HTC expands Vive Cosmos family with new options, and its first foray into AR

HTC in 2020 is known for its Vive PC-based VR headsets, and is today announcing a major expansion of its latest Vive Cosmos system into a family of products designed grow with you over time.

Vive Cosmos was introduced last year, bringing a major evolution over HTC’s original Vive headset with high quality, high resolution screens and detachable, swappable faceplates promising the ability to add new features and abilities over time.

This adaptability is at the core of the line’s expansion – the original Vive headsets offered users about 3 years lifetime (and there’s still a lot of aftermarket sales activity around them), and HTC’s packed enough tech into Vive Cosmos that it should see a similar lifetime in your home.

HTC’s new Vive SKUs feature the same base hardware that’s already in market, but addresses different needs and requirements of PC VR gamers by varying the faceplate and other accessories included in the package.

Vive Cosmos Play

Up first is Vive Play – a simpler product for those who’d like to get into VR gaming, but don’t need the more advanced object tracking features offered by the in-market Vive system. It also eschews Vive’s headset, giving you a 3.5mm audio jack and letting you bring your own headphones.

You can still play VR games on the system, but the faceplate included does only four-camera tracking instead of the standard Cosmos six – so you won’t be able to track controller movements outside of roughly your field of vision.

HTC says there’s plenty of games available for the system that only use the space in front of you for controls, so Play offers a cheaper way into VR gaming.

Just how cheap? Well, HTC’s not quite ready to divulge pricing and availability information yet, but is promising we’ll know more in the coming months.

Vive Cosmos

If you jump in with Vive Cosmos Play, you might eventually outgrow the basic 4-camera tracking system and want to go for something more capable depending on the software you’re running.

You’ll be able to purchase the faceplate for 6-camera tracking, bringing your system up to the spec of the current Vive Cosmos system.

You can already purchase this system right now for $1,299, but if you buy Vive Cosmos Play then you can purchase the faceplate for $349 starting in Q2.

Vive Cosmos Elite

Finally, the upgrade that HTC told us would be coming when Vive Cosmos launched last year is here – Vive Cosmos Elite swaps Cosmos’ inside-out camera-based tracking for the ability to use SteamVR base stations via an External Tracking Faceplate. You also get the ability to use Vive Trackers.

You’ll be able to buy Vive Cosmos Elite later in Q1 of this year for $1,699 – this includes the base Vive Cosmos system, External Tracking Face-to-face, two base stations and two Vive controllers.

If you’ve previously invested in the base stations or controllers (maybe you still own some from an older Vive setup), you can purchase the External Tracking Faceplate for $350 and upgrade an existing Vive Cosmos headset to the same spec.

Vive Cosmos XR

HTC’s also announcing Vive’s first foray into Augmented Reality (AR) with Vive Cosmos XR, featuring two high resolution pass-through cameras so you can see the world around you and let Vive Cosmos add objects you can interact with into your field of view.

Vive Cosmos XR is coming to life as a developer kit first – HTC wants to get developers familiar with building AR applications ahead of a consumer release.

If you’re ready to build some AR software, you’ll be able to get your hands on this kit in Q2, with more details to be announced at GDC.

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