Category Archives: HTC

HTC Vive Flow – Virtual Reality that put Wellbeing at the Forefront

As a person with an avid interest in technology, getting the chance to review a new piece of Virtual Reality kit was very exciting, so when I was invited to review the new HTC Vive Flow a week before their official launch on October 14th, I jumped at the chance!

So on the morning of October 8th, I set off to Dingley Place in London to find out more.

Dingley Place near Old Street
Dingley Place near Old Street

The preview event was hosted at a modern shoot location near Old Street, and it presented as a modern apartment and outside space, which turned out to be an ideal place to experience this new tech.

The location in Dingley Place
The location in Dingley Place

HTC now have been producing cutting edge ‘room scale’ virtual reality headsets since 2015 and have both consumer and professional solutions available in the marketplace.

Vive Flow uses an Android smartphone as the pointer
Vive Flow uses an Android smartphone as the pointer

Typically, VR headsets are quite large and cumbersome and work in conjunction with hand controllers and connect to a reasonably powerful  PC or dedicated console which does most of the legwork, with mainly immersive virtual reality action games. Not something you can readily carry around with you.

Vive Flow - Image Credit: HTC Vive
Vive Flow – Image Credit: HTC Vive

With the launch of the Vive Flow, HTC has turned this whole idea on its head. Rather than focus on 3D action games, instead, HTC has positioned the device primarily in the mindfulness and wellbeing space, with lightweight ‘glasses’ that connect to your Android smartphone (which doubles up as the hand controller).

Vive Flow
Vive Flow

The glasses themselves are very light, coming in at 180g which I was told was the weight of a bar of chocolate. The front of Vive Flow’s lenses has a  mirror finish with a camera hidden behind each lens for motion tracking and a ‘pass-through’ view.

VIVE Flow - image credit HTC Vive
VIVE Flow – image credit HTC Vive

Rather than using a full wraparound design, the Flow fit like standard glasses with speakers built into each arm. The goggles fit very comfortably over the eyes using a soft material, there is also an active cooling system that blows cool air onto your skin when it detects heat increasing.

The Vive Flow uses a very advanced lens system which is one of the reasons why the device is so like, this also allows for diopter adjustment which means many glasses users will be able to use the device without wearing them.

Each lens has a high-resolution display at 3.2k combined (2x 2.1” LCD 1600 x1600 per eye). The displays refresh at 75mhz and have a field of view of 100 degrees. Onboard storage is 4GB RAM + 64GB ROM.

The glasses are designed to be powered via an adapter, they do contain a battery for management purposes rather than completely wire-free use.

I tried 5 different modes of use.

  1. Mindfulness and Chillout Area – I experience the mindfulness side of this technology where I was transported to a beach someone exotic and watch the sunrise, whilst I was gently coached on my breathing and reached a really nice calm place!
  2. Disney+ – Here I was able to experience the full cinematic version of the Disney+ streaming platform and had a chance to watch a segment of Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds. The video quality was exceptional as was the surround sound. It was very impressive!
  3. Pirates – This was a VR pirate game where I had to shoot cannonballs at pirate ships – Lots of fun!
  4. V&A Curious Alice – This was an interactive experience in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was really good fun again, you can find out more here.
  5. Lo-Fi Cafe – I really liked this experience, it was an incredibly immersive and calming experience. I was sitting in a Cafe with a steaming coffee in front of me, music playing on a record player, an open book on the table and a laptop. There were empty tables which I was able to transport over to. I could also surf the internet in a VR browser. I could also draw and write in thin air. Most importantly, I found it really relaxing. Living in a house that can be very very noisy, I really felt I could actually take myself away from the hustle and bustle of life into that virtual cafe and watch the rain running down the window and just relax.

I realised more than anything was that VR has indeed reached a point when the brain can be fooled enough to be calmed into a sense of relaxation wherever you might be. In a workplace, busy home or even on a transatlantic flight. I was very, very impressed.

HTC Vive Flow Working in LoFi
HTC Vive Flow Working in LoFi – Image Credit HTC Vive

The Vive Flow is priced at £499, which is no small amount of money, but comparable with other headsets on the market.

I have a set arriving soon, so expect an in-depth look very shortly!

