Vive Cosmos Elite & External Tracking Faceplate Review – Cosmos SteamVR Tracking


HTC’s Vive Cosmos Elite headset is about to ship on the 18th and we’ve been testing the unit to carry you a full evaluation. Cosmos Elite is similar base headset as Cosmos, however geared up with a faceplate that provides SteamVR Monitoring as an alternative of inside-out monitoring. HTC additionally plans to additionally promote the ‘Exterior Monitoring Faceplate’ individually in order that Cosmos customers have the choice to improve.

Introduction

This can be a considerably distinctive evaluation due to Vive Cosmos’ modular strategy; so let me break down the place this all suits earlier than we begin.

Cosmos launched again in October as HTC’s newest client targeted headset and its first PC headset with inside-out monitoring. Whereas the headset isn’t unhealthy, opponents on either side (Oculus’ Rift on the low-end and Valve’s Index on the high-end) appeared to supply higher worth propositions contemplating their value and efficiency.

However, Cosmos has a trick up its sleeve—a removable faceplate which provides it some fascinating modularity. And that’s the place Vive Cosmos Elite is available in; it’s certainly one of a number of modular variants of the headset which HTC just lately launched.

Cosmos Elite is similar Cosmos headset besides geared up with what HTC calls the ‘Exterior Monitoring Faceplate’ which ditches the inside-out digital camera monitoring for SteamVR Monitoring which brings extra accuracy however depends on exterior base stations (which additionally means extra to arrange).

When purchased as a whole bundle, Cosmos Elite is black fairly than blue | Picture courtesy HTC

For this evaluation, HTC despatched us every part that ships with the Vive Cosmos Elite (Exterior Monitoring Faceplate, 2x SteamVR Monitoring 1.zero base stations, and 2x Vive wand controllers) in order that we might improve our authentic Cosmos to Cosmos Elite. With the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate geared up, Cosmos turns into nearly equivalent to Cosmos Elite, besides that the latter comes with an identical black coloration in comparison with the darkish blue of all the opposite Cosmos headsets.

Now with all that mentioned, this evaluation focuses on Cosmos Elite and the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate; because the base headset (headphones, optics, shows, ergonomics, and so on.) is in any other case equivalent to the unique Cosmos, we’ll be leaning on our authentic evaluation of Cosmos the place related fairly than rehashing the identical factors. Let’s dig in.

Vive Cosmos Elite & Exterior Monitoring Faceplate Evaluation

Photograph by Highway to VR

Whereas the unique Cosmos is priced at $700, for $900 Cosmos Elite comes geared up with the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate and packaged with the Vive wand controllers (as an alternative of the Cosmos controllers) and two SteamVR Monitoring 1.zero base stations.

Photograph by Highway to VR

For these upgrading from Cosmos to Cosmos Elite, it’s straightforward to swap the default Cosmos faceplate for the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate. When wanting on the lenses, you’ll discover a small swap on the left aspect. Pull this down firmly all the best way down as you pull the faceplate off; it’s possible you’ll right here a pop or two because it’s eliminated.

Photograph by Highway to VR

With the default faceplate eliminated, line up the port on the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate with the port on the headset after which firmly press across the faceplate to pop it into place. The seam must be flush with the Cosmos headset.

Photograph by Highway to VR

The Exterior Monitoring Faceplate is roofed with these acquainted Vive pockmarks underneath which little sensors disguise. Whereas there’s solely 10 seen pockmarks on the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate, there’s many extra sensors hiding beneath the IR-transparent plastic, for a complete of 32 (the identical quantity you’ll discover on headsets like Index and Vive Professional).

These sensors decide up lasers from the SteamVR Monitoring base stations. You technically solely want one base station for monitoring, however two base stations at reverse corners of your playspace is the default configuration to make sure 360 monitoring protection.

The bottom stations every have to be related to a wall outlet for energy, however don’t want to hook up with your PC. They want line of sight to one another, and it’s really useful they be mounted increased than your head and not more than 16 toes aside, supporting a monitoring quantity of roughly 11 × 11 toes.

The bottom stations embrace mounting so that you just they could possibly be screwed into your partitions, and there’s additionally a regular tripod screw on the underside and again in the event you’d fairly stick them on tripods. You can additionally select to easily sit them up excessive someplace like on a bookshelf, however they should keep very nonetheless throughout use, in any other case monitoring might get thrown off.

Vive Cosmos Elite Monitoring

In comparison with the inside-out monitoring of the bottom Cosmos headset, which requires no exterior monitoring , the transfer to SteamVR Monitoring and base stations on Cosmos Elite is a extra cumbersome setup course of, however the result’s considerably improved monitoring.

