Reviews Of The Final Oculus Rift

Thanks to Warner Crocker for wrangling these URLs for me and helping me to Keep Up.

The Wall Street Journal: Oculus Rift Review: VR’s Rising Star Isn’t Ready for the Mainstream

There’s already another VR rig that doesn’t have a tether—and it costs a fraction of the Rift. Samsung’s $100 Gear VR, made in partnership with Oculus, is powered by a smartphone that you physically insert in front of two lenses. The extra costs of the Rift (monetary and otherwise) would be justified if its image quality were dramatically better than the Gear’s, but it isn’t. Both are like looking through a screen door.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.


And it’s said again:

The Verge: Virtual Reality is Always Almost Here

The headset contains a pair of lenses, a gyroscope and accelerometer, a pair of decent-quality removable earphones, and two 1200 x 1080 screens. The image they produce is bright and relatively clear (although it still has a bit of the graininess that almost all VR headsets struggle with), and the overall resolution is about the same as the single-screened Gear VR.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Just two reviews in and I’m already seeing Mobile VR winning …

Ars Technica: Oculus Rift expands PC gaming past the monitor’s edge

While it’s perfectly comfortable to look at objects in the apparent middle distance on the Rift, things get worse at the extremes. At far distances, objects can descend into a muddy, blurry mess much more quickly than on a high-res monitor. And at extremely short distances, your eyes sometimes have to cross extremely hard to align the images on the screen. As in the real world, you may want to close one eye in these situations to get a better focus on things like lettering up close.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

Yeah, that’s what I’ve said myself about video on the Gear VR. Characters in the background of video wind up with no faces due to too few pixels.

Dissent from the other two reviews:

The other problem is resolution. The apparent “screen door effect” caused by black space between pixels on older headsets has largely disappeared on the latest Rift, unless you really go looking for it. But viewing those tightly packed pixels at such a short distance can sometimes cause a level of blurring and jagged edges that feels decidedly retro.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I’m skeptical about the reviewer not seeing it. I didn’t really see it my first time using the Gear VR. Only after becoming accustomed to it did I start to see critically — and then the damn screen door was ruining just about everything that wasn’t CGIed. I have to wonder if everything the reviewer looked at was CGIed.

More dissension:

Tech Insider: The Oculus Rift is like nothing you’ve ever experienced before

Forget that “mind-blowing” experience you had with the recent Google Cardboard / New York Times collaboration, or that Samsung Gear VR that came with your new Galaxy S7. That stuff is nowhere near what the Oculus Rift is capable of creating.

No mention of the screen-door effect at all. This is a really Gosh-Wow! review that glosses over many things others have mentioned in the prior posts. It can be mostly ignored.

But adding to the original chorus:

Engadget: Oculus Rift review: High-end VR is here — if you can pay

You do have to look beyond some limitations of the Oculus Rift to fully immerse yourself, though. Sometimes the resolution of the OLED displays can make things look noticeably pixelated (this is one area where 4K mobile displays are going to be a big help). The nature of the Oculus’ optics often makes the imagery shown on the sides of the displays blurrier than what’s in the center.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

And another vote to add to the Mobile VR will win column:

On the entertainment front, I sat through plenty of 360-degree videos in the Oculus Video app and JauntVR, as well as Oculus’ original VR series Henry and Lost. For the most part, they were all things I had already seen on the Gear VR and other demos, so they weren’t as exciting as fresh new games. It’ll be interesting to see if more companies start producing higher-quality 360-degree experiences, though. Right now, many of the VR videos are surprisingly low-res.

Since you have access to all of the same videos on the $100 Gear VR, watching any sort of media on the Oculus Rift almost feels like a waste. I’d rather be diving into virtual games that take full advantage of my computer’s hardware. VR videos are also far more suited to viewing on a completely wireless device like the Gear VR, rather than a complicated headset tethered by a cable.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

The reviewers haven’t said anything I didn’t say earlier about VR in general. This first gen of the Rift and Vive are for early adopers who are game fanatics. But the reviewers didn’t conclude that Mobile VR will be the entry point for most people and have far more users within a year.

Who is going to do a Mobile VR headset at 4K? Will it be Sony with their Xperia Z5 Premium 4K-screen phone? Will Samsung skip a Galaxy generation and produce an all-in-one 4K Gear VR? How about Apple?

My latest thinking — in a post that never escaped Draft status — will surprise most people. I think Google is going to team up with Sony for Mobile VR. I think at the May Google I/O, we’ll see the “Cardboard 2.0” (for lack of a better term) actually be a Gear VR-like headset showcasing the Sony Z5 Premium — and an all-in-one Sony headset with that 4K screen.

I see Google being particularly aggressive in VR. Having given everyone a taste with Cardboard, and seeing how much it wowed people, they aren’t about to waste those gains. Let’s not forget that using a Mobile VR headset also leads to increased YouTube viewing as more people look for things to see/experience. And Google’s Android App Store can easily sell VR videos, experiences, games, and other such things.

My one surprise at the above reviews was reading that the Rift resolution isn’t any better than the Gear VR. That’s a huge opening for Sony to exploit with their 4K screen. Will they?

Final word comes from Twitter. From Steven Troughton-Smith, who insisted to me over and over that the Gear VR just wasn’t as good as the two upcoming dedicated high-powered headsets:


Well, that’s not the final word. Because I had to snark back:


Whatever the sales destiny of the Rift and Vive are, VR isn’t dead. It’s here to stay. And Mobile VR will lead the way.

Just like this led the way in its day of big-iron and expensive computing:


The last and least became first. So it will be with Mobile VR.

Previously here:

My three key posts:
Initial reaction: Virtual Reality: The Biggest Thing Ever, Ever, Ever
Critical view: Samsung Gear VR: My Critical View Of It And VR
Acceptance: 2016’s Version Of Circa-1970s Super-8 Filmmaking

Virtual Reality category

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