My HTC Cosmos Elite arrived on the 2nd, but I couldn't take it for a spin until this weekend. I'd needed a USB 3.0 to USB C adapter since I discovered my tower only has USB C and USB 2.0 ports. Still, everything is set up, and since the adapter arrived last Wednesday I've been putting the Cosmos through it's paces. After a few days, here is my initial impressions and how I feel it stacks up with my Quest.
Ease of Setup:
The Cosmos Elite came with the outside-in faceplate, two 1.0 lighthouse trackers, and 2 of the original Vive Wands. The wands had needed to be charged right away, which is fair. Mounting the lighthouse trackers was a pain and a half since I don't own a drill, and I was too damn impatient to wait for the tripods I ordered to arrive. Just as well since I ordered them 11 days ago, and they FINALLY shipped even though the rest of the order has already arrived. I really shouldn't have mounted them to the walls since historically my landlord has given a hard NO to even putting nails in the walls to hang up family pictures. I ended up calling to ask anyway because again, I was impatient. I did get permission to mount them in the living room area, but only if I then leave the wall mounts in place if I ever move. Guess it's just as well that I also ordered some tripods since I will eventually move elsewhere, probably. Once that pain was finished, the rest of the setup wasn't too bad. The base stations and controllers all had to be updated, which meant I had to plug them into my PC one at a time to do so. Still, now that the initial setup is finished I don't have to worry about it again. On the other hand, only that area is supported for VR using the Cosmos now.
By comparison, setup for my Quest was much much easier. It took a second or two to pair the HMD to my tablet, mark out the Guardian boundary, and I was good to go. No additional hardware needed, no climbing up on a step ladder, no struggling to create pilot holes in drywall without a drill. Just hold pair a device and mark out the boundary. And because the tracking is based on the HMD it's self, I can easily set it up for other play areas. Or extend my VR play space from the Room Scale area I have set up to include where my PC is located too for seated keyboard/mouse VR games
I'm going to have to give this category to the Quest.
I ran the same set of games in order to compare them side by side. These were Organ Quarter, Down the Rabbit Hole, and Pilot Wings. Well, also a 4th one. But that app doesn't need to be mentioned. Visually, things looked about the same to me. Well, mostly the same. My IPD is rather high, and I have found the Quest does a better job adjusting to suit. Both are maxed out for the IPD adjustment, but the Quest seems to have a slight edge here. The 'sweet spot' is more centered then the Cosmos for me. Overall this doesn't make much of a difference, but it can make reading anything a bit more of a pain with the Cosmos. This is offset by the Cosmos having slightly a crisper image overall though.
In the end I'm going to call this category a draw.
The Cosmos's halo style strap is by far more comfortable in the short term. But now that I've properly adjusted the Quest's head strap, this isn't as big of a difference as you might think. The Cosmos over time causes me to start feeling hot and sweaty, regardless of what app I'm in. Heavy action arena brawler, sedate puzzle adventure, or even just watching a movie, it doesn't matter. After a while my face gets sweaty and I have to exit VR with the Cosmos. The HMD it's self is well balanced and doesn't cause my neck to get tired, but the cord is a bit heavy. The cord also easily gets wrapped around me, even if I don't think I'm spinning in place. On the other hand, the cord is long enough that it can cover my entire room scale play space.
Overheating isn't really an issue with my Quest though due to the Kiwi brand interface bracket providing ventilation to let face stay cool. As I mentioned, now that I've properly adjusted the Quest's head straps it doesn't press tightly into my face while also retains stability for when playing something more active. Still, the Quest is front heavy and tires out the neck over time. When plugged in for Link the official cable is more then long enough to cover my entire play space, and is light enough that it's easy to forget it's there. Getting wrapped up in the cord is a bit of a problem here too, but surprisingly not as much of one due to the cord being lighter thus moving with me easier. Also, can stream my desktop to play Steam VR games while unteathered, but this reduces play time due to battery life becoming an issue.
This category IMO is a draw as well. Both HMD have their pros and cons.
The vive wands are functional, I'll grant that. And the wrist straps are damn good, much better then the ones on the Quest. However the touch pads are more awkward then I'd like to use. They work, but they're a bit too sensitive at times, and not sensitive enough at other times. The grip buttons are hard to press, the menu buttons are hard to reach, and in general the vive wands are just a hair too big. Even so, they function just fine.
By contrast, the Touch controllers are perfectly sized to allow easy reach of every button. And speaking of buttons, it does have more usable buttons. Two more on each controller then the vive wand in fact. And that can make quite the difference at times. This is a surprising thing for me to discover, but they are also better balanced.
I have to give this category to the Quest too, but it's closer then I would have thought.
And finally the reason so many people swear by Steam VR, the tracking. How does it stack up? To be honest, I don't really see much of a difference in practical game play. The vive wands don't lose tracking at any point, which is good. On the other hand, I'm not usually trying to do things that would require 360 tracking. Tracking accuracy is great, which is a given. And I can play even if the room is dark, which is nice if I started playing in the afternoon and the sun goes down.
With the Quest, tracking naturally gets lost if the room gets too dark. Which means that even during the day I have to turn on a lamp in my room scale play space. Naturally enough, tracking can be lost if the Touch controllers are obscured from the cameras. But that isn't as much of an issue as I would have thought. Make sure to tuck in my shirt, and I'm good to go. Tracking accuracy is damn good. I'm reluctent to say it's identical to the vive wands since I can't really measure that while in VR. But the differences in tracking accuracy aren't anywhere near large enough for me to notice.
Overall, I think the Cosmos has an edge here due to the tracking not caring about the ambient light level.
I think the Quest might come out slightly ahead of the Vive Cosmos Elite due to it's ease of setup, having better controllers, and versatility in where you can use it. Still, both are solid VR headsets. Once HTC gets their inside out tracking nailed down better I might get that faceplate and the associated controllers and do this comparison again. In the mean time, both are fantastic headsets with their own pros and cons. I think I'd recommend a Quest more, but that's more personal preference.