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Posts tagged ‘HTC’

23
Jul

New in our buyer’s guide: All the phones (just the good ones)


It took us a while, but now that we’ve reviewed the Moto Z, we think we’re done testing flagship phones until the iPhone 7 or next Galaxy Note come out (whichever arrives first). With that in mind, we can now confidently say that the following phones belong in our buyer’s guide: the Samsung Galaxy S7, the HTC 10 and the iPhone SE. (Sorry, LG, maybe next year.) While we were at it, we also inducted the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets, since we likely them more or less equally. And, in the less-expensive realm, we added the Roku Streaming Stick in the A/V category. Head over to our buyer’s guide hub for all the details on these and many more. That’s it for now, but stay tuned — who knows what we’ll add after the next gadget-reviewing frenzy.

Source: Engadget Buyer’s Guide

17
Jul

‘Star Wars’ VR experiment comes to HTC Vive on July 18th


You don’t have to wait much longer to live out you dreams of wielding a lightsaber in virtual reality. HTC and Lucasfilm have revealed that Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine, their VR gaming experiment, will be available on July 18th through Steam. And it’s free as long as you have an HTC Vive, so it won’t cost more to role-play a Padawan. The no-cost move isn’t surprising (this isn’t an in-depth game), but it’s welcome if you’ve been hoping to find a new showcase for your headset.

30
Jun

HTC is spinning off Vive into a separate company


HTC has seen its share of ups and downs and CEO shuffles in the past few years. Now, with its virtual reality division looking strong on the back of the HTC Vive release, the Taiwanese company is looking to spin off that lucrative business into its own wholly-owned subsidiary called “HTC Vive Tech Corporation.”

Earlier reports indicated the move was possible, but HTC confirmed the reorganization to The Verge today. The company’s brief, one-sentence statement:

HTC can confirm that it has established a wholly-owned subsidiary, HTC Vive Tech Corporation, as a vehicle for developing strategic alliances to help build the global VR ecosystem.

While the shuffle doesn’t change much in the near term — and Vive is still completely under HTC’s larger umbrella — the shift does give the Vive group some extra protection should the rest of the company start to go belly-up.

During yesterday’s Mobile World Congress in Shanghai, HTC and Vive made a few other other VR-related announcements. Namely, Vive is launching an app store called “Vive Port” as well as something called the VR Venture Capital Alliance meant to “to foster long-term growth in the VR industry” through strategic investments. The VRVCA claims to have $10 billion in deployable funds, ready to invest in the next big VR thing.

#HTCvive announce global VR Venture Capital Alliance #VRVCA (https://t.co/1d4nEx4P27) to invest $10BN in #VR 🙂 pic.twitter.com/jJtKZ2ogZj

— Rikard Steiber (@rikardsteiber) June 29, 2016

16
Jun

HTC Vive at E3 2016: From the ocean floor to the tops of mountains and beyond


Anyone with a Steam account and the HTC Vive can explore the world – no, the universe.

We know this because while at E3 2016 in Los Angeles, we tried new virtual reality experience available on Steam using the consumer version of HTC’s headset that launched earlier this year. We’ve actually been working our way through everything that works or is native to the HTC Vive, having downloaded them on Steam, and you can read this to see some of the best stuff we’ve experienced so far.

We’ll also update that round-up with the titles we just demoed at E3 2016. They’re available now, and if you try them yourself, you’ll get to do everything from swim in the ocean with a large whale to play fetch with a mechanical dog on top of a mountain. You’ll even get to see a little space-like arcade action in which you navigate a ship, destroy enemies, and avoid obstacles.

We also talked with HTC about what’s next for the Vive, and it seems like the company has a lot more experiences in store for us, and it has set plans to get more people both interested in and trying VR.

New HTC Vive experiences on Steam

theBlue ($9.99 on Steam)

Wevr has developed a deeply immersive VR experience that lets you explore the ocean and come face to face with what looks like an 80-foot Sperm whale. It’s actually a part of a series directed by Jake Rowell (Call of Duty, Final Fantasy, and Superman Returns), and it was deemed amazing enough to become a Sundance film selection in 2016.