Whereas HTC has made enhancements to Cosmos’ inside-out monitoring (which was fairly tough at launch), it’s nonetheless a far cry from SteamVR Monitoring with the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate, which brings larger accuracy and vastly improved robustness to lighting situations.

Photograph by Highway to VR

The Achilles’ heel of the unique Cosmos is lighting; if it’s reasonably darkish the headset can lose monitoring high quality or refuse to trace fully. With SteamVR Monitoring you possibly can actually play in a daylight vibrant room or in a pitch black room and the monitoring will carry on kicking because of infrared lasers, that are invisibly projected from the bottom stations.

Monitoring efficiency on Cosmos Elite is notably superior to the unique Cosmos; it’s extra correct with virtually no discernible jitter or latency. Whereas the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate is a modular add-on fairly than being built-in, monitoring felt simply nearly as good as different headsets with built-in SteamVR Monitoring like Vive Professional and Index.

As for the controllers, Cosmos Elite makes use of the identical Vive wands as the unique Vive that launched again in 2016. These are just about a recognized amount; they monitor very effectively and really feel very sturdy, however their dimension and design reveal their age. Whereas the Vive wands have a big trackpad and a grip ‘button’, most trendy controllers have thumbsticks, face buttons, and grip ‘triggers’ (that are held fairly than clicked).

Photograph by Highway to VR

Due to SteamVR’s interoperability, you would select to pair Cosmos Elite with some other SteamVR Monitoring appropriate controller (like Index), however sadly the mess that’s Cosmos’ modular technique makes this largely impractical from a value standpoint.

Ergonomics, Lenses, Shows, Audio, & Extra

Photograph by Highway to VR

As we talked about, Cosmos Elite is similar core Cosmos headset that launched in late 2019 however with the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate and Vive wand controllers. So fairly than rehash the identical factors once more, we’ll summarize the remaining and encourage you to take a look at our authentic Cosmos evaluation in order for you the deep dive on the traits of the core headset.

Whereas the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate takes care of the sub-par monitoring of the unique Cosmos, it doesn’t alleviate any of the headset’s different points.

Ergonomics are a significant factor for Cosmos, and regardless that Cosmos Elite (and the Exterior Monitoring Faceplate) embrace a wider high strap, it doesn’t make a lot of a distinction. Whereas I’ve discovered HTC’s Vive Professional to be very comfy, Cosmos’ halo-style headband doesn’t work effectively for me. This may increasingly range on a head-by-head foundation, however I’ve discovered that Cosmos’ head-mount does a poor job of protecting the headset’s lenses within the best spot for my eyes, and its front-heavy design isn’t best for lengthy classes.

That is compounded by the truth that Cosmos’ lenses have a really small ‘candy spot’ (the a part of the lens providing one of the best visible readability) and it seems like if my eyes are even a bit out of alignment then a lot of my view is uncomfortably blurry. I discovered myself needing to recurrently regulate Cosmos on my head to attempt to preserve my eyes within the candy spot, even after setting the bodily IPD adjustment accurately.

As for the shows, Cosmos’ 1,440 × 1,700 per-eye LCD shows are on par with contemporaries for pixel density and display door impact (the house between pixels). However, going again to the small candy spot and the ergonomic points, it seems like extra of these pixels are blurred extra of the time, making Cosmos’ through-the-lens view notably the least fascinating for me amongst Cosmos, Rift S, and Index.

Photograph by Highway to VR

Although the snap-on headphones really feel a little bit low-cost and like to get in the best way if you placed on the headset, the audio high quality is stable and simply higher than the hardly satisfactory audio on Rift S. Index, nevertheless, nonetheless has notably higher audio high quality and its off-ear headphone design by no means bothers you when placing on the headset.

Abstract

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Cosmos Elite is a satisfactory headset however it has the identical core difficulty as the unique Cosmos: it’s not aggressive on the value HTC is asking. Sure, the SteamVR Monitoring makes it a greater headset than the unique Cosmos (offered you aren’t bothered by the exterior monitoring ), however it additionally prices a further $200. At $900, I simply can’t advocate Cosmos Elite when Rift S gives extra worth and Index presents a notably improved expertise for simply $100 extra.

Even when there was somebody on the market who merely wouldn’t accept a headset from any firm however HTC, I’d simply advocate the Vive Professional Starter Package (additionally $900) over Cosmos Elite because of its vastly higher ergonomic design—it’s a disgrace that the corporate is now discontinuing that headset.

Disclosure: HTC offered Highway to VR with the Vive Cosmos Elite .