After four long years teasing virtual reality enthusiasts with developer kits and prototypes, the commercial version of the Oculus Rift is finally available.
The Oculus Rift is well-built and easy to set up. It comes with a headset, a small Infrared (IR) sensor, a remote control and an Xbox gamepad.
You won't need a smartphone to use the Rift, and it won’t work with just any computer. A fast Windows PC is needed. Do yourself a favor and visit the Oculus website to see if your machine is hefty enough. There are also several computers certified as “Oculus Ready” that are available, too.
The Oculus Rift is a sturdy, comfortable HMD; as such, it allows longer usage without pain or discomfort. While it’s heavier than most (cheaper) headsets, the weight is very well distributed and it actually feels lighter. It’s definitely more comfortable than the HTC Vive, its direct competition among high-end VR viewers.
It includes integrated on-ear headphones with spatialized 3D audio, and they sound even better than they look. You also have the option of removing the headphones and using a different set of headphones with the Rift, but that involves more cables, and unless they’re extraordinary, you’ll probably be better off with the Oculus' integrated headphones.
Probably the biggest advantage the Rift has over cheaper VR viewers is the positional tracking. Using an array of infrared LEDs nestled within the HMD, the IR sensor can trace your headset in space, which tracks not only what you’re seeing on your viewer, but your position within that space. This might not make a huge difference for VR porn use (yet!), but for gaming, it is a must.
The two custom display screens have a combined resolution of about 2.5k, which will definitely be a great upgrade from any cheaper headset you tried before, even the mid-level Samsung Gear VR. The 110° field of view will also make any setting a lot more realistic when turning to your sides.
While much more expensive than most VR viewers, it’s still a solid $200 cheaper than the HTC Vive.
The Rift is the real deal. If you’re simply curious about virtual reality, some of the many smartphone-based viewers in the market will do the job — at least until the prices for high-end HMDs drop. If you’re serious about VR, and are planning to use it for extended periods of time, this is what you need to get. Granted, 600 bucks is a big chunk of change, but the difference is significant. If you want true immersion, you’ve got to pay the price. However, if gaming (and specifically moving around a lot where positional tracking is vital) is a top priority for you, give the HTC Vive a good test run.