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VR has never been so beautiful

During a demonstration at the HTC office in San Francisco, I tested one after the other the original Vive and the new Vive Cosmos, and the two headsets. were amazing. The overall ergonomics on the Cosmos is greatly improved. Putting it is much easier, for example. Although the original has different headbands, the new helmet uses a simpler halo-style system, similar to the Pro and PS VR, with an adjustable hard plastic backing and a single velcro strap on top . An HTC employee slipped me on the head, like an upside down baseball cap, and with a few adjustments, I was ready to leave. Comparatively, the Cosmos feels a lot lighter.

What I really appreciate is that the Cosmos goggles have been configured to fit a wider range of face shapes. For example, even though HTC had said that you could wear glasses with the original Vive, I always thought it was uncomfortable to do it – mine would squeeze me against the eyes. With the new Cosmos, it was no longer a problem. there was a lot more room. As for many other helmets, there is also an IPD dial (that of the Cosmos located on the right side) that adjusts the distance between the lenses. And thanks to the general padding, it was comfortable but not too tight. I felt that I could definitely wear it for hours.

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Another big difference is that the eye contour of the Cosmos rises, allowing you to return to the "real" reality more quickly. Although it sounds good in theory, I did not like it in practice. When you raise the glasses, the entire headset feels unbalanced and heavy in the front, as if it was about to slip. The HTC representative said that this was probably due to the lock of my hair; the back did not have as much grip on the head. I hardly think that people with long smooth hair are a rarity, however, I found this answer unsatisfactory.

If you want to see what's going on around you but you do not want to change the headset, there is an alternative. The Vive Cosmos is equipped with an integrated rear view camera that allows you to see what's around you without touching the headphones. To activate it, exit numerical limits (basically, get out of the virtual grid wall) or press the Vive button twice on the controller. The result is an extremely blurry view of what's around you – in my case, a living room in HTC's San Francisco office.

It was so fuzzy that I could barely distinguish people's faces. O & # 39; Brien admits that it is not very good at the moment. "It's pretty primitive, now, yes," he says. Because Cosmos uses the same cameras for tracking and relay functions, HTC has decided to prioritize low latency rather than resolution for responsive tracking. "But we intend to improve this over time," he added. That said, it was at least a quick way to get in and out of virtual reality if you needed it.

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This blur contrasts with the VR display inside the Cosmos. With the all-new RGB LCDs, a combined resolution of 2,880 x 1,700 pixels (an 88% increase over the original), a 110-degree field of view and a refresh rate of 90 Hz you get the best VR display I've ever seen. With the original Vive helmet, for example, the famous blue whale Wevr: TheBlu the demo was huge and realistic. With the Cosmos, however, it was much more, making the experience even more immersive. I really did feel that the whale was right next to me. I could see details that I had not seen before, such as wrinkles around the eyes and warts and blemishes on the skin. The colors also seemed richer and more saturated; the blue was deeper and the shadows darker and more nuanced.

One of the main features of the Vive Cosmos is that it has a follow-up back. Six cameras on the helmet allow it to track your movements without the need for external sensors. It worked quite well when I tested various applications. In Museum of Other Realities, in which I interacted with several exhibits in a virtual art museum, I was able to dive deep into the sculptures and move my head and body without any noticeable limitations. Similarly, in a dance rhythm game called Audio trip, I was able to move my hands and arms to the rhythm with almost no delay. It was accurate to detect the location of my hands and feet.

In addition, the Cosmos includes a new set of controllers designed to be used with end-to-end tracking. Instead of chopsticks, they resemble the controls of the Oculus Rift, with circular sensor loops, but with a slightly different configuration: the buttons are inside the loop and not above the loop. Each controller has a start button, a few trigger buttons, and now analog joysticks (which have replaced the touch pads). HTC has also included the A, B, X, and Y buttons, which should be familiar to anyone with an Xbox controller.

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Unlike other virtual reality headsets, the Vive Cosmos also has modular front panels. The idea is that over time, HTC will release faceplates that add features. At the launch, HTC will launch the facade of the Vive Cosmos External Tracking mod, which allows you to use the Vive Cosmos with HTC's Lighthouse base stations. In itself, the Cosmos only offers a 310 degree room tracking (which is still very good), but with the addition of the external tracking front panel and additional sensors, you'll be able to get 360-degree tracking. degrees of the set. room. This mod also supports Vive's device ecosystem, such as the Vive Tracker. This will be available from next year.

In addition to hardware, one of Cosmos' other strengths is that it's the first HTC VR headset to come with Vive Reality instead of SteamVR. The Vive Reality system is a new platform software experience that includes a redesigned user interface called Lens for application and settings navigation.

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<p>There is also a new "home" screen called Origin, which serves as a welcome tripod. When you start the Cosmos for the first time, the original zone goes into tutorial mode. A spokesman for HTC said this was particularly useful for beginners in VR and would help them to become familiar with different applications and experiences. For example, while playing in Origins, I learned to teleport myself to different places, to drive a remote controlled car and to modify my virtual environment.</p><!--<script async src=-->

Even with the best hardware and software in the world, a VR headset does not make sense without content. That's why HTC has decided to bundle, with the headset, a trial subscription to Viveport Infinity, Valve's unlimited gaming service. The subscription usually costs around $ 12.99 a month, or $ 99 a year. If you pre-order the Cosmos by October 3rd, you'll get a 12-month or six-month buyout code after that. Considering that a virtual reality application can cost between 10 and 30 USD, it's a very good deal.

The Vive Cosmos will be launched worldwide on October 3rd, but you can preorder it today.

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