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Oculus Rift reviews are in, and not exactly what you'd imagine

If you've been following the development of the now Facebook-owned Oculus Rift, today is a big day. The Kickstarter project that gained over 9,000 backers back in 2012 and in many ways resurrected virtual reality has turned into a significant industry force and has started shipping a consumer-ready headset that can be used in any home with a PC capable of driving it. Among many other things, that means today is review day for blogs that have been following VR for a while no.

We're just starting to ramp up our VR coverage, and will have plenty to say about the Oculus Rift and its competitors over the next month and beyond. In the mean time, there are three reviews in particular that are well worth your time today.

Oculus Rift

You first stop for a thorough review of how the Oculus Rift hardware performs, particularly when it comes to comfort and the quality of the included hardware, is UploadVR. These folks live and breathe VR right now, and their coverage of all the things you strap to your face and enjoy has been exceptional to date. Take a look at their thoughts on this first major step into PC-based consumer-grade VR.

Read more: The UploadVR Review

If you want more information about the games available for the Oculus Rift at launch and how the experience out the box pulls together to create this "first generation" VR product, Polygon should be your next stop. Ben Kuchera has everything you'll want to know about the experience out of the box, as well as some insight on the quality of the games built for the Rift and with the Rift in mind. The biggest thing to note here is that Oculus is clearly preparing for a more complete experience once the Oculus Touch controllers are available, but for now the trusty Xbox One controller is driving the things we all already enjoy.

Read more: The Polygon Review

If you're looking for a review that encapsulates the energy and excitement found in trying a headset like this when you're already excited about VR, the folks at CNET have assembled something truly unique. The review is broken out into two halves, and as the story unfolds the reader is left with no choice but to drift between "dream" and "reality" to get a complete sense of what the Oculus Rift experience is like right now. Scott Stein and Sean Hollister tell the story in a uniquel and fun way, and you actually learn about the Rift in the process. It's far from perfect, but it's not all that far from magic if you're new to the technology.

Read more: The CNET Review

There's so much more to this tech than the early reviews, and with competing hardware shipping in less than a week and Sony's offering finally showing signs of life there's going to be so many questions to answer. We've got both arms outstretched and are ready to dive in to all of these experiences, and we're looking forward to taking you with us down this particular rabbit hole.

Russell is a tech nerd who chases the best of everything, from phones to game consoles to laptops and everything glowing or beeping. He's the Managing Editor of gaming content for Mobile Nations and can be found contributing to all of the Mobile Nations sites. Reach out on Twitter!

