If you want the best virtual reality experience currently available, look no further than the Oculus Rift. This device was developed by Palmer Luckey and subsequently was purchased and is promoted by Facebook. The current Gear VR and PlayStation look like first steps in virtual reality compared to the experience you get with the Rift.
The Rift comes in an elegant black box. From the box to the product itself, everything proclaims quality. The traditional-looking virtual reality headset is mat black. Everything that touches your head is soft and comfortable. Wearing the headset feels like wearing softly padded, slightly heavy pair of ski googles.
The OLED display is 960 x 1080 per eye. There is a slider under the eyepiece for adjusting the eye pieces. This slider lets you adjust the distance between the eyepiece lenses to match the distance between your eyes (IPD or interpupillary distance.) Adjusting the googles to your individual IPD makes the screen much clearer. This is much better than trying to reset the goggles on you face to get the proper setting for your vision, as you must do with some other VR headsets. This is just one indication of the detail that the Oculus designers took into consideration when designing this device.
The headset has an adjustable center Velcro strap that runs from the headset at middle of your forehead to the back of your head. This stabilizes the headset better than most. This bar is guaranteed to give you a bad hair day. I must say, however, that never has a bad hair day been more fun!
From the first minute of the first scene, you are immersed in another world. The clarity of the screen is better that other virtual reality devices that I’ve tried. The quick response time of the display was obvious when I moved my head to look at the immersive 360 degree surround. The excellent audio produced by the headphones is well-coordinated with the video. The headphones swivel and so can be easily adjusted to your ears. The headphones are noise canceling to the sounds of the outside world, but can easily be swiveled to allow your ear to hear the real world if necessary. They are also removable and can be replaced with your own headphones or ear buds, if you like.
A high-end computer, which is required to run the Rift, helps to create its excellent graphics. Here are the recommended specs:
- Video Card NVIDIA GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 equivalent or greater
- CPU Intel i5-4590 equivalent or greater
- Memory 8GB+ RAM
- Video Output Compatible HDMI 1.3 video output
- USB Ports 3x USB 3.0 ports plus 1x USB 2.0 port
- OS Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer
If you want to confirm that your computer can run the Rift, you can use the Rift Compatibility Tool. You may not, however, even find a computer in your arsenal that meets these specifications. If that is the case, you will need to determine how much an upgrade or new computer will cost.
The Oculus Rift Headset is selling for $599. Touch controllers add another $199. Several companies are offering packages with computers that are certified as Oculus-Ready. Alienware, Aorus, Asus, Cyberpower, Falcon Northwest, HP, and Lenovo are all offering these. These packages include the computer and Rift headsets and controllers. They are selling for between $1,500 and $2,200.
With the Rift system you will still get an array of cables, but there are fewer cables and setup is easier than that of the PlayStation VR.
The superiority of the new Oculus Touch controllers contribute greatly to the excellence of the experience. The Rift Touch controllers are shaped to fit the hand unlike the stick-like controllers of the HTC Vive. Our preview article entitled, The Groundbreaking Experience Offered by the Oculus Touch, gave an in-depth explanation of what the final version of the Oculus Touch would be. After using the Touch controllers, I can honestly say that the final product exceeded all our expectations.
Using the wireless Touch controllers is intuitive. The actions feel as natural as using your real hands. This goes a long way toward the immersion into the VR experience. The first shot that you take using your index finger feels like you are really shooting a gun. The Touch controllers let you use your hand as you naturally do in real life. You can climb rocks, open doors, and pick locks just as you would with your real hands.
The Oculus Rift launched with quite a few games. Of these games, 30 are made-for-VR games. 20 new titles are designed to be used with the Touch controllers. Launch titles include Oculus Studios games like Insomniac’s Unspoken, Dead & Buried, Rock Band VR from Harmonix, VR Sports Challenge by Sanzaru, Crytek’s The Climb and several independent games.
Unlike the PlayStation VR which is mainly for games, the Oculus Rift has other content available. There are short films that can transport you to other places in the world making you an extraordinary armchair traveler. This type of additional content shows that virtual reality has entered a new world of gaming and entertainment. There is little doubt that it will also transform many different industries, as well.
With the Oculus Rift, virtual reality has become an amazingly powerful experience. Look for it to transform your future.