Overall, the Vive Cosmos failed to live up to our expectations. We went into the review thinking the Cosmos would most likely become one of our top recommendations and easily claim an award but it ended up finishing in the middle of the group with its fairly uninspiring performance. This headset is exceptionally user-friendly and provides a highly immersive experience when it comes to graphics but disappointed us with its lackluster performance in our motion tracking test. It also isn't particularly comfortable to wear — especially if you have glasses on — and is a little more work to set up. It also requires some pricey additional hardware to run properly.
HTC Vive Cosmos Review
Pros: Highly immersive, easy to use
Cons: Issues with motion tracking in our tests, not particularly comfortable
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While the Cosmos didn't do all that well in our tests, it seems other users have experienced similar issues with the motion tracking and the amount of ambient light, with HTC working to resolve the problem. Hopefully, this will improve its performance significantly, but until then, we are fairly reluctant to recommend the Cosmos.
To assess the level of interactiveness provided by each VR headset, we looked at how each headset allows you to interact with your virtual environment, what room limitations there are, and how accurate the motion tracking is. The Cosmos gave an overall mediocre performance, earning it a score in the middle of the group overall in this testing metric, which is responsible for 35% of the total score.
The Cosmos is compatible with a pair of handheld motion controllers that are decently comfortable and ergonomic to hold but aren't the favorite controllers we have tested to date.
The minimum room size for the Cosmos is 2m x 1.5m and the maximum size is set by the reach of the tether. So far, this performance matched up with the top products but it was in the accuracy of the motion tracking where the Cosmos fell short, both with the headset and the controller tracking. The headset seems slow to adjust after you take the headset on or off, with an angled horizon that took way longer than we would want for it to right itself. We also had a hard time getting the forward position to reset. Overall, the tracking just seemed much laggier with more glitches than other products when we tested it — to the point that it made games less fun to play.
The controller tracking also seemed slower in our tests, with smaller movements taking longer to register or being missed completely. The headset was also constantly complaining that the ambient lights were too bright or too dark — a problem unique to the Cosmos.
Our next rating metric ranked and compared the visual display of each VR headset, which is responsible for 20% of the final score for each product. We looked at the image quality, the screen resolution, and field of view, as well as how much ambient light entered each product to determine scores. The Cosmos did significantly better, earning one of the top scores of the entire group.
The Cosmos' display has a resolution of 1700x1440 per eye, leading to a very sharp image that looks great. We only noticed a slight screen door effect. It has a 90 Hz. refresh rate and the majority of the image is clear and in focus. It has a claimed field of view of 110º max but we thought it seemed a little narrower than some of the other headsets with the same claimed field of view.
We had mixed results when it came to how the Cosmos blocked ambient light. Some of our testers found that a noticeable amount of light came in — enough to disrupt gameplay — while others found outside light completely blocked. This entirely depends on the shape of your face and isn't a problem if it does fit but we did deduct some points since the other headsets had a much more universal fit.
We rated and compared how comfortable it is to wear each headset for our next metric, which also makes up 20% of the overall score for each product. We had different users try out each headset and rank how they felt and note if their faces got overly sweaty while wearing them. We also made sure that we had some judges try out each headset with glasses to see if there is sufficient space. The Cosmos didn't do exceptionally well, scoring just above average.Overall, our judges found the Cosmos to be quite comfortable to wear — even for marathon gaming sessions. We did find the headset is prone to sliding around if you move rapidly and you can feel the weight of the tether tugging on the left side.
The fit is very snug, which can be problematic if you wear glasses. It isn't too bad for short periods but could be quite uncomfortable after long periods. The snug fit also means your face heats up very quickly, especially in the middle of your forehead.
Next, we looked at how much of a hassle it is to use the Cosmos once the initial setup has been completed, which is responsible for 15% of this headset's final score. We compared the work to hook up the headphones, if you were prone to hitting buttons accidentally, and the time it takes to start a VR experience. The Vive Cosmos did very well, earning one of the higher scores of the group for its convenience and ease of use.
The Vive Cosmos has integrated headphones but they are removable if you prefer something else. The sound quality is quite good and it is easy to adjust the volume while wearing the headset. We found hitting buttons accidentally to be quite uncommon, as the main external controls on the headset are tucked out of the way. You can adjust the volume, adjust the IPD, and toggle back and forth between VR and Camera mode while wearing the Cosmos.
All you need to do to get the Cosmos ready is put it on once it has been set up and make sure it is seated comfortably and in focus. This is a little more annoying to do than some of the other products but still isn't too much of a pain.
Ease of Setup
Our last metric deal with the amount of effort it took to go from unboxing the Cosmos to playing your first VR game, as well as the amount of additional hardware required to make the system run that isn't included in the package. It accounts for the remaining 10% of the final score, with the Cosmos earning another slightly above average score.
The software setup is easy, with a sticker directing you to a URL to start the download. Once you install the software, you just need to create an account and then get into the hardware setup.
The software for this headset guides you through the hardware setup process with a series of steps, which was a fairly painless process until we got to the part about setting up the room. This is when the Cosmos first started complaining about the amount of ambient light and had a hard time capturing the room. We eventually got it but it took us significantly longer than other headsets.
However, you do need a fairly powerful gaming PC to effectively run the Cosmos which will add a decent amount to the overall cost of this product if you don't already have one.
The Cosmos paired a top-tier price with what we thought was a fairly lackluster performance, making it a bad bargain option.
All in all, the HTC Vive Cosmos is far from our favorite headset. It does have a few pros but these were severely outweighed in our minds by its fussy motion tracking and finicky cameras.
— Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman