HTC announced a while ago that its new VIVE Cosmos headset will be priced at $700 and will be released on the 4th of October. Pre-orders have been already open. Unlike the other headsets launched by the brand, this one is aimed at consumers and not just for developers and businesses (Vive Focus Plus): the $700 include in fact a trial subscription to Viverport infinity (the app store for virtual reality); you will get a 12-month trial if you pre-order before October 4rd, and a six-month one thereafter (The VR game service is usually $99 a year).
The next generation of HTC VR headsets promises improvement along with some modularity for future upgrades. January 2019 was the first time the new HTC VIVE Cosmos Headset´s existence was revealed, it was during the CES. Back then it only featured 2 inside out tracking cameras on the front, and it was teased that the headset would be capable of being tethered to a mobile device. No need to say that this last feature was long awaited in the VR headset world. But after that announcement, HTC kept a low profile when it came to building a hype around its product. There was no in between announcement, nothing except for a video featuring the headset spinning around on a model.
But HTC marketing strategy is not our topic on this post, so let us get started with the all the new features that this new headset has to offer.
The first thing to mention here is that the final product has 6 tracking Cameras for inside out tracking, 4 more than the original 2 announced at the CES. This means the headset doesn’t rely on external trackers like the prior Vive and Vive Pro headsets. But if you are upgrading from these headsets or simply want the best tracking available, you can still use the light house tracking by buying the optional face plate which will be available next year. Unlike The Rift S, the VIVE Cosmos will be able to support the infrared sensor tracking (respetive camera tracking) from the previous versions. This is a very smart move from HTC given that the lack of this option on the Rift caused major disappointment to its users.
Sadly though, there is no mobile tethering, indeed the VIVE Cosmos is not a standalone headset; it still needs to be tethered to a PC, a fairly powerful PC for that matter. “I think there's a place for both PC and standalone experiences,” said Dan O'Brien, president of HTC Vive in North America. “Mobile has made great strides over the years, but for right now, the problems that we can solve and the experiences we can deliver are just so much more powerful on the PC. The PC will always be up there.” For a wireless experience, you will have to get the Vive Wireless Adapter($300), which lets you untether from the PC.
As you can easily notice from the spec, the VIVE Cosmos head mounted display (HMD) is equipped with two 3.4-inch RGB LCD screens, each offering a per eye resolution of 1440×1700, a 110-degree field of view, and a 90 Hz refresh rate.
The VIVE Cosmos goes on and tries to remedy to one of the most challenging aspects of VR “the experience being isolating“ by adding a display that a lot of users will love, making the experience more inclusive allowing the user to still take part in the “real world“ without completely being disconnected: The headset has a 2880×1700 screen that can flip up to let users switch between virtual reality and reality in one motion.
This new headset solves also some of the problems that users faced before, mainly what the Rift S missed, and it is the manual IPD adjustment allowing them to correctly configure the headset to the spacing between their eyes. It is also important to mention that it is glasses friendly. This should make the glasses-wearing VR users out there very happy!!
Like the Vive Pro, it also has integrated headphones, but the ones on the Cosmos can be unplugged and swapped out for your own set if you prefer.
Maybe the biggest design change for the new Cosmos is its controllers; a design similar to that of the Oculus touch controllers. Instead of using discreet infra-red LEDs like the Oculus touch, the HTC have gone for a light tracking system with their new controllers. Each controller will take two AA batteries each which will probably make them a bit heavier than the Oculus touch and maybe faster to burn out?
What is also quite exciting with this headset, if true, is its ability to finger track without the need of a leep motion device according to Alvin Wang Grayli´s teasing tweet.
Early native #HandTracking demo possible already on the #ViveCosmos from our Beijing #AI team. No external sensors needed! Will only get more accurate and higher FOV with all those cameras. 🤲 @htcvive pic.twitter.com/2PsgkJmzjr— Alvin Wang Graylin (@AGraylin) September 12, 2019
Whether that is true or not, we will find out soon, only a few days remaining before the release, and we will probably follow that up with a hands on review. So far, all we can say is that the Cosmos has a lot to offer. A lot of new exciting features! Maybe the mobile one would be added later as an update given that it was the main thing that made the Cosmos stand out when it was announced at the CES. Even if you don't think this headset is for you, it is great for the VR industry; more choices, more space for improvement.
But if you are just jumping in the fascinating world of VR and think that this headset is a bit overpriced and don't know what to chose, we recommend you take a look at this article. Maybe you will find what you are looking for.