First announced all the way back in January of this year, HTC's latest PC-based VR headset, the Vive Cosmos, is finally almost here. Arriving in Europe on October 3rd (and mid-October for those in the US) for £699 / $699, the Cosmos has the highest resolution screen of any Vive headset so far, squeaking just ahead of the £1119 / $1098 HTC Vive Pro's 1440x1600 pixels-per-eye with 1440x1700 per-eye. Admittedly, a hundred extra pixels might not sound like much, but compared to the original Vive's 1080x1200 pixels-per-eye, it sounds like quite the jump. I'll reserve judgement until I've been able test one myself, but the main thing that intrigues me about the Cosmos is its modular face plate design. Because everybody loves a good mod.
According to HTC, the Vive Cosmos' modular face plate will let you change how the headset can be used for VR in the future, giving it more flexibility than any of their other Vive headsets so far. Admittedly, details on exactly what this might actually entail have been hazy up until now, but today HTC have finally announced what the first official mod's going to be: the 'Vive Cosmos External Tracking Mod'.
This will be good news for any existing Vive owners looking to upgrade to the Cosmos, as the External Tracking Mod will allow you to carry on using your existing Vive Lighthouse base stations (and Vive Tracker accessories) with it instead of having to buy new ones. The bad news is that you won't be able to do so straight away when the Cosmos launches next month, as the official launch date of the mod isn't slated to happen until sometime between January and March next year. It's also not clear how much the External Tracking Mod is going to cost yet, either.
Admittedly, it's not like you technically need the base stations in order to use the Cosmos, as its six camera sensors and all-new tracking system allow for proper inside-out tracking. This means you can start using the Cosmos straight out of the box without having to faff around finding an extra two plug sockets in opposite corners of your room for a pair of base stations. As a result, I reckon the External Tracking Mod will probably only appeal to those who have Vive Tracker peripherals, as it doesn't look like there's any real need to have one otherwise.
Otherwise, the rest of the Cosmos' specs will all sound pretty familiar to current Vive owners. It still has a 90Hz refresh rate, for example, and a maximum field of view of 110 degrees, and it comes with built-in stereo headphones like the Vive Pro.
You'll still need to connect the Cosmos to your PC as well, unfortunately - unless, of course you also get one of HTC's existing Vive Wireless Adapter add-ons that attaches onto the Cosmos' headband so you can use it tether-free. Fortunately, the PC requirements to run the Cosmos haven't changed much since the original Vive:
Vive Cosmos PC requirements:
CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 / AMD FX 8350
GPU: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 480
Video Output: DisplayPort 1.2
USB: 1x USB 3.0
OS: Windows 10
So, if you've got a powerful enough PC and fancy the idea of base station-less VR, then you can pre-order a Vive Cosmos right now. Plus, if you order one between now and October 2nd in the UK (or before November 3rd in the US), you get a free 12-month subscription to Viveport Infinity, HTC's curated VR subscription service that gives you unlimited access to a bunch of different apps, games and videos, as well as free games you can keep forever.