Oculus Rift Alternatives – 2017 Review

photo of Oculus Rift VR headset

The retail version of the Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headset finally arrived in 2016, after multiple advancement packages and several years of work. Since then, the outstanding Oculus Touch motion controllers have been added to the Rift as a single $598 package, slashing $100 each from the initial rate of both the headset and the controllers. The Oculus Rift remains functional and immersive, if you have a computer system that can manage it. With the addition of the Oculus Touch controllers, the Rift is more enticing than the now practically identically priced HTC Vive, though the Sony PlayStation VR is our Editors’ Choice for its ease of use and even lower price.Oculus Rift Alternatives

Prior to we get going, just a note that you can discover the headset by itself for around $499, though we strongly suggest getting it with the Oculus Touch controllers. The controllers are offered on their own for $99.

 

What You Need

Main requirements for the Rift$ 399.00 at Amazon are nearly identical to the requirements for the HTC Vive. Oculus recommends an Intel i5-4590 or much better CPU, an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon R9 290 or better video card, at least 8GB of RAM, an HDMI 1.3 output, three USB 3.0 ports, and one USB 2.0 port. One of those ports is for the extra sensing unit of the Oculus Touch controller, and you can set up the Rift itself with just two USB 3.0 ports: one for the headset and one for the external sensing unit. I evaluated it using the Origin EON17-X, which has a Core i7 6700K CPU overclocked to 4.5 GHz, an 8GB GeForce GTX 980M graphics card, and 16GB of RAM.

 

Oculus Rift Design

The Oculus Rift headset is simple and understated. It’s a plain black rectangle-shaped visor with rounded edges and little visual flair. The front panel is totally flat, marked only with an Oculus logo. The sides of the visor are similarly flat, and connect to arms that pivot slightly up and down and connect to the three-strap harness for protecting the gadget on your head.

A strap extends from each arm around the sides of your head, with a third strap extending from the top of the visor over the top of your head, meeting at a cushioned triangle in the back. The straps are held in location with hook-and-loop fasteners, and can be quickly adjusted. A set of on-ear headphones rest on the arms, able to independently pivot and turn up and down to properly fit on your ears.

On its own, the headset is fairly light and comfy. You can use glasses with the Rift, however it will make the fit a bit tighter. I used my glasses when checking the headset, which helped make sure that I saw crisp and accurate visuals. However it also made putting the Rift on and taking it off a bit awkward, and depending on the size of your frames, they could hurt your capability to use the headset for extended periods of time.

The headset links to your PC straight through a lengthy cable that divides off near the end into HDMI and USB 3.0 connectors. The cable winds down the left strap before running clear of the headset. It’s a little more uncomfortable than the over-the-top-of-the-head cable television of the HTC Vive, and I discovered myself struggling to find a comfy position where the cable television didn’t sit distractingly on my shoulder. However it’s not almost as huge an issue in usage as the HTC Vive’s cable television, because the Vive is created to work when you’re walking a set area.

The Rift on its own usages a single external sensing unit, a black cylinder that rests on a nine-inch-tall metal desktop stand. The sensing unit can tilt up and down, and need to be placed where it can keep a clear view of the headset when in usage. A second, similar sensing unit tracks the Oculus Touch controllers, and the two sensing units operate in tandem to enhance tracking for all of the gadgets and cover a larger location than the fixed position simply one sensor allows.

As soon as you’re working, a 2,160-by-1,200 OLED panel is utilized to produce a 1,080-by-1,200 photo for each eye, separated by the lenses in the headset (much like the Vive). The lenses can be adjusted utilizing a small lever on the right underside of the visor. More on the visual themselves in a bit.

 

Controls

The Oculus Touch motion controllers originally introduced as an optional addition, but have actually since been added to the $598 Rift plan. They aren’t the only control options included in the box, however. The Oculus Remote is a little, rounded bar with a large, circular navigation pad and Back, Menu, and Up/Down buttons. The remote helpfully includes a lanyard to keep it attached to your wrist when you’re utilizing the Rift. The Rift likewise includes an Xbox One cordless controller and a Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows with which you can use it, which comes in handy for VR video games that use standard, non-motion-based control plans.

With the Oculus Touch controllers, the Rift’s controls reach parity with the HTC Vive’s, which has consisted of movement controls from the box considering that its launch. We go into more detail in our review of the Oculus Touch, however it’s a really comfy, natural-feeling control scheme with responsive physical parts like analog sticks and face buttons in addition to movement tracking.Oculus Rift Alternatives

 

Setup

Setting up the Rift is basic. You need to download the Oculus setup software on your PC, which will then stroll you through the reasonably couple of steps essential to obtain going. First, plug the headset and sensors into your computer, utilizing an HDMI and 3 USB 3.0 ports. Second, sync the remote by taking out the battery tab and pressing a button. Lastly (and additionally), plug the Xbox One receiver into a USB 2.0 port and pair the gamepad with it. Once these actions are total, you can slip the headset on and jump into the Oculus software.

At this moment in the setup process, you can play any software readily available on the Oculus Store, but you can go further with reasonably little trouble. By setting the Oculus software application to load apps from unidentified sources, you can get the headset to work with SteamVR, much like the HTC Vive utilizes. The launch of Oculus Touch implies you can now use all SteamVR games that support movement controls with the Rift. They sign up as HTC Vive movement controllers when you set them up for Steam, and work perfectly with Vive-compatible video games.

