In addition to showing off a couple of prototype VR headsets, which I wrote about earlier, HTC also announced an expanded Vive Cosmos lineup today. There are three new models, including the Cosmos Elite, Cosmos XR, and Cosmos Play.
Each one is built around a modular design with swappable faceplates. So really, there are now four Cosmos headsets, counting the one HTC launched last year. And of course there is the Valve Index, the best VR headset for a premium experience on a PC, but that's a different beast.
HTC launched the original Cosmos last year for $699. It landed as a high-end VR headset for the PC, with inside-out tracking the allure of semi-future proofing, by way of swapping out the faceplate sometime down the road. That day has arrived, sort of—the new faceplates underpin this expanded Cosmos launch.
All three new headsets are based on the same hardware as last year's launch model. That's to say, the Elite, XR, and Play each feature a flip-up visor, 1440x1770 LCD screens (2880x1770 combined), and a mechanical IPD (interpupillary distance) adjustment.
HTC's multi-tiered expansion is an attempt to appeal to VR users and new and old. The Cosmos Elite sits at the top of the stack and is for VR enthusiasts. It comes with a pre-installed external tracking faceplate, two SteamVR base stations, and two Vive controllers.
"The external tracking faceplate can be used with base station versions 1.0 or 2.0 as well as the original Vive or Vive Pro controllers and is easily swapped with the original inside-out tracking faceplate that ships with Vive Cosmos," HTC explains.
HTC says it will begin taking pre-orders for the Cosmos Elite on February 24 for $899.
The Cosmos XR is an upcoming standalone version primarily intended for developers, with a focus on pass-through augmented reality. For our purposes (playing games and consuming VR content), it's the least interesting of the bunch. HTC isn't sharing pricing on anything but the Cosmos Elite, but did say the Cosmos XR will debut in the second quarter of this year.
Lastly, the Cosmos Play is intended for new VR users. It's equipped with four cameras for inside-out tracking and "has the ability to grow over time" the meet the needs of first-time VR users once they've gotten their feet wet. It's not yet clear when this will launch.
Confused? Here's a handy breakdown, inspired by RoadToVR:
- Cosmos Elite ($899)—enthusiast, 2 base stations, SteamVR tracking, Vive wand controllers
- Cosmos ($699)—midrange, 6 cameras, inside-out tracking, Cosmos controllers
- Cosmos Play (??)—entry-level, 4 cameras, inside-out tracking, Cosmos controllers
- Cosmos XR (??)—developer kit, 4 cameras for inside-out tracking, 2 pass-through cameras, Cosmos controllers
The various faceplates will be available as standalone items as well. HTC said the external tracking faceplate included with the Elite will sell for $199 in the second quarter, serving as an upgrade for the original Cosmos or Cosmos Play.