The long awaited Vive Cosmos launched last week. At least among vocal early adopters, fanfare seems muted and points to a handful handful of common complaints. Less than a week after launch, HTC offered up a response which acknowledges some issues, rebuts others, and promises to ‘work to improve Cosmos and the owner experience’.
Posting to the official Vive Blog in an entry titled ‘Vive Cosmos: Continuing to Update‘, HTC responds to four common complaints highlighted by reviewers and early adopters: Tracking performance in low-light, content compatibility, controller battery life, and ergonomics.
You may recall that we were surprised to find initially that, in lighting conditions that proved perfectly usable for other headsets, Cosmos complained that there wasn’t enough light and refused to initiate tracking at all.
We were so surprised by this that we postponed our review until we could confirm that our headset wasn’t defective. In response to the issue, HTC quickly pushed a patch which made Cosmos less picky about lighting conditions. And while we noted in our review that tracking performance degrades without bright lighting, the patch at least allowed the headset to function after the Sun had set.
In the blog post HTC explained what kind of environment Cosmos tracks best in, and said they will ‘continue to fine tune tracking performance’:
Vive Cosmos uses inside-out tracking, which requires data points in your play environment to deliver the most accurate tracking, as well as consistent lighting. Set up works best in a bright room without mirrors or reflectors. Plain walls with a lack of defining features could affect tracking.
Our engineering team continues to fine tune the performance of the headset for different kinds of play environments and we’re looking into low-light reports from some users who were getting a persistent “dark environment” message. We’ve adjusted the notification window for low-light scenarios and the update is already live.
We’re continuing to refine the tracking and notifications in these scenarios and expect to release another software update soon.
HTC also addressed content compatibility issues. Because Cosmos is a SteamVR headset at its core (and poised as the sequel to the original Vive, another SteamVR headset), many users expected their existing Steam content to work seamlessly with Cosmos, but not every title does yet.
HTC said it’s “working closely with developers across stores to update their titles with controls for Cosmos.” The company also said they discovered an issue which has prevented some titles from launching with Cosmos even when they should be compatible. A fix is expected this week.
On the company’s own Viveport app store, HTC says that 90% of the top 100 titles are compatible with Cosmos currently.
Controller Battery Life
HTC is hoping to correct a widely circulated but purportedly inaccurate figure of just two hours of battery life for the Cosmos controllers. The company goes on record to say users can expect four to eight hours of battery life in the controllers depending upon the quality of the batteries used (each take two AA batteries).
The company suggests that battery life improvements could come to the Cosmos controllers by saying that “our engineering team will continually work to optimize for performance.”
HTC also responded to ergonomic and comfort complaints mostly by suggesting that people are incorrectly fitting the headset.
The adjustable head strap and halo design balance weight distribution, and soft and lightweight materials make for all-day play. The user guide illustrates the proper way to wear the headset. If you are having issues fitting your Cosmos comfortably to your head, please refer to it and contact us if you can’t get your fit quite right.
That may be the case for some, but for others the halo-style head-mount might simply might not fit too well. As the halo-style head-mount has become more popular recently there seems to be a divide between those who prefer it vs. those who like the headband approach.
In our Cosmos review we found that the headset’s ergonomic design suffers because it’s difficult to find a comfortable perch for the headset which also allows for good alignment between your eyes and the lenses. This is partly due to the small sweet spot of the lenses which don’t offer much tolerance for misalignment before giving way to uncomfortably blurry visuals. Ergonomics are surely a huge challenge for VR headsets because of the wide range of head shapes.
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HTC concludes its post by writing, “we are continuing to work to improve Cosmos and your experience and will update you with the most pertinent and timely information as it becomes available. If you are experiencing any issues, please contact us at www.vive.com/support/contactus.”