We first heard about the official Vive wireless adapter HTC was making in partnership with Intel last year, but now it's here at last. The device is going on sale from US$299.99 and up, with pre-orders opening up on September 5, and shipping starting on September 24.
A handful of third-party options for cutting the VR cables are already on the market, but considering this new device has the HTC seal of approval, it should be one of the best options for going wire-free with your HTC Vive headset. In other words, expect minimal latency and quick setup.
The Vive Wireless Adapter works with both the original HTC Vive and the HTC Vive Pro, though for the latter you'll need to fork out an extra $60 for a compatibility pack to make sure everything works smoothly.
Wireless transmission is handled by Intel's WiGig specification, offering a dedicated 60 GHz transmission band with 6 meters (20 feet) of range and a 150-degree field of view. Even better, up to three Vive headsets can connect to the one receiver.
The adapter also makes use of DisplayLink's XR codec, a special compression mechanism for making sure the huge amount of data required to make VR work can flow swiftly over the air to an attached headset. You will need a spare PCI-e slot on your PC (or an external PCI-e enclosure) to fit the card that handles wireless communication.
Cutting the VR cables means doing away with power as well of course, and with that in mind, the wireless adapter comes with an integrated PowerBank battery pack. HTC isn't saying how much playing time you'll get – only that it's "hours" – but you get one PowerBank included and extras can be purchased separately.
To sweeten the deal, HTC is throwing in a two-month subscription to the Viveport Subscription service (normal price $7/month), giving you access to a library of 500 titles to rent rather than buy.
There's no doubt the future of VR is wireless, but for those with existing kit, the Vive Wireless Adapter provides a useful stopgap, albeit at a steep price. While the graphics and performance aren't on a par with the HTC Vive headsets, devices like the Oculus Go and Google Daydream View already work without wires – and are a lot cheaper.Product page:
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