More information can be found  HERE

 

HTC VIVE Breaks new Ground with Launch of Portable VIVE Flow Immersive Glasses

Lightweight, compact, immersive glasses designed to help people find moments throughout their daily lives to relax, refresh and restore

HTC VIVE today announced VIVE Flow, a compact, lightweight immersive glasses device that transports its wearers wherever they want or need to be – anytime, anywhere. Designed with comfort and portability in mind, VIVE Flow lets people find moments of calm and well-being for themselves throughout the day, including:

  • Meditation 2.0 with apps like TRIPP, or taking a scenic, immersive drive down Route 66 with MyndVR’s original series: A Road to Remember
  • Watching TV or movies on their own personal, cinema-sized VR screen
  • Exercising their minds with brain training apps
  • Collaborating and socializing with colleagues and friends on VIVE Sync

VIVE Flow is designed to help people nurture their minds, relax and have fun on a daily basis, and go with the flow. Pre-order opens on 14 Oct from vive.com/vive-flow, and partners including Elisa in Finland, and Etisalat in the UAE. 

Vive Flow - Image Credit: HTC Vive
Vive Flow – Image Credit: HTC Vive

“With VIVE Flow, HTC is taking technology in a new direction, focusing not on what we do, but on how we feel. Maintaining our wellness has come to the forefront in the last few years, with so many millions feeling stressed every day, so it has never been more important to take time out to calm our minds, and VIVE Flow provides the perfect opportunity to escape our four walls and immerse ourselves in our ideal ambience,” said Cher Wang, Chairwoman and CEO of HTC.

“Meditation, gentle stretches, brain training, streaming our favourite shows or even meeting friends or coworkers in VR with VIVE Sync can all be enhanced by a device light and compact enough to fit in our pocket. VIVE Flow represents the next evolution of technology, as we take a more holistic view of how we can make life better.”

“Relaxation means different things to different people,” said Nanea Reeves, CEO of leading XR wellness service TRIPP. “It’s important to find your own version of zen, whether that means meditating, watching videos, or playing games. The fact that HTC gets it, that we can use VR in these ways that can benefit peoples’ emotional and mental well-being is something that I personally am very excited about as is our entire team at TRIPP.”

Go with the Flow 

Even on a hectic day, it’s easy to find time for meditation, entertainment, or productivity with VIVE Flow thanks to its lifestyle-minded features. With VIVE Flow, you can:

Shen Ye - Senior Director, Global Head of Hardware Products - HTC - Image Credit: HTC Vive
Shen Ye – Senior Director, Global Head of Hardware Products – HTC – Image Credit: HTC Vive
  • Dive into a range of immersive experiences via the Viveport app store anytime, anywhere, using your Android smartphone as a controller. 
  • Connect wirelessly to your 5G Android smartphone and stream content like TV shows and films from your favourite platforms.  
  • Meet with colleagues and friends in realistic virtual environments via VIVE Sync. 

Portability meets power 

Designed to fit into your life easily, VIVE Flow weighs about the same as a chocolate bar at just 189g. Its dual-hinge design and soft face gasket allow it to fold down into a compact footprint for effortless portability. VIVE Flow’s unique hinge is designed to fit many different head shapes and sizes. Its face gasket takes inspiration from the acclaimed VIVE Focus 3, with magnetic connections making it simple and quick to swap out – perfect for when you want to share.

VIVE Flow also has built-in diopter dials, allowing users to easily make adjustments for crystal clear visuals. Its active cooling system pulls warm air away from your face, keeping you comfortable throughout the day.

Under the hood, VIVE Flow opens new worlds with on-the-go immersion like never before. An expansive 100-degree field of view allows for cinematic screens to lose yourself in HD quality content, with a sharp 3.2K resolution and a smooth 75 Hz refresh rate. Featuring full 3D spatial audio, VIVE Flow delivers immersive sound and can also connect to external Bluetooth earphones.

Unwind to your heart’s content 

HTC VIVE is also unveiling a special Viveport subscription plan following the launch of VIVE Flow. The plan is priced at USD $5.99 per month and gives people unlimited access to a wide range of immersive apps covering well-being, brain training, productivity, light gaming, and exclusive content like a Lo-Fi room designed to look and feel like a cozy café.

