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HTC just dropped a $499 VR headset for literally anything but games

The headset has a 1.6K-per-eye display, with a 100-degree field of view at a 75 Hz refresh rate.

htc vive vr ar headset
Image: HTC

HTC just released its latest virtual reality (VR) headset, the Vive Flow. The $499 headset is aimed firmly at entertainment use, with a simplified setup compared to HTC’s more fully-featured headsets.

It looks more like a pair of snowboarding goggles than a VR headset, and that’s kind of the point. Bulky headsets might be part of the resistance against VR’s expansion, so HTC is trying a different design for casual VR use.

The Vive Flow is powered by Qualcomm’s XR1 processor, which is the previous generation of the chip that Facebook is using in the Oculus Quest 2. That might be okay though, as HTC is marketing the Vive Flow as a media consumption device, that’s portable enough to take with you when you travel.

That means it’s competing against other slim VR or AR headsets like the Nreal Air, and not against gaming-focused headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2.

The headset has a 1.6K-per-eye display, with a 100-degree field of view at a 75 Hz refresh rate. That’s very similar to the specs of the original Oculus Quest, but in a much lighter package.

Part of that weight reduction is from HTC’s decision to use an external battery pack to power the headset. There is still a small battery inside the frame, but it’s designed to last long enough for you to swap out the external battery for a fresh one.

HTC also decided to add the ability to adjust the lenses so you don’t have to wear your glasses inside the headset, and Miracast so you can mirror phone apps to the display. That might just be the killer app for the Vive Flow, allowing things like Netflix to display as a huge floating screen.

You can preorder the $499 Vive Flow today, and HTC is shipping in early November.

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