back to article Oculus Rift review-gasm round-up: The QT on VR

The much-hyped virtual reality headset Oculus Rift is finally shipping to its first customers this week, and the Facebook-owned company dished out a few of them ahead of time to select publications. The embargo lifted Monday morning and we have waded through tens of thousands of words contained in nine reviews so you don't …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VR sounded shit in the 90s

    My opinion hasn't changed since.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Amen to that.

    2. Timmay

      Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

      > VR sounded shit in the 90s

      Says people who've never tried it.

      1. Lars Johansson

        Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

        Oh, we tried it in the '90s - and it really was shit. That could be down to the fact that it ran off a pimped Amiga 2000.

        Problem is, 1080p screens 20 years of Moore's law, it's still shit...

        1. Paul Shirley

          Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

          >pimped Amiga

          It was a pity they went bk before the 3dfx powered pods and games shipped. The last prototype headset I played with was smaller and more comfortable than any of the new offerings, sadly also uncompleted.

          Sadly several decades on Moore's law still hasn't quite got us to 'finished' hardware at an affordable price.

      2. rtb61

        Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

        I don't need to try it to notice most people use it standing up. So OK, exactly how many people PC game play standing up since escaping game arcades years ago. Hmm, but we were a lit fitter back then.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

      Earlier than that:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brainstorm_(1983_film)

      There's a bit where they send a sensory VR experience over the phone - using an *acoustic coupler* modem. Fantastic!

    4. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

      I tried VR in the 90's, I also had access to a DK2 last year for a while and I can tell you that it's a hell of a lot better.

      There's times using it when you'll go "bloody hell, this is amazing!", and there's times when you'll wonder "why am I wearing what feels like really heavy ski goggles indoors?", and with each iteration they're moving from the latter to the former.

      I'm not sure it'll ever become a truly widespread thing, in the same way that PC gaming itself is a niche, but I think it'll carve out it's place.

      If you've not tried the recent generation of VR, give it a go. You'll probably walk away without any desire to get a headset yourself, but you'll almost certainly get enough of a "wow!" moment to understand what everyone's banging on about.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VR sounded shit in the 90s

      Are you sure you are not confusig VR with surround sound?

  2. frank ly Silver badge

    "The lenses fill with light."

    That's the problem. Lenses are supposed to allow light to pass through.

  3. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So...

    You need some goggles, two LCD screens, and an accelerometer? And after you've paid six hundred bucks for that, you need to pay twice that to get a computer that can drive it fast enough... amazing what people will spend money on.

    Mind you, it's obviously a mature technology: the basic stereoscopic view theory was first discussed at the Royal Society a couple of years before photography was invented, round the 1840s.

    1. dotdavid

      Re: So...

      "You need some goggles, two LCD screens, and an accelerometer? And after you've paid six hundred bucks for that, you need to pay twice that to get a computer that can drive it fast enough... amazing what people will spend money on."

      Yeah I can't believe that they needed Facebook's money to develop it at all!

      On a related note a car is just four wheels, a steering wheel, a few pedals and an engine, why do people spend so much on *those*?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        The car is something most people actually need to get/from work.

        A VR headset is an optional add-on for what is already a hobby, a time-waster, an occupation during one's free time.

        The two are absolutely not comparable.

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: So...

        "On a related note a car is just four wheels, a steering wheel, a few pedals and an engine, why do people spend so much on *those*?"

        Yeah, beats me!

  4. NomNomNom

    "You can almost sense the desperation in the reporter as he realizes the dream he's been sold by Zuckerberg for over a year actually amounts to little more than bumping into furniture in your living room like a blind incontinent dog."

    Hahaha

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No connection with reality

    Just see how disconnected from reality its CEO is:

    Luckey argues that virtual reality is a bigger turning point in technology than Apple II, Netscape or Google. VR, he says, is the final major computing platform that's not a transitional step to the next big thing.

    Words almost fail me.......

    1. NomNomNom

      Re: No connection with reality

      Bigger than Netscape? I call bullshit on that. Netscape changed my life. Why without Netscape we might as well all be dead

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: No connection with reality

      Luckey isn't the CEO.

      The question is whether he actually believes the BS he's spouting or whether he is just trying to push the product and create hype. Maybe he knows full well that the product is lacking but needs to keep up the appearances just to appease Zuckerberg and to boost his Oculus/FB share option status.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      He's probably right

      VR will be a big deal. Someday. Maybe not quite as big as he's saying, but close. But clearly Oculus is nowhere near that level. It sounds like it is to that future VR device what the Newton was to the iPhone, or what the MITS Altair was to a Windows PC.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: He's probably right

        "...what the MITS Altair was to a Windows PC."

