HTC Vive Review

Three years ago, HTC’s Vive was the best virtual reality pair of glasses at the time. Now the Vive Cosmos is a successor model. However, those interested should leave it there for now.

It was a frustrating Friday evening, despite delicious food and drinks. With a buddy I wanted to test the Vive Cosmos, a new PC-bound virtual reality glasses. Manufacturer HTC presents it as a high-end product, as a „system of the present and the future“ – for 800 Euros. The Cosmos is the successor to the original Vive – the pair of glasses that outdid the Oculus Rift at its market launch in 2016, above all due to its extremely well-functioning tracking system.

Three years later, that Friday evening, the new HTC technology annoyed us. Again and again our virtual hands froze in the game worlds when they came too close to the headset.

Or, even worse: In some VR games we had no hands at all, because the controllers of the Cosmos were not recognized in the first place. There are some more details about it in this htc vive review:

In a virtual squash game my buddy gave up because of the bad motion detection. Only when he tried „Racket: Nx“ later again on an Oculus Quest did he understand at all what is fun about this game. On these VR glasses it worked as it should.

The glasses have orientation problems

After everything you read on the internet, we were not the only ones who were frustrated when trying out the Vive Cosmos. Various Cosmos testers report tracking annoyances.

The reason for this is the so-called Inside-Out-Technology. With many other VR glasses, including the original Vive, you have to set up small boxes or attach them to the wall to locate the devices in the room. In inside-out tracking, on the other hand, the movements of the headset and controllers are recorded by six cameras integrated into the glasses. This is actually a great thing that makes it easier to handle such glasses and will therefore certainly become standard at some point. Only not if it works as badly as the Cosmos.

Blog posts from HTC also suggest that the glasses have tracking problems. The company promises improvements through software updates and advises playing in „bright rooms“.

In fact, my tests that followed Friday went better at different times of the day, in a different room and with updated software, though still not round. So the headset still got mixed up even in properly lit rooms when one controller was behind the other or out of sight. If a controller was close to the face, its virtual image often froze for a good second – which is especially annoying in action-packed games.

Between Premium and Embarrassing

My first impression changed in the course of the test from „I would never buy these glasses“ to „For 500 to 600 Euros it would be okay if HTC could improve the tracking“. The more intensively one deals with the Comos, the more the plus points are noticeable.

  • For example, the LCD display with its 1440 x 1700 pixels per eye, a 90 Hz update rate and a field of view of up to 110 degrees (more about the technology in the photo gallery). The result is a pleasantly sharp image with vibrant colours – if you take the time to adjust the glasses to your own needs and don’t wobble them upside down too much. If you put them on without using the eye distance control, for example, you won’t be impressed by the result.
  • With the controllers, I am divided. They’re similar to the Oculus touch controllers, but they need two batteries per side, which drain faster than the competitor’s battery. This is probably due to the lighting used for inside-out tracking. In addition: I think the controllers are visually uncool and don’t match the rest of the system. Moreover, they are too heavy and too big.
  • The integrated headphones deliver a decent sound, the headset front of the Cosmos is comparatively valuable. The opposite is true for the face mask on the inside. The cushions are comfortable, but the mask looks as cheap as if it could burst at the slightest bend.

The folding mechanism for the headset visor is a good idea, although it is incompatible with my normal glasses. More helpful for me was the possibility to display a picture of my real environment on the screens, recorded by the Cosmos cameras.

Nothing works without DisplayPort

The Vive Cosmos is connected to the PC via a link box: At least one USB 3.0 port and one DisplayPort-1.2 port are required on the computer. Since I use an Oculus Quest in my private life, I found the five meter long connection cable annoying in everyday tests. On the other hand, VR games running on a gaming PC are visually much more impressive than Quest games, so the cable can be dismissed as a necessary evil.

Accessories for the Vive Cosmos

By the way, the Cosmos can also be used wirelessly with a wireless adapter. But at 345 Euros it’s not exactly cheap. Also a connection with the base stations of the old Vive is to be made possible „soon“ by an additional purchase.

Cosmos buyers can play several hundred titles that are available on the HTC Viveport platform. Owners of the glasses get a six-month subscription to the flatrate package „Viveport Infinity“, which contains well-known titles such as „Moss“ and „Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs“, but also a lot of junk. So far there are no games exclusively for the Vive Cosmos. As for the software, HTC seems to lack the vision. So HTC’s tutorial on the Cosmos controllers seems much less inspired than its Oculus counterpart.

Although Viveport and an environment called Lens are the primary software for the Cosmos, the Steam VR gaming platform must be active to operate the Valves headset. Sometimes this is confusing. At the same time, the connection to Steam means that the Cosmos can also be used to play most VR titles purchased via Steam – at least if the developers have programmed the games in such a way that they recognize the Cosmos controllers. This is currently not the case with all major titles.


The bottom line is that the Vive Cosmos does not live up to its price. For 800 Euros you can expect better tracking, certainly a few more innovations. If you want to buy your first pair of VR glasses, you should ask yourself if you are not just as good or better off with the self-sufficient and wireless Oculus Quest or the PC-bound Oculus Rift S. These glasses have long since gone beyond start-up problems such as controller incompatibilities. At 450 Euros, they cost only half as much as the Cosmos. For the Quest an interesting update is still pending in November.

With HTC’s glasses, on the other hand, you have to hope for improvements that bring the glasses to a usable quality level. If you are looking for a real high-end device, the Valve Index could be the more interesting purchase. It is even more expensive in the complete package and has no inside-out tracking. But it offers even better technology and with its base stations probably also a better motion detection.