Years after unofficially exiting the consumer VR space in favor of enterprise products, HTC has returned with its first standalone headset for consumers. The Vive XR Elite is a $1,100 flagship for VR and passthrough mixed reality (MR). Although that pushes it far past the price range of the $400 Meta Quest 2, HTC’s product compares more favorably on paper with the pricey Meta Quest Pro.
The Vive XR Elite has a 4K display with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 110-degree field of view (FOV). It includes four wide-FOV cameras, enabling inside-out spatial tracking without external sensors. The product ships with two wireless controllers and supports hand tracking. Additionally, a full-color RGB camera allows passthrough MR that lets you blend virtual experiences with your real-world surroundings.
The headset weighs 625g (about 13 percent lighter than the Quest Pro), including its hot-swappable battery on the back. HTC says this placement helps balance the headset’s weight. The battery provides an estimated two hours of use and supports 30-watt fast charging via USB-C. Additionally, the headset has a built-in retractable charging cable on its right side, making it easy to plug into a power bank or airline seat (if you want to be the VR weirdo on your next flight).
HTC says the XR Elite has large speakers supporting directional audio. In addition, the headset’s lenses have a dial that adjusts for prescription, allowing visually challenged folks to take off their glasses before playing. Strangely, HTC says you can remove the battery, fit the headset with temple pads and wear it as regular glasses. (That sounds like an odd fashion choice.) The company also says an add-on Face and Eye Tracker accessory will arrive later this year.
Although HTC has a solid track record with VR hardware, content and marketing are its biggest challenges. In the nine years since Meta (Facebook at the time) bought Oculus, it has bought VR studios, made exclusive deals with others and sunk countless advertising dollars into its brand. Although there’s plenty to criticize about Meta’s business practices, the company has stockpiled an unmatched library of virtual games and experiences. HTC has tried to compete with its Viveport subscription service, but its headset still launches at a significant content disadvantage.
Some of those content gaps can be filled with PC support. The XR Elite connects wirelessly or with a USB-C cable to play PCVR games from Steam and Viveport. You can also stream content from a compatible Android phone to the headset to watch videos on a virtual big screen. (Here’s the complete list of supported phones.) The company says you can also connect a Bluetooth controller to play gamepad-friendly smartphone games.
HTC says 100 games and experiences will arrive within the headset’s launch window. Listed launch titles include Demeo, Hubris, Yuki, Maestro, Les Mills Body Combat, FigminXR, Unplugged and Finger Gun. The company adds that Everslaught: Invasion and the full MR game Eggscape will arrive later in the year.
Engadget’s Sam Rutherford is trying the headset later today and will share his impressions soon. Meanwhile, you can pre-order the Vive XR Elite from the company website starting today. HTC estimates that early purchases will begin shipping in late February.