We were able to use this game with the HTC Vive controllers, too, which allowed us to interact with the edge of a coral reef. The graphics in this experience are a mix between life-like and something you’d see in a Pixar film, but in the end, we came away amazed (and with the realisation that virtual reality can truly transport you anywhere, including the ocean).

The Lab (Free on Steam)

The next two experiences we tried on Steam are actually part of something called The Lab. It’s a compilation of Valve’s room-scale VR experiments. You can fix a robot, defend a castle, play fetch with a mechanical dog, and more. Still not sold? It’s free!

Starting off with the mechanical dog… wow. So cute. Its face lights up, and its tail wags. You can walk around the top of a mountain, looking at clouds float by and birds soar over your head – all while this adorable pup runs around your ankles, waiting for you to pick up a stick and throw it. Again, you can use the Vive’s controllers to play fetch.

We haphazardly threw the stick off the side of the mountain and were honestly worried for a moment that the dog would run off the cliff, but instead he found a path, disappeared for a moment, and eventually reappeared with the stick with enough energy to go again. This little demo is called Postcards, and it made us think that in the future some kids might even own virtual pets over real ones.

We could even see parents allowing their kids to take care of a virtual pet in order to get used to the idea of owning a real one. There are so many possibilities with virtual reality. Heck, you can even relive the golden era of gaming – only this time, it’s all around you. For instance, we played Xortex, and it’s just like playing something inside of an arcade machine.

It’s addictive, too. You basically steer a ship around with the controller, moving it around like a child would pretend with a paper airplane, then you aim the ship at invading enemies and pull the trigger to fire on them. You have to dodge these and avoid lasers that emit from the ships, so you’re not only shooting but ducking and weaving and viewing your score on a giant wrap-around screen.

We recommend The Lab to anyone who wants to dip their toes into VR as soon as they get their headset, because it gives you a fully array of demos that work your brain and body and occasionally pull at your heartstrings.

What’s next for HTC Vive? 

HTC Vive just got a full consumer release in April, so HTC isn’t yet thinking about – or at least not talking about – HTC Vive 2.0. Instead, it’s thinking about getting developers onboard to create more experiences. It also wants to get people trying HTC Vive, because once you demo virtual reality, you’ll be clamoring to buy a full-fledge headset to play more.

HTC said the HTC Vive launched with 50 experiences available, and now it is sitting at 240. Joel Breton, HTC’s Vice President of VR Content, told us that, with the support of Valve’s content team, HTC is going at full speed: “By this holiday, we’re gonna have a super rich garden of content.” He also said that people will be able to try HTC Vive in many more places by Christmas.

The headset can be demoed in 64 stores in the US at the moment, but by the end of June, that number will increase to 100. Breton also said that HTC is hitting up all the major industry conferences, such as E3, with the purpose of getting its headset into the hands of gamers. He speculated that over 1,000 people will try HTV Vive at E3 2016.

HTC is also doing college tours, because gaming on campuses is huge, and capturing the interest of 18 to 22 years olds is essential. All we know is that if they get a chance to play some of the stuff we experienced at E3, they’ll be hooked. But that’s the goal for any VR headset maker – right?

13
Jun

Play ‘Fallout 4’ in VR next year


Bethesda is building a version of Fallout 4 for the HTC Vive headset, and it’ll be ready next year. “If you thought that survival mode was an intense way to experience Fallout”, Bethesda marketing chief Pete Hines said at the company’s E3 press conference, “you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

The company is showing off a small section of gameplay at E3. It’s also got Doom in VR, which offers “a virtual tour of hell.” It sounds a lot like an environmental demo, rather than an actual game. We’ll bring you impressions of both once we’ve had a chance to check them out.

10
Jun

HTC 10 is among the best smartphones to date (Review)


Launched in spring of 2016, the HTC 10 is, at first blush, a simple evolution of the One series introduced a few years back. But, spend some time with the device and you’ll see that it’s not just another trip to the well for HTC. Indeed, this one sprinkles in a bit of revolution, too. The HTC 10 is a surprisingly strong contender for phone of the year.