Pricing, accessories, and availability 

VIVE Flow has a matching carry case available for purchase, giving you peace of mind no matter where you go. A small but powerful 10,000mAh VIVE power bank can be purchased separately, providing extra battery life for long days.

VIVE Flow retails for £499 / from €549, and for USD $499 from vive.com/vive-flow. Pre-orders start on 14 Oct globally, and anyone pre-ordering will receive the official VIVE Flow carry case and a gift bundle of 7 pieces of content. Open sales begin in November 2021.

Sneak Peek!

I was exceedingly lucky to be invited to a preview of the HTC Vive Flow in London a few days ago. The whole event took place in an incredibly cool venue near Old Street.

The HTC Vive team had set up different within an apartment to showcase this incredible piece of technology.

  1. Mindfulness and Chillout Area – I experience the mindfulness side of this technology where I was transported to a beach someone exotic and watch the sunrise, whilst I was gently coached on my breathing and reached a really nice calm place!
  2. Disney+ – Here I was able to experience the full cinematic version of the Disney+ streaming platform and had a chance to watch a segment of Free Guy starring Ryan Reynolds. The video quality was exceptional as was the surround sound. It was very impressive!
  3. Pirates – This was a VR pirate game where I had to shoot cannonballs at pirate ships – Lots of fun!
  4. V&A Curious Alice – This was an interactive experience in conjunction with the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was really good fun again, you can find out more here.
  5. Lo-Fi Cafe – I really liked this experience, it was an incredibly immersive and calming experience. I was sitting in a Cafe with a steaming coffee in front of me, music playing on a record player, an open book on the table and a laptop. There were empty tables which I was able to transport over to. I could also surf the internet in a VR browser. I could also draw and write in thin air. Most importantly, I found it really relaxing. Living in a house that can be very very noisy, I really felt I could actually take myself away from the hustle and bustle of life into that virtual cafe and watch the rain running down the window and just relax.

What I realised more than anything was that VR has indeed reached a point when the brain can be fooled enough to be calmed into a sense of relaxation wherever you might be. In a workplace, busy home or even on a transatlantic flight. Very very impressed.

Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to fully test the Vive Flow very soon!

You can view more HTC Vive products here, if you decide to purchase, we may earn a small fee as an Amazon affiliate, which of course helps continue to fund this site.

Gadget Man – Episode 130 – Why are people not upgrading their phones as often?

Many of us will remember the halcyon days when upgrading our mobile phone handsets was a six-month event.

No so now it would seem, instead, we are waiting much longer and are clearly looking for greater incentives to part with our beloved devices and even more importantly, our money.

You can listen into my interview with James Hazell on BBC Radio Suffolk where I talk about why the smartphone market is slowing down. Click on the link above to hear what I had to say. 

A Short(ish) History

My first mobile phone was bought in 1993 (some 26 years ago) from Dixons in Derby. It was an NEC P100 and I think it cost me £50 and then £7.50 per month for the contract with Vodafone, no calls were included, so I paid 50p per minute if I did need to call anyone.

The phone itself ran on the old 1G analogue network at 900MHz which was very quickly superceded by the digital 2G networks split between 900MHz for Vodafone and Cellnet and the alternative 1800Mhz for Orange and Mercury One2One.

Note: if you don’t recognise many of these names, it’s because due to buyouts, rebrands and mergers, Vodafone remained, Orange became EE, Cellnet became BT Cellnet, then O2. Mercury One2One became just One2One and then changed to T-Mobile which in turn is merged with Orange to become EE. Then of course 3 launched a 3g service later on and of course, two dozen or so ‘piggy-back’ operators such as Giffgaff, Sky Mobile, Virgin etc, who don’t, in fact, run their own networks but instead using the Big Four’s network. 

So my first phone was relatively cheap in today’s terms and in fact in ‘yesterdays’ terms too. the NEC P100 was meant to be a durable portable phone which it was and I kept it for some years until the analogue network was phased out and I had to get a more modern phone. The 2G network roll-out in the UK caused a market explosion and along with it came the Nokia 5110 and then 3310 phones which completely dominated the marketplace.

