HTC has finally shipped the Vive Wireless Adapter. The company has been promising to release Vive headset owners from their cables since Computex 2017. Since then Vive owners saw the expansion of the Viveport marketplace, the introduction of the Vive Pro headset, and have even been teased by experiments with multi-room tracking enabled by the SteamVR Tracking 2.0 sensors. Now, well over a year later, the Vive Wireless Adapter is finally available.
The Vive Wireless Adapter's appeal should be immediately apparent to anyone who's used the Vive headset. It's easy to forget that you're connected to a PC with a cable--which is the entire point of virtual reality--until you start moving around. Then it becomes a common source of frustration that can make it hard to do things in-game that require a lot of movement. (Ducking behind cover in first-person shooters is the easiest way to experience this.)
HTC said the Vive Wireless Adapter can solve that problem and offer "even deeper immersion into the virtual world as all restrictions fade away." The company said its adapter has a range of 6 meters, which should be more than large enough for most home setups, and that its included battery lasts "over two hours." But we haven't gotten our hands on the Vive Wireless Adapter yet, so we'll have to take HTC's performance claims with a grain of salt for now.
The Vive Wireless Adapter has two major parts: a receiver that attaches to a Vive headset and an antenna that transmits data from the connected PC. Additional batteries can be purchased separately. Note that HTC developed the system in partnership with Intel (which is tackling wireless VR with its WiGig technology) and DisplayLink (which developed the system's lossless compression tech), so a similar setup could be offered for other headsets.
HTC says the Vive Wireless Adapter is available now for $300, and includes two months of access to its Viveport Subscription. There is bad news for Vive Pro owners, however: They'll have to spend an additional $60 on a compatibility pack. The add-on includes an attachment device, connection cable, and foam padding made specifically for the headset. Given the Vive Pro's already high price, that just feels like rubbing salt in the wound.