Skip to main content

TPCast Vive wireless adapter: Our first take

The first wireless kit for HTC's Vive gives new meaning to 'hot pocket'

Rather than launching a new version of the Vive, HTC will launch a set of official and licensed peripherals in 2017 to enhance the platform, the company announced at CES. The most anticipated of these — if only because it was shown last year — is the TPCast wireless adapter, which lets you use the headset without worrying about the long trail of wires between the headset and your PC.

The Vive’s best feature, the room-scale sensors that track your movements in real space, are hampered by its wires. Its easy to trip over them while walking around in a game, and disconcerting to strain against them if they grow taut. Removing those wires, in theory, would complete the room-scale experience, at least in its current form.

As a proof of concept, the TPCast adapter makes it clear that wireless consumer-grade VR, even with the fidelity of the Vive, is within reach, if not inevitable.

Virtual reality without restraints

The TPCast adapter looks a little strange. A small, but not inconsequential black box slides onto the top of the Vive head strap, and plugs into the headset’s USB and HDMI cords. Though it looks like it should be heavy, the adapter does not weigh heavily on your head, at least in short bursts.

It performs exactly as it’s supposed to. In a shooting-gallery-style demo for an upcoming Vive Tracker-based peripheral, the PP Gun assault rifle, there was no noticeable latency between our movements in and out of game. We could whip our rifle around, move around the Vive room at any speed, and the TPCast seemed to keep up.

TP Cast Vive wireless adapter
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends

According to TPCast, the adapter will add less than two milliseconds of latency, and while we can’t confirm that, the wireless connection does not seem to impede your ability to use the Vive so long as the connection stays in tact.

That’s where things go off the rails. While the TPCast works very well under ideal circumstances, it seems to be an incredibly delicate device. One wrong move and the connection can cut out, at least momentarily, if the adapter is touched or jostled. The game did not break or miss a beat, so when the connection came back we could return to playing, but the experience was jarring.

TPCast said such connection blips would be less frequent in the final version. We also experienced other connection issues — the PP Gun in the demo would not always reload or fire. However, it wasn’t clear whether this was an issue with the controller, the software, or the adapter.

VR’s a b&#*h, and then you run out of power

Then there’s the issue of the adapter’s battery. The wireless adapter connects to large battery pack, which has to be stored in a pocket on your person. Stored in the back pocket of our jeans, the XL battery, which gets up to five hours of battery life, heated to an uncomfortable temperature very quickly.

When it was announced, we bemoaned the fact that the standard TPCast adapter would only allow for up to 90 minutes of gameplay.  After using it, it seems unlikely that you would want to use it for more than 15 minutes. The final version of the standard battery may not get quite so hot, mind you, but there’s a real chance that the adapter may be very uncomfortable to wear.

The standard version of the TPCast wireless adapter will cost $250 when it launches in “Q2” 2017. The expanded version will launch at a later date. If TPCast can work out the kinks, the adapter could be a must-own accessory. If not, at least we know there’s a future out there wireless VR.

Highs

  • Easy to attach and use
  • Low latency
  • Integrates well with headset

Lows

  • Battery gets very hot
  • Connection is finicky

Editors' Recommendations

Mike Epstein
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Michael is a New York-based tech and culture reporter, and a graduate of Northwestwern University’s Medill School of…
PlayStation State of Play returns this week, will feature 14 PS5 games
Three colorful PS5s float together in a line.

PlayStation will kick off the summer of digital video game reveal streams this week with a State of Play broadcast. The stream will take place at 3 p.m. PT on Thursday, May 30.

State of Play is one of Sony's primary livestream presentation formats. It tends to be slightly shorter than the company's flagship stream, the PlayStation Showcase. This State of Play is a significant one, though, as Sony's slate of first-party games for 2024 is entirely unknown at this stage. This stream should shed some light on what's coming later this year.

Read more
Sony retracts controversial Neil Druckmann interview due to inaccurate quotes
Neil Druckmann in a roundtable interview for The Last of Us Season 1.

Sony has removed an interview with Naughty Dog's co-president Neil Druckmann after the Uncharted and The Last of Us creator noted that some of his quotes were inaccurate and misrepresented in the article.

Last week, an interview Neil Druckmann was posted and was meant to offer insight into the famous game developer's philosophies and expectations for the future of Naughty Dog. The interview caught the general audience's attention because Druckmann made bold claims about how AI could be used in game development and how he thought Naughty Dog's next game was "redefining mainstream perceptions of gaming."

Read more
PlayStation State of Play, May 2024: How to watch and what to expect
Key art for Until Dawn's remake.

Sony is off to a fairly strong start in 2024, with games like The Last of Us Part II Remastered, Rise of the Ronin, and Stellar Blade, but the PS5's lineup for the back half of the year is still shrouded in mystery. Thankfully, a new State of Play stream is imminent. We're hoping that the 30-minute presentation gives us a new look at Until Dawn's remake and Firewalk Studios' multiplayer game Concord, as well as some surprises.

Although it isn't a full-blown PlayStation Showcase, it's definitely still worth tuning into for PS5 owners. If you're planning to do so, you're also probably wondering when and how to watch it. To help, we've rounded up all relevant information about the event so you can be ready when the livestream begins on May 30.
When is May 2024's State of Play?
Sony has confirmed that the May 2024 State of Play presentation will start airing live at 3 p.m. PT on May 30. According to the PlayStation Blog, it will be a "30+ minute show," so set some time aside to watch it tomorrow afternoon.
How to watch May 2024's State of Play
You can expect the next State of Play to be live-streamed across PlayStation's official YouTube, Twitch, and TikTok channels, as is typically the case with all of PlayStation's game reveal presentations. We'll embed the YouTube premiere link into this post as soon as it's available, so you can watch it right from this article.

Read more