With Meta successfully cornering the standalone VR headset market, HTC has turned its sights to the lightweight VR market with what it describes as its first pair of “immersive glasses”.
Let’s be honest, the Vive Flow look more like a pair of fashion-focused sunglasses than a VR headset, complete with relfective lenses and traditional arms. It’s a cool look, but it’d likely draw attention if you were to use them on public transport or long flights – which is exactly what HTC envisions.
Aside from basic VR experiences akin to those from Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR, the main draw of the Vive Flow is the ability to mirror your smartphone display. That allows you to run apps like Disney+ and Netflix, enjoying your digital content on a virtual 100in display.
But while the idea behind it is solid, the execution is flawed to say the least.
Aside from the fact that the system is only compatible with a small number of smartphones in the wider market (and no iPhone support at all), the decision to use Miracast instead of standard USB-C connectivity means there’s input lag. That means you can’t play your favourite games via the cloud on the headset, nor can you hook it up to a laptop for work purposes.
Throw in basic controller support via a connected smartphone, the fact it gets uncomfortable to wear after around 30 minutes of use and its relatively high price point for what’s on offer, and it’s not looking good for the Flow. Oh, and we haven’t even mentioned that it requires an external battery source connected via USB-C as there’s no built-in battery. Yeah…
If you’re a very specific type of person that travels a lot and wants a better way to watch movies, the Flow is a solid option, but for everyone else, there are more capable options available at a cheaper price point.