When virtual reality (VR) started to become a consumer product in 2016 it was really a two-horse race between Oculus and HTC, both with PC-powered headsets. The landscape has dramatically changed since then with the rise of standalone headsets, Facebook’s dominance and HTC Vive struggling when it comes to the consumer market. But that could very well change with a new Vive all-in-one (AIO) device said to be on its way in 2021.
As the years have progressed HTC Vive has concentrated more and more on the enterprise market, as demonstrated by software services like Vive XR Suite and Vive Focus Plus, its AIO that was never sold to the general public. If you wanted to buy the company’s gaming headset then it was the Vive Cosmos (or Cosmos Elite) which never really gained traction after a bumpy launch in 2019.
That slide continued as the Vive Cosmos Play – a cheaper, entry-level model – was canned. The most recent Steam Hardware and Software Survey also highlights a continual shift down in use, with HTC Vive used by just 13% of respondents whilst Oculus Quest 2 achieved almost 23% after only five months.
Hopefully, that could change in 2021, thanks to a new interview with HTC China President Alvin Wang Graylin confirming a new standalone headset is on the way. Whilst the company had previously alluded to a new headset, talking to TeliportMe during February, Graylin confirmed that was the case but that it’s not being aimed as a Quest competitor: “We’ve said in the past that we will release a new AIO this year. I don’t think I’d position it as a Quest competitor, I think it’s our next-generation standalone. We will have one this year.” Without mentioning any specs he did go onto add: “You will find that from every perspective it is better than what we have today, and it’s probably better than what’s out there from any vendor today.”
Naturally, the topic of Oculus Quest 2 and Facebook’s mandatory account integration which has got consumers riled came up. Referring to HTC’s new device Graylin simply smiled and said: “It’s definitely not locked to a Facebook account.”
Last week a teasing tweet from the HTC Vive account, with a very tightly cropped image of the Vive logo appeared, captioned: “It’s your move.” Goding people’s expectations for a new device, the image certainly looked like it could’ve been a close hardware shot.
Either way, HTC Vive has big plans for 2021, hopefully entering the standalone consumer VR sector which could really do with some more competition. And if anyone can do it HTC can. Whether or not the AIO headset resembles Project Proton remains to be seen.
Two Proton models were unveiled in early 2020, a fully standalone unit designed as a “prototype of a future XR glasses-style device” whilst the other was a lighter cabled version designed to connect to a PC or smartphone, similar to the smart viewers starting to appear.
VRFocus is certainly looking forward to whatever HTC Vive has planned for 2021, as the VR market continues to grow. As further updates are released, we’ll let you know.