While the Rift now has motion controls, it doesn’t rather support the same whole-room VR as the Vive. You can use it while sitting, standing, or within a location specified by the two sensing units included with the Rift and Touch. It supports a smaller sized area than the Vive’s wall-mountable sensing units do, but this is a little sacrifice; since the HTC Vive is connected to your connected computer system with a cable just like the Rift, in fact walking around with the headset on needs you to be very cautious not to journey over the dragging wire. It’s an immersion-breaker that hurts the experience of otherwise complimentary movement in VR. The Rift’s head tracking, together with Touch controller tracking, work very well within the space the sensing units allow.

 

The Oculus Experience

The Rift shares the very same resolution and refresh rate as the Vive, and as such the experience is really similar between the two. Like the Vive, the Rift produces a crisp picture with smooth movement and head tracking. In screening, the 3D effect of the stereoscopic images really provided me the sense that the virtual objects I was staring at were actually in front of me. Ultimately, the Rift headset is a screen, so smoothness and graphical fidelity will depend on the power of your computer and sophistication of the software. In terms of hardware, however, the Rift produces a compelling virtual experience for the eyes.

I played a couple of VR titles offered on the Oculus shop, consisting of EVE: Valkyrie, Farlands, and Lucky’s Tale. I likewise tried Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games and Virtual Desktop, released through SteamVR

EVE: Valkyrie is the star of the launch titles for the Oculus Rift. It’s an online, multiplayer area dogfighting video game sent in the EVE universe. You play a cloned pilot who runs sorties with your squad versus other, similar teams. It comes down to the area version of group deathmatch in any first-person shooter, however it’s an interesting and relatively deep flight game.

The format is perfect for using the Rift while sitting. The view puts you in the cockpit of your picked area fighter, and you can freely take a look around it while staying in place. The video game itself is controlled with the Xbox One gamepad, piloting the ship with the dual analog sticks and firing with the triggers. Essentially, the VR element of the game is unnecessary; the experience is in fact just like playing a dogfighting video game on a regular display, simply with the capability to look freely around your cockpit (which doesn’t use any substantial tactical advantage). Nevertheless, the immersiveness the Rift provides in totally engulfing you in this cockpit point of view actually makes the game feel more engaging and tense.

It isn’t a complex economic MMO like EVE itself, and the style of fight is a bit arcade-like in how ships fly and fire, however it’s satisfying to fly around in area, shooting at people while they shoot at you. It seems like one of the most complete games made specifically with VR in mind.

Farlands is a xenobiological play ground. You play a researcher on an alien planet, searching for brand-new life kinds. You can scan various creatures by staring at them, and enhance your understanding of them by feeding them foods they want. It has a really mellow quality, looking for alien animals and viewing them consume to gradually and progressively open new environments to explore. While the idea appears ideal for motion controls, it was basic to have fun with a conventional gamepad, using a reticle in the center of your view to highlight things and walk around.Oculus Rift Alternatives

Lucky’s Tale is a standard cartoony third-person platformer where you manage an animation fox as he goes through various levels trying to save his family pet pig. It’s an attractive experience that doesn’t actually need VR at all. Utilizing the Rift in a video game like this lets you look around quickly from your above-the-action perspective. However, you cannot easily move the electronic camera to get a much better view of a provided position relative to the character you’re controlling, which showed to be really aggravating when trying to get Lucky to gather lines of coins set in specific arcs in 3D space; without the capability to pan around Lucky, I couldn’t easily align my dives.

Our evaluation of the Oculus Touch goes into detail of what Oculus Rift games that support Touch resemble, but to summarize the experience, the optional Touch controllers make things like spray-painting walls, aiming guns, and using telekinetic powers feel very natural.

 

SteamVR

I ran Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Games (ATMMHG) on SteamVR to see if the Rift might manage it as efficiently as the Vive does. While SteamVR isn’t the Rift’s native platform, it displayed the interface and loaded the game perfectly, and I discovered it was simply as smooth and immersive as it is on the Vive (though, like with Lucky’s Tale, the actual value of playing stated third-person platformer in VR is still questionable).

I also tried Virtual Desktop, a program that forecasts your computer’s screen in front of you in virtual area. It was just as functional and intriguing as it was with the HTC Vive, revealing my monitor as a giant, curved display screen around me. The software application can likewise create a flat screen, and even reveal your desktop view as a tv installed on the wall of a home theater. It’s a helpful method to make VR useful, even without VR-specific software application. If you want to enjoy a video and it’s not available on a client for the Oculus Rift or on SteamVR, you can simply pack it with Virtual Desktop.

The only drawback is the resolution of the display. Given that the Rift reveals a 1,080-by-1,200 picture to each eye, and the virtual screen appears as a drifting item, it’s really smaller sized than the headset’s per-eye resolution. That suggests text can appear blurry and grainy unless you find a sweet area from which to look at the screen, and reading can cause eye stress. That said, viewing video on Hulu and Netflix is really cool.

 

Final Thoughts

The Oculus Rift conveniently produces an immersive, crisp virtual reality experience that will continue to improve with the advancement of brand-new software application, which has actually been progressively coming out on both the Oculus store and SteamVR. The release of the Oculus Touch controllers and the addition of them to the $600 headset bundle even more adds to the value, though the HTC Vive’s recent cut to $599 puts them on equivalent footing in rate and features. Both are technically remarkable, powerful VR headsets, however our Editors’ Choice stays the PlayStation VR for its lower cost and ease of use (though it only deals with the PlayStation 4, instead of a PC).

If you want to try virtual reality, but you do not wish to spend at least $400, the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View are strong choices. They’re smartphone-based VR headsets that provide some of the best mobile VR experiences you can currently get for around $100. However, you need a compatible phone to utilize them.Oculus Rift Alternatives