Vive Cosmos has arrived and takes HTC’s consumer headset ambitions in a somewhat different direction. Three and a half years after the launch of the original Vive, Cosmos finds itself in a rather strange competitive landscape where it simultaneously must defend itself from a longstanding rival on the low-end and its former ally on the high-end. Read on to find out how it fares.

Before we start, you may recall that we initially postponed our review as we were waiting to hear back from HTC on an issue regarding the headset’s light sensitivity. The outcome of that inquiry is addressed below.

Vive Cosmos Review

Photo by Road to VR

While the original Vive was a collaboration between Valve and HTC, which resulted in the headset being deeply tied to both Steam and the SteamVR Tracking system (AKA Lighthouse), Cosmos shows several ways in which HTC is hoping to divest its VR business from Valve and create its own distinct offering. Unfortunately, vestiges of what once was manifest now cause complications for Cosmos.

In terms of pricing, at $700, Cosmos fits between two primary competitors: Rift S on the low-end at $400 and Index on the high-end at $1,000 (or $750 for anyone who already owns SteamVR Tracking base stations). In order for Cosmos to succeed in this middle ground, it ideally needs to do most things better than Rift S, even if it can’t quite match the more expensive Index.

Starting with the hardware design, Cosmos doesn’t do much to justify its $700 price tag. While the industrial design is fine—if uninspired—there are several elements which make Cosmos feel a bit cheap. The seemingly tacked-on headphones with exposed wires doesn’t jibe with the flimsy headband. The removable face gasket (to which the face-foam attaches) genuinely feels like it’s about to break every time it’s removed. The forehead-rest (which you must remove if you want to take off the headphones) also feels like it wants to break upon removal and is a frustrating challenge to put back in place due to 13 individual plastic clasps across a complex curved surface which holds it in place.

Photo by Road to VR

On that note though, Cosmos takes after the Vive Pro with the best nose-cavity light blocker of any headset in the industry, and the facial interface offers a full enclosure that blocks out all light. Cosmos also has a flip-up visor which is a very welcomed addition that saves you from needing to completely remove and then refit the headset if you need to peer into the real world just for a moment or two.

Photo by Road to VR

Unfortunately Cosmos’ halo-style head-mount seems to offer two mutually exclusive choices: comfort or clarity. With such a small sweet spot on Cosmos, getting your eyes into the ideal position is critical for the best visual clarity. At least for me, that ideal eye position is not the ideal comfort position, and after 30 minutes or so in the headset, the pressure on my forehead is very apparent. Unfortunately, moving the headset into its most comfortable position means my eyes are poorly aligned with the sweet spot of the lens and I get a notably reduced visual experience.

And while Rift S shares the same ‘comfort or clarity’ problem with regards to ergonomics, Cosmos’ weight and front-heavy design amplify the issue even more. I actually felt some pain in my back between my shoulders after a one and a half hour session with Cosmos, something I don’t recall experiencing with other headsets. Needless to say, if your head doesn’t agree with halo-style head-mounts, it probably isn’t going to agree with Cosmos.

While Cosmos struggles in the build quality and ergonomics department, one place where it does fare pretty well is in visuals. HTC quotes the headset’s field of view at the same 110 degrees diagonal as the original Vive and Vive Pro (which feels about right) and going side-by-side with the Rift S shows Cosmos as the obvious winner in FOV, though Index ultimately takes the cake over both.

Photo by Road to VR

The headset’s slightly higher per-eye resolution compared to Index and somewhat smaller FOV reflect what the on-paper specs would suggest: 1,440 × 1,700 per-eye at a somewhat smaller FOV than Index’s 1,440 × 1,600 resolution results in a bit more pixel density and a slight edge in reduced screen door effect for Cosmos. Ultimately Cosmos, Index, and Rift S are all in effectively the same class when it comes to pixel density and screen-door effect.

Unfortunately, like all HTC headsets before it, Cosmos’ lenses have a frustratingly small sweet spot (the area of maximum visual clarity). If your eyes aren’t in perfect alignment with the lenses (or if you roll your eyes to look around the field of view without turning your head) you’re going to see uncomfortable blurring in the periphery. This makes Cosmos’ ergonomic prognosis even more severe—if the ideal alignment of your eyes to the lenses doesn’t also result in a comfortable fit, you’re going to have trouble maintaining comfort for longer sessions.