The target demographic for the HTC 10 is a consumer looking for a powerful experience that offers up some of the latest and greatest in hardware. The specifications for the phone put it right in line with top models such as the Samsung Galaxy S7, LG G5, and Apple’s iPhone 6. If you’re the type who buys based on bullet points and fact tags, the HTC 10 should quickly rise to the top of the heap. In short, the HTC 10 is flagship through and through.

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First Impressions

Let’s be honest here. It’s getting harder and harder to create a smartphone that physically stands out or doesn’t resemble every other handset on the market. For some companies that’s not really a problem and coming to market with a lookalike or slight variation on last year’s phone is okay. It seems to work for Apple and Samsung has been guilty of it for a few generations.

The 2016 crop of devices is somewhat different so far in that LG has shaken things up in the G5 and it’s not as similar to the G4 as it could have been. The Galaxy S7, for its part, is a departure from the Galaxy S6. As for HTC, this year’s model looks similar enough to the previous generations that you won’t mistake it for another brand. A few minutes of holding it, though, tells you things are different here, too.

I was pleased to see that the HTC 10 carries over some of the design language of its predecessors. There was nothing wrong with the M7, M7, and M9; they were just a little too close to each other. The HTC 10 brings forth a combination of that line as well as elements introduced in the One A9 last year.

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The HTC 10 looks, and feels, like a premium phone. Thanks to a unibody aluminum chassis with chamfered edges, the handset is weighty and durable and has the air of a well thought out design. The brushed finish is a nice touch and plays nicely with any color variation. Pick the phone up and you immediately know that HTC isn’t messing around.

Like the One M models before it, this phone has a tapered design to the rear. It’s comfortable to hold in hand; the pronounced chamfered edges call for attention but also make for an easy grip around the edges. Tossing this into a pocket is fantastic as it simply slides along the curves. A word of caution, though, as it can feel slippery at times.

One of the things I like to do with every new phone is grab it from the ends and sort of twist or apply pressure. It’s here where you’ll sometimes figure out which phone is cheaply built. The HTC 10 did not creak or move, even under moderate pressure.

Design

Again, it’s kind of hard to reinvent yourself each year and there’s only so many ways to design a smartphone before it feels awkward. The HTC 10 doesn’t do anything strange with its button configuration or SIM card placement.

IMAG0734

Looking straight on, the right side features the volume rocker about 3/4ths of the way up. Below that is the power button. As is the case with the One A9, the HTC 10’s power button has a textured feel to it. This makes it very easy to feel in the dark as there’s no mistaking it for the volume controls. All three buttons are responsive and let the user know for certain that they’re being pressed.

On the left side of the phone is where you’ll find the memory card and SIM card tray. Located near the top, it pops out to allow for access. Those of you who have a microSD card will be happy to know the HTC 10 supports up to 2 terabytes of external storage.

Down below the display you’ll locate the lone fingerprint reader which doubles as the home button. HTC has opted for capacitive buttons for this year’s model; the “back” is found on the left side while the “multitask” button is on the right. The fingerprint sensor is fast, accurate, and works well even if you’re fingers or the phone is slightly damp. It’s a little cramped down here as the button is ever so closer to the edge of the phone than the display.

At the very top of the front panel is a speaker grille and front-facing camera. There’s no dual-speaker setup this time around. The top is for the BoomSound tweeter while the other speaker is located below the phone next to the charging port.

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We appreciate that HTC integrated a USB Type-C charging port for this model as it’s quickly becoming a standard. Moreover, the Quick Charge 3.0 support lets us plug in for fast recharges.

Around back we locate the rear camera with flash and antenna lines. The camera module does jut out from the phone a bit but the sapphire glass keeps things from getting scuffed. Getting back to the unibody design, the rear stays put. You’ll not be able to remove anything here, particularly a battery.

