How do the Meta Quest 2 headset and the HTC Vive Flow VR compare?

Instead of having to wear a helmet full of gear, the HTC Vive Flow VR headset can help you experience virtual reality wearing what looks like a pair of sunglasses. The HTC Vive Flow covers your eyes and rests over your ears with its bendable temples. While it’s an obvious design, it’s still a new attempt to take people into the metaverse, or rather the world of VR.

There are a few different VR headset options on the market for consumers, but the only one that really matters right now is the Meta Quest 2. It’s the general-purpose unit that has all the developer and software momentum. So, in addition to seeing how Vive Flow works on its own, it’s worth comparing it to Quest 2.

While Vive Flow is probably not ready for the mainstream just yet, it’s interesting and space-driven. Whether this headset is right for you will really depend on what you plan on using it for and whether you use an Android phone or an iPhone.

TL;DR

pros:

  • Quick to place and shareable with others
  • Compact unit can travel better than other VR headsets

cons:

  • Phone as controller is not great for long term use
  • Fan noise can be loud
  • No iPhone support

Buy from HTC.

Entering the Metaverse

HTC Vive Flow
Each eye lens has a rotating ring with numbers that help dial focus.
TYLER HAYES

You can tell me as someone who believes that the widespread use of virtual reality is on the horizon. It is very attractive for exercises, games, education and other experiences not to be used by the masses. The question still remains, however, what will these conventional VR devices look like? Currently, the Meta Quest 2 is the stereotypical headset that wraps most of your face. I don’t think this kind of design will last long. It’s just too complicated.

I also hate that Meta Quest 2 is such a solo device. It is very difficult to share the headset and let others (quickly) experience VR. Adjusting the headband can be time consuming and painful to get back to how you like it. The standard headband is just plain uncomfortable. The Vive Flow largely overcomes this obstacle with its sunglasses-like design. It’s easy to put on, take off and share.

When everyone has their own VR device several years into the future, sharing and scaling will likely be less of a concern, but now it’s critical to convince people that VR is worth exploring. The Vive Flow’s compact design and weight of 189 grams also make traveling or even moving from room to room a breeze. Diopter dials around the eyepieces for independent eye focus allow it to be easily adjustable for different people. Once you’ve found the ideal viewing focus, you can put it back with a few turns of the dial.

This is where the Vive Flow’s advantages largely stop, however – its physical design. It relies on a phone as its controller. It doesn’t have the same immersive feel as Quest 2, despite each having almost the same field of view. Fan noise is not irrelevant and can be quite loud.

I noticed that there aren’t a lot of intense fitness apps for the Vive Flow, but that’s probably because the Vive Flow can drop doing full-body workouts. I wish there were more apps and experiences in general, especially the free ones to get you hooked. The ones that were free were as basic as possible and didn’t make me want to go back to them.

HTC Vive Flow
Vive Flow connects to an Android phone using a USB-C cable.
TYLER HAYES

The best way to use Vive Flow is to connect it to an Android phone using a USB-C cable. (Using an iPhone is currently not supported.) This provides power and data to the headset. It also allows the phone to be used as a controller, pointing and clicking within the virtual world. I didn’t mind using the phone’s touchscreen as a controller at first, but would have preferred some sort of dedicated pointing device.

The part I didn’t like about the phone being a pointing device was using it to type on a virtual keyboard in VR. The Meta Quest 2 handheld controller is a little better at this because it has physical buttons and faster pointer response.

Best feature of Vive Flow

HTC Vive Flow
The Vive Flow VR headset can be folded and easily moved around the house.
TYLER HAYES

The most attractive use of Vive Flow now is to mirror your phone. When you do this, you will see the phone screen inside the headset. The idea is that you can stream movies and shows from any app on your phone as a private, personal viewing experience. HTC says, “Stream phone apps on a private big screen in VR.”

Using your phone as a pointing device to type on a virtual keyboard while looking at your phone screen in VR is annoying. Even if you’re not accessing many apps, you might want to look for something to watch. Even typing in website addresses and emails is very time consuming.

The mirroring feature is being sold as a way to consume media from your phone. The benefit of doing this is having the appearance of a big screen right in front of your face. Maybe you want to watch TV in bed without disturbing your partner. There are dozens of scenarios this can be useful for, but basically it can replace taking a tablet with you to watch shows and movies.

Your Android phone will need to support Miracast to stream videos from apps like Disney Plus. (This is due to content copy protection.) You can still mirror your phone if it doesn’t support Miracast, but the mirroring and/or casting feature will be less useful. As it stands, I found mirroring my phone only attractive for short periods of time, probably because of its novelty. Is it useful in the long run? I have my doubts.

TCL has also been exploring this world of glasses used as a personal monitor. The TCL Nxtwear G can connect to a phone or computer and display content right in front of your face. There are no VR components, allowing it to be even thinner and a more focused product, in my experience.

HTC Vive Flow
There is a volume knob on the left side of the unit and a vent in the center.
TYLER HAYES

Should you buy the HTC Vive Flow?

The HTC Vive Flow presents an intriguing possibility of what a VR headset of the future could look like. The problem is that there are still a lot of things in it that leave a lot to be desired. While Vive Flow is more affordable than Meta Quest 2 because it doesn’t cover your whole head, people will likely want to use it for less time with few attractive apps available.

If the idea of ​​a private viewing screen for streaming movies from your phone is a targeted use – I’m confused about that – it’s still not a painless experience. The device pushes the boundaries of what’s technologically possible, but it still doesn’t deliver on its promise.

The HTC Vive Flow is nice, but I think average consumers will be disappointed with it at this point. If Vive Flow were a lot cheaper (like under $200) or if there were the same amount of top-notch apps available for it that are available in Meta Quest 2, this recommendation would be very different. As it stands, the Vive Flow is a cool demo that we hope will blossom into a more refined device.

Buy it from HTC for $499.

Newsweek may earn a commission from links on this page, but we only recommend products that we support. We participate in various affiliate marketing programs, which means that we may receive commissions paid for editorially chosen products purchased through our links to retailer websites.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.