When it comes to glare and god rays, Cosmos’ Fresnel lenses look to have somewhat reduced god rays and glare compared to Vive and Vive Pro, similar in extent to Rift S. Meanwhile, Index’s dual-element optics have similar god rays but lots of glare. As ever, god rays and glare really only stand out in high-contrast visuals.

While the difference isn’t quite large enough that I’d personally be able to guess which is which, the 90Hz displays on Cosmos give a bit of added smoothness to motion compared to the Rift S at 80Hz. However, Index at 120Hz (or even 144Hz if your PC has the horsepower) is a noticeable step up.

Cosmos’ on-board headphones sound good, though the spring-flip design made me appreciate the off-ear audio solutions of Rift S and Index. Unfortunately the spring-flip design can be obnoxious at times because the flimsy Cosmos headband will sometimes flex instead of the headphone flipping into place as it should, which means needing to grab the headphone by its strut and to force it into position when it should have just flipped into place on its own.

Photo by Road to VR

Luckily if you want to use your own headphones to remedy this issue, you can remove Cosmos’ headphones without tools and then plug in your own via the 3.5mm headphone jack (though earbuds tend to work best because it’s hard to find banded headphones which play well with a halo head-mount on a VR headset).

Photo by Road to VR

Then we come to tracking. The stock Cosmos moves away from SteamVR Tracking—the gold standard for room-scale tracking—and to its own inside-out tracking system which uses six cameras on the headset to track the position of both the headset and its controllers. While SteamVR Tracking requires external beacons which can be cumbersome to set up, Cosmos’ inside-out tracking is fully self-contained and brings a much easier plug and play experience. Unfortunately this comes at the cost of tracking precision and accuracy.

And while Rift S’ inside-out tracking system holds up quite well against SteamVR Tracking outside of some specific cases, Cosmos struggles to reach the same level of precision unless you’re in a very well-lit room.

You may have seen that we initially postponed our review of Cosmos because the headset was so aggressively complaining of bad lighting that we thought it might be defective. Initially we couldn’t get Cosmos to function at all after the Sun had set, even when every other inside-out tracked headset we have on hand worked without problem. After we reached out to understand the scope of the problem, HTC pushed out a patch which made the headset more accepting of low-light situations.

And while the initial setting was surely too aggressive, anything but a very well-lit room results in reduced precision which causes the headset to jitter more than desired. These small movements (which represent the limit of the headset’s tracking precision) aren’t outright disruptive to the experience, but they can lead to subtle discomfort.

At least in the nominal lighting condition in my playspace (no overhead lighting), Cosmos’ tracking performance falls somewhere between PSVR and Rift S (leaning closer to Rift S). This is still ‘good enough’ for a broad range of cases, though you probably would get frustrated if trying to do precision work with Cosmos like VR painting, sculpting, or designing, unless you’re in a room that’s perfectly lit to the headset’s specification. HTC doesn’t offer any specific guidance on how bright your space should be for Cosmos.

Photo by Road to VR

Cosmos’ controllers are a big shift for HTC which has relied on its original Vive wands for years. The Cosmos controllers come more in line with the rest of the industry now with thumbsticks, two primary face buttons, an index trigger, and a grip trigger, though it also adds a ‘bumper’ above the index trigger.

Photo by Road to VR

The Cosmos controllers, which rely on two AA batteries, are decidedly chunky and do not have a very favorable center of gravity, giving them a worse-in-class feel compared to Oculus Touch and Index controllers, though they are still preferred over the original wands.

The controllers track relatively well (though they are equally impacted by the precision issues discussed above) and the six camera tracking coverage feels comparable to Rift S and a clear step up over the two-camera tracking system used on Windows VR headsets. While they seem to have a bit of added latency compared to Rift S controllers, it’s not too much to be easily compensated for; I was able to play Beat Saber on Expert+ with no complaints.

The original Vive wands next to Cosmos controllers | Photo by Road to VR

The controller tracking has some expected dead-spots very close to the headset but handles them gracefully by freezing the controller in place until it is reacquired. I was able to play games like The Lab’s ‘Longbow’ without issue for the most part, even as I was pulling the bowstring right up to my cheek before releasing the arrow. Depending upon the specific game, this could prove problematic at times if you will have your controllers very close to your headset for extended periods and still need to control them with fine motions, but this is typical for any inside-out tracking system.

Cosmos’ SteamVR Tracking faceplate | Image courtesy HTC

HTC has announced plans to release a swappable faceplate add-on for Cosmos in early 2020 which will imbue it with SteamVR Tracking capabilities. We haven’t had a chance to test this yet, though it’s expected to cost around $200 and will require separate controllers.

