Meta hasn’t had much competition in the virtual reality (VR) market for several years. There have been a few headset companies, but none have been able to meet the Meta Quest 2’s price-to-performance target. Valve tried with Index, but the high price tag made it out of reach for many people. HTC has sold VR headsets for many years, but none have achieved the success that the Quest has. HTC says it plans to change that by 2023. It has released an image of an upcoming headset that appears to be surprisingly thin and will be unveiled at CES in early January.
The image was shared with The Verge (top), and instead of hiding details, it shows quite a few. We can see that, unlike most existing headsets, they resemble goggles. HTC describes the device as a small, light all-in-one device that supports virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality (MR). The device has front and side-facing cameras, and because it is an all-in-one unit that does not require a PC connection, it will be useful for everything from gaming to enterprise scenarios. HTC currently separates its consumer and enterprise devices, but it appears that with this upcoming headset, it will merge the two.
The new headset will reportedly have a two-hour battery life, which is roughly equivalent to the Meta Quest Pro. It will be paired with controllers that provide six degrees of freedom as well as hand tracking. The outward-facing cameras allow for full-color passthrough for MR, allowing for experiences such as seeing virtual items in your own work or gaming area. This is regarded as one of the next big things in this space, as you could, for example, have a virtual yoga instructor in your living room. The HTC representative stated that the company has high hopes for this feature, but could not specify what the headset will offer in this regard at this time.
HTC currently offers the Flow, which it describes as “immersive VR glasses,” to mainstream consumers. It costs $449 and competes directly with the Quest 2. It also has a Vive Pro, but at $1,200, it competes with the Valve Index and Quest Pro. The Vive Pro, like the Index, is, however, tethered to a PC. This new headset appears to want to bridge the gap between the two existing headsets. If this is the case, we would anticipate a price of around $800.
According to the report from the HTC spokesman, the Quest Pro won’t be the only thing that the new headset will have an advantage over. To more precisely mimic a user’s environment, it claims to contain a depth sensor that Meta removed from its headset. In contrast to rival headsets, HTC claims that its cameras are so good that you can see text on a laptop while wearing it.
Since the AR/VR business has been largely dormant for some time, it is anticipated to really ramp up in 2023. Apple is anticipated to introduce a pricey product that would probably disrupt the current quo. In February, Sony will also release the $549 PSVR2 headset, which boasts many cutting-edge capabilities. Company will be intriguing to watch what HTC unveils at CES now that it has reaffirmed its commitment to VR with a portable headset.