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

In a demo at ’s San Francisco workplace, I attempted out each the unique and the brand new Cosmos one after one other, and it was beautiful simply how completely different the 2 headsets are. The total ergonomics on the Cosmos are vastly improved. Putting it on is means simpler, for instance. While the unique had three completely different head-straps, the brand new headset makes use of an easier halo-style system just like the one on the Pro and PS , with an adjustable laborious plastic backing and a single velcro strap on the highest. An HTC worker slipped it on my head like a backward baseball cap, and with only a couple tweaks, I used to be able to go. Comparatively, the Cosmos additionally feels quite a bit lighter.

What I actually recognize is that the Cosmos’ goggles have been configured to higher match a wider vary of face shapes. For instance, although HTC mentioned you could possibly put on glasses with the unique Vive, I at all times thought it was uncomfortable to do so — mine would press towards my eyes. With the brand new Cosmos, this was no downside in any respect; there was rather more room. As with a whole lot of different headsets, there’s additionally an IPD dial — the one on the Cosmos is positioned on the appropriate aspect — which helps you to regulate the space between the lenses. And because of the general padding, it felt comfortable, however not tight. I felt like I might undoubtedly put on it for hours on finish.

HTC Vive Cosmos

Another large distinction is that the attention space of the Cosmos truly flips up, so you may get again to “real” actuality a lot faster. While this sounds good in idea, I did not prefer it in observe. When you flip the goggles up, the entire headset feels off-balance and front-heavy, as if it was about to slide off. The HTC spokesperson mentioned this was possible as a result of slickness of my hair and thus the rear didn’t have as a lot grip on my head. I hardly assume folks with straight, lengthy hair is a rarity nevertheless, so I discovered this reply to be lower than passable.

If you wish to see what is going on on round you however you do not wish to flip up the headset, there’s another. The Vive Cosmos has an built-in pass-through digicam that allows you to see what’s round you with out touching the headset in any respect. To allow it, both step exterior of the digital boundaries (mainly step exterior the digital gridded wall), or double-tap the Vive button on the controller. The result’s a really blurry view of your environment — in my case, a lounge in HTC’s San Francisco workplace.

It was so blurry that I might barely make out folks’s faces. O’Brien admits that it isn’t very good in the mean time. “It’s quite primitive, now, yes,” he mentioned. The cause that it is so dangerous, nevertheless, is that Cosmos makes use of the identical cameras for monitoring and passthrough capabilities, and HTC determined to prioritize low latency over decision with the intention to guarantee responsive monitoring. “But we intend to improve that over time,” he added. That mentioned, it was no less than a fast technique to soar out and in of VR if you happen to wanted to in a pinch.

HTC Vive Cosmos

That blurriness stands in stark distinction to the VR show contained in the Cosmos. With all-new RGB LCD panels, a mixed 2,880 x 1,700-pixel decision (that is an 88 p.c enhance over the unique), a 110-degree field-of-view and a 90Hz refresh charge, the result’s the perfect VR show I’ve ever seen. With the unique Vive headset, for instance, the blue whale within the well-known Wevr: TheBlu demo looked large and life-like. With the Cosmos, nevertheless, it was rather more so, making the entire expertise much more immersive. It actually did really feel just like the whale was proper there subsequent to me. I might see particulars I did not see earlier than, like wrinkles round its eyes and warts and imperfections on its pores and skin. The colours additionally looked richer and extra saturated; the blue was deeper and the shadows have been darker and extra nuanced.

One of the marquee options of the Vive Cosmos is that it has inside-out monitoring. Six cameras on the headset enable it to trace your actions with out the necessity for exterior sensors. This labored fairly properly after I was attempting out numerous purposes. In Museum of Other Realities, wherein I interacted with a number of completely different reveals in a digital artwork museum, I might dive deep inside sculptures, transfer my head and physique round, with none noticeable limitations. Similarly, in a dance rhythm recreation known as Audio Trip, I used to be capable of transfer my palms and arms to the beat with hardly any lag. It was correct at detecting the situation of my palms and ft.

Additionally, the Cosmos contains a new set of controllers which are constructed for use with inside-out monitoring. Instead of wands, they appear just like the controls on the Oculus Rift, with the round sensor loops, albeit with a barely completely different configuration — the buttons are contained in the loop as a substitute of on prime of the loop. Each controller has a grip button, a few set off buttons, and now, analog joysticks (which have changed the touchpads). HTC additionally included A, B, X, and Y buttons, which needs to be acquainted to anybody who’s held an Xbox controller.

HTC Vive Cosmos

In a departure from different VR headsets, the Vive Cosmos additionally options modular faceplates. The concept is that, over time, HTC will launch faceplates that add extra performance. At launch, HTC will launch the Vive Cosmos External Tracking mod faceplate, which helps you to use the Vive Cosmos with HTC’s Lighthouse base stations, if you happen to so select. By itself, the Cosmos solely affords 310-degree monitoring of the room (which remains to be fairly good), however with the addition of the External Tracking faceplate and the additional sensors, you can get 360-degree monitoring of the entire room. This mod helps Vive’s ecosystem of peripherals such because the Vive Tracker as properly. It’ll be out there beginning subsequent yr.

Aside from the {hardware}, the opposite large function of the Cosmos is that it is the first HTC VR headset to ship with the Vive Reality System slightly than SteamVR. The Vive Reality System is a brand new software program expertise for the platform that comes full with a redesigned consumer interface known as Lens for shopping apps and settings.

HTC Vive Cosmos

There’s additionally a brand new “home” display known as Origin, which acts as a welcome launchpad of types. When you first fireplace up the Cosmos, the Origin space enters right into a tutorial mode. An HTC spokesperson mentioned that is particularly helpful for many who are new to VR and willl assist them familiarize themselves with completely different apps and experiences. For instance, from enjoying round in Origins, I realized find out how to teleport to completely different areas, drive a remote-controlled car, and alter my digital atmosphere.

Even with the perfect {hardware} and software program on the earth, a VR headset is meaningless with out content material. That’s why HTC determined to bundle in a trial subscription to Viveport Infinity, Valve’s limitless recreation service, together with the headset. The subscription usually prices round $12.99 a month, or $99 a yr. If you pre-order the Cosmos from now till October third, you will get a 12-month redeem code or a 6-month one thereafter. Seeing as a VR app can price anyplace from $10 to $30 by itself, that is a fairly good deal.

The Vive Cosmos will launch globally on October third, however you’ll be able to pre-order it beginning at this time.

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