We've opined several times of late that mobile VR hardware hasn't exactly been throttling forward at breakneck speed (or, for that matter, even break-fingernail speed). HTC just announced a smartphone-based VR product that brings something truly new to the table, but only Japanese tables will be showcasing the (non-Vive-branded) HTC Link.
When you think of mobile VR (or smartphone-based VR), you likely picture a shell of a headset that you slide a phone into. But unlike the Gear VR and Daydream View headsets, the HTC Link connects via wire to the company's new HTC U11 smartphone. The Link has its own display and, from the sounds of it, processor distinct from those in the U11. HTC says the combination of tethered phone and headset allows for quality 3D tracking.
There's also an external sensor for positional tracking that appears to be a camera following lights on the headset and motion controllers, similar to PlayStation VR (hopefully with higher-quality tracking). Note the positively PSVR-esque lights on the headset and controls in the image below.
As welcome as it is to see something fresh in the mobile VR space, HTC has only posted info on the Link on its Japanese website. According to UploadVR, HTC has confirmed that it has no plans to let the headset see the light of day anywhere else.
Why? Well, for starters, we don't expect the U11 to sell like hotcakes in the U.S. – with limited carrier partners (just Sprint) and HTC's smartphone sales suffering there in recent years.
Perhaps HTC's regional restriction also ties into the company's upcoming standalone Daydream headset. It too supports positional tracking, only without any external sensors – and with the company's beloved Vive branding that the Link lacks.
HTC hasn't announced any pricing details yet.
Source: HTC (Japanese language)