Cosmos will also be compatible with the Vive Wireless Adapter via an additional $50 add-on which is expected to ship later this month. We also haven’t had a chance to test this with the headset.

On the software and experience side, HTC is attempting to build out its own ecosystem and simplify the end-user experience with both Viveport and the ‘Vive Reality System’. Unfortunately Cosmos is still fundamentally stuck with Valve because Cosmos is still a SteamVR headset at its core.

And while that’s a big plus for anyone who is already bought into the SteamVR ecosystem, it complicates HTC’s efforts to make Cosmos a simple and user-friendly experience.

Screenshot by Road to VR

While the Vive setup software felt modern and was easy to follow, it doesn’t really explain the connection between Cosmos/Vive and SteamVR for new users at all, despite SteamVR being where a bunch of really important settings live (like audio configuration, supersampling, etc). So no matter how user-friendly the Cosmos software might be or become, it still can’t rid itself from the complexities and often fiddly nature of SteamVR.

Cosmos confusingly presents the user with both the SteamVR and Vive applets which offer some overlapping and some unique functionality.

This vestigial Steam/Vive relationship gets even more confusing for new users when it comes to content. Though Steam offers up the largest and best library of game content for the headset, HTC points users straight to its Viveport VR app store. Central to Viveport is Viveport Infinity, the company’s subscription game service (which is included for a year with Cosmos) that offers up access to a bulk of the Viveport content library for a monthly subscription. And while Viveport Infinity offers a decent value thanks to encompassing some genuinely recommendable content, it prefers to dangle heaps of shovelware in front of new users rather than point them to top VR titles that are available on Steam but not on Viveport.

The Vive Reality System, which is supposed to be a top-down in-VR user experience foundation, is little more than a dashboard and a ‘home’ space in the headset at launch. ‘Lens’ is what they call the dashboard; it looks nice and makes it easy enough to scroll through your library and launch new games, but that’s just about all it does.

HTC had teased that Vive Reality System would include much more, like social features and social spaces, but that’s all apparently still on the horizon, leaving Steam instead to supplant key features like friend lists, social spaces, text & voice communication, and foundational multiplayer functionality.

One place where HTC did deliver on making a straightforward improvement over SteamVR is in Cosmos’ room-scale setup. Cosmos uses a similar approach to Rift S when it comes to drawing out the playspace boundary: using the pass-through camera, you point the controller at the ground and actually trace the edge of your available playspace. This defines your ‘chaperone’ system which pops up as a grid when you get near it to prevent you from walking into anything in the real world. This approach is quick and easy and even Index hasn’t caught up just yet.

Summary

Despite its small sweet spot and occasionally iffy build quality, Vive Cosmos could be a decent headset so long as you find it comfortable. Even so, it unfortunately doesn’t feel like it lives up to its $700 price point when seen in the context of the competition.

While Cosmos scores a few points here and there (like a wider field of view and better sound), Rift S seems to offer a generally better experience for $300 less. On the other hand, while Index costs $300 more than Cosmos, it does a lot more to justify that premium price with top notch tracking, incredible audio, high build quality, better ergonomics, and overall much better optics. And if you’re an early adopter who already owns base stations (making Index just $50 more) and is weighing Cosmos vs. Index, there’s pretty much no question that you should go with Index as long as base stations aren’t a hindrance to your use of VR.

Taking everything into consideration, it’s hard to feel like Cosmos can really be competitive with either of its main contenders unless priced squarely at the Rift S’ $400 price point, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

– – — – –

Check back for our complete in-depth review coming soon.


Disclosure: HTC provided Road to VR with a Vive Cosmos headset.

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  • MW

    Definition of DOA. How big htc fanboy someone has to be to spend 800 USD (real price) having Rift S and Index to choose.

    • Charles

      Or Odyssey+.

      • MW

        Or:) it’s a shame thought that other companies can produce the same product 2x cheaper…

    • Gus Smedstad

      You’re skipping over the wireless adapter, which is a pretty big deal. I’m not tripping over my cable or twisting it on on overhead system again. I have it for my original Vive and it works pretty well. Granted, they haven’t released the Cosmos compatibility kit yet, but it’s just a few cables (and possibly a battery that I”ll immediately replace with my 20,000 mAh QC batteries).

      At present, wireless support for either the Rift S or the Index is still “someday, maybe.”

      My main concern is the Cosmos tracking issues. Makes me think I should get a used Vive Pro headset instead.

