The Oculus Rift is finally shipping to customers in more than 20 countries, and we're getting a good idea of how the device holds up from the initial reviews. You'll see some common threads throughout: along with an impressive virtual reality experience, the device is very comfortable with a solid design.
But it's not all rainbows and butterflies here, so let's take a look at some of the downsides of this very niche and expensive product.
Gizmodo notes the headset's high price is a good reason to wait for the HTC Vive's release before getting the Rift. If you're going to spend a lot of money, you may as well get the best product available.
"Then there's the price. The Rift package alone costs $600. Add the $950 PC we used, and you're looking at a total of $1550. It's a shitload of money, and probably enough to mean Oculus will remain mostly niche. In other words, even if Oculus made a device that's accessible to all, it's still pretty much only for gamers. If you're one of those people who is ready to drop that kind of coin, you should wait for next week's reviews of the HTC Vive, which has a headset with similar specifications to the Rift."
When it comes to the quality of its VR experiences, the Rift performs well, but the New York Times found it was difficult to use for very long.
"The Rift has other consequences for the mind and body. I felt mentally drained after 20-minute sessions. My eyes felt strained after half an hour, and over a week I developed a nervous eye twitch...The headset may also leave lasting impressions, or what I call 'nerd paint,' on your face. After a long session, the Rift left two sets of parallel horizontal lines under my eyes."
Oculus has largely eliminated the "screen door effect" with this Rift version, meaning you won't see gaps between individual pixels. However, Engadget says it hasn't gotten rid of all display issues.
"You do have to look beyond some limitations of the Oculus Rift to fully immerse yourself, though. Sometimes the resolution of the OLED displays can make things look noticeably pixelated (this is one area where 4K mobile displays are going to be a big help). The nature of the Oculus' optics often makes the imagery shown on the sides of the displays blurrier than what's in the center."
"But even with that many games available, there's a rift (no, seriously) between what the Rift can do and what you can do with the Rift. Oculus has never been quiet about the fact that it's depending on software companies to create the compelling experiences that bring people back to VR again and again. But right now? On the eve of release? Many of the best experiences I've had in the Oculus ecosystem either aren't in the Oculus Store yet, or won't be available until the company's Oculus Touch handheld controllers arrive later this year. That's in stark contrast to the Gear VR, which launched with more 100 games, apps, and experiences."
Also, the Rift has shipped with few social capabilities, according to Polygon. You can't start a voice conversation or regular text message with other users, even though you can befriend people.
"There's not much in the way of social features yet — that area is clearly marked beta...For a platform that's owned by Facebook there aren't many ways to be social yet—in fact you can't even send a message to anyone on your friend's list—but those features will likely come in a future update."
With all of those things in mind, the Rift still appears to be a good VR headset overall, and it'll be even better when its Touch controllers are released this year. Those controllers will make the VR experiences more realistic as you'll be able to bring your hands into the Rift's virtual world.
As for should you get one right now? That's up to you. If you have the money to toss around, why not? Things can only get better.
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