HTC, Qualcomm To Roll Out Standalone VR Headset, But It'll Be Available Only In China
HTC will partner with Qualcomm to create a virtual reality headset specifically just for the Chinese market.
Called the Vive Standalone, HTC plans to bill it as a premium device that can run apps from the Viveport platform. The collaboration with Qualcomm lends the device a Snapdragon 835 chip, based on Qualcomm's all-in-one reference design.
HTC, Qualcomm Unveil The Vive Standalone VR Headset
This essentially means the Vive Standalone can perform inside-out positional tracking — putting it in close ranks with more sophisticated VR headsets the likes of HTC's own flagship Vive and the Oculus Rift.
"Snapdragon 835 is designed to deliver superior VR experiences without the need for wires or a separate PC," said Hugo Swart, Qualcomm's senior director for product management.
HTC didn't disclose how much the Vive Standalone will cost, although that should not concern you much, seeing as how the company will mainly market it in China.
"China is the leading mobile market in the world today, and has the momentum to lead the global VR market as well," said Alvin W. Graylin, HTC's China regional president for Vive, adding that partnering with Qualcomm will help make the device powerful yet affordable. HTC makes the goal clear: to bring its "premium standalone VR" platform to the Chinese masses. This seems to suggest an entry-level price point, more than anything.
Are Companies Trying To Make Cheaper VR Headsets?
HTC and Qualcomm's plans suggest an emerging pattern in the VR sphere: it seems companies earnestly race to create VR headsets with more acceptable price points. As it stands, true, standalone VR headsets don't come cheap — aside from the headset itself, the platform requires nerfed PCs, and not everyone has deep-enough pockets for that.
Seemingly aware of this, Facebook slashed the price of the Oculus Rift by $200 earlier this July, practically giving it away.
The announcement follows rumors of Oculus partnering with Xiaomi to create an all-in-one VR headset that includes a specific variant geared specifically for the Chinese market, although unlike the Vive Standalone, it won't boast positional tracking. If true, this could make for an interesting battle between Oculus and HTC in the Chinese VR market, though admittedly, HTC already has a huge presence in China as it stands.
But more than anything, HTC and Qualcomm's Vive Standalone, along with Oculus rumored VR device, could convince people to warm up to the VR world since high costs won't factor in their decision anymore.