Display

At 5.2-inches, the HTC 10 is a great size for most smartphone users. Sure, we do get spoiled by those models that tread into the 5.5-inch and 5.7-inch space, but those phones are often unwieldy or hard to use with one hand.

The 2,560 x 1,440 pixel display is gorgeous and puts HTC back in the conversation of high resolution screens for a flagship phone. The Super LCD 3 panel is fantastic, represents colors very well, and can be pushed to a really bright image. Indoor, outdoor, it doesn’t really matter where you use it. Taking pictures in broad daylight is no challenge. Thanks to an oleophobic coating, the screen is built to withstand scuffs and scratches.

Call Quality

The model we reviewed was an unlocked variant which supports AT&T and T-Mobile here in the US. We used a T-Mobile SIM for the duration of our testing and found it connected about as good as other phones we’ve used in the same areas. There are spots where we’d see it display less bars on the screen than normal, but calls worked well nonetheless. Unfortunately, there are pockets where T-Mobile doesn’t pick up near the house so we had to rely on WiFi for calls. It seemed we had to use Wi-Fi a little more than other phones as of late but that could also be attributed to more trees and foliage at this time of year.

Sound

Placing a call on speaker phone was a pleasure with sound filling rooms clearly. Inside of an office is one thing, but even outside, with ambient noise and random traffic, worked well.

Whereas BoomSound stereo speakers typically shared the load equally between them, the HTC 10 is different. The top speaker provides the highs while the one below the phone gives the lows. If you’re holding the phone in portrait mode, you may find yourself somewhat covering the a speaker.

Place the phone on a table for music or for watching YouTube videos and you’ll find a loud sound. Playback is clear and crisp and it gets very loud. Speaking of which, you’ll want to keep that in mind when setting alarms. You surely don’t want to wake up to this phone at top levels.

We did find that holding a phone in landscape mode for video can also create a somewhat wonky listening experience. Given we naturally want to hold the edges of our phone, it’s pretty easy to cover half of the sound. Along those lines, it’s sometimes strange to watch longer videos with sound not balancing equally.

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Camera

After taking a year off with the M9, HTC is back to using its “UltraPixel” camera for pictures. As some of you know, the number of pixels doesn’t necessarily equate to picture quality. To that end, don’t let the 12-megapixel sensor in the HTC 10 fool you into thinking it’s lesser quality than some other brands and their 16-megapixel, or higher, shooters. The ultra aspect means larger pixels with more light and improved low-light images.

The HTC 10 camera features optical image stabilization and a f/1.8 aperture. What does this mean to you? It means incredible pictures in a whole host of light settings.

We found the HTC 10 camera to be among the absolute best smartphone shooters we’ve ever tested. Time and again we were impressed with the shutter speed, focus, and colors. There are few things that we enjoy more about a handset’s camera than being able to set it on automatic and trust things would work. That’s exactly what we found with the camera in the HTC 10.

HTC 10

Very rarely did we move over to Pro (manual) mode to mess with some of the settings. And, even when we did, the options were clearly presented on the screen and the dials were intuitive. Don’t know what ISO or WB settings are as it pertains to your end result? Play with it a bit and watch how it impacts your picture.

If you’ve used an HTC phone from before, you’ll know that the camera app can be a tad overwhelming. That’s not the case this time around as HTC has trimmed the shooting modes down, rejiggered the layout, and generally simplified the experience. Hopping to and from video is quick; switching to manual mode, panoramic, or Zoe is also in the same place. We especially liked the convenience of toggling on and off the HDR.

The laser assisted focus is lightning fast and we found ourselves capturing the exact moments we wanted. You know that issue with phones where you have to snap the camera a hair sooner than what you really need? That’s not the case here. The HTC 10 grabs the photo you want the moment you take it – even with HDR on.

If we could be picky for a moment, the notifications that pop up for the laser focus can be a tad aggressive. Simply putting your finger up near the lens results in a notification. We get it – we shouldn’t cover it up. Please stop telling us.

Recording video is just as pleasurable; the phone allows for up to 4K capture. We’d recommend sticking to 1080p for your video unless you really wanna show off. Seeing as how not too many of us own 4K televisions yet we don’t see the need for the video. Also, if that’s what you want to do with your phone, make sure you’ve got a sizable external memory source because 4K files are huge.

