Oculus Rift S’s disappointment
Oculus is one of the leading companies for VR gaming headsets, they are also the company that kick-started the idea for the VR headsets we have today. Their closest rival being Valve the creators of the Vive and their latest Vive Pro VR headsets. However, Valve pushed VR to its limits with the current technology and they made the Vive Pro include all the bells and whistles as the original Vive’s accessories, but with a little boost in resolution. Sadly it acts as a quick cash grab since nothing that it does is all that significant for gamers. Also, it’s terribly overpriced, so unless you’re rich, it’s going to be a very niche VR headset. Now let’s move onto Oculus’s new headset, the Oculus Rift S.
The Oculus Rift S is their latest piece of hardware that for some silly reason, thought it was going to be the new ‘go-to’ choice for VR users. However, I’m about to make them very sad. VR is mostly used by gamers and gamers need a piece of hardware that is reliable and precise. The Oculus Rift S uses inside-out tracking, which means that there are no sensors around the player but instead, the camera sensors are on the headset meaning that it can only detect the hand controllers if they are in sight. So if you accidentally put your arm between the headset and a controller, or if you put the controller behind you at all then it won’t be detected. This obviously causes problems when gaming because it’s often needed to reach behind you. Inside out tracking also isn’t as accurate even when the controller is in sight of the headset, the reliability and precision simply isn’t where gamers need it to be. The only real boost to the Rift S is the higher resolution. The first generation Oculus Rift has a resolution of 2160x1200. Meanwhile, the Rift S has only been increased slightly to 2560x1440. This is a convenient boost, however, it’s not significant enough to make too much of a difference or worthy for anyone to upgrade. The headset also now only has a refresh rate of 80Hz meanwhile most VR headsets run at 90Hz, including the first-generation Oculus Rift. This is a blatant downgrade. The reason they did this was to help keep the required hardware to run the headset, the same as the first Oculus Rift, and frankly, that’s not a great reason in my opinion. The Rift S also no longer comes with built on headphones, they’re going to make that an accessory to buy later. Considering the price of the headset being $400 USD (roughly $500 CDN) it should certainly launch with the headphones included.
The advantages of the Rift S though are the lack of cables. It is still tethered but it no longer needs the additional USB cables for the sensors which will save USB space on your computer. Any gamer like myself will likely have most of their USB slots filled so this is an additional means of making VR more convenient. Lastly, the strap that holds the headset on your head is apparently improved, however, there is no longer a strap that goes on the top of your head. Instead, the strap is more like a ring, close to the Playstation VR headset. I don’t think this necessarily makes the headset more comfortable or sturdier but it looks more attractive, once again making it easier for the masses to get into VR and have a get together with friends and play some VR games.
The price is decent, it’s convenient and it’s more user-friendly. Oculus is using today’s technology to make VR more marketable to the masses. This particular headset isn’t for gamers, it’s to help make VR popular and to help make money. In doing so, helping make the future of VR bright. In 2–5 years, we will have nearly life-like VR visuals and improved controls, and probably even haptic feedback and natural locomotion. But until then I’ll see you in the virtual worlds we have today.