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HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review

For those experienced VR aficionados seeking an incredibly interactive experience, this top-tier headset is likely to please
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
Credit: HTC
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Price:   $899 List | $649.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Highly interactive, immersive, easy to use
Cons:  Could be more comfortable, can be hard to set up
Manufacturer:   HTC
By Austin Palmer and David Wise  ⋅  Oct 21, 2021
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78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#5 of 10
  • Interactiveness - 35% 9.8
  • Visual Immersiveness - 20% 7.5
  • Comfort - 20% 6.3
  • User Friendliness - 15% 7.8
  • Ease of Setup - 10% 4.8

Our Verdict

If you are looking for a high-end VR experience, the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite fits that bill. This headset provides one of the most interactive and immersive virtual reality experiences we have seen to date, all while being very convenient and easy to operate — once you have completed the initial installation process. It also can be a little uncomfortable for marathon gaming sessions but, all in all, we think it's compelling high-end headset. Its price is high, though, and it's worth considering other models in this price range before jumping into the Vive Cosmos Elite.

Compare to Similar Products

 
HTC Vive Cosmos Elite
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $899 List
$649.00 at Amazon
$799 List
$799.00 at Amazon
$300 List
$299.00 at Amazon
$50 List
$49.99 at Amazon
$25 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Highly interactive, immersive, easy to useIncredible tracking, fantastic visual quality, Built-in headphonesVersatile, easy to use, very immersiveSuper easy to set up, very user-friendlyInexpensive, easy to setup
Cons Could be more comfortable, can be hard to set upPricey, multi-sensor set-up requiredCould be a little more comfortableNot very interactiveUncomfortable, not as immersive or interactive
Bottom Line For those experienced VR aficionados seeking an incredibly interactive experience, this top-tier headset is likely to pleaseFor the best VR experience available today, look no further than this premium modelIf you are searching for the best of the best when it comes to VR, we think this product is hard to beatThis relatively inexpensive headset designed for kids is compatible with many different types of phonesThis bare-bones headset is the best way to experience VR on a budget
Rating Categories HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Vive Pro 2 Headset Oculus Quest 2 Merge VR Google Cardboard
Interactiveness (35%)
9.8
10.0
8.0
1.6
1.6
Visual Immersiveness (20%)
7.5
9.6
8.2
4.8
5.3
Comfort (20%)
6.3
6.7
6.4
6.1
4.2
User Friendliness (15%)
7.8
7.9
9.1
6.9
7.2
Ease Of Setup (10%)
4.8
5.0
9.0
9.3
9.3
Specs HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Vive Pro 2 Headset Oculus Quest 2 Merge VR Google Cardboard
Field of View 110º 120º 92º 95º 90º
Tracking type External sensors External sensors Onboard cameras Phone Phone
Resolution 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye 2488 x 2488 pixels per eye 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye Phone dependant Phone dependant
Phones that fit N/A N/A N/A iPhone 6 and newer, Galaxy S5 and newer, HTC One M8 and newer, LG G4 and newer. Compatible with most iOS and Android devices from the last 2 years and fits iPhone 5 to iPhone 6 Plus in size. Most 4" to 6" phones
Adjustable Lenses Only side to side IPD Slight IPD Only side to side No, need to move the headset around
Sound Integrated Integrated Integrated Phone Phone
Available Controllers / Remotes Yes Yes Yes Yes, Merge Cube No
Refresh Rate 90Hz 90Hz, 120Hz 72Hz, 80Hz, 90Hz N/A N/A
Room For Glasses? Glasses get pressed against the face Yes Glasses get pressed against the face Less snug than Bnext Less snug than the Merge VR

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


We think this headset is one of the best you can get, though it is a...
We think this headset is one of the best you can get, though it is a little pricey.
Credit: Laura Casner

Interactiveness


Our initial round of assessments looked at how much interaction each headset provided with the virtual world during experiences. We rated and scored the Vive Cosmos Elite and all the other headsets by how you can interact with them and by the quality of their motion tracking, as well as looking at any limitations there might be in the room where they are placed. This product delivered a phenomenal set of results, earning it a top-notch overall score.


This VR headset offers a few different ways for you to interact with your virtual environment. It includes a pair of motion-tracked hand controllers or you have the option to use a more traditional gaming (Xbox or PlayStation) controller hooked up to the PC running the Vive Cosmos Elite.

The Vive hand controllers felt very ergonomic and intuitive to use...
The Vive hand controllers felt very ergonomic and intuitive to use to us.
Credit: Laura Casner

We also liked that this headset offers a massive amount of sensor coverage, with the maximum area covered being a square with a diagonal of 16'4" on the diagonal. The minimum room size is 6'x6'x5' area, which is something to take into account if you are planning on setting this up in a smaller room or apartment.

The accuracy of the motion tracking on the Vive Cosmos Elite very...
The accuracy of the motion tracking on the Vive Cosmos Elite very much impressed us.
Credit: Laura Casner

The accuracy of the motion tracking proved to be excellent in our tests, vastly outperforming some of the earlier headsets from HTC in our minds. We never had any issues with the headset losing track of the position or orientation of the hand controllers. It also did an exceptional job at tracking the direction of our gaze while wearing the headset, lending itself to an extremely immersive and realistic feeling in every virtual reality game experience we tried.

