Last week Facebook announced the new version of the Rift headset, the Oculus Rift S. It comes in at a subtle $399 and will be available this spring.
This VR headset is aimed to replace the original Rift. All games and apps you have purchased and downloaded for your Rift will be compatible with the Rift S, and because this new headset is also powered by your PC, the Oculus PC Store and Steam will be working as well.
The Oculus Rift S virtual reality headset is the next big thing in PC virtual reality gaming. With Oculus showcasing their first inside-out tracking for a PC headset, new screens for the display, and new controllers, we are expecting this headset to make a sizable splash in the head-mounted display hardware virtual reality market.
New Screens and Lenses
The original Rift was and OLED display which had a solid resolution of 2160×1200. The Rift S has taken a different route going with LCD screens that pack a 2560×1440 resolution. That is the same resolution as the standalone Oculus headset, the Oculus Go. This is an upgrade of nearly 40% when it comes to resolution, and on top of that each pixel has three sub-pixels rather than just two.
This will effectively remove most of the “screen door effect”, and a higher detailed image as well. The change from an OLED screen to a LCD screen is in fact an interesting choice, with many people believing they have moved backwards. This means the blacks will not be as nearly as deep, knowing that the LCD using a backlight for all images. The HZ refresh rate did regress to 80Hz rather than the original 90Hz, but that will make no difference in the performance of this headset.
One of the the biggest problems that was noticed with the original Rift was the “god rays” that would appear in high contrast scenes. Early last year, Facebook patented new lenses that were an essential to this headset and the “next generation” lenses that were used inside of it. No word of the field of view has gotten out yet, but you can expect it to be very similar to the other headsets we have seen from Oculus.
5 Camera Inside-Out Tracking
The Rift was a pain to use when wanting to have a full scale 360 degree tracking. You would need to purchase another external USB sensor. It was difficult and not ideal to set up and use, especially when there are easier ways. Like the new standalone headset the Oculus Quest, the Rift S will feature inside-out tracking, being accessed by the onboard cameras.
Unlike the Quest though, this headset will feature 5 cameras rather than 4, and they are all in different positions: 2 up front, 1 on either side, and 1 on top as well. The Quest will experience some dead spots, but the Rift S has great placements of cameras and will avoid any problems with tracking and dead spots.
While there are many games in which you need to reach to your direct sides and behind you, they will be no problem for the Rift S. Reaching behind to grab a shield will be as simple as it should be, and grabbing horizontal walls will be just as easy.
The controllers will take advantage of the tracking as well. The only real difference in these controllers to the original Rift controllers in the location of the tracking ring. The tracking ring on the Rift S in on the top rather than the bottom, making it more visible to the headset at all times. This produces a smoother feel when handling business inside of your virtual worlds.
The original sensors that you were forced to use in with the original Rift are not compatible with the Oculus Rift S. Facebook is so confident in the 5 camera tracking system that not only will the sensors be obsolete, but that your positional tracking will be greatly improved.
New and Improved Halo Strap
The original Rift was never really considered completely uncomfortable, but this Rift S might even be considered (whisper) comfortable. The new Halo Strap is 180 degree change from the semi-rigid strap. This is closer to the PlayStation VR setup than anything else, but has features that set it apart.
The Rift S is noticeably heavier than the Rift, but the way Oculus has distributed the weight is simply a game changer. This headset is a bit of a pain to pack because of the hard halo, but the tradeoff will be more than enough. The nose gap has also been closed so you no longer will allow you to see light from the not so virtual world that we are living in. This is not any sort of augmented reality, just virtual reality.
No Physical IPD Adjustment
No one person has the same distance between their eyes. The original Rift, just like many high-end VR devices, featured an adjustment that could be made with your hand to move the lens IPD to match the user’s IPD. This is no longer the case on the Rift S.
