If you fancy escaping from reality in 2022 (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t at the moment?) You can grab the excellent HTC Vive Cosmos Elite VR headset kit for £649. That’s £250 off the list price, as well as a return to the price that the full VR kit was going for on Black Friday. Surely, this is a sweeter deal than Tom Cruise’s Christmas cake.
To be clear, the deal nets you the Cosmos headset, a pair of HTC’s wand controllers, and two external base stations, which you rig up at the fringes of your play area for 360-degree motion tracking. This latter point, incidentally, is the main difference between the Cosmos Elite and the standard Vive Cosmos, as the latter uses uses an Oculus Quest-style inside-out tracking system. While more convenient, inside-out tracking tends to be less reliable than headsets that use external base stations, and this is certainly the case with the Cosmos and the Cosmos Elite.
Beyond that, the Cosmos Elite is a very good VR headset. Its 1400×1700 display resolution provides a crisp image with minimal screen-dooring, while the headset comes with built-in stereo headphones and front-facing cameras that enable you to switch between “in-game” VR and reality without taking off the headset.
The big question is, why buy the Cosmos Elite rather than the Quest 2 or the Valve Index, both of which are the more popular go-to VR choices? Well, it depends on what you want from your headset. The Quest 2 is a great all-round VR device, especially considering its price. But a wireless headset is less reliable for playing higher-end VR games like Half-Life: Alyx, Boneworks or The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners, all of which benefit from being securely cabled to your PC. Also, buying the Quest means you’re tied into the Facebook/Meta ecosystem, which is not ideal considering the company’s abysmal record on tracking and misusing personal data.
As for the Valve Index, at regular RRP it’s undoubtedly the better headset. This is primarily due to the Index’s fantastic controllers, which enable full five-finger tracking and authentic grip simulation (i.e. you pick up objects by squeezing your fist around the controller rather than pressing a button). These are superior to HTC’s wand controllers, which are a little outdated in 2021. That said, this deal makes the Vive Cosmos Elite almost £300 cheaper than the equivalent Index kit, so it’s a much more viable mid-range alternative. You could even buy the Index’s controllers, which are compatible with the Cosmos as they use the same base-station tech, and still save around £100 over buying an Index outright.
It’s also worth noting that the Cosmos is a modular headset, letting you swap out the faceplate for alternative models. At the moment, you can only swap this out for a standard Cosmos or the lower-end Cosmos Play. But should HTC bring out a follow-up headset to the Cosmos, you may be well-placed to upgrade your headset for relatively little expense.
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