One of the problems with all the high-end VR headsets is that they don’t merely need the processing power of a high-spec computer, they have to be tethered to the computer. Whether it was concerns over latency or just plain bad forward planning, the purveyors of VR thought we’d be happy running around and flying our arms, while tethered to a machine.
Just try spinning round to shoot an enemy who’s creeping up behind you, to realize how awkward (and stupid) that is! Can you imagine if soldiers on the battlefield had a rope running off the back of their head tethering them to their field HQ? That wouldn’t make for a very mobile war would it? If anything, it would turn them into sitting ducks for the enemy to pick off at will. That’s assuming they managed to avoid tripping over the cables like they were booby-traps and landmines!
But in the case of the HTC Vive, that’s all about to change, thanks to the TPCast adapter. The adapter - or rather this iteration of it - has been specially designed for the HTC Vive will be available in the Unites States and Canada from 24 November. However, it is already available for pre-order.
Instead of using a so-called "cable management system" to suspend your cables and wires to the ceiling - which merely changes the risk from tripping to strangulation - you can now have the signals sent from the computer to the headset via a wireless system connected to the computer and a wireless receive attached to the headset.
It has been available in China since December 2016 and was available for pre-order in europe since September of this year. But now it is available in North America.
The kit consists of an HMD receiver that is mounted on top of the headset, where the cables plug in, a powerbox that user’s put in their pocket (this powers both the RX receiver and the Vive itself), and a PC Transmitter that plugs into the PCs HDMI port. (Note: the PC Transmitter must also be connected to an electrical outlet for power.)
However, while that deals with transmitting the audio and visual information, the player's movement and positional information also needs to be transmitted to the headset. This is done by a pre-configured wireless router that is also included in the kit. Simply connect an Ethernet cable from a LAN port on your current router to the WAN port on TPCast’s router, and then connect the parent PC via Ethernet to a LAN port on the TPCast router. The PC must then be configured to automatically obtain an IP address and DNS server address from the TPCast router. It sounds complicated, but it isn’t. Not for a serious games enthusiast anyway!
This delivers 2K resolution with a latency of 2 milliseconds. This ensures smooth image rendering and position tracking, without frame dropping.
And free of the constraints of the cables, the player will have additional freedom of movement without any cost in smoothness of the viewing experience!
The powerbox lasts 5-6 hours. The one downside is that it takes 9-12 hours to fully recharge!