Oculus Rift – VR Hardware Review

Eden

Eden

Eden has played video games over seven different countries instead of seeing the local sights instead. Majoring in English, Eden is both a reviewer and editor for The Drastik Measure. He plays anything from hack-and-slash action games to visual novels, but in the past few years, he has mostly been enjoying virtual reality. He also works with HelixxVR! Eden is currently the Head Editor of TDM!
Eden

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Oculus Rift with Touch
Manufacturer: Oculus
Edited by Thorstag

Four months ago, I saw a good deal on an Oculus Rift bundle and had recently received a conveniently timed bonus from work. I already owned an HTC Vive and Playstation VR (PSVR), but I decided to get it. I bought the Marvel bundle which comes with the Oculus Rift headset, two sensors and a variety of games including Marvel Powers United VR. The Oculus Rift has just had another price reduction announced, so I felt like this was a good time to write a review for it. In the U.S. it will permanently be selling for what was previously the sale price of $350. Other regions are also due to receive similar discounts. The Oculus Rift was already the cheapest, well-supported PCVR headset, so a further discount was unexpected.

For those unfamiliar, the Oculus Rift it is a PCVR headset. As standard, the Oculus Rift allows you to play PC virtual reality games designed so that you can move around but have to remain facing in the same general direction, unlike its direct competitors. The system can be upgraded to allow you to face any direction by buying an additional sensor for $60 or by purchasing an extension cable to run one of the sensors to the opposite corner and sacrificing some of the tracking accuracies.

If you are looking at this article because you want to join the Beat Saber craze, the standard Oculus Rift will undoubtedly be enough for you. For some other games, you may wish to add 360-degree tracking at a later point. I unpacked the VR headset, connected up the HDMI and three USB cables needed, then started to set up my Oculus Rift. That’s where the issues began. One major downside to the Oculus Rift is that many people have setup issues. I encountered a common problem where I connected the sensors to the USB ports indicated and it would not accept them. This challenge was resolved after about ten minutes of removing the sensor’s USB cables and inserting them into other ports until it found a combination which it accepted. I then had a rare issue where it would not accept my attempt at the calibration of my position. I managed to get past this by purposely calibrating it incorrectly and then fixing it later.

I went through the tutorial and noticed that I had another common issue. One of the headphone’s sound was not working. I used the headphone removal tool (included in the box) to remove it and then reattached it. After doing this several times, it started working consistently and has done since. Fortunately, after the initial teething issues, the Oculus Rift worked without any major problems. To test out the Oculus Rift initially, I went through the tutorial and downloaded the included games. I received Marvel Powers United VR, Robo Recall, Dead and Buried, Oculus Medium, Quill and Lucky’s Tale.

First I tried out Robo Recall as I had heard good things. I wasn’t too impressed with the game itself aside from the graphics, but the hardware tracked well, the motion controllers were very comfortable, and the buttons and analog stick feel like they were a good design choice over the other popular options such as the PS Move or HTC Vive wands. Comparing the screen to other popular VR headsets, the Oculus Rift has very little of what is called the ‘screen door effect’, in which you see the gaps between the colored pixels. The resolution (1,080 x 1,200 per eye) is good for normal gaming and beats the PSVR, but similarly to the other headsets not good enough for reading small text. The screen was noticeably duller than the others, and the field-of-view appeared to be slightly smaller than the HTC Vive’s. The last two points have been argued as the specifications claim they are the same, but objective measurements by users have shown otherwise. The screen has a refresh rate of 90Hz much like the HTC Vive. While this sounds lower than the PSVR’s 120Hz, most PSVR games run at 60Hz and scale up to 120Hz. Each compared headset has their advantages and disadvantages of the screen. I cannot say I am impressed with any of them at this level, but they suffice. The HTC Vive Pro or Samsung Odyssey screens are much better, but either come with a far higher price tag or other trade-offs.

Comparing the tracking, the Oculus Rift is worlds above the PSVR in tracking ability, but below the HTC Vive until further sensors are installed for 360-degree tracking. I bought and added a third sensor which brings the Oculus Rift to near-parity with the HTC Vive, but I still experience the occasional judder. For the most part, I was moving about, and it showed 1:1 movement on the screen. It is possible to add a fourth sensor to increase accuracy further, but I have not personally done this to test as every additional sensor requires a USB cable to be routed around the room back to the computer.

As for the build quality, despite not appearing to be high-quality, I haven’t had any issues since purchase, despite a few times at hitting the controllers into solid objects.

The Oculus Rift has an ‘exclusive’ store which only officially allows you to use its hardware on purchases from there. There is a software workaround called ‘ReVive’ to use the Vive on most games purchased on this store, however. Games seem to run smoothest on the Oculus Rift via this store. There are some exclusive and timed exclusive games to this store, which Oculus funds. Other than the Oculus Store, you can purchase VR games elsewhere such as Steam, Viveport and the Epic Store. You do however need to run another layer of software while running these, but they tend to run without any issues.

Pros

  • Cheapest PCVR headset with accurate tracking
  • Exclusive games
  • Best VR controllers

Cons

  • Requires extra purchases for good 360-degree tracking
  • Setup issues common
  • Requires many USB ports

Eden gives the Oculus Rift a Drastik Measure 7 out of 10 (70)

A significant point in favor of the Oculus Rift is the price which at the time of this review is $350 or $410 with an additional sensor, and this also included the controllers. In comparison, the Windows Mixed Reality headsets can be found for as little as $200 but do not track well and have some compatibility issues and the HTC Vive while having better tracking costs $500. It certainly has some problems, but it’s a good entry into Virtual Reality headsets, and I would recommend it to anyone who is both interested and capable of dealing with any issues which may pop up.