THE GAMES PLAYING HELMET Oculus Rift dominated the headlines last week, mainly due to the announcement by Facebook that it bought the virtual reality headset's maker Oculus VR for the tidy sum of $2bn.
A week after the social media giant announced the buyout, the web is still alight with rants from disappointed fans who believed it would have become the next big thing in gaming if it hadn't sold out to a social media company. We put together a collection of the complaints we spotted from frustrated Oculus Rift fans regarding the acquisition.
However, it happens that the Oculus Rift was being demoed right here in London recently, so we thought we'd go and get a taste of the virtual reality headset and form our own opinions.
The headset was being shown off at the Flux Lounge, a new room housing the latest innovations in technology based in East London, by Master of Pie, a creative design studio that is developing software for the Oculus Rift.
In our hands-on demo, we tried out Masters of Pie's Deep Sea Dive experience, which it had developed to capture the feeling of both vulnerability and wonder that people have when they go diving into the alien deep sea environment.
Build quality and fit
Popping on the headset, the first thing we noticed was how heavy it felt. Weighing around 380g, it's not the lightest or most comfortable device to place on your head, and it's not the easiest to get on correctly, either. It takes some getting used to, but once fitted via it's adjustable padded straps it feels comfortable enough, in that you can move your head around with ease.
The Oculus Rift is a little front-heavy thanks to the 7in screen section, which makes you want to tilt your head forward, so we can't imagine using the device for long periods without getting tired.
Once the headset was in place, we opened our eyes to a world under the sea, but were disappointed to find that the screen was not nearly as sharp as we expected. Images are rather blurry, and it takes your eyes a few seconds to focus on an object, in this case marine life, and discern what's going on.
This is because the resolution on the Oculus Rift isn't too great by today's standards, as it is 1280x800 pixels with an aspect ratio of 16:10, which leads to an effective 640x800 pixels per eye. However it is worth noting that the demo unit was a first generation developer version of the Oculus Rift and there will be an updated device sporting an HD screen coming out later this year, meaning the experience should improve.
The marine environment felt immersive and it was a great feeling to look around and explore things in a 360 degree environment. We noticed a touch of latency between our movements and how that translated to the screen in front of our eyes, which prompted a slight feeling of nausea. For example, moving around to look at the marine life took a few seconds to catch up on the screen. This is because the Oculus Rift's screen panel's pixel switching time is rather low, something that the updated model should fix.
However, the Oculus Rift's field of view is more than 90 degrees horizontal and 110 degrees diagonal, meaning your field of view is almost filled with what's happening on the screens, making it much more convincing as you cannot see the black rims around the edges of the screens.