Hands-on: HTC Vive Wireless Adapter – Compact and Lightweight, but Performs Poorly in a Busy Environment

It looks good, but a press conference is not the place to test wireless technology.

Vive’s CES 2018 press conference, held today in Las Vegas, was an interestingly small affair. Despite the announcement of two of the virtual reality (VR) audience’s most requested updates – improved resolution and wireless head-mounted displays (HMDs) – the reaction has been rather muted. This could well be due to the fact that a busy room in a Las Vegas hotel is not the best place to experience this technology, of course.

Vive Pro and Vive Wireless Adapter

The thick walls and closed doors of the Vive press conference made it difficult for any wireless device to communicate – including wi-fi and mobile phone data – and as such the Vive Wireless Adapter sadly didn’t perform too well. Constant drops in connectivity saw all manner of drift and tracking issues, despite the short range between the HMD-mounted device and the PC it was communicating with. When played with DOOM VFR, the device was unable to keep up with the fast pace of movement required in the videogame, and even lost tracking when standing still.

In terms of form factor the Vive Wireless Adapter is significantly smaller than any of the competitors VRFocus has previously experienced, including the TPCast and Intel Corporation’s partnership with DisplayLink. Of course, Vive revealed that the Vive Wireless Adapter is also based on Intel’s WiGig technology at today’s press conference, even referring to the company as a ‘partner’ for the device. The Vive Wireless Adapter operates on an ‘interference-free’ 60 Ghz band, though sadly that didn’t seem to be entirely the case at today’s event.

Additional hardware included is a battery pack, which was small and light enough to easily fit in the pocket of a pair of jeans or sports jacket. There was no clip for attaching to a belt or waistband on this edition of the hardware, though that of course could change before the consumer version ships in what was stated to be ‘summer 2018’ during the press conference and ‘Q3’ in the press release that followed. That leaves us open to a large possible window for the device to be released in, and as such VRFocus will endeavour to secure more details when meeting with Vive executives on the CES 2018 show floor tomorrow morning

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