HTC Vive Cosmos VR Headset Review: Solid Upgrade

Meet the HTC Vive Cosmos

HTC Vive Cosmos VR headset (Image credit score: Tom’s Hardware))

Update March, 18, 2020: Today, HTC Vive made a brand new model of the Cosmos to be had. The HTC Vive Cosmos Elite ($899) provides an exterior monitoring faceplate, and you’ll be able to in finding your impressions in our HTC Vive Cosmos Elite evaluate. Starting in April, you can additionally have the ability to purchase the Cosmos Elite’s exterior monitoring faceplate one after the other for $200, and the corporate may be making plans the less expensive HTC Vive Cosmos Play SKU for later this 12 months. 

Original article October 3, 2020: 

After over three years available on the market, HTC Vive is in spite of everything in a position to retire its authentic VR headset, the HTC Vive, and exchange it with a brand new fashion. In some ways, the HTC Vive Cosmos is a large jump ahead from the unique headset. But in different ways, it looks like a step within the mistaken path.

The Cosmos turns out stuffed with doable. It has nice presentations, is well-built with great audio system that produce transparent, loud audio, and the inside-out monitoring machine eliminates a handful of ache issues that experience stopped many from making an investment in VR — specifically base stations.

But the Cosmos additionally has a couple of evident issues. It’s dearer ($699) and not more comfy than the unique Vive ($499). I even have reviews at the controllers, and the platform drivers go away a lot to be desired.

All issues thought to be, the Vive Cosmos is  a just right headset and worthy of your attention for those who’re available in the market for a brand new VR tool. But it most likely may not take a look at all of the containers for you.

HTC Vive Cosmos Specs

ScreenDual 3.4″ LCD
Resolution1400 X 1700 in keeping with eye (2880 x 1700 overall)
Subpixel RenderingRGB sub-pixel
Refresh Rate90 Hz
Field of View110 levels
TrackingVive Sense 6DoF Inside-out monitoring, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer
Eye Adjustments61-73mm IPD
ConnectionsDisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.0 (Type A & C), Proprietary port for mods
CablesUSB 3.0, DP1.2 to miniDP, AC Power, Proprietary information cable
Face CushionSoft foam, detachable
Cameras6 integrated cameras, two entrance dealing with, two at the facets, one on most sensible, on at the backside
ExtraLinkBox integrated

Cosmos Controller Specs

SensorsBuilt-in sensor: Gyro and G sensors. Hall sensor, Touch Sensors
InputSystem button, 2 Application buttons, Trigger, Bumper, Joystick, Grip Button
Battery2x AA Alkaline Batteries

Meet the Cosmos

At first look, the Cosmos provides off an air of high quality. The are compatible and end are awesome to many VR headsets that we’ve examined over time, together with Vive’s personal {hardware}. The authentic Vive headset used to be just right sufficient to be purposeful, however no one would name it chic taking a look. The HTC Vive Pro demonstrated a significant development in construct high quality however with a fairly utilitarian really feel. The Cosmos imbues the standard you would be expecting from an organization with a historical past of promoting state-of-the-art client electronics.

The Cosmos includes a halo-style head strap (often referred to as a balanced crown), which places the load of the visor in your brow and makes an attempt to steadiness it with a inflexible strap that clamps to the decrease a part of the again of your head. Like all halo-strap designs, the Cosmos features a dial at the rear to regulate pressure.

The halo strap design permits for the combination of a hinge, which helps you to turn the visor up and away out of your eyes. This is an overly welcome boost. However, my downside with the halo design is that you just don’t get as a lot wiggle room to search out your visible candy spot. With material head strap and deluxe audio head strap designs, you will have the liberty to put the visor at once in entrance of your eyes after which place the strap the place you wish to have it to be. In order to get a just right becoming with the halo design, the strap’s place will have to take precedence over your visible readability. In my case, even supposing I sacrificed the visible candy spot, I struggled to discover a place that did not both harm my head or really feel so insecure that it would drop off my head if I bent ahead.

I in the end discovered a place that didn’t harm my head and nonetheless presented just right readability. The Cosmos comprises an overhead Velcro strap that is helping to steadiness the headset. The head-mounted show (HMD) used to be maximum comfy once I let the highest strap elevate one of the weight and saved the rear of the halo upper on my head. But I used to be nonetheless reluctant to lean ahead whilst taking a look down (like within the sport Richie’s Plank Experience).

System Requirements

The Vive Cosmos includes a a lot upper answer than the unique Vive headset, however due to instrument developments HTC’s newest headset does not require a lot more energy than the outgoing tool. The older headset may just run on a PC with 4GB of reminiscence. The Cosmos calls for 8GB to serve as correctly.

