Oculus Rift begins shipping; reviews suggest waiting is OK

March 28, 2016 by Ryan Nakashima
Oculus Rift begins shipping; reviews suggest waiting is OK
This Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, file photo, shows the Oculus Rift on display at the Oculus booth during CES International in Las Vegas. As Facebook's Oculus Rift begins shipping to consumers, reviewers describe the virtual-reality headset as a device that immerses you, yet it still has a ways to go. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

The first consumer-ready Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset was delivered to a real person over the weekend, and reviewers got their first taste. The initial feedback: It's a beautiful, wonderful device that immerses you, yet it still has a ways to go.

Oculus founder Palmer Luckey hand-delivered the first Rift to software developer Ross Martin in Anchorage, Alaska, on Saturday, kicking off a new era in by putting the most powerful VR device yet into a consumer's hands.

Martin, who had never tried VR before, spent a few hours on the Rift Monday morning. He watched a short movie, played a game and explored a virtual environment that included an up-close encounter with a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

"I couldn't stop saying, 'Wow,'" Martin, a 33-year-old Web developer, said in an interview. But he said that he felt a touch of nausea at times and that the resolution could be better.

"If you're a gamer, this is right up your alley," he said. "You're going to be able to forgive that."

Oculus has said it's sending the Rift to its first Kickstarter backers first, followed by those who ordered one in January for $600, or at least $1,500 with a high-end personal computer included. Oculus, which began crowd-funding through Kickstarter in August 2012, was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014 and has shipped two developer versions so far.

Oculus Rift begins shipping; reviews suggest waiting is OK
In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2016, file photo, Yining Hou uses the Oculus Rift VR headset at the Oculus booth at CES International in Las Vegas. As Facebook's Oculus Rift begins shipping to consumers, reviewers describe the virtual-reality headset as a device that immerses you, yet it still has a ways to go. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Expectations for a consumer version have been high. There's a backlog of orders and if you order now, you can expect delivery in July. It's not clear, though, how many units Oculus made for the first round—and whether there will ultimately be much demand beyond gamers and hard-core technologists.

Early reviews by journalists have been mixed.

Steven Tweedie of Business Insider was glowingly positive in his review of the Rift, relishing the greater presence he felt in both games and narrative stories.

"Everything feels like it means more: there's a heightened connection to characters, both in games and short films, and the action carries weight," he wrote.

But he noted its hefty price tag "is undoubtedly the biggest thing keeping more people from getting the chance to try virtual reality."

Time's Lisa Eadicicco called the Rift "expensive, complicated, and totally wonderful." She added, "It's brilliant. It's fascinating. It's not perfect, but it's only getting started."

Several reviewers, including IGN's Dan Stapleton, wrote that because the Rift doesn't come with controllers that allow for separate actions by each hand, the Rift will suffer compared with the HTC Vive, which will have such controllers included when it comes out next month. Oculus expects its "Touch" controllers to come out later this year.

Wired reviewer Peter Rubin similarly bemoaned the lack of games using Touch.

Nathan Olivarez-Giles of The Wall Street Journal wasn't wowed by all the 30 games that were available at launch.

And he wrote that nausea, a consistent complaint among VR headset users, was real.

"When I pushed myself to play 'Valkyrie' for as long as 45 minutes nonstop, I took aspirin to fight off a headache."

Explore further: A look at how Oculus compares to Vive and PlayStation VR

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7 comments

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raproducer
2.5 / 5 (2) Mar 28, 2016
What's great about this is that it levels the playing field in a new genre, no world of storytelling technology.

Microsoft's Halolens is very impressive in the early stages as well.
SciTechdude
3.5 / 5 (2) Mar 28, 2016
The MS Lens is Augmented Reality, not the same thing as Virtual Reality. It's basically digital objects overlayed on a real world view. Vs a totally 3D and digital experience.
dan42day
4.5 / 5 (2) Mar 28, 2016
...he said that he felt a touch of nausea at times...


That could be said of every fun thing I've ever done, from riding roller-coasters to racing motorcycles, ocean fishing, skydiving, flying, not to mention drinking and doing drugs. It doesn't surprise me that something that takes your visual system for a ride that your vestibular system can't verify would cause nausea. That means it's working! Trust me, you'll get over it!
Robert J_ Miskines
not rated yet Mar 29, 2016
Nausea is a dealbreaker for me. Are there any studies about the use of over-the-counter medications with virtual reality hardware?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2016
...he said that he felt a touch of nausea at times...

As with fast first person POV video games this is an issue of lag between visual representation and inner ear expectation. This is why fast response times (tracking and video refresh rate) are crucial factors for VR ... and why low cost VR alternatives currently only look good on paper.

But I'm certainly going to order this (or the Vive) and see how to project a many-monitor desktop into this virtual space. Without the need for fast movement that should not induce nausea. And it will finally force me to learn to type blind.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2016
I am looking forward to an augmented reality game where you go in a field in the real world, and play shooter or even hack n slash games against virtual enemies. So you get exercise, you can see the world around you, yet you have this awesome gaming overlay to it. Sitting still is fun, but when you are physically moving and working with a group to fight a giant virtual boss, for instance, that would just be a whole nother level.
Tektrix
not rated yet Mar 29, 2016
Nausea is a dealbreaker for me. Are there any studies about the use of over-the-counter medications with virtual reality hardware?


Suggest you research "VR sickness" and "using dramamine with VR"

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