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TechnologyHTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good

10:35  12 september  2019
10:35  12 september  2019 Source:   engadget.com

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Gallery: HTC Vive Cosmos ( hands - on ) | 29 Photos. What I really appreciate is that the Cosmos ' goggles were configured to better fit a wider range of face shapes. For example, even though HTC said you could wear glasses with the original Vive , I always thought it was uncomfortable to do so -- mine

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In 2016, HTC revealed the Vive VR headset to the world. In the years since, HTC has released several versions, like the Vive Pro, Vive Pro Eye and the standalone Vive Focus and Vive Focus Plus (for developers and businesses). Now it's ready to launch a brand-new headset aimed at consumers: the Vive Cosmos. It costs $699, which includes a trial subscription to Viveport Infinity; you'll get a 12-month trial if you pre-order before October 3rd, and a six-month one thereafter (The VR game service is usually $99 a year).

HTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good

As hinted at earlier this year, the Cosmos is a vastly improved headset compared to the original. It features flip-up goggles, inside-out tracking, a modular faceplate, brand new controllers and the highest-res VR display on the market. Like the Vive Pro, it also has integrated headphones, but the ones on the Cosmos can be unplugged and swapped out for your own set of cans if you prefer.

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Update 6/25/2019, 5:00 p.m. ET: H TC Vive disclosed new information today about its next consumer VR headset, the HTC Vive Cosmos . Upon release, the Vive Cosmos will have a higher total resolution than any other Vive headset.

HTC announced the PC-powered Vive Cosmos virtual reality headset at CES, saying the device was "coming soon." It’s potentially the company’s answer to the mass-market Oculus Quest headset coming later this HTC announces a PC-powered VR headset called the Vive Cosmos . New, 25 comments.

It's worth noting that the Vive Cosmos is not a standalone headset; it still needs to be tethered to a PC. "I think there's a place for both PC and standalone experiences," said Dan O'Brien, president of HTC Vive in North America. "Mobile has made great strides over the years, but for right now, the problems that we can solve and the experiences we can deliver are just so much more powerful on the PC. The PC will always be up there." HTC does offer a Vive Wireless Adapter, which lets you untether from the PC, but it costs around $300 each.

In a demo at HTC's San Francisco office, I tried out both the original Vive and the new Vive Cosmos one after another, and it was stunning just how different the two headsets are. The overall ergonomics on the Cosmos are vastly improved. Putting it on is way easier, for example. While the original had three different head-straps, the new headset utilizes a simpler halo-style system similar to the one on the Pro and PS VR, with an adjustable hard plastic backing and a single velcro strap on the top. An HTC employee slipped it on my head like a backward baseball cap, and with just a couple tweaks, I was ready to go. Comparatively, the Cosmos also feels a lot lighter.

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VIVE is a first-of-its-kind virtual reality system. Let yourself be visually, physically and emotionally amazed by new virtual worlds. VIVE VR System. Includes VIVE HMD, first-generation controllers & base stations. Play seated, standing or room-scale with SteamVR™ Tracking.

HTC just dropped a ton of new information on its next PC VR headset, the HTC Vive Cosmos . Take a peek at the new # HTCVIVE COSMOS controllers. The gamer-friendly controls & seamless tracking on the VIVE COSMOS controllers are designed to give you greater control of your VR experience.

What I really appreciate is that the Cosmos' goggles were configured to better fit a wider range of face shapes. For example, even though HTC said you could wear glasses with the original Vive, I always thought it was uncomfortable to do so -- mine would press against my eyes. With the new Cosmos, this was no problem at all; there was much more room. As with a lot of other headsets, there's also an IPD dial -- the one on the Cosmos is located on the right side -- which lets you adjust the distance between the lenses. And thanks to the overall padding, it felt snug, but not tight. I felt like I could definitely wear it for hours on end.

HTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good© Provided by Oath Inc. HTC Vive Cosmos

Another big difference is that the eye area of the Cosmos actually flips up, so you can get back to "real" reality much quicker. While this sounds good in theory, I didn't like it in practice. When you flip the goggles up, the whole headset feels off-balance and front-heavy, as if it was about to slip off. The HTC spokesperson said this was likely due to the slickness of my hair and thus the rear did not have as much grip on my head. I hardly think people with straight, long hair is a rarity however, so I found this answer to be less than satisfactory.

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If you want to see what's going on around you but you don't want to flip up the headset, there is an alternative. The Vive Cosmos has an integrated pass-through camera that lets you see what's around you without touching the headset at all. To enable it, either step outside of the digital boundaries (basically step outside the virtual gridded wall), or double-tap the Vive button on the controller. The result is a terribly blurry view of your surroundings -- in my case, a living room in HTC's San Francisco office.