This explosion in popularity came with reasonably cheap phones with cheap and short contracts, this meant that phones could be renewed quite regularly and soon cupboards would start filling up with unwanted and out of date devices, fuelling development and in reality, a war between manufacturers and networks to provide more and more functionality. Heading this surge was Orange and O2 who had struck up a deal with little known manufacturer HTC to produce the very first Microsoft Windows CE based ‘Smartphones’, long before the birth of the iPhone.

HTC was at the time manufacturing the Compaq and HP iPaq Pocket PC and by adding cellular functionality, the Orange SPV (Sounds, Pictures and Video) and O2 XDA (extended PDA) began to be sold and the Smartphone was born.

Suddenly our dumb phones became ‘Smartphones’ and with it rapidly increasing prices. These costs had to be passed onto consumers via increased contracts with longer minimum terms (mainly to allow for the handset and network infrastructure costs to be absorbed ). Minimum six-month contracts became twelve, then eighteen, then twenty-four months. All of this was necessary to pay for the device and network overheads!

The phone networks began bundling minutes (and later, data), in part to placate phone users who were starting to become caught up in the ever increasing contract times.  Subsequently, devices became more expensive, resulting in more expensive contracts.

With the launch of Apple’s iPhone, O2 and T-Mobile began offering ‘all you can eat’ data plans in order for these data-hungry devices to take advantage of the vast amount of content appearing. Once the iPhone 3G was launched, with its ability to consume vast amounts of bandwidth and data, the all-you-can-eat model was scrapped or altered with ‘acceptable usage’ policies to limit data consumption, unless you were prepared to pay more.

Now that the smartphone had become established as a Super-Gadget, the manufacturers began an ‘Arms-Race’ to establish themselves as the Go-To brand in the multi-billion dollar marketplace, the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola, LG, Sony and HTC began pumping billions into product development, patent registrations, cross-licensing and all-out war!

In turn, the Smartphone industry has driven bigger, better, faster and more costly devices into the consumers’ hands! Meanwhile, in China, Xiaomi, Huawei and Honor are producing comparable and in some cases, better products, the market is now awash with products that were once competing with each other but are now blurring their differences making it difficult to see the differences

Summing Up

We now have a smart-device marketplace with astoundingly high-quality handsets costing £1000 plus! How can we justify paying over £100 a month for a mobile phone contract, when we are struggling to differentiate between ‘last-years’ model?

What is needed now is for the manufacturers to take a breath! They need to find out what their customers really want. Maybe we are becoming tired and bewildered of being told what functions we need by these companies and it’s time for them to start listening to their consumers.

Matt Porter
The Gadget Man

 

 

 

 

First Products of the Tech Giants – Play our Quiz!

We all have to start somewhere and so did some of the biggest tech companies. Play our quiz and see if you can guess what their first products were? You might be surprised at some of the answers!

Don’t forget to comment with your score and don’t forget to like and share!!

Smartwatch Guide 2015

It’s certainly been a busy time for smart watches over the last 18 months and we are certainly seemingly spoilt for choice. We’re also not spoilt for price options either, there should be no reason that you shouldn’t be able to find a smartwatch to suit yours or a loved ones  style.

To help find the right watch, our friends at Mighty Skins have produced a handy infographic that details everything including price, compatibility, functionality and battery life.

You can download the info graphic, by clicking the image below or head over to Mighty Skins themselves.

Smartwatches-IG-2015_Mighty-Skins

The Gadget Man – Episode 60 – HTC One M9 from Three

This week it’s back to smaller gadgets which brings us to Smart Phones. HTC has been a big player of since the birth of the device category years back. HTC are well known for their high quality aluminium designs with bright screens and fast processors. They have also been one of the leaders in innovation with camera technology with their F2.0 ultra pixel sensors.

Today I chat to Mark about the HTC One M9 which takes the HTC One design and brings further improvements. Listen in to the stream and find out all about the device. A full review will be published here soon.

I would like to thank Three, who supplied the phone for review, It was pleasing to see the 4G icon displayed on the screen and network performance was excellent both using the handset and streaming audio to the Volvo V60 D6 and Audi A3 Sportback etron the phone worked a treat #makeitright