HTC Vive XR EliteHTC Vive XR Elite
HTC Vive XR Elite: HTC’s New Mixed Reality Headset Is ‘Gateway’ to Metaverse: CES 2023HTC Vive XR Elite. The HTC Vive XR Elite will compete with the Meta Quest Pro headset, while HTC’s metaverse push includes a partnership with layer-1 blockchain Lamina1.

Taiwanese tech firm HTC launched its new Vive XR Elite mixed reality headset at the 2023 Consumer Electronics Show, billing it as a “gateway” to the metaverse.

The HTC Vive XR Elite will act as “the ideal physical gateway to the universe of experiences offered by Viverse, our version of the metaverse,” said Cher Wang, co-founder, and chairwoman of HTC, in a statement accompanying the launch.

Priced at $1,099, the device functions as a virtual reality headset with wide 110 FOV4K resolution, and a 90Hz refresh rate, plus directional audio, four wide FOV cameras, and a depth sensor for 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) spatial accuracy.

Like rival Meta’s Quest Pro headset, the HTC Vive XR Elite can also be used as a mixed reality headset and includes a full-color RGB passthrough camera and hand-tracking.

The headset has two controllers with hand tracking and capacitive sensing features and is compatible with HTC’s Wrist Tracker.

The device’s battery delivers a claimed two hours of full HTC Vive XR Elite use and can be removed to convert the device into a glasses form factor when connected to an external power source. The HTC Vive XR Elite also includes a novel feature: adjustable lenses for spectacle wearers.

In a statement, HTC noted that it will be using Lamina1’s tools to “enable more efficient cross-world cross-platform asset distribution and management,” meaning that users can migrate digital assets such as avatars, clothes, and artwork between metaverse platforms.

The tech firm also announced a number of metaverse collaborations at CES 2023, including a team-up with fashion magazine ELLE Taiwan, which will open a showroom in its Viverse metaverse. Warner Music Taiwan will launch a “new music experience world” on Viverse, while Japanese creator platform pixiv will team up with HTC to bring VRoid’s anime-style avatars into Viverse, using the open VRM standard.

HTC has made no secret of its metaverse ambitions; in June 2022, it launched the HTC Desire 22 Pro smartphone, billing it as a metaverse phone and touting its built-in NFT wallet and Viverse integrations.

As far back as 2018, it produced the Exodus 1 and Exodus 1s smartphones, with built-in crypto wallets and the ability to run a full Bitcoin node.

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HTC Vive XR Elite: Features

Unlike HTC products in recent memory, Vive XR Elite is specifically targeting gaming, fitness, productivity, and on-the-go content consumption, the latter of which is thanks to a convertible battery head strap that can be unplugged in favor of glasses-like temple pieces.

It’s an interesting feature that’s a first for any major VR headset, which would hypothetically allow you to lean back in a seat without having a bulky back-mounted battery to contend with.

Of course, you’ll need some other power source to run the Vive XR Elite if you opt to remove the battery, be it a separate power bank or a USB cable connected to the mains.

What’s more, Vive XR Elite is a mixed reality device, meaning it can switch between standard VR games and those that use color passthrough AR, putting it in the same category as its chief competitor Meta Quest Pro. And like Quest Pro, Vive XR Elite can be connected to a PC via USB-C for PC VR content, as well as wirelessly over WiFi, with support up to WiFi 6E. We’ll talk a little more about content in a bit.

Below, you’ll see the headset has four room-tracking camera sensors, one on each side and one hidden respectively under each faceplate. In the center is a single RGB camera for color passthrough as well as a depth sensor, which in theory would increase the accuracy of room-scale tracking and object recognition.

Vive XR Elite also boasts Android app streaming, letting you interact with Android apps and games on a virtual cinema screen of “300 inches,” the company says. Users can also link Bluetooth gamepads to their phones for a fuller mobile gaming experience. That’s probably the only way you’d catch us playing Fortnite on a VR headset like this, since manipulating controls on the phone’s touch surface probably wouldn’t be effective.

Here’s a top-down look at the headset, which gives you a good view of how the back-mounted battery attaches, a look at the tightening twist knob, and a clear look at the battery’s USB-C charging port. It’s also impressively slim, owing to the inclusion of pancake lenses.

In addition to supporting the same controllers that come with Vive Focus 3, the headset also supports Vive Wrist Tracker, a hand-tracking device that can be attached to the user’s wrist, or to objects like gun controllers, Ping-Pong paddles, or tools.

Here’s a view that shows the headset’s diopter settings for its pancake lenses, which ostensibly allows near-sighted users to go without glasses, going up to -6D independently for both eyes. That little slider below the right lens is a mechanical IPD adjuster going from 54-73mm; nope, no eye-tracking here, at least not without the optional eye-tracking module that’s arriving at some point this year.

Audio is served up via two open-ear speakers integrated into the arms of the headset. We’ve poured over all product images and have yet to see space for a 3.5mm audio jack for external audio. That hole near the bridge of the headset appears to be an attachment point for the forthcoming facial-tracking module, which is also slated to arrive sometime this year. We’re currently at CES, so we’re adding that to our list of features in need of clarification.

With a consumer target clearly in its sights, HTC is offering up a slew of gaming-focused content for Vive XR Elite (full list below) that includes what the company says is “100 new pieces of MR and VR content” including Demeo, Hubris, Yuki, Maestro, Les Mills Body Combat, FigminXR, Unplugged, Finger Gun, and more.

Post-launch content will include Everslaught: Invasion, and later in the year full MR games like Eggscape. As you know, a consumer VR headset is nothing without games, so it’s good to see HTC do its due diligence to attract some of the top games to the headset. No Beat Saber, but we wouldn’t expect Meta to prioritize porting the popular block-slashing rhythm game to such a direct competitor.

HTC Vive XR Elite
HTC Vive XR Elite
Key Specs

Here’s an abridged spec breakdown. We’re working to get a more detailed list once we go hands-on here at CES 2023. We’ve included question marks (?) where we’ll probe for more detail in person:

  • Inside-out tracking – wide FOV cameras (4), depth sensor (1)
  • Passthrough – 16 MP RGB camera (1)
  • Resolution – 1,920 × 1,920 per eye, display type(?)
  • Display Refresh – 90 Hz
  • Chipset – Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2
  • Storage & Memory – 128 GB / 12 GB
  • FOV – up to 110 degrees
  • Optics – Pancake lens
  • IPD Adjustment – manual, 54 – 73 mm range
  • Audio – built-in open-ear audio, external audio(?)
  • Weight – 625g (including battery), 273g in ‘glasses’ mode
  • Input – 6DOF motion controllers (2), hand-tracking

One of the biggest selling points is HTC Vive XR Elite’s price, which although clearly not near the sub-$500 console price that typically gets us excited, it’s coming in a fair bit cheaper than the $1,500 Meta Quest Pro.

Note: many regions include taxes calculated in the final price above (UK, EU, AUS, etc) but a notable exception is the US. Sales tax varies widely through the US based on each state, so the final price in USD could range from exactly $1,099 in a minority of states with little to no sales tax to around $1,240 in states on the higher end of the range.

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HTC Vive XR Elite: Conclusion

While the Vive XR Elite has a color camera like the Meta Quest Pro, it lacks the eye- and face-tracking features of Meta’s high-end headset. Instead, Vive will offer tracking accessories as optional purchases.

By Ashish Bharnuke

My name is Ashish Bharnuke from Maharashtra (India). I have completed my Master’s in English Literature (2022) and recently pursuing my assistant professor job.

4 thoughts on “HTC Vive XR Elite: HTC’s New Mixed Reality Headset”
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