Category: Hardware Reviews

HTC Deluxe Audio Strap First Impressions

I’ve never really found the Vive uncomfortable.  Sure it may have been front heavy, but once you ratcheted the straps to your face it was perfectly functional.  The real reason I was interested in the deluxe audio strap wasn’t the new fit, but rather the inclusion of integrated audio into the strap (or maybe its just that I have to own ever Vive product I can).

A well loved standard strap (Photo: Kial Natale)

I haven’t been able to do much VR development, but when I am working I find myself skipping out on headphones just because it is too cumbersome to add and remove them over and over and over again.  I also find it annoying to have to deal with when giving demos, or when the headphone cable gets unplugged during a flailing sword attack.

I purchased the Deluxe Audio Strap from the Microsoft Store and received it within 30 hours from FedEx (FedEX FTW).  After waiting weeks for headsets, trackers and RMA controllers, receiving the audio strap so quickly was shocking, and perhaps borderline unnerving.  Is this how things are supposed to be?

Hello, new friend! (Photo: Kial Natale)

The packaging was lightweight with some great presentation.  The instruction video for replacing my tattered, old headstrap was one of the most polished presentations I have ever seen.  The whole process of swapping it out took less than 7 minutes, and aside from some terrifying applications of force on the side swivels, was extremely easy.  Already it felt like a brand new headset… and I hadn’t even put it on yet.

The deluxe audio strap sans headset (Photo: Kial Natale)

Overall, the new fit is great, and distributes the weight more evenly over your whole head.  Strangely, however,I found more pressure on my brow, but it can’t be any more than what it was when I pulled the old headset to circulation inhibiting levels.  Putting the headset on is much easier, and the cable management is a welcome addition, although some members of the Vancouver VR Community said they preferred when the cable ran out of the back.

While the Deluxe Audio Strap is really expensive (in Canada), so far I’ve found it surprisingly useful in ways I never initially desired or even considered.  I never noticed the ‘residue’ or dissolving foam issue that others initially reported, so I can’t really speak to that, but everything has exceeded my expectations.  That said, I can only really recommend it fully to people who use their Vive a lot!

Ready to rock! (Photo: Kial Natale)

We got trackers!: HTC VIVE Tracker Mounting and Pseudo Unboxing

Well, we did it. It was 2AM and the HTC VIVE Trackers just went live on the HTC VIVE accessories webpage at the end of March. We had ourselves an adventure since the trackers came out in the United States before Canada, and we drove down for some Target browsing (I personally enjoy their cosmetics section haha), and of course, a trip to the states isn’t complete without Mexican food. Kial is playing around with a lot of mocap (motion capture) and I’m really just along for the ride (and usual QA, calibration sorts).


As another note, when the HTC VIVE Trackers were released in Canada, I was pleased to see that HTC changed its stance on its ludicrous standard $65 shipping, no matter what you purchase. Last year, I ordered an extra link cable, and cable box which were very small items, and HTC insisted that $65 was the standard shipping.  At the time of writing this, I believe they changed their shipping to $35 for tracker shipping in Canada.

What’s in the box?

The boxes are in line with the HTC VIVE branding with an all-black exterior, and bright blue labelling.

The tracker was nicely packaged, with the tracker to greet you upon opening the box, and the dongle and appropriate technical literature sitting below the tracker’s cardboard tray.

One thing to note right away is that the dongles are essentially “married” to their tracker and it’s probably important to not mix them up.  Similar to wireless mice and keyboards, if you buy two of the same wireless keyboard, the dongle that it comes with, will not work with any other keyboard other than the one it came with.  Also it’s interesting that the dongles require 18 inches of space away from the computer.  I kind of wish the technical guide said why that is, but perhaps we can chalk it up to interference, or reach.

Mounting the HTC VIVE Trackers

I had begged Steve Bowler of Cloud Gate Studio to reveal his secrets in mounting their trackers, but found that a lot of devs and makers are forced to create their own mounting solutions for the time being.  It’s pretty awesome that HTC decided to go with the standard 1/4″ inch screws, which are compatible with a lot of camera tripod mounts and accessories. Steve recommended that I didn’t go his custom metal route as his team ended up with bouts of metal splinters, and that he is hoping to sell their metal mounting clips in the future.

While waiting for Steve and his team to hit the market with their solution, we had to find our own.

After hunting for hours on Amazon Canada, here’s what we’ve ordered:

(Note that we are still waiting for some of the items as some of the products weren’t available for Amazon Prime unfortunately.)

Initially we used the clip mounts to attach to regular shoes instead, but Kial found a “better” (ugh) solution.  He found some knock-off crocs from the Japanese $2 store Daiso. As much as I had to admit, the solution was great as we only needed to use one mounting screw – very simple!

The one tracker clip mount we still have is still a very high profile, so hopefully one of the other items will allow us to lower that profile, creating less jittery movement when it’s mounted onto a belt clip.  We’ll update later this month once it arrives!

Hoping this gives other folks some ideas for mounting their trackers, and if you have a better solution, please share it with us, we’d love to hear from you!

In the meantime, here’s our pal Ace doing some dancing to do some troubleshooting.  Best troubleshooting ever: