Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift S is the successor of the first Rift, but not in the form of a new VR generation, but as a replacement for the original Rift. In the test of the Rift S, we clarify whether Oculus succeeds in publishing a convincing Rift successor in spite of restrained technical data. In the test of the Rift S, we clarify whether Oculus succeeds in publishing a convincing Rift successor in spite of restrained technical data.

The Oculus Rift S is available as of today. In our test we compare it with the first Rift, which appeared a good three years ago. There is no denying that the VR glasses Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, which were launched in 2016, have achieved greater market success with a few technical problems:

  • The hardware is not very suitable for beginners, the image quality additionally deterred many gamers already spoiled by high-resolution displays and then there are the high system requirements.
  • A rather narrow software selection did the rest – the hype before the release quickly subsided after the release.

But VR is not dead, as the new VR glasses that will be released this year already show. Even Valve will be mixing in with the index VR from June 2019. Apparently Oculus decided under the aegis of Facebook to improve the suboptimally started first generation instead of a second VR generation equipped with technical innovations.

With the Oculus Rift S in the test, no Rift 2.0 has therefore been released, but only a refresh with some changes in detail. Changes that, at least on paper, don’t always look like improvements. So it is all the more exciting for us to do the reality check.

The old Oculus Rift CV1 (left in the picture and already visibly used) is a bit bigger than the Rift S (right in the picture). The old Oculus Rift CV1 (left in the picture and already visibly used) is a bit bigger than the Rift S (right in the picture).

 Oculus Rift Specs

  • While the first Oculus Rift is equipped with two OLED displays (resolution: 1,080×1,200 pixels per eye, 90 Hz), the Oculus Rift S uses a single LC display with 2,560×1,440 pixels (1,280×1,440 pixels per eye, 80 Hz).
  • Compared to OLEDs, however, LCDs offer poorer black levels and often less lifelike colors, so the step to LCDs looks more like a downgrade than a major improvement in theory. Especially since the resolution has hardly increased at all.
  • However, different rules apply for VR than for classic monitors: OLEDs, for example, have a longer afterglow of bright pixels, which leads to problems with VR glasses such as brightly over-illuminated image areas around bright surfaces. Accordingly, many manufacturers of VR glasses are currently switching to LCD.

Better late than never

Since a test sample has arrived in the meantime, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take a closer look at the hardware available since May 21. After all, the Rift platform still has a huge advantage: Similar to Sony, Oculus mother Facebook also pumps larger sums into exclusive developments, so that relatively elaborate titles like the action-packed agent thriller Defector (for testing) or the upcoming open action adventure Stormland become possible. It is a classic wired headset for use with a PC, the cable of which also “pulls on the leash” a little earlier with about five meters than in the Index, if you add the connector with the three-stripe there.

The low price of 449 Euro makes the device more interesting for beginners than the Valve Index with its 539 to 1079 Euro (depending on the bundle). This is especially true for customers who don’t yet have the basic tracking stations necessary for Vive and Index. On the other hand, the workmanship also looks a bit cheaper: Especially the simpler foam on the face pad looks as if it could unwind after a few years of operation (but so far, everything holds perfectly). In general, the wearing comfort is less “airy” than the index, so that you start sweating a little faster in summer temperatures. The heavy but ideally balanced Vive Pro also performs better in terms of seating.

Somewhat more relaxed

On the positive side, the Rift S with its sloping “head ring” distributes the weight much better than the old Rift or the very front-heavy Quest. So the neck remains relatively relaxed even during longer VR sessions. A clear disadvantage is the quiet, almost tinny whining slit headphones: they can’t even begin to keep up with the cleverly designed floating index headphones. In addition, the noise pollution of other people in the room is similar to that of the Quest (and greater than that of the Index). Instead, we quickly plugged headphones back into the mini-jack connector (3.5 mm) on the side instead.

The picture also gets the short straw with the only slightly increased resolution of 1280 x 1440 pixels. The index, on the other hand, scores with 1440×1600 pixels. The relatively exotic headsets HP Reverb (2160 x 2160 pixels) and Pimax 5KX (2560 x 1440) offer an even higher number of pixels per eye, but we can’t compare the two due to a lack of test samples. On the positive side, we found the god-rays (white streaks in strong contrasts) less unpleasant than with the old Rift or Index.

 Oculus Rift screen

A disadvantage, however, is the fact that the black borders between the individual pixels are more clearly visible than elsewhere. This is particularly surprising because this time LCD technology is used instead of OLED as in the predecessor. The fly screen thus remains somewhat more present than in the premium competition or the Quest.

The PSVR-like head ring makes it a little more comfortable to wear than the Rift or Quest. Nevertheless, after long sessions the eyes remain much more relaxed than with old headsets like Rift, Vive and PSVR. In addition, there are typical LCD disadvantages such as a slightly worse black level and less vivid colors. In addition, the picture on the LCD the index appears much more luminous than here. Instead of up to 144 hertz as with the index, the refresh rate has even been lowered: instead of the 90 hertz of the old Rift, you have to live with only 80 hertz. We didn’t really notice this negatively in operation, but it’s still a pity. It’s also a pity that there’s no mechanical regulator for the eye relief anymore, since, as with PSVR, only one screen was used. So you might give away some of the not too many pixels anyway.



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