  • Krzysztof Kiersznicki

    dead on arival

  • Actual Summary: The Cosmos is a flimsy piece of junk that cannot track properly. Do not buy.

  • asshat

    oh wow an htc device that doesn’t appeal to the consumers but has features for enterprise and outlier situations…. why are you guys all acting surprised? just because its not what YOU want does’t make it DOA.

    I wont buy it but i see situations where a company would buy a massive amount of these over other HMDS for specific reasons.

    • Ugur Ister

      I think the main problem is they either shipped the Cosmos too late for the state it is in or too early regarding the state it is in, depending on how one looks at it.
      I mean in the state it is in right now, it would have been a very competitive choice 9 months ago.
      But with the current competition of the headsets coming out over the last 8 or so months, yeah, it now is like the option which costs more than Rift S and Quest while having worse tracking than those.

      Now they can improve the tracking further on software updates side (Oculus did so with the tracking of the Rift S and Quest, too after all, several times and it is much better now than it was on launch) and other things they announced for the Cosmos like that other faceplate option which makes it usable with the lighthouse stations (so then for those who want to use those it then could have the best tracking) and the mobile connection option and the wireless adapter usage option etc, all such upcoming things, i agree, could make it an appealing or even the most appealing choice for certain user groups and use cases over time as those things roll out.
      Just right now, this moment, it is not in ideal state and all things not rolled out ideally yet, so i think that’s what people are complaining about and things to improve on HTC’s side.

    • Adderstone VR

      This is marketed as a gaming headset, not enterprise.
      Not sure what features make this at all fit for enterprise?
      Battery life is terrible – That’s a fail for enterprise.
      Lens sweet spot is tiny and finicky – that’s a fail for enterprise.
      Grip buttons are digital, not linear analog – That’s a fail for enterprise.
      Already reports of cable showing severe wear after a week of use – That’s a fail for enterprise.
      Not able to track in a normal lit room – That’s a fail for enterprise.

      Why would any enterprise client buy this above the HP Reverb?
      Or HTC’s own enterprise focussed Vive Pro?

      • Ugur Ister

        Regarding the battery life, initially i heard things in the 1.5-2 hours range, which yes, would be terrible. Now i heard several people saying they get around 6 hours with rechargeable batteries though, which while still could be longer by my liking, is not terrible.
        The tracking, looks like the first software update already improved things some and overall i wouldn’t do a final judgement on the tracking in the first two months, because that can be improved further in software updates, like Oculus did with theirs several times within a few months after release, too, so i hope HTC does, too.
        If it is still not nice 3 months later, yeah, then i would judge them negatively for that, too.
        Regarding the other hardware aspects you mentioned, would have to try it longer to be able to give an own judgment based on that.
        I think the headset is not fully there yet, but with software improvements and their wireless adapter coming out and the second faceplate with which one can use it with the base stations tracking, yeah, then those could make it again an interesting alternative for other user groups.
        Just depends on how HTC handles things over the next few months.

  • CastlegarGlenn

    I already have my RMA from HTC. The “Too Dark” problem is a joke, and Vive’s support tells me

    you just need to adjust lighting or move to a brighter place

    . lol.

    When requesting the RMA, they also said:

    On the other hand, I’d like to mention this problem with the error
    message “no amount of light is enough” is something our Vive engineers
    are already working on, so, this is expected to be solved by a software
    patch intended to be sent shortly.

    As for your assertion that “Cosmos is still a SteamVR headset at its core”, there are many Steam games that work on the original Vive but not the Cosmos. The controllers aren’t recognized. Onward and Pavlov, to name two.

    Here’s what support had to say about that:

    I’d like to mention that the Cosmos system is compatible with VIVEPORT
    games and some of the Steam platform; we’re working to have them all
    100% compatible and I’m positive it will be soon.

    “So, two glaring issues that HTC obviously knew about long before they shipped this defective hardware. But they expect me to trust them to fix it eventually?

  • Peyton Lind

    Nothing on the controller battery life that other reviews have indicated is around 2-3 hours? That’s a pretty significant shortcoming.

    • HTC has replied that it is 8 hours

      • Abion47

        Glad that’s what HTC says. What do actual users say?

      • mepy

        Actually they said 4-8 hours depending on the quality of the AA batteries.

  • The most important feature of the Cosmos isn’t even available yet, which is the ability to run off a cellphone. This is the 1st headset based on the Qualcomm’s latest VR spec, but apparently it was released too soon. I doubt Qualcomm is planning on giving up. Microsoft appears to have thrown in the towel on making an industry-standard spec for VR headsets, but Qualcomm is 4 generations in. They want their Snapdragon processors to be the key to VR’s future.

