HTC Vive Cosmos Elite Review
Pros: Highly interactive, very immersive, easy to use
Cons: Could be more comfortable, can be hard to set up
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Our Analysis and Test Results
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.
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 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.
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 an exceptional performance, earning some of the highest scores out of the entire group.
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.
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.
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 but most did get over this as they acclimated to the headset. We did notice 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
While the Vive Cosmos Elite is a great VR headset, it also is a fairly costly one. This is a good option for enthusiasts but we don't think it's necessarily the best option for those looking for a budget buy.
The Vive Cosmos Elite delivers an incredibly immersive and interactive virtual reality experience and we would highly recommend it to anyone on a quest for a top-tier VR headset. We did wish it was just a bit more comfortable and could be easier to set up but overall it's one of our all-time preferred headsets.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise