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HTC will announce a lightweight Meta Quest competitor at CES

HTC will announce a lightweight Meta Quest competitor at CES

HTC is planning to introduce a new flagship AR/VR headset next month that will re-establish its presence in the consumer virtual reality space. The company doesn't plan to release full details until CES on January 5th. But Shane Yeh, HTC's global head of product, spoke exclusively with The Verge about what it's trying to achieve with its new design: a smaller, lighter all-in-one headset that packs a full-featured virtual reality headset. Integrates reality headset. And the promise of augmented reality.

Yeh says, “It is about taking all these advances that we have made not only in the design aspects but also in the technical aspects and make it meaningful and attractive to the consumers.”

Based on an image shared with The Verge, the unnamed headset has a goggles-like look with front- and side-facing cameras. These say that buyers will be able to use the headset for "some of the more powerful use cases as well," including gaming, entertainment, exercise, and productivity and enterprise devices. It will get two hours of battery life, will be completely self-contained and will support controllers with six degrees of freedom as well as hand tracking.

One of the key features of the headset will be outward-facing cameras that pass a color video feed to users' screens, allowing for a mixed reality experience. This mixed reality option still seems pretty experimental — when I asked what buyers might use it for, You highlighted HTC's ongoing relationship with developers and said the best use cases would probably appear after release. Will give "We're at the stage where the technology is solid and we'll start to see some really cool experiences," it promises.

The upcoming headset is the HTC One which was first teased back in October with minimal details. At the time, we speculated that it would be the successor to the Vive Flow, a consumer-oriented headset introduced last year. For now, HTC is not confirming it. It describes the device as an application of the lessons learned from making the Flow and Vive Focus 3, a high-end headset for businesses. And the combination of virtual and augmented reality puts HTC's headset in the company of Meta's recently released Quest Pro and Apple's as-yet-unannounced AR/VR devices.

Color passthrough was a selling point for the recently released Meta Quest Pro, and HTC was careful about directly comparing the two - but it did offer some potential differences. For one thing, the new HTC headset will feature a depth sensor, which is supposed to be meta, but is ultimately scrapped. This can allow for more efficient tracking and more sophisticated mapping of users' physical environments. These say that the headset may have better dynamic range than other color passthrough mixed reality options available on the market; He described reading text on laptop or phone screens through the HTC's cameras, which is rarely possible inside the Meta Quest Pro.

In addition, the new headset feels more full-featured than the Flow (which originally shipped with a smartphone-based control scheme), but lighter and less bulky than the Vive Focus 3. That's what they claim - although we still don't know how light it is. The image shared by HTC doesn't show the headset's strap setup, but the mention of the headset being used suggests it's equipped with Flow Keys. . which had a tendency to slide off my face. "We spent so much time doing the ergonomics," Yeh says. "The Flow was the first time we did that glass form factor. And we really learned a lot from it. I can say that when we see things that can be improved, we will always improve it."

We don't know if HTC's device will have eye-tracking, another feature heavily relied upon on the latest Meta (and, based on rumors, Apple) headsets. But when asked, you noted that the Vive Focus 3 got eye tracking as an optional modular upgrade, something HTC often offers for its headsets. He also cryptically replied that HTC was working on sophisticated privacy protections that would prevent anyone from accessing data from the new headset's cameras, either locally or remotely, including an encrypted local partition that would allow the data to be encrypted. will store Stores "That will somehow sneak into the question you asked," he says.

HTC hopes its privacy promises will help differentiate its headset from the Meta's alternatives. While we don't know how much the headset will cost, this means it will appear to be more expensive than the $399 Meta Quest 2. "We do not believe that compromising privacy is the way we want to achieve this." The Vive Flow launched at $499 and the Focus 3 at $1,300, and we wouldn't be surprised if the new headset fell somewhere in between those points.

However, the Quest 2 has other advantages besides its low price. The Meta has funded or sourced a number of cool VR experiences, while HTC has historically lagged behind in that department, though it has offered some unique options like its Viveport subscription gaming service. The new headset will offer a standalone VR experience via the Viveport, and it can connect to a PC wirelessly or via cable to play desktop VR games. It says the goal is to get a "broader range" of experiences when people pick up the headset.

Last year, HTC declared itself temporarily out of the consumer VR game, at least partly because it didn't want to compete with Meta's heavily subsidized headset. So what has changed since then apart from raising Meta prices? For one thing, HTC has launched two standalone-ish headsets in rapid succession and built up its capabilities in the process. "We always value a good experience for consumers," he says. “We know how to make the best technology and now we also know how to make super-small form factor devices. It is these learnings that allow us to feel that we are now able to make something that Which is really exciting. But it probably doesn't hurt that Apple and Meta are set to battle over the future of consumer VR — so if HTC wants to join the fray, the window of opportunity may be closing.

Also this year, the iPhone 14 Pro has a 48MP camera, which is still just half of the Samsung S22 Ultra's 108MP, but almost on par with the Pixel 7 Pro's 50MP. So Becca took 1000 pictures on each of them to crown the best smartphone camera of 2022.

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