    It might be a good idea for Qualcomm to ditch HTC as a partner, as that company only makes the biggest, bulkiest, and ugliest of hardware. It made sense at the time, with HTC’s history with the VIVE, but they just don’t seem up for making anything smaller or more comfortable then a plastic tank. HTC is not the company that will show other hardware companies “How to do it right”.

    Qualcomm needs to suck it up and make a deal with Samsung. That company made the best WMR headset for Microsoft’s spec. But before that they ABSOLUTELY need to get that cellphone-headset link working. Oculus has found that some compression is required for the link to work over USB-C. So Qualcomm better start getting Compressing!

    • Adderstone VR

      The compression is needed because they are running the USB-C cable in USB3.1 spec and not in Displayport alt mode 1.2 or in VirtualLink mode. They are thus not using it as a display cable but as a data cable and the Quest has to consume the data as it would consume streaming over wifi.
      They could not use it as a display cable because the Quest does not have the hardware to drive the screen from USB-C seperately – perhaps an oversight from Oculus, but they mentioned it would have made it more expensive.
      Carmack tweeted about this on 1 October 2018
      https://twitter.com/ID_AA_Carmack/status/1046543227917148161

    • Blaexe

      The Cosmos is not based on a Qualcomm reference design. It’s not standalone with no SoC.

  • Ugur Ister

    I find this comment section and the general reception i see at many places for the Cosmos highlights how extremely fast paced the VR hardware landscape changed over the last year.
    I mean less than 9 months ago, the Cosmos would have competed in the mobile/standalone device section against gear VR or at best Oculus Go, and compared to those, what it can do would be a step up and likely be much better received by many than now.
    And back then there was also no inside out tracking Rift S yet which does that pretty well (meanwhile), nor on the high end pc VR headset specs side the valve index.
    So overall it would have looked a lot better against what was available then.

    But here we are, less than a year later, and those options all came up meanwhile, and for Rift S and Quest they both already got several major software upgrades not just improving their tracking quite a bit, but also adding many other cool improvements, the Index came out, too and is appealing to the more high end enthusiasts who are ok with paying considerably more (for the complete kit), and suddenly, it is a lot more competitive with multiple strong competitors at different price and feature levels, and then right now the Cosmos has a tough time, costing in the higher end segment while currently not having as good tracking as the Quest.

    I hope for HTC that they can improve the tracking a good bit on software side (and soon) because while i meanwhile have better headsets than my OG Vive, it was a great headset (and controllers) when it was released and a major progress forward on many aspects and i like HTC to be there and push onwards as a strong competitor, the more passionate people and companies we have pushing things further, the better.

    Right now things don’t look ideal for the Cosmos, i think it would have been better if they’d have released it with the face plate/part included for also using it with the base stations or at least release the headset when that accessory is available on launch.
    Then would also have been better if they tweaked the tracking further before releasing it.
    But at least on that part i hope, like Oculus did with theirs, they can improve it further with further software updates.
    (though i wonder if an infrared or similar option wouldn’t have been better on hardware side, something to consider for the next one)
    Now HTC has to show the long breath and will and push to improve things regularly with software and hardware updates.

    • Adderstone VR

      I’m not sure how the cosmos would have competed in the mobile/standalone market, it’s a PC headset. There has been zero word about the teased phone tethering beyond that snippet in the January video, not a single official mention of that feature from HTC – ever. It would have tried to compete against the WMR headsets and be beat by the Odyssey+