All of our judges weighed in on each area of performance for these...
All of our judges weighed in on each area of performance for these headsets. The Vive Cosmos Elite proved to offer exceptional visual imagery and immersiveness.
Credit: Laura Casner

Visual Immersiveness


Our next group of test dealt with the visual component of each VR headset, with scores based on the resolution and the sharpness of the image, the overall image quality, the field of view, and how well each headset blocked out ambient light, particularly around the bridge of the nose and the sides of the headset. The Vive Cosmos Elite again delivered a strong performance, though not field-leading.


This headset has a maximum field of view of 110° and a combined screen resolution of 2880 x 1700 (1440 x 1700 per eye). This made for excellent overall image quality, though a few of our testers did have to spend a little extra time getting it to focus and noticed a slight screen door effect.

The Elite has one of the wider fields of view.
The Elite has one of the wider fields of view.
Credit: Laura Casner

In-game text appeared sharp and easy to read, though it could get a little blurry if it was on the extreme periphery of the image. This headset also did a fantastic job of blocking out ambient light for most people, with only a few noting some small light leakage around their nose.

We did find the snug fit can get a little uncomfortable after a while.
We did find the snug fit can get a little uncomfortable after a while.
Credit: Laura Casner

Comfort


After judging the quality of the virtual environment, we rated and scored how comfortable it is to wear each headset, particularly for extended sessions. Unfortunately, while the Vive Cosmos Elite wasn't necessarily uncomfortable in our minds, it did score quite a bit lower than the top-tier products, meriting it a score just above average in this metric.


The Vive Cosmos Elite does conform to most faces quite well and is reasonably comfortable, though most testers complained of being acutely aware of the weight of the tether on the left side of the headset. Most did get over this as they acclimated to the headset. We noticed that it's hard to secure the headset while maintaining comfort, so it does tend to move around quite a bit if you are turning your head quickly side-to-side.

Our biggest complaint about this headset is how tightly it fits most faces. We didn't think it was all that doable to wear this headset with another pair of glasses and even if you were, our bespectacled testers were only able to endure around 30 minutes before calling it quits. This close fit also means that it is very easy for your face to get sweaty while wearing this headset — even if you aren't playing in a particularly warm location.

The Vive Cosmos Elite is quite convenient and easy to use after you...
The Vive Cosmos Elite is quite convenient and easy to use after you have the initial install complete.
Credit: Laura Casner

User Friendliness


For our User Friendliness metric, we ranked and rated these headsets primarily on the amount of effort it took to get them set up each time you want to play, if it was easy to inadvertently hit buttons or other controls while in use, and the difficulty in hooking up headphones or earbuds if required. We didn't take into account the amount of time or effort it took for the initial installation and configuration process, leaving that for our final metric. The Vive Cosmos Elite improved when it came to convenience and user-friendliness, regaining its spot close to the top of the entire group.


Once this headset is set up, all you have to do to get it going is to make sure everything is powered up and put it on in focus where the sensors can see it. However, we did find that putting it on in focus can occasionally be mildly problematic.

It can take a little bit of effort to get the strap adjusted...
It can take a little bit of effort to get the strap adjusted properly so the image is in focus.
Credit: Laura Casner

You are going to need to loosen and tighten the band every time you take it off and on, meaning you will also need to refocus it. However, you can raise the visor if you just need a few minutes to take a break or talk to someone in the real world without taking it all the way off.

We liked that you can flip up the headset without taking it off if...
We liked that you can flip up the headset without taking it off if you need to check back into the real world for a brief moment.
Credit: Laura Casner

We also found the Inter-Pupillary Distance (IPD) adjustment knob can be a little finicky to get set correctly but you should only have to change that if someone else gives the headset a try. Luckily, we did find any buttons that are easy to accidentally hit when adjusting the headset or taking it on or off and the headphones are integrated right into the headset, negating the need to connect an additional pair.

The intial setup process for this headset is a little bit more...
The intial setup process for this headset is a little bit more involved than plug and play.
Credit: Laura Casner

Ease of Setup


Finally, our last series of tests looked at how much work it took to go from unpacking the Vive Cosmos Elite to trying your first VR experience with it. We looked at both the hardware and software setup, as well as how much other hardware you would need outside of what's included in the box to get it up and running. Unfortunately, this can be a bit of an involved process for the Vive Cosmos Elite, earning it a so-so score.


This headset requires external sensors, so it is always going to be a bit more difficult to get going than products that you can just grab and go. Mounting the sensors to the wall isn't too bad, though it will require some basic tools. Alternatively, you can mount them to a tripod though you risk knocking them over.

The software installation is about average, directing you to their site to make an account and download the necessary programs. Once installed, you just need to make sure the "Guardian" is set up by holding the trigger down on a remote and moving it around the room. This defines the playable area for the Vive Cosmos Elite.

However, you do need a fairly powerful PC to run this headset so you should double-check the recommended hardware specs before purchasing.

Value


While the Vive Cosmos Elite is a great VR headset, it also is a costly one. This is a good option for enthusiasts but we don't think it's the best option for those looking for a budget buy.

Conclusion


The Vive Cosmos Elite delivers an incredibly interactive virtual reality experience and we would highly recommend it to anyone on a quest for a top-tier VR headset. We do wish it were just a bit more comfortable and could be easier to set up. And with the release of newer models, the Vive Cosmos Elite has fallen back a bit in visual immersiveness. All in all, we think it's one of the best high-end headsets that you can get, but it's worth considering other options at this price point.

Austin Palmer and David Wise

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