The HTC Vive Cosmos seems to be more of a polished finish for today's VR headset than a bold futuristic leap forward. For the HTC customers, the Cosmos seems to be exactly what they wanted. For the entire VR landscape, however, it is to be hoped that the next wave of VR headsets will push the medium even further.
The HTC Vive Cosmos will be available from October 3rd and can be preordered now. By the way, if you pre-order the Cosmos, you'll receive a 12-month Viveport Infinity subscription with access to over 700 games and VR experiences.
The Cosmos looks like Frank Gehry from different companies. The Vive is characterized by its bulbous black headset, which is dotted with large dimples. The Cosmos, on the other hand, looks good with its navy blue mesh front. The front panel looks like a sculpture by architect Frank Gehry. On the front are openings that are easily suitable as public art sculpture, albeit very small. Overall, the Cosmos looks much more accessible and friendly than the original Vive.
But these openings at the front are not just for shows. They also provide ventilation so head and face do not get too hot. The power front panel is removable, under which there is a small fan to cool the six built-in cameras and relieve the heat on the face.
Take a closer look at the Vive Cosmos and all its parts below.
No Lighthouse Base Stations anymore
The original Vive relied on outside-in pursuit, where laser-beamed boxes were set up, calling HTC lighthouse base stations in a room. Positioning the base stations and attaching them to walls or shelves was, to say the least, a bit cumbersome.
To simplify things, the Cosmos uses inside-out tracking via six cameras constantly scanning the room. AI is used to identify parts of your environment. Inside-out tracking is fast becoming the new standard in VR, as Microsoft and Oculus already use it in their headsets.
Higher resolution and improved clarity
One of the most impressive features of the Cosmos is its resolution. There are 1,440 x 1,700 pixels (per eye) or 2,880 x 1,700 pixels at a refresh rate of 90 Hz. The original Vive had a resolution of 1,080 x 1,200 pixels (per eye) or 2,160 x 1,200 pixels together. Each pixel has RGB sub-pixels to minimize the screen-door effect, also known as the rainbow patterns you see on a screen. HTC claims the lenses have 40% better clarity than the Vive.
There arebut it's nice to see that HTC has made such an improvement for a consumer headset.
I got the VR experience theBlu on both the Vive and the Cosmos and I immediately saw the difference. One of the most noticeable improvements was the text. I actually could read it without having to approach it ridiculously.
The Cosmos was modular.
The aforementioned removable mesh panel serves a different purpose. This makes the Cosmos modular. The idea is that HTC introduces "mods" to give the Cosmos more functionality.
The first official is the Vive Cosmos External Tracking Mod (yes, that's a mouthful). So let's say you have the original Vive and all your Lighthouse base stations are wired and neatly mounted in one room. You can replace the default network front panel for the external tracking mod on the headset so that you can use your existing base stations instead of the cameras built into the Cosmos for tracking.
I should note that the use is not possible Both the built-in cameras and the lighthouse base stations are for tracking. The external tracking mod will be available early next year.
Lighter, more comfortable and foldable
When I hung up the Cosmos for the first time, I was impressed by how much lighter he was. It did not have the heavy feeling the Vive had from the front. The Cosmos has a halo headband that makes putting on and taking off easy and intuitive. There is a single button on the back of the headband that you turn so it fits better around your head.
The headset can also be folded up like the Hololens 2 or the VR headsets from Microsoft. This not only makes dressing and undressing easier, but also gives you instant access to the real world while you're in the VR. The Cosmos is not the first headset this is the case for, but it's certainly less stifling than some VR headsets.
HTC has also improved the passage through cameras that are now in color. The quality is definitely low, but it's nice to know that you can press the Vive button on the controller twice to instantly see what's in your area without taking off the headset. The pass-through cameras are also activated automatically when you leave the game area.
A Whole New Software Experience
When I created the Cosmos for the first time, I went to a place called Origin – that sounds like something from. Basically, it's a wide open deck that sits over the water overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. At some point, an orca swam by.
The origin is a bit like your home base. It makes getting started in the VR easy and teaches you how to operate the controls with small tasks. There is even a pearly homestead that you can explore.
Another new feature is a heads-up display called The Lens – also very western. You can access the lens during a VR experience to access controls and the Viveport library of VR experiences and games.
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