      • Ugur Ister

        Regarding the phone connection, yeah, we’ll have to look at that separately once that comes out. I meant it would compete back then against Rift and Vive in that it is a pc headset but also against the Go, because while not a mobile separate content library headset (yet), it is inside out tracking so that in usability automatically makes it a bit closer to other headsets with no external setup for tracking.
        (more comparable with the Rift S but that was not released yet back then).
        Overall the Cosmos just came out, seems like they already improved the tracking some with a first software update and if they keep on pushing on further updates, things can look a lot better quickly now, too.
        Regarding the WMR headsets, i had the original Samsung Odyssey when it was new, but honestly, unless we see any announcements by MS to prove the opposite, i already see that platform as something MS tried in between but then just gave up on when it didn’t perform huge in year 1-3 in the wild, as it is the case with many other such things they try.
        MS never improved the controllers while others have already released 1-2 better controller iterations since their first, nor delivered a better tracking version, the MS app store to this day is an ugly mess to browse through to the degree i wonder if they have halfway enough people to curate it properly, and even more so if one is looking for VR content in the middle of the other junk there and the best headsets like the Odyssey were not even sold in most parts of the world, i’m in Europe and had to import mine from the US.
        So i had not even considered it as competition, because, well, the best headsets for that platform never came out yet officially in most of the world so they really did not even take part in the competition yet in most parts of the world.
        Content library wise, while as to be expected with new controllers not everything works perfect yet with the Cosmos as things have to be updated for the new controllers, i’d imagine in a month or two it will likely have a pretty good content library selection support soon.
        Regarding the tracking i would have to try both WMR headsets and the Cosmos side by side in different conditions with the same content to be able to tell for sure which performs better right now, but just the aspect that the cosmos has way more cameras, so more hardware to get better results is there, that side alone makes me think if HTC pushes heavily on improvements, over time with software updates they should be able to get much better tracking than WMR headsets with only two cams have.
        Overall just me personally, i’d rate the current situation and future outlook better for Vive headsets than WMR ones.
        While i want there to be more strong competitors in the field, and i think MS is in a unique position where they can integrate the base software in the OS and hence make initial setup a tad less hassle than other pc vr headsets, and the Odyssey was a really good headset for its time, yeah, MS has to do some forward looking announcements on the WMR platform soon for me to not write it off as done.
        When one hears no news on improved tracking and improved controllers or other big improvements for the platform for over a year, yeah, that is a long time span for this field where things are still in early days but also progressing rapidly among the competition within a year.
        At this point i’d want to hear from MS what their plans are for tracking hardware 2.0 standard specs and controller generation 2.0 specs for the WMR platform, and that ideally soon, them not doing that for such a long time has already meant that every WMR headset coming out over the last year basically has to have the asterix footnote that like with all WMR headsets the tracking is not great and the controllers are bad compared to the current standard on other headsets.

        • Baldrickk

          Once it comes out?
          Given that HTC have gone back and removed it from all their prior publications, I do not see that happening any time soon, if ever.

          • Ugur Ister

            Since we’re talking about things which could be delivered and improved in software, i give them the benefit of the doubt for some time and hope they will push heavily on improvements there over the next few weeks and months over one or several software upgrades.

  • chtan

    Well, I got my few days back and have no issue with tracking. My room just use a normal fluorescent light and nothing special. Tested with Beat Saber, the tracking is good with no problem. Love to see some like to comment negatively even though they don’t actually have the unit with them. Nice try. The visual is definitely a huge upgrade from my HTC Vive. Small to insignificant SDE and god rays is a big upgrade for me.
    Most negative i heard is because it is expensive, LOL.
    The only hiccup I have now is the software compatibility which I hope HTC and dev. will address asap.

    • KilljoyTDA

      I second that. While it’s indeed somewhat expensive, the few problems I had with tracking were quickly resolved with a firmware update and remapping the play area (it didn’t like the change of furniture layout and massive dip in natural lighting between 2 sessions). I get the low light warning message sometimes when I start playing, but it didn’t seem to be a problem so long as it wasn’t too dark. So yeah, the tracking was pretty good despite me shaking my head in rhythm with the music.

      The battery life isn’t that bad either, I could play like 5-6 hours of Beat Saber with batteries that were about 75% charged when I put them in before I had a warning that my left controller was getting low on power (I stopped playing at that point but it’s fair to assume that it still had 30-45 minutes headroom before dying).

      As a developer who knows the difference between internal testing and distribution, I can tell that it’s VERY hard to foresee and troubleshoot every problem that can occur in wildly varying contexts. As long as it’s not life-threatening and mostly software-related, it’s not unfair to expect some problems to be fixed thanks to mass feedback.
      So all in all, I think reviewers (in general, not specifically RoadToVR) should make sure to have everything up to date and correctly set before ranting, and generally not judge a whole product lame on day one when most issues can be patched out in software…

      • Abion47

        I share the understanding of the difference between internal testing and real-world application, but at the same time “dim lighting” and “internal/artificial lighting only at night” should be obvious edge cases to test for. Also, issues like the “comfort vs clarity” alignment problem should’ve been detectable early on unless they were using an absurdly small testing team with very similar head structures.

        I mean, sure, some things can’t be reasonably foreseen, and it’s not unfair to expect some issues on day one that will eventually be patched out. On the other hand, glaring issues on day one indicates a lack of comprehensive testing, and day two patches can’t fix poorly/cheaply-engineered hardware. The Cosmos just feels like it was rushed, and it doesn’t help that it’s pricing puts it in an extremely awkward position between its two biggest competitors.

