Thursday, May 30, 2013

Oculus Rift [First Impressions]

I usually keep most of my longer writing to my main tech blog (in portuguese), but in the case of the Oculus Rift, I think many of you might be as curious as I have been since the day I first saw it and immediately decided to back them on Kickstarter. Yes... after so many months of waiting my Oculus Rift have finally arrived!

There will be a lengthier and more detailed review later on, but for now I just wanted to share how it feels do be inside a virtual world with the Oculus Rift. Keep in mind I didn't even took the time to properly calibrate everything, I just plugged it in and jumped right in into the Tuscanny demo they provide (also played a little Team Fortress 2 since then. :)

The Oculus Rift really are in a class of their own - no other VR goggles I've tried before comes close. While other VR googles felt like you were just peeping through a couple of camera viewfinders, with the Oculus Rift you actually feel like you're in there! It really is a dream come true, and just like you would "think" virtual reality is/should be.

The response time to our movements has no perceptible lag - in great part due to the motion sensor being developed in-house specifically for the VR task at hand - and... it's simply amazing. For the first time, VR can be all it can be!

Unfortunately, there are also some disappointments... While I always complained about how old VR Googles had little resolution (back in the day you'd be lucky to get VGA 640x480 resolution), I was hoping the Rift's 1280x800 screen (split in half for each eye) would make that a non-issue. But unfortunately it doesn't. While those older goggles had lower resolution, you often had a display for each eye, and it occupied a lot less of your visual field. With the Rift, each eye's 640x800 view is spread a much wider field of view - like we want - but in the process it makes you see much bigger pixels than what I was anticipating.

Even tough it's the best you can have right now, the Rift is a "pixel fest" where you can easily see individual pixels (and even subpixels if you're picky about it - like I am). That really annoyed me a bit for a while... until you forget about it and once again feel like you're in different world! :) I can't tell you enough just how strange - in the good sense - it is to climb up to a second floor and look down!

For a mass market version, I think they really need to use higher resolution screens (it won't be difficult, as we know have 5" Full HD screen). The issue is... I think that even a FullHD panel may not be enough - if I had to make a guess, I would say the Rift would need at least four times the actual resolution/PPI in order for "regular people" to use it and be happy with it. With the trend in displays going precisely into high-ppi screens, I hope that can be put to good use into making a suitable display for the Rift v2.

Well... I'm already saying more than I wanted to - or I'll have nothing left to write about in the final review. So... that's it for now! :)

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