59 Comments
  • The future is here!
  • Just wish it didn't need that much power. Don't have the space or the want for a desktop anymore. Surface Book does what I need, except VR I guess.
  • Why don't they make the Xbox One able to power the Oculus Rift just like Sony made the PlayStation 4 power the PSVR? It would position Microsoft and Oculus with a great advantage since they would have both console and PC gamers. I know there are big hurdles hardware-wise but if Sony can do it, so can Microsoft. I wouldn't want to have Microsoft release another console because they would need a lot of time for people to buy and to reacha substancial user base, unless they also make the Xbox One compatible (but like a beta-mode where people would be warned that games could not be played well when using the Xbox One). On a side note, do ya'll think there is anything Microsoft should do with continuum regarding VR/AR?
  • I agree and asked this same question on WC a while ago; Why can't there be an external USB 3.0 (USB 3 can handle ~5gb/sec transfer rate) box that powers a headset, Xbox and windows 10? I am not an engineer, but that transfer rate should be able to support. To your point, the same way RS VR is approaching. This approach could be forward compatible with any new hardware and/or console. Again though, I am not an engineer so maybe someone else can chime in.
  • I didn't understand your idea. Could you explain it better to me?
  • An add-on box that would connect to an Xbox or Windows machine via USB 3.0 that would have the hardware to support (GPU for instance) a VR headset. The VR headset would attach to the add-on box. The media that is driven to the headset would be stored on the Windows machine or Xbox. The add-on would only be the hardware that is needed to power. Hope that helped...
  • Interesting idea..... I was thinking about being the console itself powering the Oculus headset
  • The Xbox one can't power it.  It can only support 1080p video, and VR uses substantially higher resolution.  This is why even the PS4 VR comes with an external unit to help with the graphics processing.  Maybe the rumored 4K Xbox One.5 could power it, but not the current one.
  • That is what I am saying too. Why can't there be an external unit to power a windows/Xbox version?
  • Yeah, I'm pretty sure there can be, and should be.  Just don't know how much it would cost and it would probably only be fore PC even though it could technically be done on the Xbox One.
  • I didn't know Sony had used that solution... Microsoft should also offer something like that but with a differentiating feature.
  • In a theoretical sense, there could be, but it may not solve the full problem. The first bottleneck limitation of doing VR is graphical processing power - for both the Rift and the Vive the machine needs to be able to run a ultra-high-definition display at 90fps. But right past that bottleneck are other ones - CPU and memory. The minimum PC specs for the VR headsets have all three listed. An external box for a modern console is reasonable because there's a decent, standard baseline. The PS4 is no slouch, but it still requires an external box to be able to handle it. Even with that though, the Playstation VR still runs at a lower resolution than the PC competition. So while it's probably possible to put some hardware in an external add-on to run a VR headset on the XBox One, it's unlikely that you could put enough hardware into a box to let you do the same for any random PC (like a laptop or a Surface). To provide reasonable compatibility, you'd basically be putting an entire spec-compatible PC into the box - at that point, it's neither affordable or portable. To top it all off, neither the Rift or Vive are developed by MS. You'll see that level of effort for the HoloLens though (which, I believe, puts a lot of the hardware directly into the device). What's more likely to happen is that a few more generations of hardware development will run their course, possibly with some new VR-specific hardware acceleration, and we'll just be at a point where most baseline hardware will have enough power to run a VR headset. This is just the first consumer hardware - the equivalent to the early 3D graphics accelerators that still required a separate 2D video card, or the early DVD drives that had their own dedicated pass-through hardware.
  • I was saying that because Microsoft has a partnership with Oculus. Let me add you something, the HoloLens is untethered so you won't need anything besides the headset to get going (and occasionally a charger).
    Thanks for the answer. I believe VR is still in its infancy (who recognises this word?) and has a long way to progress just as you said. I however don't know if it'll end up like 3D tv's which failed to meet with expectations.
  • http://www.pcworld.com/article/2984716/laptop-computers/how-to-transform...
  • Interesting.... thanks for the link!
  • Good idea, thus no changing of the current state of the Xbox One is needed...
  • Because Oculus was a Silicon Valley company dependent on Silicon Valley startup money (and other fashion based funding schemes) prior to their odd acquisition by Facebook. They owe their positive press coverage to being considered properly cool in SV investors' terms. And those terms require hostility to companies not funded by them and extreme hostility to companies that compete with their companies. And that means no deal with Microsoft.
  • Except they already made a deal with Microsoft by including an XB1 controller with every headset.
  • Nice SV rant :), healthy cynicism is good for the soul
  • So no one paid ANY attention a few weeks ago when Phil Spencer made an entire speech about upgrading Xbox One via hardware? No one paid any attention over the past year when Phil Spencer said repeatedly that Microsoft's intent for VR, was to work with any and everyone making VR for PC (i.e. a Windows 10 compatible device)? Were I a being man, I'd say that these two policies out of Microsoft are not mutually exclusive, and at some point in the very near future, are going to dovetail.
  • @Artur Dias, that is because when compared to desktop parts the custom jaguar soc in the x1 and ps4 are low end. Granted the PS4 soc is much beefier than the X1. Furthermore Sony have the advantage of direct integration with their hardware. Technically if they do make PSVR compatible with PC's, you could use it with the X1 but that depends on Microsoft and Sony.
  • Hmm, maybe next gen Xbox.
  • Well unless you enjoy the side effects of motion lag, you want as much power as you can get. If you have money to buy a surface book, then that's plenty to build or buy a system with a GPU powerful enough to smoothly run VR.
  • The future is coming
  • ...For the third time (Since I was a child)!
  • Am I the only one that is still not excited about VR?
  • No
  • Don't think your the only one...as there will be plenty of people that don't see a use for it right now.  I'm more interested in the augmented reality take of the HoloLens.  As at least you can still see and talk to people around you when using the product.
  • The question was rhetotic. I know I can't be the only one. I simply wanted to express my opinion on this subject. By the way, I have to agree, I'm still quite hyped about AR.  
  • Don't worry this is NOT the future. The vast masses are not going to use this, it's too anti social. You can't bring your friends over to your house and watch movies with this on. It's just a niche product.
  • I wouldn't bring friends over to watch movies with this. That would be rather strange. And funny. But would be fun for pass and play with games. When you die or beat level, pass on to next person, like controller.
