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Hands-On: HTC Cosmos Elite Offers Big Improvements With Its Elite Faceplate

HTC’s modular headset delivers a great VR experience.

Just a few weeks ago, HTC announced a new suite of Cosmos headsets and faceplates aimed at delivering VR solutions to both average consumers as well as businesses. For the highest-quality VR experience, however, prospective buyers will want to take a look at the HTC Cosmos Elite, an HTC Cosmos with a pre-installed Elite faceplate.

The Cosmo Elite is compatible with versions 1.0 and 2.0 of HTCs base stations and the original Vive or Vive Pro controllers. You can also use a pair of Valve Knuckles controllers. If you purchase the Elite Bundle, you’ll get the Cosmos headset with the Elite faceplate, base stations, and the Vive Pro controllers.

If you already own a Cosmos, you can purchase just the Elite faceplate for $200 and swap it out with the plate that comes with the Cosmos. Find and push the button located on the inside of the headset towards the left and remove the plate. It might be a little scary at first as it feels like you’re breaking the headset, but don’t worry, you’ll be alright. If you’ve pushed the button correctly, you’ll hear a popping sound, that’s how you’ll know the Cosmos faceplate is ready to be removed. The Elite plate will pop in very easily; you’ll hear a click when you’ve securely popped in the faceplate. I actually recommend that you put the faceplate on starting from the right side. It seems to click in slightly easier that way.

Once the faceplate is secured, you’re ready to get started. Because you are using outside-in tracking through the Vive Base Stations, you’ll have to set up your Cosmos Elite through SteamVR, the same way you would a standard HTC Vive Pro. You’ll also swap out the Cosmos controllers with the Vive Pro wands since the Cosmos controllers won’t work with the Elite faceplate or SteamVR.

While the Elite faceplate may not look like much, don’t let its simple appearance fool you. There’s a lot going on there with 32 sensors built into the faceplate, which is the same amount featured on the HTC Vive Pro.

Upon entering VR, one of the first things you’ll notice is the massive improvement to tracking. The Cosmos Elite performs significantly well compared to that of the standard Cosmos headset even in low light environments, which proved to be a major issue for many owners of the Cosmos.

When I first reviewed the HTC Cosmos back in October, I personally didn’t experience any issues with low lighting tracking. I did, however, experience some drifting when I’d bring my hands close to the headset. It wasn’t enough of an issue that I actually considered it a problem, but I could see why people would complain about this.

The external tracking featured on the Cosmos Elite faceplate fixes the drifting as well as low lighting issue. Combine this with an 1440 x 1600 pixels per eye resolution, flip-up visor, 90Hz refresh rate, 110-degree FOV, and comfortable halo design, and you end up with a high-quality immersive experience perfect for gaming, education or enterprise. 

Using the Vive base stations in combination with the Elite faceplate transforms the Cosmos into a beast of a headset, giving you a much larger space to work or play. With enough open space, you could set up an 11’ x 11’ (160 square feet) area perfect for large-scale VR experiences.

Overall, the Cosmos Elite and the Elite faceplate are a great improvement for HTC’s VR line. The external tracking offered by the Elite faceplate offers a robust VR experience and a larger play area in which to explore. I could see this being a great tool for the workforce or for those looking for an awesome gaming experience at home.

What I really love most about the Cosmos is its modular design. Say you wanted to bring VR to a friend’s house or need to remain mobile for work. You could remove the Elite faceplate and switch it back to the standard Cosmos faceplate, removing the need for external base stations. Just don’t forget to switch to your Cosmos controllers as well.

If there’s one big complaint about the Cosmos or the Cosmos Elite Bundle, it’s pricing. The standard Cosmos is still $699, while the Cosmos Elite bundle is available for pre-order at $899. If you already own a Cosmos, you can purchase the Elite faceplate for $200. But when you compare those prices to the Oculus Rift S and the Quest, it’s nearly double the cost. Yes, you’re getting better specs with the HTC Cosmos, but is the extra money worth it?

It’ll be interesting to see what HTC does with pricing when they launch their Cosmos Play headset.

HTC recently contacted VRScout to inform us that due to the coronavirus, the company is pushing back shipment of their Elite faceplate and Elite Bundle to Q2. 

Feature Image Credit: HTC

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Bobby Carlton

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Tyler Lindell - Like Ginkgo for your Virtual Self