Oculus Rift Reviews Roll In: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Well the Oculus Rift reviews are rolling in this morning as Facebook (the owner of Oculus) finally lifts the embargo and lets tech reporters talk about their experiences with the Rift.

According to the New York Times, the Oculus Rift is a “promising” entry into consumer VR. Keep in mind, the Oculus Rift itself is meant to be an entry point, a beginner’s VR headset to introduce people to the idea of consumer friendly virtual reality headsets. The Oculus Rift, according to the New York Times, is “well built” and “promising,” but might just lack some important features.

“When it comes down to it, I don’t disagree that this is just the beginning of virtual reality. With about 30 games and a few apps at the Oculus Rift’s introduction, there isn’t much to do with the system yet. Oculus will eventually need a larger, more diverse set of content to transcend its initial audience of gamer geeks,” says the New York Times on the Oculus Rift’s potential, “I, for one, will be waiting.”

The Oculus Rift seems to be a solid virtual reality headset and a good place to start for consumers curious about the technology – but the New York Times and other outlets caution that it’s not quite ready for prime time. The Oculus Rift is still at very early stages, firmly in “early adopter” territory. Remember the first generation iPad, the first generation of smartphones? Similar theory here.

Solid hardware that may have some issues, Polygon reports it’s sometimes a pain to take on and off, but for the most part the real problem reviewers seem to be having is with the available content – there’s just not much that really takes advantage of the power of the Oculus Rift.

According to Ars Technica, the Oculus Rift is pretty impressive for reasons cited in the New York Times review, but Ars goes a little more in-depth, to describe what it feels like to wear the Oculus Rift.

“In practice, wearing a Rift feels like being surrounded by the biggest monitor you’ve ever used. By tracking your head’s position and angle and changing the image to reflect your new view 90 times per second, the Rift simulates an edge-free, spherical screen that surrounds you in 360 degrees up and down and side to side,” writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica in his review of the Oculus Rift.

The Oculus Rift represents a massive stride forward for what was previously a fairly non-existent market, with interesting things happening in virtual reality game development, business tools (imagine dropping your multi-monitor setup for a headset that surrounds you with excel spreadsheets and browser windows), but the real trouble reviewers seem to be having with the Rift is in how to describe an inherently indescribable experience.

“It’s very hard to convey with words, pictures or videos just how different this experience is from looking at a standard 2D monitor,” writes Kyle Orland for Ars Technica in his review of the Oculus Rift.

The primary criticism leveled at the Oculus Rift is a fairly simple one: sometimes games don’t look as good as they could. Ars Technica addresses this in their review, citing the oft-maligned “screen door” effect, which occurs when you really look at objects up close in the Oculus Rift — and if the graphics resolution isn’t high enough. Sometimes pixels get distorted, only slightly, as a result of Rift’s resolution — like when you get too close to a TV and can see individual pixels.

[Photo by Oculus VR]