Oculus Rift hands-on review | Oculus Rift experience

The Oculus Rift is probably the most famous VR headset to date, and arguably started the VR wave that we’re all riding on in 2017 after its successful Kickstarter campaign way back in 2012. However, fast forward to today and there are more VR headsets available now than you can shake a stick at, from the mobile-powered Gear VR to the likes of PlayStation VR and the high-end HTC Vive, so how does the Oculus Rift compare? I’ve gone hands (or eyes) on with the Oculus Rift, and here’s what I think.

Before I go any further, I’d like to thank the lovely people at Dynamo PR for letting me come over and use their personal Oculus Rift headset for my hands-on review.

Latest update: Updated to reflect recent price drops announced by Oculus at GDC 2017.

If you're interested in the world of virtual reality, take a look at our complete guide to VR

Oculus Rift hands-on review: Pricing and availability

The Oculus Rift initially went up for pre-orders back in January 2016, but was hit with shipment delays shortly after launching however at the time of writing, the company claims it has caught up with all Rift orders. With that being said, users now can order the Oculus Rift from not only the Oculus website but also GAME and Amazon for £499, down from the initial £549 pricetag.

Users that order the Oculus Rift alone will receive the headset and all accessories (sensor, etc) along with an Xbox One controller to be used with Rift-enabled VR experiences. Those wanting to purchase both the Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch controller for a more immersive VR experience can now do so for £600, down from a combined price of £740 prior to an announcement by Oculus at GDC 2017.

Oculus Rift hands-on review: Design and build

The Oculus Rift could possibly be the best looking VR headset when compared to other headsets in the 2017 line-up (like the HTC Vive and PlayStation VR), however – just like my mum always told me – looks aren’t everything. The Oculus Rift broadly resembles a pair of Ski goggles that is mostly wrapped in a special black fabric that hugs the plastic body of the headset beneath it. But why is this this fabric so special? According to Oculus, the fabric helps to keep condensation build-up to a minimum because who wants to fog-up while dogfighting in space?

Wearing a VR headset can become pretty hot and sweaty fairly quickly, especially with more active games. I’ve experienced this myself in the past when using other VR headsets and it becomes very uncomfortable, but I must admit that even when using the Rift for an extended period of time, I was still relatively cool and comfortable.

The reason for my lack of sweat might not only be due to the material that covers most of the Oculus Rift headset. In fact, the Oculus Rift is extremely lightweight, especially when compared to the HTC Vive. While the HTC Vive acts as a receiver, picking up signals from the base stations to work out its location within the physical space, the Oculus Rift does it the other way around.

The Rift comes with a sensor that sits on your desk and tracks the position of the headset, along with a myriad of sensors in the headset. This allows the Rift to be much lighter as it doesn’t need as much built-in tech, resulting in a 470g headset that is comfortable to wear over long periods of time with no issues. It’s also smaller than its competitors, measuring in at roughly 171x216x102mm when including the headphones.

Just like with the PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, the Oculus Rift isn’t wireless and requires a physical connection to your PC at all times. It’s not an issue exclusive to the Rift so it shouldn’t be penalised for it, but it is definitely worth noting that you’re not tether-free in your virtual world.

Read next: HTC Vive vs Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift hands-on review: Features and spec

Let’s move onto the features and spec of the Oculus Rift, first discussing arguably the most important aspect of the headset – the display. The Oculus Rift features a 2160x1200 OLED display, the same as what is found in the HTC Vive, but is higher resolution than the slightly-cheaper PlayStation VR. That display is coupled with a 90Hz refresh rate and a 110-degree field of view which combined provides users with a gorgeously smooth and high-definition VR experience.

The Oculus Rift also comes with built-in headphones, but not just any kind – it features 3D spatial audio headphones for a more immersive experience. The best part is that these are removable, allowing users to use their own headphones if they so desire. I like the idea of having built-in headphones as it’s one less thing to worry about (especially when putting on and taking off the headset) and I found the headphones to be comfortable to use, and easily adjustable. I could slightly angle the headphones away from my ear in order to talk to my friend when I needed to, then simply moved it back once we were done chatting.

The Oculus Rift comes with both an Oculus remote and an Xbox One controller. Why? Even though Oculus is actively developing the Oculus Touch handheld controllers that’ll allow users to interact with the environment around them, they aren’t out until later this year – or possibly even early 2017, as I haven’t heard anything about them in over a year. So, until that time, Rift owners are limited to using an Xbox One controller, and while it provides something familiar for gamers, it doesn’t provide an experience as immersive as say, the HTC Vive with its handheld remotes and room-scale play area.

The Oculus Rift is, of course, compatible with Oculus Home, the company’s answer to Steam. The software hub provides a place for Rift owners to browse new content and games to play, and cannot be accessed by other headsets like the HTC Vive. However, while Vive users can’t access Oculus Home content, Rift owners can access VR content on Steam, the platform used by the Vive. There are a number of Oculus Rift exclusives too, like the hugely popular Eve: Valkyrie, which we recently played – you can find out a little bit more about what we experienced below.

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