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October 15, 2021
☕ Happy Friday! Just a heads up that Paula (who does the weekend edition that you all know and love) will be taking over the newsletter for a few days starting Monday, and it’s shaping up to be a pretty announcement-packed week.
HTC Vive Flow tries to get boomers into VR
htc vive flow

Yesterday HTC announced its latest VR headset hardware, the HTC Vive Flow. It was pretty heavily leaked beforehand, but now we have a better idea of what the company is trying to do, and it’s… well, interesting.

  • Like the Oculus Quest lineup, the HTC Vive Flow is entirely self contained (minus the battery pack), meaning you don’t need a high-powered PC to use it.
  • You do, however, need an Android phone to use as a controller. No iOS here, sorry folks.
  • It’s fairly impressive in terms of specs, with a 1.6k per-eye display with a 100-degree field of view at a 75Hz refresh rate. It runs on the last-gen Qualcomm XR-1 chipset with 64GB (or more) of onboard storage.
  • But the most striking thing is its design.
  • Instead of straps, it’s built more like glasses and slips on and off of your head with ease. 
  • They sort of look like very bulky sunglasses… that make you look like a bug.
  • If you wanted to see what they actually look like on a person, you’re out of luck. All of the HTC promo images are stock photos with the headset photoshopped in. Oof.
  • The battery pack is also external, making them lighter than most other headsets at just 189 grams.
  • The headset will launch in November starting at $499, with the battery pack costing an extra $79. HTC says that any USB-C battery pack will work, though.

So where does this new headset fit into the market? Well, somewhere new.

  • HTC is positioning the Vive Flow as an alternative for users who find traditional VR headsets too complicated or intimidating.
  • More specifically, the large older audience of “boomers” in the US.
  • In many ways, it’s similar to the now-discontinued Oculus Go, but at more than twice the price.
  • The Verge got some hands-on time with the headset, and found it to be “a mixed bag.”
  • Reviewer Adi Robertson praised the lightness and ease-of-use, but didn’t like how easily it slipped off of her face without a strap.
  • Will this be enough to attract a new audience to VR? At this price, it’s going to be a tough sell.

📱 Honor’s first phone with Google services since gaining independence from Huawei is here! Hands-on with the Honor 50 (Android Authority).

📅 The Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has yet another rumored launch date. Maybe this time it will stick (Android Authority).

🕵️‍♀️ Poco’s latest budget device was spotted passing through the FCC. Can Xiaomi keep the Poco M4 Pro under the €200 mark once again? (Android Authority).

💸 A new Pixel phone and a suite of services from Google at a fixed price? Yes, please. Here’s how much our readers would pay for Google’s Pixel Pass (Android Authority).

⌚ Find out if Fitbit’s latest justifies the price hike in this Fitbit Charge 5 review (Android Authority).

🐶 It was only a matter of time: They’re putting guns on robot dogs now (The Verge).

🖥 A reporter in Missouri found 100,000 social security numbers on a government website by simply clicking “view source.” Now the governor wants to prosecute him as a hacker (Vice).

🚗 IndiEV revealed an electric car with a built-in gaming PC but not much else. Why, though? (The Verge).

💨 Some good news: The US government is planning to expand offshore wind over the next decade (Ars Technica).

🤔 There are some strange ones: What is the strangest compliment you have ever received? (r/askreddit).

Friday Fun
Balloon World Cup

Remember that game you used to play as a kid where you and a sibling had to keep a balloon from hitting the ground while simultaneously dodging living room furniture and family pets?

Well, now it’s officially a sport. Yesterday was the inaugural edition of the Balloon World Cup, with Portugal taking home the golden balloon and 10,000 euros in prize money.

  • The brainchild of footballer Gerard Pique and Spanish streamer Ibai Llanos, it featured representatives from 32 countries around the globe in 2-minute one-on-one balloon-offs.
  • Playing in an 8 x 8m space filled with living room furniture, they competed to be the last one to hit the balloon before it hit the ground.
  • Competition was fierce, and the sponsorships were huge. Oreo, Doritos, Volkswagen, Mentos, Amazon, and several others funded the event, which had some serious production value.
  • Llanos and Pique served as sportscasters and hype men, alongside veteran Spanish football announcers and referees.
  • Viewership piqued at 630,000 concurrent viewers, but averaged 500k throughout the event.
  • Watch the entire (nearly six-hour) spectacle in Spanish here on Twitch. In this case, seeing is believing.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Nick Fernandez, Editor

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