The IPD in the lens is fixed in the Rift S. There is no moving it with your hand anymore. The way Facebook has attacked this issue is by entering your IPD into the software of the headset, and the lens will adjust on their own. This will be a problem for people with an abnormal amount of space between their eyes, or people will very small spaces between their eyes, as they will still experience a slight blur and other visual issues.
You will also be able to adjust this setting inside of the Oculus App, as it can be changed whenever you need it to be. If someone is using the headset for the first time, this feature is going to become very helpful very fast for this new Oculus Rift headset.
The Rift had integrated headphones on the headset, and even when you removed them, it was a non-standard connector making you unable to use your own headphones. Not great. The Rift S has removed those headphones and using speakers, much like the sound systems of the Oculus Quest and Go.
The sound is piped to the Halo, and released right where your ears will be. This means that the sound will not be pressed up against your ears, and there is some great upside to that. The sound is much more natural, and you will still be able to hear the people around you talking. It is a simple adjustment and it will go a long way.
The Rift S also features a 3.5 mm headphone jack, making the experience much more personalized. If gamers are looking for an immersive sound quality, headphones will be the way to go.
The controllers on this new virtual reality headset are similar to the original Oculus Touch controllers, but have a new design. The touch controllers now have the halo tracking hardware on the top of the hand, rather than the wrap-around like the original Rift VR headset controllers.
This is due to the new tracking for your VR experience. Before, the Touch Controllers were tracked by the sensors that were connected in the USB port. Now, the controllers are going to be tracked by the headset itself. This helps completely end the need for a high-end PC or gaming PC.
This does not change the functionality of the controllers, as they work just as well as any Oculus Touch controllers have in the past. This will add to the virtual reality headset, making it a true powerhouse for VR gaming.
Compared to Vive or PSVR controllers, these will win in every category. The new controllers are sure to blow the competition out of the water. They are the same controllers with the wireless Oculus standalone VR headset, the Quest.
Passthrough+, New Guardian
The original Rift had a Guarding setting. When you are setting up the Rift, you would trace out where the edges should be. When you would approach those edges inside of your headset, you would be notified, and the whole process would need to be repeated if a sensor was moved.
The Rift S features “proprietary technology” passthrough which Facebook has dubbed Passthrough+. It uses computer algorithms to ensure the headset has “stereo-correct passthrough.” This feature is in black and white rather than color, and can be activated any time during your experience or game.
This is the new and improved guardian system for PC VR. You now set this system up by drawing the guidelines, and at any time when you pass through them, the cameras will turn on and the passthrough feature will be activated. This is to ensure that you can see where you are going without taking the headset off, and not letting you bump into objects.
PC Requirements and Cables
When it is all said and done, the Rift S will slightly outdo the Rift, and that should be expected. The Rift S is the new and improved Rift. Despite having a higher resolution than the Rift, the Rift S maintains the same CPU and GPU requirements. This is most likely possible because it is still similar with render resolutions.
The Rift was shipped with a 4 meter HDMI cable, and that trend will not continue with the Rift S. The new headset will be shipped with a 5 meter cable with a mini DisplayPort end. But just like the Rift, you will need a USB 3.0 port for the headset as well, and because there are no external sensors, that is all you will need in regards to open USB ports, although you may consider an extension cable for your headset. A DisplayPort adapter for laptops will also be included for the cables.
The graphics card requirements are the same, and the refresh rate will be the same as well. VR games on this headset will be nearly the same, regardless of your PC. With this new Oculus Rift Virtual Reality gaming system, your system will always be enough.
Games On The Rift S
The biggest question here is if Beat Saber will be on the Oculus Rift S. The answer to this question is yes. Beat Saber is amazing on the Rift S, as it was one of the best Rift games. Now they need to bring it to a mobile device.
All Rift games will also be available on the Rift S. Any game you own on the Rift will be ready to play with your Rift S. This is great news for all, especially because you will no longer have to re-buy VR games for your new Oculus Rift VR Headset.
This page will be continually updated with news on the Oculus Rift S.