Following many months of hype, HTC finally released its highly anticipated VR headset the Vive Cosmos earlier this month. The price tag of $699 puts the HTC Vive Cosmos somewhere between low-end VR headsets like the Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift S ($399) and high-end headsets like the Valve Index ($749 – $999). But does HTC’s brand new VR headset live up to the hype? That’s what we’ll be looking into in this article.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: The tl;dr review
So the question at hand is, does the HTC Vive Cosmos live up to the hype? It is undoubtedly a great VR headset. There is no doubt about it. There are just a few things about it that buyers need to be made aware of, before they make their decision. To sum it, it is clearly much more expensive than the headsets from Oculus, and it isn’t nearly as nifty as the Valve Index. Here are some of the good and bad things about the HTC Vive Cosmos:
What we liked:
- The screens are unbelievably bright and sharp
- The motion tracking system is on the point
- You are not required to install any sensor
What we didn’t like so much:
- The motion controllers have an outdated design
- The headphones don’t fit comfortably over your ears
- The price could have been a little bit cheaper (it is $300 more expensive than an Oculus VR)
The HTC Vive Cosmos: Detailed Review
We can’t state this enough: The HTC Vive Cosmos is a great VR headset. It almost feels as though all the anticipation and hype surrounding this headset had inflated our expectations. So rather than making any quick irrational judgement call, we will break this headset down feature-by-feature, discussing them in detail. We will start with the HTC Vive Cosmos’ specs before moving onto the other aspects like the design and the controller.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: The Specs
With regards to the specs that are being offered, the HTC Vive Cosmos is undoubtedly one of the best VR systems out there. The display features an impressive resolution of 1440 x 1700 per eye and comes with a full LCD substrip. The picture quality is truly impressive. The Vive Cosmos features one of the brightest and sharpest picture quality of any VR headsets in the market today. Furthermore, the field of vision has had a sort of a virtual upgrade. While the official count is still 110 degrees (same as in the HTC Vive), the halo strap design of the Vive Cosmos gives the illusion of a somewhat higher field of vision than 110. This is due to the new design putting the headset somewhat closer to the face of the user.
Some early buyers have reported a couple of issues regarding the lenses. There is an issue regarding the visuals turning a little blurry unless the headset is positioned at a certain sweet spot. If you move your move your eyes or head position around, you could lose clarity. While this may not be a major issue to someone who’s just buying a VR headset, for anyone who’s had the option to try out other headsets, there is a noticeably frustrating difference. And once you start to notice it, it can get more and more frustrating every time. Another issue is with the lighting. With black backgrounds and bright colors, users can notice a sort of stray light emitted from the edges of the display.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: The Design
The design of the headset is just as important as the inner specs that it packs. Let us start with one of the most important of these factors, the audio setup. The headphones in the Vice Cosmos does have a good and comfortable feel to it, but like in the HTC Vive, it tends to hang down a little. This can be frustrating to some users, but to most it won’t be a big deal.
Comfort wise, the entire headset is clearly more comfortable than the original HTC Vive. The new Halo Head Strap design fits better on the face and can even add the effect of a higher perceived field of vision. But there is still some amount of light leaking in through the bottom of the headset where it meets the nose. It doesn’t seem to quite fit in completely unless it’s being pressed on. Design wise, the HTC Vive Cosmos is the best VR headset HTC has put out so far. But is it the best VR headset out there? Not quite.
One cool feature though that deserves mentioning is the ability to easily flip the headset open. This makes it easier to get back to reality (interact, check your phone etc.) while you’re in the middle of a VR session without having to unstrap the whole thing. We feel that this is a cool feature that other headsets like the Oculus Rift lack.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: The Controllers
Our impressions on the controllers on the HTC Vive Cosmos reflect those of the entire headset. We love them, but we also don’t. The design is incredible. It has a certain old-school feel to it. And while it is somewhat heavy (about 8 ounces each with the batteries), it is well-built and it has a good sturdy feel to it. But in terms of the battery life, these controllers are horrible. Each of the two controllers takes in two AA-sized batteries, and lasts for less than three hours. That is simply not enough time for any serious gamer. Coming back to the weight of these controllers, users may eventually get used to it. But at the beginning, they could really throw off your agility.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: The Modular Add Ons
Finally, a truly exciting feature of the HTC Vive Cosmos. From the beginning, HTC has highly marketed the modding feature of this headset. The modding feature allows you to take off the front panel and replace it with newer better versions. This would mean that you could gradually improve the specs of this headset over time. The front panel features a sturdy snap-on/off design that makes this easier.
What the modular add on feature promises is that your HTC Vive Cosmos will be able to support future advancements in VR technologies (at least for the coming few years). HTC has promised a faceplate that can enable support for external SteamVR Tracking base station connectivity. Furthermore, support for Index Knucles controllers, Vive wands, Vive trackers etc. have been promised.
It is sad though that HTC has ignored demands for a VR Headset that can easily swap between phone-powered mode and PC-powered mode. This could have been a gamechanger for the Vive Cosmos, had it been at least integrated into the future modding schemes.
The HTC Vive Cosmos: Vive Origin
Earlier this month, when HTC introduced the Vive Cosmos to the world, the company also launced its very own VR home hub, aptly called Vive Origin. HTC was one the last major players in the VR game without their own branded home space. Oculus has Oculus Home, and Valve has SteamVR. Unlike these two, Vive Origin is directly linked to HTC’s Viveport store.
The design of Vive Origin is beautiful. It is basically an island with a tree in the middle and you get to access a number of stations in order to navigate the Space. There are plenty of cool tricks you can do there like browse art, shoot fireworks, summon a remote-controlled RC car, visit a waterfall, a pond etc. The images aren’t animated though, which is a shame. The island also has your own apartment pod with a cozy home-like feel to it. There’s even a Vive Cosmos in there you can put on, if you like to get all meta.
Vive Origin is great an all, but it seems a bit outdated for something that’s being launched in 2019. Vive Origin is alright, just like the Vive Cosmos itself. It’s just not what we were hoping it would be. And certainty not with that $700 price tag attached to the whole package.
Like we’ve pointed out many times earlier in this article, the HTC Vive Cosmos is a solid VR headset. It seems to be somewhat lacking in some aspects, which doesn’t quite justify its price tag. It doesn’t quite offer as much as one would expect for a headset that is $300 more than the Oculus Rift S. Also, it is worth noting that for just $50 more, buyers could get their hands on the much better Valve Index headset. We’re not just dissing HTC here. The Index excels in so many domains compared the Vive Cosmos, including build quality, audio, tracking etc. Given the time we’ve had to wait to finally get out hands on the Vive Cosmos, we expected HTC to smooth out these flaws.
But all isn’t gloom for the Vive Cosmos. It certainly beats the Oculus headsets in terms of field of view and sound quality. Also, the modular add on option seems promising. Maybe we could eventually upgrade the Vive Cosmos into a much better VR headset. But eventuality aside, our final verdict is that the Vive Cosmos doesn’t quite live up to its price tag. If you are hyped up about the modular possibilities, you should definitely get it. But if you’re looking for a great headset NOW, you have other options.
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