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HTC’s China-exclusive Vive Focus VR headset is now launching worldwide

HTC will start selling its standalone Vive Focus virtual reality headset worldwide today, after an initial launch in China earlier this year. The headset, which will cost $599 in the US, is aimed at business customers in 37 countries. Its part of a larger attempt to make HTC VR headsets appealing to companies, including a newly announced collaboration app called Vive Sync, which lets employees in different offices meet and work together in VR. The Vive Focus is a self-contained mobile headset that tracks a users motion with outward-facing cameras — similar to the upcoming $399 Oculus Quest headset. HTC announced it after canceling a similar headset based on Googles Daydream VR platform, and it was initially unclear whether the Vive Focus would launch outside China. However, HTC confirmed an international release this spring, making a development kit available to US buyers. We were impressed by the Vive Focus tracking quality, and since its launch, HTC has developed fully tracked motion controllers to supplement its original remote-like pointing device. But dont expect a direct Oculus Quest competitor. HTC isnt pitching this as a consumer device — its more likely to show up in training simulators, industrial design facilities, or arcades. Buyers can add one of two Advantage premium service and repair packages, bringing the cost up to either $749 or $799. The Vive Focus will sit alongside HTCs older $499 Vive and $799 Vive Pro headsets, which are tethered to a computer. HTC touts the Vive Focus as a headset for businesses that want a truly mobile VR experience. Unlike the original Vive, it doesnt require any external sensor boxes, and it features the same high-end 2880 x 1600 resolution as the Vive Pro; its powered by Qualcomms Snapdragon 835 mobile chipset and has a battery life of up to three hours. HTC highlighted another upcoming all-in-one headset by Chinese company Shadow Creator, which is using HTCs Vive Wave mobile VR platform to launch a headset called the Shadow VR. It will launch worldwide on November 11th, and has a similar feature set to the Vive Focus, albeit with a slightly lower-resolution screen. HTC has set its sights on business customers for a while now, but its emphasizing that aim more than ever with the Vive Focus. Thats a contrast with competitors Oculus and Sony, which have portrayed their VR headsets as mass-market entertainment devices — although Oculus also provides headsets to companies like Walmart for training and other uses. HTC is likely making the safer move here, since businesses have consistently used VR systems for decades, while its only recently carved out a niche in the consumer market. But for anyone looking to buy an HTC-built VR headset for personal gaming or VR movies, its a bit of a disappointment.

Shadow VR is the latest rival to the Oculus Quest

This VR headset does 6DoF tracking on both the head and controllers. While we're all anticipating the launch of the Oculus Quest standalone VR headset in spring 2019, HTC's been busy pushing its very own Vive Focus into more markets -- including the US and Europe as of today -- while letting developers toy with its 6DoF controller add-on. Luckily for HTC, it's not alone in this upcoming battle. Also announced today is Shadow Creator's Shadow VR, a new Vive Wave-based 6DoF headset which comes with the company's self-developed 6DoF controllers. Much like the Vive Focus, the Shadow VR is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 and features a 110-degree field of view via Fresnel optics, but it comes with a slightly lower 2,560 x 1,440 display resolution (the Vive Pro, Focus and Quest all have 2,880 x 1,600). Since this is based on the same reference design, it's the same inside-out world-scale tracking tech using the stereoscopic front cameras. Here's hoping that Shadow VR will also get the Focus' see-through mode, just for that extra bit of convenience. Little else is known about the Shadow VR (we don't even have images of the controllers), but it'll be available to consumers globally on November 11th for $399 -- matching the Quest's aggressive price. We expect to get more info right before launch. The Shadow VR is joined by Pico's Neo and G2 from earlier, both of which are also Vive Wave-powered headsets but aimed at business users. Now that there are 15 hardware partners in total supporting HTC's Android-based VR platform, we may well see more headset announcements from them in the very near future.