        Better?

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    All that Hype - for what?

    Yawn, YABPRWTMH

    Yet Another Beta Prodict Released With Too Much Hype.

    As the relevance for the average punter is what?

    {sagebrush blows down Main St, Facebook City}

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Meh

    The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

    You want to turn around repeatedly to explore your new virtual world, but as you do, that trailing cord wraps around your legs in the real world. This becomes a distraction from the visual splendor because you can feel the cord looping around your legs, preparing to hogtie you, Gulliver-style.

    So, not wanting to end up trussed-up on the floor, you end up self-consciously doing things like turning to the right to look at something, and then you realize that you had better turn to your left to see the next thing, even if it is little further to your right. So you do a 270 degree turn to the left to escape the lariat forming around your legs, or avoid yanking the cord out of your electronics, or pulling the electronics over when the cord doesn't disconnect, all instead of a natural 90 degree turn further to your right to where the next cool visual is.

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

      Also a surprising problem.

      1200 x 1080 x 8 x 3 x 90 bits/second is a raw, complertely uncompressed 2.8 Gbit/sec. Surely a local wireless interface with a range of a few feet is completely feasible? (I almost said "trivially").

      Why wasn't it designed to be wireless from the start?

      1. cambsukguy

        Re: The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

        Well, apart from even more delay - a problem in online gaming I am sure - does the power come down a wire too? It would seem reasonable to avoid a heavy battery if you are going to have a wire anyway.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

          Re: The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

          Yes, power for the headset does come down the cable

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: The cord attached to the headset is a problem!

            Too bad we don't know how to make devices with high resolution displays and hours of battery life. If only we had something like that in our pockets today, it could be used as a model for how Oculus could achieve this.

            As for the 2.8 Gbps, 60 GHz wireless can accommodate that at short ranges, but better yet they could compress it so they don't actually need that much bandwidth. Decent real time HEVC compression is a bit too intensive for current PCs, but MPEG4 is more than good enough to cut that data rate requirement by well over 90% without noticeable visual artifacts.

            1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              But then you have to have a real-time MPEG4 decompression chip on the headset, and that thing adds a rather heavy power requirement, but more importantly a heat evacuation requirement that may be not so good either for the headset or its wearer.

              Unless it's freezing outside.

              1. DougS Silver badge

                All smartphones have time real MPEG4 decompression and many have real time HEVC decompression. Hell, the last couple iPhones have included real time HEVC compression, which is far more computationally challenging, without any problem.

                I think your views on how hot and power hungry MPEG4 decompression is are a decade out of date.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As predictable as the other publications may be...

    ...The Reg hits back with it's usual predictable sneery theme. You really have become the Gogglebox of tech news websites now.

    "We're not going to actually write a review about the Oculus Rift (really we're jealous we didn't get sent one), we're going to read other stories about it and sneer at them."

    Talk about a snooze-fest; the 5 minutes it took to drag myself through this car crash is time I'll never get back again.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As predictable as the other commenters may be...

      ...there's always one AC who thinks his sneering is better than El Reg's.....

      1. m0rt Silver badge

        Re: As predictable as the other commenters may be...

        *sneers at the sneering ACs*

        1. Ralph B

          Re: As predictable as the other commenters may be...

          > *sneers at the sneering ACs*

          One should never pooh-pooh a pooh-poohing.

  9. Dave 126 Silver badge

    I don't want Virtual Reality...

    ...I do want virtual spaceships, alien worlds and explosions!

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Article in brief

    "In short: don't be an idiot and spend $600 on a first-gen [anything]" - a cheaper, sleeker more reliable version will be along in eighteen months.

    Unless, of course, you have the so much money that you can afford to spend a bit here and there on novelties. In which case, fair to play you - I'd have spare cash too if I didn't spend it on beer (Augmented Reality?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Article in brief

      I'm quitting the beer except for events and holidays, so gaming becomes all the more important.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Article in brief

        >I'm quitting the beer except for events and holidays, so gaming becomes all the more important.

        And fair play to you too, AC. You don't need beer to be a good and interesting person. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Article in brief

      Funnily enough, I thought the article eventually homed in on *exactly* the point of this product and then failed to notice.

      This product is supposed to be bought by commercial games writers (for whom the price can be called an investment) so that when version 2 (or 3) eventually turns up good enough for Real People to use, there will actually be some decent software for them to buy for it.