Battery

At 3,000mAh, the battery is not quite as capacious as it would have been one year ago. We’re now expecting our flagship phones to have this much juice, especially if it’s an internal, non-removable unit.

HTC claims the battery can give users up to two days of normal usage. In our testing we deduced that for most people, this is more than enough capacity to get them through a full day’s use with extra to spare. A more aggressive person who likes to game, or enjoys videos on a regular basis… maybe a day.

As mentioned above, the phone employs support for Quick Charge 3.0. This means you’re going to charge up super quick. We’re talking almost to the point where you’re looking at your phone and watching it tick up.

Get about halfway through your day and need to insure the phone’s going to stay up late with you? Throw it on a charger for a half hour and you’re all set. A typical commute home from work is likely all you need to top off your phone with enough battery to see you through a long night.

You can squeeze more life out of your battery by enabling the Power Saver mode or Ultra Power Saver mode. Each can slow down CPU cycles, reduce screen brightness, adjust vibration settings, and more. One just happens to be way more aggressive than the other. Suffice it to say, we didn’t have to use the Ultra aspect once in the few weeks we’ve tested this device.

Software

Running Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the HTC 10 employs a custom launcher known as Sense UI. Around for the better part of a decade now, it is the handset maker’s way of delivering a user experience that it thinks is right for consumers. In the past it was knocked for being too heavy or bloated. As time went by it didn’t evolve much and became outdated feeling. The idea was right but the execution was not. This is not the case any longer.

Screenshot_20160609-144905The Sense UI is much lighter than it was in the past and doesn’t come across as some branded agenda. You’ll find there’s still traces of customization and HTC-infused features, but nothing you’ll dread. If you’ve ever used an HTC Android phone in the past, we invite you to revisit the Sense experience. For those who have not, we venture to guess you’ll be hard-pressed to discern where stock Android ends and where HTC’s tweaks begin.

Users will have a variety of lock screen behaviors and settings to choose from, each with a slightly different setup. It’s possible to tailor how much information is present on the lock screen, keeping your important details hidden away if that’s your thing. Also present with the lock screen is the shortcut icons to launch quickly into various functions of the phone.

Screenshot_20160609-144759As mentioned before, there’s a fingerprint scanner with the phone so there’s that extra layer of security, too. We trained the sensor to recognize multiple fingerprints; the phone is very quick to recognize the presses. It didn’t take long for us to prefer the fingerprint for unlocking the device.

The first time you load up the phone you’ll find two home screens, one of which is the BlinkFeed (social news aggregator). It’s quite easy to start customizing and tweaking the look and feel as HTC puts options in easy-to-discover places. Want to change the fonts, icons, and widgets? That’s no sweat with HTC’s software. Actually, that leads into the next aspect of the software experience: themes.

Like other recent models from the company, the HTC 10 lets users shop for custom themes. And, rather than sticking to your standard rows and columns, the Freestyle themes let you place stuff exactly where you want, without adhering to grids. The selection of themes has continually improved and there’s something for everyone. Minimal, futuristic, cartoon, professional, or another design, you’ll find a look you love.

There’s a new Boost+ app that comes loaded HTC which is designed to keep the phone running smoothly. With the app you’ll be able to perform quick checks on performance, free up RAM and storage, and uninstall unused apps. Additionally, Boost+ lets HTC 10 owners lock individual apps to where they’re only unlocked via a password or fingerprint.

Performance

Let’s just cut to the chase; the HTC 10 is going to handle anything you ask it to do. Not only that, but it’s gonna do it quickly and without hiccups. This is exactly what you’d expect when you pair 4GB RAM with the latest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 820.

As a daily driver for typical users, the HTC 10 doesn’t even come close to tapping into its potential. Gamers and those who like to push their tech will be pleased with the performance of the handset. Whether it’s a first-person shooter, racing game, or something else with flashy graphics, the phone chews it right up.

