Oculus VR’s consumer version reveal at the ‘Step into the Rift’, San Francisco, did not hold any hands-on opportunities for attendees. Though we got to see many of the titles that will accompany the head-mounted display (HMD) and the reveal of the input devices – Xbox One controller at first, Oculus Touch to follow – actually experiencing them was not an option. That changed today as Oculus VR opened the floodgates at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Los Angeles, for all of the above.
VRFocus has already been hands-on with Oculus Touch and it’s associated Toybox software as we all know the full range of 9 launch window titles on show. We’ll get to those in time, but right now it’s all about the consumer version of the HMD, aka CV1.
The finish of the device is near immaculate. The soft-to-touch front end isn’t as thick an velvety as you might imagine; more a smooth coating than a thick sheet, the firm wrap-around straps feel more solid than the most recent prototype hardware, Crescent Bay, and the velcro attachment straps are certainly more accommodating of frequent wear and removal than the plastic clips of the DK1 and DK2 editions of the hardware. The HMD is a little weightier than the Crescent Bay, however when being worn it’s certainly not noticeable. The idea of being able to wear the device for hours on end without discomfort is finally an identifiable goal.
The power button on the underside of the HMD is perhaps a little misplaced, but once having established a relationship both in-and-out of VR it will surely become natural instinct not to accidentally hit the button. Additionally, the nose curve won’t be perfect for everybody of course, and can take some fiddling to get the alignment perfect for your face.
The most important part of the CV1 experience however, is how it actually feels when in the VR experiences it can provide. The head tracking is near flawless. In VRFocus‘ hour playtest with the device there was never a moment in which latency became an issue. Positional tracking seemed to be more limited than that of the Crescent Bay, however all of the experiences presented were seated. Of course, VRFocus took the opportunity to walk around as much as possible, but as the software didn’t react in the same way as that which is made for a standing experience, making the tracking hard to evaluate.
The screen resolution has, finally, reached a level where screendoor effect is no longer an issue. There is a small amount of pixilation but no more than a Nintendo 3DS screen held at a reasonable distance. Noticeable more in some of the videogame titles than offers, small black dots appear over brightly mono coloured textures, but it’s certainly far from the significant issue that it was with DK1 and DK2. Indeed, it may only be because VRFocus was actively assessing the screen that it was noticable.
Needless to say, CV1 is the Oculus Rift HMD that we had all been hoping for. It may be late to the table and it’s still not yet known just how much that meal is going to cost – nor how long we’ll have to wait for the motion-control input dessert – but finally Oculus VR is ready to turn off the oven. CV1 is undoubtedly an extremely high quality HMD and once again Oculus VR have taken a leading role in the field of VR.