The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of tech gear

HTC Vive Cosmos Review

The Cosmos was a bit of a let down due to its mediocre motion tracking performance and cramped fit
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Price:   $700 List | $700 at Amazon
Pros:  Highly immersive, easy to use
Cons:  Issues with motion tracking in our tests, not particularly comfortable
Manufacturer:   HTC
By Austin Palmer, David Wise, and Jenna Ammerman  ⋅  Nov 8, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 17
  • Interactiveness - 35% 5
  • Visual Immersiveness - 20% 9
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • User Friendliness - 15% 8
  • Ease of Setup - 10% 6

Our Verdict

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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
HTC Vive Cosmos
Awards   Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $700 List
$699.99 at Amazon
$1,399 List
$1,399 at Amazon
$400 List
$399.00 at Amazon
$499 List$400 List
$399.00 at Amazon
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Pros Highly immersive, easy to useExceptionally comfortable, incredibly immersive, tons of interactivenessExceptional image quality, super comfortable, very user-friendlyHighly interactive, incredibly immersive, comfortableGreat value, easy to use, highly immersive
Cons Issues with motion tracking in our tests, not particularly comfortableExorbitantly expensiveTether can be finickyExpensive, difficult setup processCan’t handle high-end games, could be more comfortable
Bottom Line The Cosmos was a bit of a let down due to its mediocre motion tracking performance and cramped fitIt’s the best of the best if money is truly no objectIf you are searching for the absolute best VR headset around, you can’t go wrong with the Rift SThe Vive is a great all-around headset for the VR enthusiastIf you are looking to start playing VR games on a budget and don’t already have a gaming PC, the Quest is a great choice
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Rating Categories HTC Vive Cosmos HTC Vive Pro Oculus Rift S HTC Vive Oculus Quest
Interactiveness (35%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
7
Visual Immersiveness (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Comfort (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
5
User Friendliness (15%)
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
Ease Of Setup (10%)
10
0
6
10
0
4
10
0
8
10
0
4
10
0
9
Specs HTC Vive Cosmos HTC Vive Pro Oculus Rift S HTC Vive Oculus Quest
Phones that fit N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Adjustable Lenses Only side to side Only side to side Only side to side Only side to side Only side to side
Sound Integrated Integrated Integrated Headphone Jack or PC Integrated
Available Controllers / Remotes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Field of View 110 110 110 110 101
Refresh Rate 90Hz 90Hz 80Hz 90Hz 72Hz
Room For Glasses? Glasses get pressed against the face Yes Presses, even with glasses spacer A little tight, but the Oculs Rift is tighter Yes

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.

Performance Comparison


Overall  we were a little disappointed by the Cosmos.
Overall, we were a little disappointed by the Cosmos.

Interactiveness


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 Cosmos' hand controllers are very comfortable to hold.
The Cosmos' hand controllers are very comfortable to hold.

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.

Unfortunately  we found the motion tracking of the Cosmos to be a bit flawed.
Unfortunately, we found the motion tracking of the Cosmos to be a bit flawed.

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.

The Cosmos does provide a very immersive experience.
The Cosmos does provide a very immersive experience.

Visual Immersiveness


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.

You can switch back and forth between camera mode and VR mode if you need to see something in the real world.
You can switch back and forth between camera mode and VR mode if you need to see something in the real world.

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.

The Cosmos isn't overly uncomfortable but does fit a bit tight.
The Cosmos isn't overly uncomfortable but does fit a bit tight.

Comfort


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.

It can take a little bit of time to get the Cosmos adjusted comfortably.
It can take a little bit of time to get the Cosmos adjusted comfortably.

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.

The integrated headphones make it very quick to set up the Cosmos whenever you want to enjoy some VR.
The integrated headphones make it very quick to set up the Cosmos whenever you want to enjoy some VR.

User Friendliness


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.

The initial setup and installation process can be a bit time-consuming.
The initial setup and installation process can be a bit time-consuming.

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.

Value


The Cosmos paired a top-tier price with what we thought was a fairly lackluster performance, making it a bad bargain option.

Conclusion


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