        • KilljoyTDA

          Well yeah, the lighting issue is quite dumb but it’s fair to assume that it’s mostly a software issue and therefore fixable after release. It’s annoying but that’s how things tend to work now in our Internet world.
          The clarity/comfort issue on the other hand is indeed more problematic, as it’s purely hardware related and they can’t be expected to do a mass recall or send everyone free addons to fix it.
          I don’t know who they had for testers, but maybe HTC being chinese meant that most faces that had around them were asian types?
          After some good amount tweaking I managed to find a good compromise between clarity and comfort. A compromise that also ensures my HMD won’t move too much during intense BS tracks :X

          All that being said, it should cost somewhere around 600€. The 1-year Infinity subscription included is fine but I could have done with a lower price instead.

          • Abion47

            They knew that they had a significant market outside of China, so if they really only tested the headset with Chinese testers then that’s an egregious oversight. You can’t test for everything, but if their testing procedure only included optimal environments without edge cases using a small target group that involved only a very specific ethnicity’s head structure, then whoever is over their QA department should absolutely be fired.

          • Immersive Computing

            Well here’s an interesting one, why did Index only release with a narrow facial interface? Similar test team to Cosmos, small faces? I’ve had to build my own wide facial interface as Valve have not released anything and told me no plans to… unlike HTC Vive which shipped with narrow and wide.

            Massive oversight by both companies it’s sad this late into consumer VR these companies cannot get such fundamental ergonomics right.

            It’s like releasing sunglasses that fit only small faces; which is why sunglass brands like Oakley do “Asian fit” and “Regular fit” for their different models of sunglasses.

    • Abion47

      I mean, I don’t have the unit, but the general consensus among reviewers is that it’s slightly better than the Rift S but nowhere near $300 better. It seems to me then that there are two schools of thought: people who have ample cash to drop and people who don’t.

      For the former, if money isn’t an object than there’s no reason to pony up the difference and get an Index, especially if you already have Vive base stations which makes the Index only $50 more. If you want premium and are willing to pay for it, then there seems to be no argument that the Index is definitely the more premium choice.

      For the latter category, for people who want a decent headset but are a bit iffy on spending more money than they have to, then the Rift S or the Odyssey+ are compelling options. Their optics may not be quite as good as the Cosmos, but they are good enough to not be able to justify spending an extra $300 for a marginal upgrade.

      So really, the only demographic this headset does seem to be a good purchase for are… HTC fanboys with big wallets.

      • Gus Smedstad

        The main reason to buy a Cosmos over an Index, aside from the price, is the wireless adapter. While Valve has said they intend to make one, I don’t know if that means in 6 months, in a year, or concurrent with Half Life 3.

        • Abion47

          Except you can’t use the wireless adapter yet with the Cosmos, and we don’t know how well it will work once you can, so that’s not a counterargument with any merit currently.

          • Gus Smedstad

            If we’re arguing honestly, rather than trying to score Internet points, the wireless adapter already exists. I have one. You just can’t buy Cosmos cables for it yet. That’s a long, long shot from no hardware at all, which is the case with the Rift S and the Index.

            I think it not being available yet is a valid reason not to buy the Cosmos immediately, but once they finally do release the cables, it’s a significant different between the Cosmos and the Rift S or Index.

            Complaining about a “wing on your head” is pretty silly given that you’ve already got a box on your face. If you’re self-conscious about how you look with the VR hardware you’re already in trouble.

            No, the wireless adapter isn’t remotely precarious. If it has any physical problem, it’s that it can get hot over time. That hasn’t been intolerable, but I’ve thought about putting something insulating under the strap once or twice.

            No, it’s not finicky. If you owned one, you’d know it works pretty well. Unlike the TPCast. I bought one of those, and ended up reverting to an overhead cable because it crashed too often.

            Wireless matters. Having the cable on the floor is a huge pain. Suspended from the ceiling is better, but you have to be careful about how often you twist the cable (Turn Signal is a big help here). Wireless is just an order of magnitude better experience than either.

            So, no, it’s not “just for HTC fanboys,” at least once they release the Cosmos cables. Right now HTC’s got the only wireless adapter, so if you want that, it’s the original Vive, the VIve Pro, or the Cosmos.

            My main concern is tracking. I was pretty sure I was going to buy one, but I’ve read enough about tracking problems now that I probably won’t.

