HTC Says '5G Hub' Will Stream VR 'Directly to Vive Headsets', One Day… Probably

HTC introduced its ‘5G Hub’ product back in February—a 5G mobile hotspot mashed up with a media streaming device and a digital assistant. And still “coming soon” is a “cloud-based virtual reality” feature which promises to stream VR content directly to the Vive Focus, ‘no PC required’. Sounds great, and all you’ll need to wait for is the launch of a consumer version of the headset and hopeful deployment of massive new connectivity and cloud infrastructures.

Update (May 16th, 2019): HTC today announced that the 5G Hub will launch on Sprint on May 31st, with pre-orders starting tomorrow. In addition to the cost of the device, Sprint will charge $60/100GB of data, capping speeds to 2G thereafter.

HTC is still touting the VR streaming feature as “coming soon,” but Sprint appears not to mention it at all—likely because the necessary network infrastructures aren’t remotely close to being in place and the headset it relies on (Vive Focus) still isn’t available in the US as a consumer product.

The original article continues below.

Original Article (February 25th, 2019): HTC hopes that its 5G Hub, which is due out later this year in the US on the Sprint network, will be the center of your connected life. In addition to being a 5G hotspot, media player, digital assistant, and gaming device, the 5G Hub will, “in the future,” stream Viveport content from the cloud to the Vive Focus headset.

But the official page for the 5G Hub uses some teeny tiny fine print to point out two massive caveats:

“*The above scenario will depend on development of MEC technology and 5G infrastructure.”

Oh that’s all?

Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and 5G are hugely complex infrastructure and cloud technologies which are still very well in their infancy. Not only are these technologies just beginning to roll out to some portions of select markets, they aren’t intrinsically linked, which means you might have 5G data access in your area eventually, but if there’s not the right MEC infrastructure in town, you’re SOL.

Which is to say… most of what needs to be in place for this cloud streaming feature to happen is not there yet, and HTC has no firm timeline for when it will be.

And then there’s the fact that they’re marketing this 5G Hub VR cloud streaming feature in the US as being compatible with the Vive Focus, a headset which is currently not available to consumers and has presently has no consumer release date.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see a 5G Hub in every home streaming cloud-rendered VR content to affordable headsets across the globe. But it seems just a tad bit early to be marketing this feature which is unlikely to be available to most potential 5G Hub customers by the time a newer version of the 5G Hub is launched.

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