One reason the HTC 10 might do so well is that it isn’t full of bloatware that runs in the background. Although we tested an unlocked model with nary a carrier app or service, HTC says the network-branded versions are light on clutter. The less there is sipping at the resources, the better. Oh, and let’s not discount the way Android 6.0 Marshmallow handles processes. All of these things provide a perfect storm, of sorts.

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Conclusion

It’s very easy for us to recommend the HTC 10 for your flagship smartphone needs. It’s the perfect balance of performance and beauty; the handset is everything we want.

The metal design, chamfered edges, and brushed finish offer up one of the most physically appealing models available today. It’s somewhat ironic, then, that this phone is mostly an evolution of the previous One M line. There’s just enough different here to bring old M8 and M9 users back.

In previous years HTC was applauded for build quality when other companies were going the cheaper, polycarbonate route. Now that other brands seem to have caught on to using premium materials HTC’s effort might be construed as simply keeping pace. Is that the case? Perhaps. Does it stand out that much over some of the other flagships of the day in terms of build quality? Maybe. It’s a solid phone either way and there’s no denying HTC cared about the overall product. It’s certainly no less quality than any other phone.

We’re really impressed with the way HTC has managed to dial down the Sense UI yet still retain the custom experience. Although we love and prefer stock Android, HTC Sense UI is nowhere near as obnoxious or outdated as it was one or two generations ago. In fact, we’re kinda digging the stuff that’s present. Moreover, we’re not in a hurry to install a custom launcher now that the themes are where they are today.

Sure, we’ve come to love and expect the uniform approach of something like Nova Launcher, but we’re not everyone. The customization that comes with HTC’s themes are well-rounded and feature unique flavors to breathe new life into the UI. Best of all, however, is the simplicity in which they can be installed.

In terms of performance, it’s going to be hard to top the Snapdragon 820 processor and 4GB RAM. As of right now you can’t. There’s so much to love about the HTC 10 and its ability to handle tasks and games. Time and again we were throwing as much as we could at the phone and it never stuttered.

If you’re in the market for something powerful and finely crafted, the HTC 10 should be on your short list. Not everybody wants or needs to spend $500+ for a phone, but for those who do, this one certainly deserves your attention.

9
Jun

HTC launches the Vive Business Edition for $1,200


HTC has just made a surprising reveal of a new version of a business version of its Vive VR headset. It’s called the Vive Business Edition (BE), and you basically get the same headset and accessories (two Vive controllers, two base stations and four face cushions) as consumers. However, business buyers also get a dedicated customer support line and the option to buy more than one headset (right now, consumers sales are limited to a single device). For all that, you’ll pay $1,200 in the US, or ÂŁ849 in the UK and €1,080 in Europe — a significant premium to the $799 consumer price.

After strong initial sales, you can now get a regular Vive pretty soon after you order it — a sign that consumer demand may have waned. While $799 is a big ask for you or me, $1,200 isn’t a big deal for many companies, so HTC obviously wants to tap that market. “Virtual reality has already proven its appeal among consumers and is now revealing its potential for enterprise, says VP Daniel O’Brien. “We are answering the overwhelming demand from global industries for a complete VR experience.”

HTC recently launched the Vive X fund to help companies build VR apps for the device. Virtual reality also has huge potential in the business world for architecture, visualization and design, among other applications. As an example, it cited partner Dassault, which has developed software to help companies design and collaborate in a VR environment.

As such, HTC is offering a commercial license and limited 12-month guarantee as part of the Vive BE package (the consumer guarantee is limited to non-commercial applications). The Vive BE is launching this month in the US, Canada, UK, Germany and France, and will arrive elsewhere “in the coming weeks.”

8
Jun

HTC Vive now ships shortly after you order it


Buying an HTC Vive has been a time-consuming process. Even after it started shipping to customers, you technically had to pre-order the virtual reality headset and twiddle your thumbs waiting for it to arrive. Mercifully, you won’t need much patience after today: HTC has announced that the Vive now ships within 2-3 business days of when you order it. You’ll have to live in one of 24 countries, but it’s otherwise as close to instant gratification as you’ll get with high-end VR.

