HTC Vive Flow | Hands-on Review

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It’s official: HTC has finally announced the Vive Flow, a lightweight and portable VR headset that offers users entertainment, wellness and gaming experiences while on the go.

Given the impressive internal specs boasted by the company’s more expensive VR offerings – like the Vive Focus 3 or mainline HTC Vive Pro 2 – it’s certainly a surprise to see HTC Vive divert to a much more stripped-back product that will do little to threaten the crowns of the best VR headsets on offer right now.

Instead, the brand has put all its eggs in the portability basket with the Vive Flow, a product that combines a lightweight and comfortable design with several use cases to bring to market a genuinely innovative VR alternative that is almost a jack of all trades, but most definitely a master of none.
It’s worth noting that, in our (very) brief hands-on time with the device, the Vive Flow was still in beta stage, so the below simply represents our early impressions – which are therefore subject to change upon review of the final product.

For starters, HTC makes no bold claims about the power of the Vive Flow. In fact, it doesn’t even describe the device as a headset, rather ‘immersive eyewear’ that straddles the line between headset and smart glasses.

As such, it’s difficult to compare the Vive Flow to other VR products on the market. Instead, the device occupies its own space as a portable, versatile yet unashamedly limited machine that can’t match its larger VR counterparts for power, but can trump the latest smart glasses for functionality.

It’s no surprise, then, that its internal specs aren’t anything to write home about. HTC Vive hasn’t yet been totally clear about what hardware powers the Vive Flow under the hood, though we know it sports a 75hz refresh rate and two LCD screens that operate at 3.2k resolution, which, though passable for a VR device in 2021, restricts the fidelity of its games and wellness experiences.

Admittedly, we didn’t get to try a whole load of those experiences, but those we did play were more like glorified mobile games and apps than bona fide VR showstoppers. Part of that insubstantial feel definitely comes from the Flow’s lack of controller – with the device instead requiring an Android-enabled smartphone to function – but both this and its lack of power mark just a few of the many trade-offs the Flow is forced to make in its commitment to portability.

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