            I’m hardly married to HTC. I’d definitely buy an Index over the Cosmos IF Valve had a wireless adapter.

          • Abion47

            I had a TPCast for my non-S Rift. It was a royal pain in the ass to keep working, but when it did it was pretty great.

            However, I really don’t think it’s so great that it’s worth an extra $300 on top of the Cosmos’ $700 plus $50 for the adapter. For the same price (actually a bit less) you can have the Index which is better in literally every other way. Wireless is a great feature, but I’m not going to take it when the experience of the headset itself is reduced quality as a result.

            If you already have a wireless adapter, then good for you. That doesn’t make it a good value for people who don’t have it already. And to be honest, we don’t know if it’s a good value for those who do either. Like I said before, the cables aren’t here yet, and we really don’t know if the adapter is going to be anywhere near as good with the Cosmos as (I assume) it was with the Vive. Given HTC’s stance on pre-launch quality control with the headset itself, I honestly wouldn’t be surprised at this point if the cable ships and the adapter is in the neighborhood of TPCast levels of usability.

            As far as the point of the wing-shaped thing, complaining about yet another thing you have to strap onto your head is not even remotely silly. All that weight adds up, and it’s of particular concern when that weight is distributed awkwardly. One of the biggest breakers of immersion in VR (aside from motion sickness and tracking issues) is head and neck fatigue, and tacking on more and more external adapters is only going to add to that. So honestly, I’m not sure if wireless VR is going to catch on in the mainstream until they find a way to incorporate it in the headset itself instead of requiring an external adapter. (Making it more affordable wouldn’t hurt either.)

            To sum it up, your primary defense of this headset’s existence is a feature that doesn’t exist yet and for all we know may be unusable once it does. That’s pretty telling, if I’m to be honest.

    • Gus Smedstad

      I’m interested to hear what you think of the clarity. I don’t care so much about SDE or god rays, but I do care that I find text hard to read on my original Vive unless it’s pretty large / nearby.

      • chtan

        Due to higher resolution being used, I have no problem reading text from the menu or in game even the fine one. I have 1st gen Vive, Cosmos is way better than Vive in this regard.

  • Interesting review, as always!

  • david vincent

    Good job, Ben.

  • JesuSaveSouls

    I hope htc continues to succeed.Thing is for the high price they should of introduced a headset similar to the quest that was standalone and pc wired.

  • I returned this piece of junk after one day due to the bad quality, headset that doesn’t fit, headphones that don’t fit, controllers that don’t track, etc.

  • Eric Lotze

    I feel the inside out tracking, with additional optional outside in steam 2.0, optional eye tracking are the main selling points for me.

    To be able to use my gaming laptop to essentially do vr anywhere is especially appealing as a college student moving around a bunch.

    Still having that option for steam vr and knuckles controllers is a great option.

    I also prefer the halo style, and this is one of the few headsets supporting flip up.

    Although the software glitches are disconcerting, they are only that, SOFTWARE glitches. I think the price, lack of oled/microled, lack of certain removable cables/componets, and lack of virtual link are are my main concerns/complaints

    • Lulu Vi Britannia

      It’s not just software glitches. Not at all.
      The cameras they use for tracking are shit, pure and simply. They can try and compensate for it on the software side, as long as the lenses can’t see the environment very well, the tracking will still be bad.
      You can actually see how bad the view of the cameras, with the passthrough technology. For more information, refer to Tested’s review.

      The controllers, it’s a huge pile of hardware trash. Requiring 2 batteries per controller, for less than 10 hours of autonomy, it’s not only a very bad performance, it’s also way too heavy. There’s also the clunky buttons and the lack of analog finger tracking.

      The halo strap, I also prefer that… when it’s not poorly implemented. Once again, I’m referring to Tested’s review: they actually show why it is hard to find the right spot. The design of this specific halo strap is bad, that’s all.

      All those issues are on the hardware side.

      From an engineering point of view, HTC is just a very bad company, pure and simply. They’ve been sinking for years, and they’ve barely survived only thanks to their high pricing and their fanboys willing to pay the iron price for them.

      Now, I definitely agree with you on the fact that we need hybrid tracking ^^. Inside-out tracking is necessary for the ease of use, while outside-in tracking is necessary for optimal quality.
      That, or they have to nail it with i-o tracking somehow.

  • Jimmy Ray

    I just got my Quest and it is amazing. Now I’m just hoping the PC tether works and I will be a happy camper. My Rift S will be on sale on EBay.