My review of the HTC Vive Cosmos

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The HTC Vive Cosmos is a Virtual Reality headset that we connect to the PC, a standalone operation as with the Oculus Quest is not possible. In order to use the VR headset you need the Viveport software, where you can later use content, and the driver software, the so-called Vive console that runs in the background. Here we can make various settings on the headset, such as room setup, audio control or the control of the wireless module, because the Cosmos can also be wireless for additional 404 € plus shipping. The operation of the headset is also possible under SteamVR.

The design of the HTC Vive Cosmos is definitely not for everyone, the front reminds of a big fan grille. The material of the Cosmos is high quality, breakage or deformation can not be seen. With a weight of about 665g, it is in the midfield of all VR hedasets. This weight is very good over your head with the headstrap, you can easily spend several hours under the VR headset, because I also couldnt notice much heat. Also, the removable padding on the back of the head and the forehead are comfortable and make the Cosmos overall comfortable VR headset. Through the face and nose insert little or no light gets into the headset. The removable cable of the Vive Cosmos is 5 meters long.

Setting up the headset before installing the software is very easy. You do not need to attach base stations to the walls, you only need a power outlet, as well as a Displayport and USB 3 connection to the PC. The headset is not directly connected to the PC, but via a link box, which was also included with Vive Pro. Here is also a button to switch the headset on and off.

The HTC Vive Cosmos has a RGB LC-Display with a resolution of 1440 x 1700 per eye at 90Hz so its in the upper range of the current headsets.

Due to the high resolution you can hardly see the screendoor effect anymore, you will see it if you concentrate, but it does not bother you when playing.

The picture looks sharp and text is very well recognizable, even smaller screen content can be easily recognized. The colors look really natural and strong, one of the best I’ve seen on VR headsets.

The black levels of the Vive Cosmos are surprisingly good for an LCD screen. You can see that it is not pure black, but you can play dark games without much loss of immersion.. Nevertheless, in this aspect OLED glasses such as Pimax XR, Quest or Vive Pro are superior.

Overall the quality of the display is definitely in the top range and leaves the Valve Index behind.

Disturbing GodRays or Glare effects are better than with the old Vive, Vive Pro or Rift and much lower than Valve Index. However, as soon as bright text encounters a dark background, you will definitely see this effect.

With the size and quality of the field of view, the Vive Cosmos unfortunately can not score. Due to the thick foam inlay, you can not get very close to the lenses, so that the already low field of view is further limited. You should not expect more than 110 degrees here, if you compare the field of view with Pimax or Valve Index, the Cosmos really loses here.

Also due to the large distance to the lens the sweet spot is relatively small, although I had no major problems to find the sharp point, but when the headset moves on your head while playing, it can blur the view, especially at the edges.

The required performance can be roughly compared with Valve Index. HTC specifies an i5 with a GTX 970 as minimum requirements. Personally, I would recommend at least an i7 with a GTX 1080 Ti, because the higher resolution requires quite a higher performance than Rift S for example. In Project Cars 2 I had some noticeable frame drops with my i9 9900K and an RTX 2080 Ti on Ultra Settings. On Medium Settings, however, everything was playable very smooth.

The IPD of the HTC Vive Cosmos can be adjusted with a small wheel on the headset. The display then shows the current number. The lowest IPD is 61.3mm, the highest 73.3mm. Unfortunately, the minimum value is a bit too high. Although I had no problems with my 60mm IPD, people with even less distance could have some problems here.

The controllers of the index have an exceptional style. The light lines track the position of the controllers through the 6 cameras.

The controllers are very heavy and seem clunky, but when playing I noticed this rather positively, I had the feeling to have a real controller in the hand. The battery life of the two AA batteries per controller was approximately 4 to 5 hours.

The tracking is unfortunately the biggest problem of the Vive Cosmos. None of my VR headsets with 6DoF has such a bad tracking. Even if you only keep the controllers quietly next to each other, you realize that at least one of the virtual controllers moves to the side or twitches. If you hold the controllers in front of each other, all tracking will be lost. Also, the tracking behind the head does not work well, the controller moves randomly through the area. As a result, for example, all games where you hold weapons with two hands or even bow and arrow games are impossible to play.

The tracking of the headset is also not error-free. Often a message appears that the lighting is not sufficient and the headset has problem to find the set play area again. I tested the Cosmos in the same room and light conditions as with Rift S and the last one doesnt have any problems.

HTC promises to improve it in the future, but currently the headset is almost unusable, even the beta version of the software could not really convince me. Simulation fans, who dont care anout the tracking of the controllers, could be fine with this.

Another big problem is the compatibility with games. A larger part of the games must be ported by the developers for the Cosmos. In many games, including well-known titles such as Onward or Pavlov VR, the controllers could not be found and playing these titles was impossible.

For people wearing glasses, the Vive Cosmos is suitable, although the distance between the eyes and the lenses can not be increased, as with Vive Pro or Index. Normal glasses but also large glasses fit without problems under the Cosmos. Due to the flip-up design, the headset can also be put on very well with glasses and removed again.

The integrated sound comes from the high-quality leather-framed headphones that rest on the ears, similar to the Deluxe Audio Strap of the Vive. The sound is very good, but does not quite match the quality of the Valve Index headphones. The integrated headphones can be removed and replaced by your own.

The built-in microphone could hardly be worse, scratchy and pop sounds all the time.

If you remove the face insert, you see the connection for the cable, an audio jack as well as a USB-C connection.

If you remove the blue front panel, you will notice a fan that you will hear while playing in quiet environments and quiet games Also you will see connector for the camera on the front panel. Due to the removable parts, the Cosmos is relatively easy to clean from the inside.

Unfortunately, no Bluetooth device can be paired via the integrated Bluetooth function, this function is intended only for the controllers.

In the future there will be a module, according to HTC, which offers the possibility to make the Vive Cosmos Lighthouse capable. This would fix the tracking issues, but we can not use the included controllers anymore. We will need to buy two lighthouse controllers like Vive Wands, Pimax Swords or Index Controller and two base stations, which cost around € 600 plus the unknown price for the module.

Extensions such as the Vive tracker or equipment such as the Hyperblaster will be useable then as well.

There are rumors that it will also be possible to connect the Cosmos to smartphones in the future. This could be interesting in terms of 5G streaming.

The Vive Cosmos costs 799€, controllers included. Also included in the price is a 6-month Viveport Infinity subscription, which gives us unlimited access to all products in the Viveport catalog, including games like Arizona Sunshine, Apex Construct or Sairento VR.

All in all, the HTC Vive Cosmos is not a bad VR headset, in terms of the display, it is even located at the top of the range, but because of the high price, also for the accessories and the currently immensely bad tracking, the headset is not recommend by me for now. Beginners should grab the Oculus Quest or Rift S, people who want to have an OLED headset with good display, should go for the Samsung Odyssey +, simulation fans better get the HP Reverb and enthusiasts take a Pimax or the Valve Index.

Only for people who do not care about the high price, who definitely want to play wireless with a good display and who do not care about the field of view size and tracking, the Vive Cosmos could be interesting.

If you want to see that in video format, check out this link: https://youtu.be/ZUhHbDNzS7s

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