CES 2018: The Official Vive Wireless Adapter Gives A Great First Impression

by David Jagneaux • January 9th, 2018

Anyone that’s played a VR shooter runs into this problem. You’re getting really into the game. You’re running all over the map or teleporting up and down corridors, dodging enemies, and unloading clip after clip into your foes. A big enemy comes lunging at you and using your nifty teleportation feature (such as in DOOM VFR) you teleport past them and spin around to blast them in the back…but the stupid VR headset cord is in the way!

You stumble a bit, lose your focus, maybe even trip completely, and the adrenaline is completely gone. Wireless VR totally remedies this frustrating issue.

During HTC Vive’s CES 2018 press conference we learned about three main pieces of upcoming technology: the Vive Pro headset, the improved 2.0 base stations, and the official Vive Wireless Adapter. The promise of accurate, untethered, and totally free VR movement is extremely tantalizing, but it’s still just out of reach for most people.

While solutions like TPCast do exist, they’re from third-party creators and aren’t closely integrated with a single device in the way that the official Vive Wireless Adapter is going to be. After HTC’s press conference we got the chance to go hands-on for the very first time with the Vive Wireless Adapter and came away extremely impressed and optimistic about the future of wireless VR.

For my demo I played through a small portion of DOOM VFR using two Vive wand controllers. The demo ran on a standard, original Vive with 1.0 base stations and a Vive Wireless Adapter attached to the top. One small wire ran down from the adapter to a box that clipped to my pocket and a single transmitter was mounted high to a wall, aiming down at the play space.

The sheer sense of liberating freedom achieved from cutting the cord and being able to walk around a virtual space freely and without interference cannot be overstated. It took a little while for me to get used to the freedom because I’ve trained myself over the years to stand as still and front-facing as possible to not get tangled up, but eventually I started to trust my chaperone system a bit more and really move around the space.

Doing things like ducking and bobbing back and forth felt great. Spinning quickly around 180-degrees was fast and responsive, such as in the scenario I laid out at the start of this story, and really let me feel like I had the freedom to react however I wanted.

I didn’t get to test it extensively but it felt light and didn’t add any noticeable weight or comfort issues to the headset as a whole — though there was one moment when the wire touched my face, causing me to turn the other way because I thought I was tangling myself up. We look forward to putting it through its paces a bit more thoroughly in the future, but for now, this is a great first impression for a kind of technology that will be instrumental to accelerating VR’s adoption.

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  • JesperL

    Price? + Lets see a test on 3K. Is it limited to 3K or will it support future upgrades to 4K+?

  • Duane Aakre

    Any info on the kinds and numbers of additional ports on your PC required to add this wireless capability?

    • Zerofool

      According to the Tom’s hardware article, the current implementation uses a PCI-e card for the data transmission (the data that goes through the USB cable in the wired version – tracking data, button presses, etc.).
      I use an SFF PC with a mITX board which has a single PCI-e slot where my GTX 1080 stands (soon to be replaced with next-gen Nvidia card hopefully) and I’d be glad if they offer a USB option on release as well (latency may be the reason they chose PCI-e, though :/)

      • Duane Aakre

        Thanks. I have no idea if my PC has an open slot, as I simply bought a pre-built machine from Best Buys online store with a GTX 1070 back when I got my Vive a year ago. It has a clear side panel and I can see a lot of empty space below the graphics card, but I’m not sure if that area has a usable slot without moving my computer. Since the wireless kit is at least six months out, I’m not enthused to move it today out of simple curiosity since I can’t move it without disconnecting a bunch of cables.

        • Zerofool

          You’re welcome.
          In that case, you’re better off waiting until the final specs/requirements are announced later down the line. If they choose to stick to PCI-e card, then check what motherboard is used in your build exactly, and what slots it has available.

  • Dennis

    No mentioning of the positioning on the head.
    Is it movable up and down the heads trap ?
    All the pictures I see of this item, have it all the way in the neck, which prohibits seated experiences in e.g. racing simulators / racing Seats/ office chairs with headrests.
    As I both have a setup in the living room, as well as in my office where i have my racing Rig, I would really hate to take it on and off every time i need to use it for racing, which is the most used niche for VR headsets.

    Please give us some impression on the placement in relation to seated experiences with headrests.

  • daveinpublic

    Is it really supposed to be worn like that? I thought it would be horns down. This makes people look like they have antlers on, not sure if it’s worth advancing the tech if it sets VR social status back 20 years.

    • Eli Weeks

      If you are this insecure about your appearance while playing VR, you probably shouldn’t be playing at all.

      • plrr

        That’s just a disrepectful comment

        • DeeHawk

          To be fair, the original comment was pretty stupid. This reaction was the exact same first reaction to HMDs 2 years ago (You’re gonna look silly, who is going to want to look that silly just to play a game?), and nobody says that anymore.
          Realistically, who are worried about the direction of two small antannae, when you’re already wearing an ugly and clunky HMD?
          The last comment about VR Social status being set back 20 years, is either heavy sarcasm or just plain unintelligent.

          With that said, I believe in being a little disrespectful to stupid people who choose to speak in public, and I 100% agree with Eli.

          • plrr

            On second thought, I don’t consider the comment quite as disrespectful as I initially did. But, of course, people will be concerned with their appearance. And so should HTC. It seems to me (and others) that the esthetic aspect has been neglected when it comes to the Vive Pro. It’s important to be allowed to voice such an impression.

          • DeeHawk

            True, everybody has a right to speak their opinion, but ignorant exaggeration rarely proves your point in a debate.
            I feel the aesthetics are awful on the original Vive as well (even though I own one), while Sony made theirs look like a spaceship from the 80’es. I believe it’s a matter of taste, but let’s be honest: The current gen of HMD’s are very clunky and nobody looks awesome wearing them.

          • simon cox

            I actually thought Eli’s comment was maybe not disrespectful, but perhaps childishly reactionary. I understand that there is a sense of absurdity when it comes to be concerned about aesthetics when you can’t see the device, however I don’t think that means all design sensibilities should be thrown out of the window.

            I think a better approach to dealing with ‘stupid people’ is probably to offer your opinion and perhaps this could enlighten or educate them…rather than reacting to it with aggression-tinged negativity. I agree though that the comment about setting back VR social status 20 years is a bit silly.

            No one is a stranger to the horrid aesthetics of HTCs design choices. I’d have opted for something a little more discrete. TP Cast seemed to manage to pull that off. If anything, the wireless solution aesthetically fits in quite well with their current portfolio of products.

      • DeeHawk

        “Did you see Josh bought that new wireless extension for his Vive?”
        “Yeah, he looks like a adolescent reindeer with those tiny antlers, what a friggin’ idiot”

        -Quote from the book “Dialogs that will never be happen”

    • gothicvillas

      Perfect fit for Skyrim 😂

  • Hacker4748

    Wow. A first impression article about the wireless adapter which basically says “wireless is SO COOL!”
    I mean, seriously? No comparison to TPCast? Does the camera work? Does the mic work? How heavy is it? Do you need a router similar to the TPCast to transmit tracking / video / voice data back? How is it connected? How long does the battery last? Where is the battery located? Have you tried covering the adapter with your hands to see how sensitive it is? Have there been any tracking issues?