Google announced at Google I/O 2017 that it was developing a standalone VR headset with HTC, negating the need for a smartphone, PC and even wires to enjoy virtual reality.
HTC then announced a standalone VR headset offering Viveport content in China months later, while making no comment on how progress was going with the Daydream-themed headset.
Then, in November 2017, HTC revealed the HTC Vive Focus - a standalone VR headset for the Chinese market - while also announcing that the Google Daydream headset would no longer be released.
Will the HTC Vive Focus ever come out in the UK? While it was initially pure speculation that it'd get an international release, HTC surprised attendees at GDC 2018 by confirming that the Vive Focus would be available in the UK and around the world later this year.
Here, we discuss all the latest HTC Vive Focus release date rumours, along with the latest design and feature news. If you're looking for more information on the second-generation Vive headset for PC, take a look at the latest HTC Vive Pro news.
When will the HTC Vive Focus be released in the UK?
Following the announcement that the Daydream-powered HTC VR headset is no longer in development, our focus shifted to the HTC Vive Focus. The Focus is available to buy in China on for 3,999 yuan (around £450) with the first shipments sent out in January 2018.
While it was clear that the HTC Vive Focus was initially marketed only at the Chinese market, we've always had our suspicions that it'd make its way to the UK sooner or later, and our suspicions were confirmed at GDC 2018.
HTC took to the stage at the Game Developers Conference and announced that the standalone VR headset is headed not only to the UK, but the US and other countries around the world at some point in 2018. HTC is so serious about the international launch that it'll be rolling out Focus developer kits through its developer portal starting today.
So, the HTC Vive Focus will be available to buy in the UK at some point in 2018, we just don't know when yet.
New to the world of VR? Take a look at our complete guide to virtual reality.
What does the HTC Vive Focus look like?
Following an initial teaser in August 2017, HTC revealed the HTC Vive Focus in China in November 2017, providing us with our first look at the design of the upcoming standalone headset.
The headset design is slightly unusual when compared to what is already available on the market - it's like a hybrid of the Vive Deluxe Audio Strap and Sony's PlayStation VR with elongated edges that stretch up to the headband. To be fair, the Deluxe Audio Strap and PSVR both provide extremely comfortable fits, and the soft padding of the Focus straps look to enhance that even more.
Along with the Focus headset comes a three-degrees-of-freedom controller with buttons, a trigger and a trackpad reminiscent of that available on the HTC Vive headset.
We’ll be sure to update this section with more information about the design and build of the HTC Vive Focus VR headset as we receive it, so make sure you check back soon.
What does the HTC Vive Focus feature?
The biggest feature of HTC’s upcoming Vive Focus headset is that it doesn’t require a PC or a smartphone to work. The Chinese variant of the standalone headset is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor which is more than capable enough of powering decent VR experiences as we found out when we went hands-on with Qualcomm’s standalone VR headset in 2016.
Interestingly, rather than integrate one of the existing mobile platforms into the headset, HTC chose to offer its own Viveport store content in China. This is likely down to the restricted access that Google has in China, although using Viveport has its downsides.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 is an impressive processor, it can’t provide the same kind of quality as a VR-ready gaming PC – and that’s what all HTC Vive content thus far has been designed to run on.
It also sports an impressive 2,880 x 1600 single-piece AMOLED display which is higher resolution than that featured in the company's HTC Vive. Like the Vive, the Focus also sports a 110-degree field-of-view, although it lacks a little bit in the refresh rate department at 75Hz, compared to the Vive's 90Hz.
The most important area for any standalone VR headset is battery life, and HTC claims that the Focus can provide three hours of continuous use, and it'll last around a week on standby. When it does need run out of juice and require a top-up, it'll be replenished fairly quickly thanks to Quick Charge 3.0 via USB-C.
In terms of connectivity, you'll find both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity with support for Miracast, allowing users to stream the VR experience to the TV.
There's no word on how the inside-out tracking works just yet, but we imagine it'll only be a matter of time before it's revealed.
We’ll update this section whenever we receive new information so make sure you check back soon.
Interested in the HTC Vive? Here's a list of the best HTC Vive games available in 2018.