XR Elite will also be available for enterprise users, with more information coming later this year and HTC Vive will also be launching a Face and Eye Tracker unit in 2023.

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