The improved availability also comes along with more chances to try the Vive. As of June, HTC is adding many more store demos (over 100 in total). GameStop is the biggest contributor with 30 new tryout opportunities, while Microsoft won’t be too far behind with 22 more places to get your VR on. Although that’s still far from a huge range of stores, it might just mean the difference between trying before you buy and having to trust in HTC’s vision.

Source: HTC

3
Jun

Computex 2016: It’s a wrap!


Just like that, Computex 2016 has come to an end. As in previous years, the show kicked off with ASUS’ big keynote presentation, but this time it wasn’t just laptops, tablets and smartphones — the company also unveiled its first home robot, Zenbo. We met up with Chairman Jonney Shih who gave us an exclusive demo of this $599 machine, so do check out our interview wit him. We also saw Intel launch its first 10-core desktop processor geared towards hardcore gamers, followed by yet another exclusive interview — this time with the company’s new consumer head, Navin Shenoy.

The rest of the show gave us a lot of opportunities to play around in virtual reality. HTC was there with several cool Vive demos; MSI showed off its Backpack PC; AMD announced its $199 Radeon RX480 graphics card to lower the entry barrier for VR; and even Microsoft is opening up its Windows Holographic platform to embrace the virtual world. Find all that and more in the video above.

1
Jun

VR rowing turns a workout into a vacation


Playing VR games can be surprisingly good exercise — ducking your head behind artificial barriers or waving your arms around to shoot enemy robots can work up a sweat. But what if you wanted a genuine workout? Well, VR fitness appears to be a rising trend, with several applications designed to alleviate the tedium of indoor gyms. At Computex 2016, I tried out yet another VR fitness apparatus that had me rowing through a tropical oasis while burning calories at the same time.

This particular setup was designed by Holodia, a startup that’s been working on this idea for a few years now. The way it works is pretty simple. I positioned myself on a Concept 2 rowing machine that was hooked up to a PC that the company calls a Holofit computer. Then I placed a HTC Vive over my head along with a pair of headphones, and grabbed at the rower’s handles. Holodia also has an overhang rig setup next to the machine so that the cables are allowed to move around as you’re rowing.

To start the game, I simply looked at which scenery I wanted to row in; the different options included oceans, rivers and beaches from around the world. I chose a tropical scene, which sounded like a nice respite from the busy Computex show floor. Before long, I was transported to a far away land. I looked down at my hands and feet and it appeared as if I was in a canoe.

So I started to row. As I did so, a heads-up display in front of me showed distance traveled as well as how fast I was rowing. Perhaps it’s because the rowing machine is my favorite cardio workout in the gym, but I genuinely had a pretty great time. At the gym, treadmills and ellipticals typically have TV monitors attached to them, but rowers don’t. With a VR headset, however, I’m now able to entertain myself while I row. Plus, the Holodia rowing sim makes an otherwise tedious activity a lot more enjoyable.

You’re probably wondering if you can get this in your home. Well, you could, but it’ll cost you quite a bit. You can pre-order a Holodia rower kit now for a whopping $12,131. Even that’s a discount, as the retail price looks to be $13,472. That does seem like quite a sum, but that price includes the Concept 2 rower, the HTC Vive, that aforementioned Holofit computer, plus all the various accessories and rigs that you’ll need to set it all up. It looks like you can also just buy the base pack without the rower, but that’s still around $12,000. The company promises to ship it by June of 2016 (this month!) but only within the EU.

Now, there have been other VR rowing applications before. One particular example that springs to mind is a game demo with the Oculus DK2 and a rowing machine that had you rowing around in space. But we haven’t heard about it for a number of years, while the Holodia version looks a lot more polished. Still, at such a steep price, we’re guessing the Holodia is really meant for gyms or fitness centers rather than individuals. But if you have the cash to spare and you haven’t already invested in a VR headset, then the Holodia kit might be a compelling alternative to the gym.

Stay on top of all the latest news from Computex 2016 right here.

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