TPCast is at the GTC conference in San Jose this week and are demoing their production version of the TPCast HTC Wireless solution. I met with Frank Zhou, CTO of TPCast.
Summary Specification TPCast Production Unit
- Sub 2ms latency.
- Resolution is 2k, 90 Hz
- Standard battery is 6,000 mAh battery with about 2 hours of play
- XL battery option with 20,000 mAh offering up to 5 hours of play
- Weight of the receiver is 86 grams
- Weight of the receiver including the battery is 1 lb.
- Price is approx. $200-$250, final US based pricing is not set. The price of $249 previously discussed is not yet set in stone.
- Pricing of XL battery is not yet determined
- Product availability for international customers is Q3 (Pushed back from Q2 due to FCC delays)
Full Interview with TPCast CTO Frank Zhou
VRCircle: Where does the transmitter need to be located?Frank: The transmitter can be placed on top of the computer. No particular location required.
VRCircle: What is the effective range of the TPCast?Frank: Follow the guidelines of the lighthouse HTC range. Ideally, 5m x 5m
VRCircle: What is the weight of the entire unit with and without the battery?Frank: The weight of the receiver is 86 grams with no battery. Weight including the battery is 1 lb.
**VRCircle: Some who have tried TPCast for long periods, stated the wireless receiver unit got warm after a while. Will this continue in the production version?**Frank: The production version will still get warm, but the heat is mostly on the top and not the bottom. Surface temp is around 50 degrees C (Which is 122 F) and is within guidelines of electrical devices.
VRCircle: Pre-Orders for Chinese customers are they shipping yet?Frank: Yes, the Chinese pre-orders started to ship almost three weeks ago.
VRCircle: Now for the big question. For international customers such as those in the US and Europe. When do you expect to ship to them?Frank: Expected to ship in Q3 2017. Right now, the unit is complete, and we are already shipping to Chinese customers. Currently, we are working on FCC approval. Right now they test the unit, we make a few changes, and they test again.
VRCircle: So essentially TPCast is complete, just pending FCC approval?Frank: Yes, that is correct.
VRCircle: Regarding pricing. Previously, $249 has been the previously floated price. What is the expected pricing for the production version?
Frank: TPCast has not released the price yet. Price is not set, will be a similar range to the Chinese price. Price in China is ￥1999.00 (CNY)
VRCircle: Where can international customers place their orders?Frank: We have not decided yet.
VRCircle: International customers would be wary of ordering from the Chinese site. Will it be for sale on the HTC Site?
Yeah agreed. We have local plans for Europe and US markets.
VRCircle: Tell me about the multiplayer version business edition version?Frank: This allows more than one player to be wireless all at the same time.
VRCircle: Do you need one base unit per receiver?Frank: Yes, you need one base unit per receiver.
VRCircle: I presume you would need one PC per base unit, or at most one PC for two users?Frank: Yes, ideally one PC per base unit.
VRCircle: How many total units can you have in the room at the same time?Frank: You can have between 4-6 units at one time.
VRCircle: Do they each have their own frequency to prevent interference?Frank: Yes, they each have their own unique frequency so as to avoid interference.
VRCircle: Is there any physical difference in the business version?Frank: Only the logo is different, the business version is blue.
VRCircle: How about pricing of the business edition?Frank: No pricing has been released yet. However, pricing will be higher than the personal consumer version.
VRCircle: Does TPCast have any plans for a similar wireless unit for the Oculus Rift?Frank: For now, we are focusing on the HTC Vive version first.
Additional thoughts and Conclusion
It is unclear how many lighthouse devices would be needed to run 4-6 headsets*. Two lighthouses would probably work for two headsets. More than that? Well so far, this is not tested by anyone as far as I am aware.
*Update. TPCast have since confirmed that the two lighthouses could power 4-6 headsets which is in line with HTC Vive guidelines.
Pricing in China as Frank stated is currently ￥1999 (CNY) which straight translates to $289. This price is higher than the previously discussed $249. Hopefully, the price will be $249 or ideally less. Remember that $249 is about 1/3 of the total price of the HTC Vive itself at $799. So this is a pretty significant investment for consumers. Only the individual can decide if removing the cable and the resulting cable snag is worth it.