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HTC Vive Launches $599 Vive Focus Standalone VR Headset in North America, Europe

HTC’s Vive Focus virtual reality (VR) headset is finally making its way to markets outside of Asia: HTC Vive announced during a press event in San Francisco Thursday that the standalone headset is coming to 37 new markets in North America and Europe. The headset will sell for $599 in the U.S., with HTC Vive offering a $749 enterprise “Advantage” option.

The Vive Focus is a standalone headset, meaning that it works without the need to power VR experiences with a phone or external PC. It is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and offers what’s known in the industry as 6 degrees of freedom. This means that users can not only look around in VR, but actually lean in and even take a step into VR worlds.

Visuals are being powered by a display with a resolution of 1440 by 800 pixels per eye, which is identical to the resolution of the company’s higher-end Vive Pro headset, according to HTC North Americas general manager Dan O’Brien. It offers a 110-degree field of view.

In its current iteration, the Vive Focus doesn’t offer a 6 degrees of freedom controller. However, O’Brien announced that the company is also making a new developer edition available with such a controller, which should make it possible to develop even more immersive applications. There is no word yet on when the same controller will be available to consumers, or enterprise customers for that matter.

Facebook’s upcoming Oculus Quest headset, which is scheduled to launch early next year for $399, does ship with such a fully tracked controller. However, it doesn’t seem like HTC is looking to take on the Quest in the consumer market. The company billed Thursday’s launch event for the headset as enterprise-focused, with an emphasis on using VR in location-based entertainment, health and safety for factory workers, as well as health tech.

To make the headset more appealing to these kinds of enterprise use cases, the Vive Focus will offer a kiosk mode, batch configuration features as well as Android encryption. The company also announced a new collaboration tool called Vive Sync that effectively aims to replace conference calls with meetings in VR. What’s more, the company’s new Advantage plan offers various enterprise-level support features.

The Vive Focus first launched in China about a year ago. The launch of the headset was supposed to coincide with the introduction of a separate standalone headset powered by Google’s Daydream platform aimed at users in North America, but HTC ultimately decided to scrap that product.

In lieu of Google’s Daydream software, the Vive Focus is using HTC Vive’s own Android-based Vive Wave platform. As such, it will be closely tied into the Viveport app store.

Vive Wave already powers a few headsets from third-party manufacturers; most of these devices are squarely focused on China, where Google’s software and app store remains unavailable. On Thursday, O’Brien announced Shadow Creator as a new hardware partner that will actually make its device available worldwide next week.

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