  • Not everything is meant to be expereinced by a group. I don't invite friends over to play a single-player RPG either.
  • Have you stepped outside of the house in the past 10 years?  Kids interact much of the time  through social media.  There is a certain level of disconnectedness which has pervaded their world.  The more sophisticated social networks get, the less and less actual physical social contact happens.   Plus why can't you invite your friends over to watch  movies?  Just have them bring their Oculus, and they can sit next to you in the virtual theatre, the Gear VR already has something like this.  This way you can both enjoy the movie in VR.  Also I'll bet that applications/games/movies will also be built around having more than one Oculus in the room.
  • As it stands now, you're not going to find many people willing to shell out ~$500 just for one headset. Secondly, I doubt any consumer system right now is powerful enough to run multiple headsets simultaneously.
  • I am and I am not. Hard to say to be honest. I tried developer's kit and gaming experience is great. It really immerse you in. But only that. Saying that current pixel density is enough is just a lie. It's not. It will develop in time so no real issue here. I would buy it to play games, but as others say, I'm more interested into HoloLens, because I'm not really into gaming.
  • Yes, VR is a gimmick. AR actually adds content to games, whereas VR is a big screen hooked to your head. Not that special.
  • Both are gimmicks.
  • AR has much more applications than games which is from my perspective, the only viable area where you could use VR. For example, architects can draw real-life sketches and make changes to their desire without even actually spending money on prototypes. AR will prove much more useful besides it being able to transmit the holograms to many different people - there can be social interaction between the different people using the headsets.
  • I tried Gear VR at Thailand Mobile Expo last 2 years. It's pretty great experience. But I don't think it will be the most exciting thing in this year.
  • I predict that VR will do just as well as it did in the 90's. I'm about as excited about it as I am about 3D TV. It's a niche and I don't see many developers jumping on board until it's more mainstream.
  • @niello that would take awhile. If Sony play their cards right the PSVR could be the catalyst as it's a decent option at an affordable price point.
  • I'm excited about it but it's just too limited at the moment I've used the oculus rift three times and the only game that worked (for me) was a driving game it's the hands and limbs until it can track hands feet etc it must doesn't feel right. Though it's a nice in the right direction I'd love to try a holo lens to compare.
  • im still worried as i am not a perfect human my eye sight is more 3d intuition I will buy one eventualy to rulle out the "Does it work for non perfect people" :¬) the 3d tvs and 3ds etc dont work for me as im not perfect 20:20 anyways i think it might be awsome for the lucky ones :¬)
  • A lot of people said this when the 3DS first came out but had no issues. I think you'll be alright.
  • 3DS ? Lots of complaints with it...3-D worked pretty good, if you held it strait in front of you and didn't move it too much. The problem is, I move my 3DS when I race or other type games, so it never worked good for me. I have had a 3DS and a 3DSXL....
  • That's true, but also an issue irrelevant to eye conditions.
  • The New 3DS works really well. I move around when playing and the 3D just keeps on working. You should try one out sometime; it's a nice improvement.
  • The new 3ds has eye tracking which alleviates that issue. In my opinion it's the most advanced form of 3d technology we have.
  • Now to see Microsoft's and Sony's option with selection of content and then decied. When we are taking about a $500-700 item, I wont own all of them, so when I buy one, I need to be sure the content is something I will use and will be good tomorrow. Of course if I win the lottery or just come into unlmited money for some reason, Yea, I would get one...TODAY. Looks very cool, been watching it for a while now and almost did the kickstarter thing (wish I did)
  • Everyone see Tim Sweeney all mad again about how the Oculus Rift has a dedicated store for it but he again fails to complain about all the others having their own dedicated stores too. #TimSweeneyTryingToBeRelevent
  • I'll hang on to my Oculus SDK1 set for nostalgia. I ended up pre-ordering the HTC Vive.
  • I'm actually very excited to buy the Rift. I almost bit the bullet on the first day of pre-orders but the price was a little tough to swallow and decided to hold off until more content was available. I guess I need to justify the purchase a little more. But I can imagine within the next couple years how much this could evolve. I'd like to imagine using Rift or Vive to stream something like a VR courtside seat of the NBA playoffs. It could enable us to virtually be places we may never get to physically experience. Or afford to experience lol. I'm also excited to see more immersive AAA titles coming down the pipeline. I'll probably hold off till Fall and see how it's progressing.  
  • I used one at work in our R&D labs and it made me feel sick. Total immersion with no real outside sensory inputs is going to kill some people.
  • What does that thing actually weigh?  Looks like something that turns your head into an Anvil. I'm still not sold on the idea of playing with my eyes like that. Might be interesting at some arcade where you go in, use it for 10 minutes or so and leave that thing there. Owning one, where you can wear it at will got to take a toll after a while. Better put in for that seeing eye dog now to avoid the rush. Have a bunch of nerds developing presbyopia, conjunctivitis, cataracts and other eye problems.
  • Eye problem is The biggest issue
  • To RUSSEL HOLLY: "...following VR for a while no." Should be "now" (end of first paragraph).
  • My favourite one (for all the wrong reasons) is on The Verge. It's as self indulgent and fawning as you'd expect from the Verge, with most of the article relating to the "journalist" (I use that term in the loosest of senses) rather than the tech itself.
  • I was involved in building VR hardware twenty years ago, and many of the possibilities you imagine were in use back then; we sold systems to large construction firms so that the client and architect could explore a new airport design, even though the client and architect were on different continents. People were developing systems for using VR for medical training and using the headset for 3D laparoscopic surgery ( if interested – read at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1477587/). A company designing a new jetliner used VR hardware to identify parts that might interfere when the plane was in motion. The difference is back then, the displays were small, expensive and had poor resolution. Now I can get a VR system as a newspaper giveaway (the Google Cardboard kit sent to me by The New York Times) and millions of us have the display technology already in our pockets (the smartphones used for the computer and display in some systems). It’s  quite shocking to compare the technology perspectives right now and 10 years ago. You may trace back the technology development in essay on effects of technology.
  • I am sorry, here is the working link - http://technologyessays.org/effects-of-technology/