ProcessorIntel Core i5-4590 or AMD FX 8350, similar or higher
Minimum GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 480, similar or higher.
Recommended GraphicsNvidia GeForce GTX 1070/Quadro P5000 or above, or AMD Radeon Vega 56 or above.
Memory8 GB RAM or extra
Video outputDisplayPort 1.2 or more moderen
USB1x USB 3.0 port or more moderen
Operating machineWindows 10

Clever Headphone System

The Cosmos comprises an built-in audio machine, which is one thing I consider each and every VR headset will have to have. There’s additionally a easy manner to take away the headphones if you want to provide your personal. Previous Vive audio answers had been detachable however required a screwdriver and a procedure that wasn’t very user-friendly. The Cosmos, on the other hand, options a surprisingly easy clamping machine that takes not up to a 2d to take away however is not more likely to come aside by accident.

The most sensible of every headphone has a steel clip that secures them in position. Simply elevate the tab to liberate the clamp, after which elevate the headphone off the strap. Without the clamp, they simply grasp onto the top strap. The headphones hook up with a 3.5mm jack at the proper facet of the headset. The cable that attaches them in combination runs below the brow cushion.

Removable Cushions

The Cosmos comprises a lot of cushion items. The face cushion is a velour-like foam that is very comfortable to touch and vulnerable to soaking up sweat. It’s break up into two halves to make room for the hinge. The cushions are connected by the use of Velcro, however not like the Vive and Vive Pro, those Velcro strips are fused to the frame of the tool, which is a smart development since the adhesive at the Velcro strips in earlier fashions tended to let cross over the years. The face cushion interface is totally detachable, which exposes the knowledge cable port, headphone jack and a hidden USB Type-C port.

The cushions at the head strap are fabricated from a extra rugged, moisture-proof pretend leather-based. These cushions connect with a sequence of clips, which require just a little of pressure to take away. 

Finally, there are two small items of felt on all sides of the top strap that duvet the clamps from the headphones.

Image Clarity

The presentations within the Cosmos headset produce one of the clearest pictures that I’ve but noticed in VR. The headset options two 3.4-inch LCD panels with a 90 Hz refresh price and a blended answer of 2880 x 1700.

The Cosmos additionally boasts an RGB subpixel array, which additional complements the readability of the picture and is helping to scale back the perceived display screen door impact. The HP Reverb, with its twin 4K answer RGB panels, nonetheless provides the next total answer, however the Cosmos is well as just right because the Valve Index, with a slight build up in vertical box of view (FOV). Because the monitors are LCD panels, you will not get the similar deep blacks that you just see with the Vive Pro’s AMOLED panels. 

IPD, however no Lens Relief

The Cosmos features a mechanical adjustment for IPD (interpupillary distance, the distance between your pupils), similar to the Vive and Vive Pro. The scholar distance of lenses within the headset will also be adjusted from 61-73mm. There’s material between the lenses to stay out mud, which is a function first offered by means of the Oculus Rift CV1.  Fabric additionally assists in keeping the mud out of the Pimax 5K Plus and Pimax 8K headsets.

Unlike earlier Vive headsets, the Cosmos does no longer come with an eye fixed aid adjustment, which means that there’s no method to transfer the lenses nearer to or additional out of your eyes to make room for eyewear. Unfortunately, that still way the utmost FOV is narrower than that of alternative Vives as a result of you’ll be able to’t convey the lenses as with regards to your eyes because the older fashions.

Vive advertises the Cosmos’ FOV as 110 levels, which is similar ranking because the Vive and Vive Pro. However, the perceived FOV feels narrower within the new headset. I’d say that the FOV of the Cosmos in precise utilization feels extra similar to the Oculus Rift’s FOV, which is nearer to 100 levels.

Inside-out Tracking

The Cosmos is the primary PC-based VR machine from Vive that departs from Valve’s Tracking resolution. Instead, it options camera-based inside-out monitoring, which means that it doesn’t require exterior base stations like the former Vive headsets.

The Cosmos isn’t Vive’s first inside-out tracked headset; that honor belongs to the HTC Vive Focus, an endeavor VR headset. The Cosmos has a some distance awesome digital camera array, even though. While the Vive Focus makes use of two front-facing cameras for intensity and controller monitoring, the Cosmos makes use of six cameras for a a lot more complete monitoring vary. In addition to two front-facing cameras, the Cosmos additionally has cameras on its proper and left facets, plus cameras at the most sensible and backside, which track the vertical area from flooring to ceiling. This aggregate of cameras delivers tough monitoring efficiency for each head monitoring and hand monitoring.

The Oculus Quest, a standalone VR headset that does not require a PC or smartphone, makes use of a an identical machine for monitoring however depends upon four cameras, and the Oculus Rift S makes use of five cameras. Both of the ones Oculus headsets paintings impressively properly. However, the Cosmos turns out to have a quite wider vary of hand monitoring that enabled me to succeed in additional in the back of my head earlier than shedding my palms on display screen. The Cosmos additionally looked as if it would do a greater task than the Oculus headsets at monitoring the controllers all through very fast actions.

