Oculus Rift CV1

Oculus CV1

I remember waiting for the purchase link to drop, refreshing the page on the announced date. The original dev kits cost around $300, so I was expecting to pay $350, or maybe $400. But when the $600 price tag was announced, I noped out and was kinda sad that I wouldn’t be able to afford VR for quite awhile. Well, it turns out that was a great decision because soon I met the HTC Vive and fell in love with that headset. But I’ll review that in another post. I will, however, be comparing the Rift to the Vive since both are the same generation / era of headsets and the Rift and Vive are probably the best the money can buy for now. Anyways I realize I’m gonna be late to the game on the Rift and Vive reviews, but I’ll collect my thoughts here so I can share them with someone in the future. Also, I doubt many people read these reviews anyway, so they’re mostly just for linking, haha.

I’ll be brief.

The Good:

  • More comfortable than the HTC Vive. Its lighter so it feels really good. Also it can be tilted up to rest on your head without straining your neck.
  • Has built in headphones. Unless you’re a particularly picky audiophile, the cans on the rift sound pretty good to me. It’s really nice not to have to manage separate headphones and their cord, etc.
  • Screen looks great. It’s still first generation VR, but the screen looks pretty good, slightly better than the Vive IMO, but being first generation I’m sure both will look dated in a couple years.

The Bad:

  • Insane USB requirements. The Rift CV1 takes anywhere from 2 to 4 USB 3.0 ports. They require so much bandwidth that you might even need to plug them into separate USB 3.0 controllers on your motherboard.
  • Tedious room setup. Again, comparing to the Vive, I find the room set up process with the Oculus software to be tedious and long. Because I work in VR for my company, I’ve set up the Vive and the Oculus countless times. The Vive’s tracking system is superior in my opinion, and I think that’s the reason Vive setup is simpler. True, if you are a home user you won’t need to do the setup process too often, but sometimes you move, or bump the cameras, or whatever, and need to reset it.
  • Wiring. Similar to the USB requirements, all cameras must be wired to your computer – making cable management a pain. This is not an issue for the Vive, which only requires one cable to the PC.
  • Not Room Scale. Yes, with 3 cameras (and 4 USB 3.0’s, lol) you can use Oculus Rift’s experimental room-scale mode. But that also mean most experiences will be designed for sitting. Not standing style Oculus experiences are nice at times, but room scale is much more immersive IMO. In one of my demos I have people build a castle out of cereal boxes on the floor. Then I shrink them down into their castle. You can’t really have that experience while sitting down. You need to be standing and then on your knees building a castle of cereal boxes. Your body is part of the immersion.

Other Thoughts:

Regarding the USB issue. The rift can be used with just one of it’s cameras for limited head tracking, so two total USB 3.0 ports would be required. However, the Oculus Touch controllers (sold separately or as a package with the headset) come with a second camera for better tracking. But a third camera can be purchased to get (experimental) full 360º room scale tracking. Of course, 3 Cameras and the Rift it self would require 4 total USB 3.0 ports. Lots of people report issues with their USB connectivity. Turns out, the HD tracking cameras require a ton of bandwidth which can saturate a single USB controller. So in some cases, not only must you sacrifice 4 USB 3.0 ports (some computers only HAVE 4), but also you might need to split up the cameras across different USB controllers if your motherboard has more than one. Yikes. I’ve personally had difficulty getting the Rift to play nice with at least one of the rigs at my work. It came down to the USB set up. Ugh. For comparison, the HTC Vive only requires 1 USB 2.0! It’s tracking solution is superior IMO, and as such, doesn’t require insane amounts of bandwidth to track.

The controllers (Known as Touch Controllers) are cool, but also, not my favorite – but this is highly subjective. On one hand (no pun intended), they are pretty comfortable but they feel too small for my big hands. They always feel like they are on the verge of falling out of my grip. Other than that, though, they work well.  Clearly the Touch Controllers were well thought for making gestures. They can tell when your individual fingers are on or off them, so lifting a finger will cause your in-game hand to reflect that. But my main gripe with them, is that they have required handedness. That is, there’s one that fits the right hand and one that fits the left. On the dev side, that’s nice since you can always be sure which is which. But I prefer the Vive’s controllers. Both because they are bigger for my hands, but also because they’re symmetrical vertically. Often I’ll have my headset on and need to grab my controllers. It’s MUCH easier to find and orient the Vive’s controllers when you can’t see them. Slipping your hands into the Oculus Touch controllers is much more difficult when you’re blind, so I often feel disadvantaged when working in the Rift daily.

The driver layer is also kind of annoying. The HTC Vive uses SteamVR directly, and it works pretty good. Of course, you need to install Steam, but I would suspect most people interested in VR probably already have Steam installed. The Oculus Rift however, requires it’s own driver to be installed that comes with a custom Oculus store app. The Oculus Market often has system exclusive software, which is annoying. But, I’d rather stick to Steam, thanks. Further, when you start a VR game the Oculus driver window opens with ads and etc. The good news is that SteamVR can work with the Oculus, so all the content on Steam will be available, but you still gotta have that Oculus driver / store window pop open even when playing a SteamVR/OpenVR game from inside Steam.

Overall:

I like how comfortable the Rift is, especially the lightness compared to the Vive. However, the USB requirements and tedious driver / set up makes me glad I have a Vive at home. Of course, while developing at my job it’s a good dev headset for sure. But also, that’s my work computer and not my home computer. I hope Oculus comes up with a more light weight tracking system in the future. Then again, I hope the next Vive is awesome as well. If you want comfort or to play sitting down, and have a excessive amount of USB 3.0, get a Rift. Otherwise, check out my Vive review for the best headset money can buy in 2018.

July 19, 2018 at 4:09 am | Technology Reviews

 

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