It was so blurry that I could barely make out people's faces. O'Brien admits that it's not very good at the moment. "It's quite primitive, now, yes," he said. The reason that it's so bad, however, is that Cosmos uses the same cameras for tracking and passthrough functions, and HTC decided to prioritize low latency over resolution in order to ensure responsive tracking. "But we intend to improve that over time," he added. That said, it was at least a quick way to jump in and out of VR if you needed to in a pinch.

HTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good© Nicole Lee / Engadget HTC Vive Cosmos

That blurriness stands in stark contrast to the VR display inside the Cosmos. With all-new RGB LCD panels, a combined 2,880 x 1,700-pixel resolution (that's an 88 percent increase over the original), a 110-degree field-of-view and a 90Hz refresh rate, the result is the best VR display I've ever seen. With the original Vive headset, for example, the blue whale in the well-known Wevr: TheBlu demo looked huge and life-like. With the Cosmos, however, it was much more so, making the whole experience even more immersive. It really did feel like the whale was right there next to me. I could see details I didn't see before, like wrinkles around its eyes and warts and imperfections on its skin. The colors also looked richer and more saturated; the blue was deeper and the shadows were darker and more nuanced.

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One of the marquee features of the Vive Cosmos is that it has inside-out tracking. Six cameras on the headset allow it to track your movements without the need for external sensors. This worked quite well when I was trying out various applications. In Museum of Other Realities, in which I interacted with several different exhibits in a virtual art museum, I could dive deep inside sculptures, move my head and body around, without any noticeable limitations. Similarly, in a dance rhythm game called Audio Trip, I was able to move my hands and arms to the beat with hardly any lag. It was accurate at detecting the location of my hands and feet.

Additionally, the Cosmos features a new set of controllers that are built to be used with inside-out tracking. Instead of wands, they look similar to the controls on the Oculus Rift, with the circular sensor loops, albeit with a slightly different configuration -- the buttons are inside the loop instead of on top of the loop. Each controller has a grip button, a couple of trigger buttons, and now, analog joysticks (which have replaced the touchpads). HTC also included A, B, X, and Y buttons, which should be familiar to anyone who's held an Xbox controller.

HTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good© Provided by Oath Inc. HTC Vive Cosmos

In a departure from other VR headsets, the Vive Cosmos also features modular faceplates. The idea is that, over time, HTC will release faceplates that add additional functionality. At launch, HTC will release the Vive Cosmos External Tracking mod faceplate, which lets you use the Vive Cosmos with HTC's Lighthouse base stations, if you so choose. By itself, the Cosmos only offers 310-degree tracking of the room (which is still pretty good), but with the addition of the External Tracking faceplate and the extra sensors, you'll be able to get 360-degree tracking of the whole room. This mod supports Vive's ecosystem of peripherals such as the Vive Tracker as well. It'll be available starting next year.

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HTC might have given a first look at their new Vive Cosmos headset today, but they weren’t ready The goal for Cosmos , it seems, is for HTC to make SteamVR optional, but not required, while Inside out tracking looks better than two base stations with wires going to them standing on tall stands in

The HTC Vive and HTC Vive Pro may still be the most advanced consumer VR headsets on the market, but their chunky, wand-like motion controllers are starting to feel a bit long in the tooth. Thankfully then, HTC 's next VR headset, the HTC Vive Cosmos , will come equipped with a pair of

Aside from the hardware, the other big feature of the Cosmos is that it's the first HTC VR headset to ship with the Vive Reality System rather than SteamVR. The Vive Reality System is a new software experience for the platform that comes complete with a redesigned user interface called Lens for browsing apps and settings.

HTC Vive Cosmos hands-on: VR never looked so good© Provided by Oath Inc. HTC Vive Cosmos

There's also a new "home" screen called Origin, which acts as a welcome launchpad of sorts. When you first fire up the Cosmos, the Origin area enters into a tutorial mode. An HTC spokesperson said this is especially useful for those who are new to VR and willl help them familiarize themselves with different apps and experiences. For example, from playing around in Origins, I learned how to teleport to different locations, drive a remote-controlled car, and change my virtual environment.

Even with the best hardware and software in the world, a VR headset is meaningless without content. That's why HTC decided to bundle in a trial subscription to Viveport Infinity, Valve's unlimited game service, along with the headset. The subscription typically costs around $12.99 a month, or $99 a year. If you pre-order the Cosmos from now until October 3rd, you'll get a 12-month redeem code or a 6-month one thereafter. Seeing as a VR app can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 on its own, that's a pretty good deal.

The Vive Cosmos will launch globally on October 3rd, but you can pre-order it starting today.

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