      The hope of all the players in this game is that the best titles will be written for *their* gizmo, leading to an MS-DOS-style monopoly of VR in the next decade. As venture capitalist punts go, it's not the silliest proposition out there.

  11. Paul Shirley

    glasses

    Unfair to complain about the wearing over specs comment, far too many of us wear them and it was a serious pia the 1st time round with VR in the 90s. I want a solution for that before diving into VR again.

    Also worth noting that every vr device available to preorder recently sold out nearly instantly. Even the lacklustre Rift ;) Just have to hope they don't kill VR all over again with poor launch products.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: glasses

      Just have to hope they don't kill VR all over again with poor launch products.

      Google Glass. Hololens. Gear VR. Cardboard. Oculus Rift. Sorry, too late!

  12. Tony Paulazzo
    Thumb Down

    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.

    This is why I'm not parting with £500 (plus, since I have an i3 and GTX960, another £500 for upgrades) - the visual quality doesn't reflect the cost and the field of view isn't really that great either.

    Sticking with my Note4 and GearVR for now, which at least allows you to freely rotate 360*, even if it hasn't got the graphical oomph to run Elite Dangerous.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Halfway house to VR:

      It was in a review of Elite dangerous that I first heard of IR Head Tracking for gaming.

      Basically you play on a monitor as per usual, but using some IR lights on your head, and a modified web-cam, you can 'look' around your cockpit. If you're already wearing a gaming headset (or headphones) for audio, then it won't add any significant bulk to your head, and the cost of entry is low, especially if you roll your own:

      http://www.maximumpc.com/how-to-build-your-own-ir-head-tracker/

      I haven't tried such a system myself, but one of these days I might just build a gaming PC, play Elite and surrender my social life!

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Halfway house to VR:

        "Basically you play on a monitor as per usual, but using some IR lights on your head, and a modified web-cam, you can 'look' around your cockpit."

        One small problem: you have to turn your head to "look sideways" but you have to keep looking at the same spot (your monitor). Not to mention having to keep still if you want to look straight ahead. Doesn't sound like much fun.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Halfway house to VR:

          Thats fixable in software - small null spot in the middle with some jiggle canceling algo's plus turning your head slightly turns your virtual view more.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Halfway house to VR:

          >One small problem: you have to turn your head to "look sideways" but you have to keep looking at the same spot (your monitor)

          You are quite right, DropBear, I had that thought too. Then I remembered that these PC gamers often have two or three monitors side-by-side, or a very wide monitor with a 'cinema' aspect ratio (extra monitors are fairly inexpensive compared to enthusiast-level GPUs and fancy flight-sim controllers). Also, the IR trackers don't track eyeballs, so there is some margin. Plus, the movement of the gamer's head doesn't have to be translated in a linear fashion to the virtual avatar's head movement.

          Like I said, I haven't tried IR head-tracking, but if I became a gaming enthusiast the low cost of entry means I might give it a go.

          EDIT: I now see Gordon 10 has confirmed that the head tracking doesn't have to be linear. Hmmm, I wonder if people have tried using it for productivity software and having a very wide virtual desktop... :)

      2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Halfway house to VR:

        I have a Track IR that I never use.

        It made me motion sick almost instantly.

        Turning the head one way, and the eyes the other way to still see the screen. Didn't work for me.

  13. Fred Fallacy

    > I never laughed, cried or felt moved, like I have with many plain-old movies

    Perhaps the WSJ should get an actual gamer to test these things.

  14. Kaltern

    Tax.

    It's not £500. It's £700.

    1. Matt Bridge-Wilkinson

      Re: Tax.

      The price includes Tax.

  15. Alastair Dodd 1

    Having tried the Rift

    I was very impressed, it is not a fad (this time) and shouldn't be dismissed lightly. Yeah it's expensive and yeah it's still a gen 1 product which everyone knows is buyer beware (apple watch anyone?). If I could afford it I would have one right now and there are compelling experiences on iit (Adrift, Radial G to name a couple).

    It's very easy to sneer, which this article proves in spades.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Having tried the Rift

      Indeed, most of the reviews are very positive about the hardware, and the concerns voiced are those largely common to most MKI products. Most reviews also say to wait and see, because:

      - You can't buy one yet anyway, and won't until the pre-orders have been fulfilled in a couple of months

      - No available game yet makes a killer case for VR

      - The Rift's handheld motion controllers won't be available til later in the year

      - Competing products will be around by the end of the year or sooner (HTC, Sony, Samsung)

      - It can only get cheaper

      -It's going to be summer time soon, so you should be playing outside!

      (okay, the last point is mine)

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