That mentioned, the cameras at the Cosmos are a lot much less forgiving about your room’s lights. The Cosmos didn’t paintings in any respect in low mild. I additionally skilled a bizarre factor with the headset equating darkish gadgets to being in a gloomy room. The place of work the place I do maximum of my checking out has a handful of desktop PCs and screens lining a wall. When I confronted that path with the PCs and screens off, the headset would warn me that the room used to be too darkish, although I used to be in a well-lit room. HTC Vive instructed us that an replace lately will have to cope with this, and we’re going to replace this evaluate when we verify. 

New Tracking System Simplifies Setup

The primary advantage of the inside-out monitoring machine is that it removes the load of exterior base stations. With all earlier iterations of PC-based Vive headsets, you needed to set up Lighthouse base stations within the corners of your room so as to produce the infrared grid used for SteamVR Tracking. While it isn’t vastly tough to put in a couple of base stations, it used to be one thing that many of us didn’t need or have the distance to do.

Since the Cosmos does not require exterior trackers, the setup procedure is far more uncomplicated. All you wish to have to do is plug within the USB cable, attach the DisplayPort cable and fix the facility supply. The Cosmos nonetheless comes with the Vive Link Box that originated with the usual Vive headset. It allows you to go away the cables plugged into the again of your pc and fix a unmarried cable when you wish to have to make use of the headset. That won’t look like a large deal, however considerate issues like this lend a hand HMDs steer clear of sitting on a shelf amassing mud. 

Cosmos Controllers

HTC Vive hasn’t ever been superb at making VR controllers. The authentic Vive wands paintings however have deficient ergonomics and long-term reliability issues. Vive by no means launched the Vive Focus to customers (companies most effective); on the other hand, I’ve performed with one earlier than, and the ones controllers are not any higher than the unique wands.

With the Cosmos, HTC Vive went again to the drafting board and entirely overhauled its controller design manner. I wouldn’t name those an absolutely authentic design (they borrow a lot from Oculus Touch controllers). Ultimately, the Cosmos controllers are an enormous development in some ways however are some distance from best possible.

The Cosmos controllers are similar to the brand new Touch controllers, which makes it simple for builders to supply enter parity. They come with a clickable thumbstick and X/Y and A/B buttons at the left and proper controllers, respectively. They even have grip buttons on your heart finger and R1 and R2 shoulder buttons. Finally, every controller has a Vive button, which triggers the Viveport instrument and SteamVR.

Button parity with Oculus is a huge step in the precise path, however Vive went backwards in different ways. For instance, the unique Vive wands integrated inner rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that charged by the use of USB. Unfortunately, you could not exchange the batteries, however the battery packs supplied about 6 hours of play, which is greater than the general public would ever want in an afternoon. The Cosmos controllers require two AA batteries every, and the fee lasts roughly 2 hours. A couple of units of rechargeable AA batteries could be a just right funding if you purchase a Cosmos.

Like the Touch controllers, the Cosmos controllers every have a round loop surrounding the highest of the deal with. The loop is decorated with a comfortable white mild trend that permits the cameras to trace the controllers. The mild trend shines very brightly, so I think it is a part of why the battery does not ultimate very lengthy.

When gaming, the controllers had been fairly tough to carry securely. The handles are lovely thick, and there is a cumbersome monitoring halo. The controllers are comfy sufficient, however I couldn’t get a safe dangle on them as a result of there’s nowhere to carry the controller along with your thumb if you end up no longer urgent a button. This wasn’t an issue for many video games, however I wouldn’t wish to play a spherical of Beat Saber with out the straps for safety, particularly taking into account the controllers’ weight. 

The Cosmos controllers weigh 211g (0.5 kilos) every with the batteries, which is strictly 1g greater than the Vive wands. For comparability, new Touch controllers weigh 129g (0.3 kilos) every.  

Vive really helpful that I take a look at a sport known as Audica, which is mainly Audioshield with weapons, to check the accuracy of the controllers. At the tip of every spherical, Audica spit out a document about how correct my intention used to be, and I used to be amazed on the consistency of the precision. My pictures had been nearly at all times inside of 1.1 levels of the middle. Pretty uncanny.

Future Upgrades

If you don’t just like the Cosmos controllers, there’s an upcoming resolution. Vive engineered the Cosmos headset for long term upgradeability with a modular faceplate machine that lets you alternate the tool’s features. The first deliberate accent is a SteamVR Tracking faceplate this is suitable with Valve’s monitoring machine. This improve will can help you use the unique wands or Valve’s just lately launched Index controllers with the Cosmos. The SteamVR faceplate additionally restores compatibility with the Vive Tracker accent lineup.

Vive has no longer mentioned every other faceplate improve plans however mentioned that HTC Vive’s wi-fi adapter package will probably be to be had for the Cosmos quickly.

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