The HTC Vive Cosmos was a flop when it was debuted in 2019. For most users, setting up the VR headset on a PC was slow and haphazard, and it occasionally failed the basic setup procedure. Worse, its cutting-edge inside-out controller tracking, which relied on six cameras on the front plate, was at best useless.
In summary, the original Vive Cosmos wasn’t a VR headset we could stand wearing for lengthy periods, let alone one we’d suggest to others. However, the Vive Cosmos is now a considerably better headset thanks to some critical software and firmware improvements and the new Cosmos Elite faceplate, which enables more precise room-scale tracking.
The display and the headband that holds the collection are the same regardless of which version of the Vive Cosmos you buy – whether it’s the Vive Cosmos Play, Cosmos, or Cosmos Elite – so don’t feel like you’re missing out on extra pixels, a wider field of view, or a faster refresh rate by opting for a less expensive model.
All members of the Cosmos series have a 3.4-inch LCD with a resolution of 2880 x 1700, a refresh rate of 90Hz, and a 1440 x 1700 picture per eye. The screen door effect is barely noticeable because that resolution is higher than both the Valve Index (2880 x 1600) and the Oculus Rift S (2560 x 1440).
The lenses can’t be pushed forward and back like they can with the Valve Index, so the 110-degree field of vision doesn’t precisely span your whole visual area. You can see black edges to the picture if you move your gaze left or right, which isn’t ideal for immersion. However, light leaking around the nose is nearly non-existent, so it’s not all awful. HTC chose a typical halo design for the headband, with a top velcro strap and a wheel at the rear that tightens and loosens the headset.
Similarly, the headset’s two front-facing cameras include a passthrough mode that can be accessible by pressing the Vive button twice in any game or app. However, flipping the visor up is convenient if you’re feeling unwell or want to see what’s happening in the real world without taking off the headset. The set of cables that extend from the provided connector box to your PC is the last component of the design worth mentioning – however, keep in mind that Vive Cosmos must be connected to your PC unless you purchase a Vive Wireless Adapter (not included). You’ll need an available USB 3.0 connector on your PC, as well as a display port for the headset.
Switching to the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite is a significant improvement, particularly in terms of tracking precision. Like the original Vive, the Cosmos Elite employs lighthouses, wall-mountable base stations that use small tracking divots to track the controllers and headgear.
This enables room-scale gaming, similar to the HTC Vive Cosmos basic model but with more precise tracking. We used the Cosmos to play Beat Saber, Arizona Sunshine, and Fallout 4 VR, among other ‘classic’ (a term we use lightly here) VR blockbusters. Although not all of these games require more accurate tracking, all of them could probably be played on the standard Vive Cosmos–the added hand-tracking precision didn’t hurt either.
On the Vive Cosmos Elite, the quick and frantic Beat Saber performed admirably, with pixel-perfect motion tracking that we didn’t witness on the standard Cosmos. The space-age atmosphere on the headset had fantastic inky black levels, and while there was some light refraction when we weren’t in the sweet zone, it wasn’t too noticeable. On the other hand, fallout 4 VR on the Cosmos Elite is as enormous and intimidating as it’s ever been, yet it feels just as immersive as we recall. The lower-resolution visuals in the game detract a little from the superior resolution of the headset. Still, being able to see the world Bethesda created in first-person never gets old.
Subscription to Viveport:
We completed the majority of our testing for this review on Steam and Steam VR, one of the most popular platforms for VR games and games in general, which you’ll be able to play with both HTC’s headsets and the Valve Index. The Vive Cosmos, on the other hand, comes with a complimentary six-month membership to Viveport Infinity, HTC’s curated app store, which enables you to download an infinite number of games and applications every month.
Viveport Infinity is the name of the service and the storefront where you can download games and applications for a monthly charge of $12.99 or a little over $100 if you subscribe for an annual subscription.
While Viveport has over 900 games and applications to pick from, including some notable names, it does not contain every significant release – for example, Beat Saber and Tetris Effect aren’t available.
Instead, titles on Viveport Infinity include some of the first big-budget VR games, such as Creed: Rise to Glory, as well as some recent blockbusters from Halfbrick Studios and other independent creators, such as Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted and Fruit Ninja VR. The selection is extensive, and the infinite game selection makes paying for Infinity after the trial period expires enticing.
If you’re not a gamer, Viveport also offers educational, artistic, and productivity apps, making it feel like there’s something for everyone. It’s a thriving, ever-expanding environment with plenty of material for hardcore VR fans.