The long wait is over, the next generation Oculus Rift is here and it’s a giant leap over what has come before. The second iteration of Oculus VR’s VR Headset, the Development Kit 2 represents the culmination of many months of cutting-edge research and progress since the company released its DK1 to Kickstarter backers back in March 2013.

DSC_0414The DK2’s enhancements include a higher resolution panel, up from 1280×800 to 1920×1080 (1080p) and moved to a pentile matrix, OLED panel for display duties. This means higher levels of resolvable detail and a much reduced screen door effect. The panel features low persistence of vision, a technology pioneered by Valve that aims to cut motion artefacts by only displaying the latest, most correct display information relative to the user’s movements – as users of the DK1 will attest, its LCD panel was heavily prone to smearing, things are now much improved with the DK2.

Other inherent advantages of OLED are a potentially infinite range of contrast – as every element of an OLED panel individually emits light, no backlight is required (as is the case with LCD panels) which means that when OLEDs are not lit, the panel is completely dark. This means that black should appear black (dependant on lighting conditions), and therfore perceived contrast levels are boosted hugely. Colours too should appear more vibrant.

DSC_0420The other major advance is that, unlike DK1, the DK2 uses an optical, camera based tracking system which together with the onboard IMU provides the ability to track not just rotational movement but translational movement too, using onboard IR LEDs which sit behind an IR transparent shell on the front and sides of the DK2.

In real terms, this means that (within the cameral’s field of view) the system knows where your head is in 3D space . You can now move your head up and down, downwards and backwards relative to the camera and a DK2 compatible application can adjust your view appropriately, allowing you to lean in and out of a scene or lean left and right.

Anyway, enough of the theory – what’s it like in practice?

Inside the Box and Unit Build and Comfort Impressions

The DK2 takes a different approach to the DK1 in terms of connectivity. Whereas with the DK1, the Headset itself held only the display, lenses and IMU – the DK2 integrates the guts of the DL1 breakout box, into the headset itself. This means that you have a single, integrated cable running from the headset, splitting into USB (for tracking data) and HDMI (for video). It’s a refreshingly uncluttered approach and means there’s less chance of cable tangle.

dk1_dk2-sbsDespite the DK2 weighing in at 440g compared with the DK1’s 380g it doesn’t feel heavy at all in the hand. On the head too, the unit is light and comfortable to wear and as the cable now runs across the top of the head, you feel freer in movement than previously.

The headset unit itself feels like a quality component with high quality plastics used throughout with a good level of fit and finish. The camera too, a custom designed and built device as a solid quality feel. Nice touches, such as the braided cable sheath (DK2 to USB / HDMI) and minimalist simplicity of the camera are appreciated.

Physically, the DK2 feels very much like the DK1 to wear, light and comfortable although (despite what looks like extra ventilation) still a little warm over long periods on a summers day.

The retraction assembly is almost identical to DK1, with two rotatable dials each side to bring the display and lens assembly close or further from your face. The lenses themselves are slightly larger (and flatter on the user facing side) and there are now only two sets (A, fitted as standard and B). The device feels slightly more comfortable in place and I found it easier to wear glasses whilst in VR than with the DK1 – although you still need to be careful as you put it on.

Continued on next page ..

  • Ryan

    Great write-up. This is the review I’ve been waiting for, as I also wait for UPS.

  • RoTaToR

    Hint: There are several pages…. ( at the bottom –> Pages: 1234)

    • Paul James

      Now added ‘Continued on ..’ link. Thanks!

      • CaseyB

        Continued… link doesn’t work — the path doesn’t match and it always redirects to the first page.

        • Paul James

          This was fixed BTW. Thanks for the heads up.

  • David Mulder

    Regarding the movement through boundaries issue, as far as I have experimented the easiest and best solution is a very simple quick fade to grey or black. In my attempts you could still see through walls for a split second before the screen went black, but better systems could solve this by triggering the fade earlier.

    • Ruudscorner

      Just was I was thinking. I quick fade to black and/or with wireframe maybe, depending on the application. It seems like the best solution and I will try that myself when I get to that point.

  • jscheema


    Page 4.

    “So, What’s it Like in Practise?” –> “Practice”

    Thank you.

    • tom299

      Not a typo. “Practise” is the British spelling of “practice”. The author lives in the UK.

      • jscheema

        Ok then.

        3rd page first line “so what’s in like in practice?” -> “so what’s it like in practise?”

        • jscheema

          Also page 4, missing “closing quotations” for both quotes used on the page. Under Lens section on page 4, change “me” -> “be” in the first sentence.

    • kate

      annother typo me thinks
      “Again though, Oculus are on the case. Chris Taylor tweeted in response to mr article:”
      I presume it’s supposed to read
      Again though, Oculus are on the case. Chris Taylor tweeted in response to my article:

      • Paul James

        Ah the irony! ;)

  • eyeandeye

    This is great stuff. Thanks for posting it over the weekend. Waiting for Monday news is excruciating at times like this.

  • jrbm

    Oculus said don’t use the DK2 before updating the firmware, how was that like, did you try it before updating the firmware just to see what would happen or did you just do as they said? Is the firmware easy to update?

    • Paul James

      I did and yes, same process as the DK1. Config tool -> Tools -> Advanced -> Firmware update (from memory).

      • jrbm

        thanks Paul, was wondering about that. Loved your article, very good read!

  • Darshan Gayake

    Wow! Nice in depth review!

    Can’t wait for gaming and demo performance review with various hardware and level of detail sattings.

    Of course pros-cons of selecting pentile oled for virtual reality is also on radar.

  • sponge101

    I’ll echo all previous comments on how in-depth and well written this article is. All of the criticisms will hopefully be addressed in the CV1.

  • Darshan Gayake

    Can we expect VorpX review too

    As you are official sales partner of VorpX

    Specially like to know frame rates in following titles

    1) BattleField 4
    2) Dead Space 3
    3) Bio Shock Infinite
    4) Dirt 3
    5) Dishonored
    6) Mass Effect 2
    7) Mass Effect 3
    8) Metro 2033

    In both Geometry as well as Z buffer mode.

    Hope its not to difficult demand

  • kate

    As a fellow brit it good to know that the kit is arriving – I’m just hoping that I will have it prior to a meetup at the camp would be good – allbeit is there portable kit capable of “generating the 1.21 gigawattspixels” that this thing needs?

    what would be really useful is an article about the kit that is necessary to effectivly drive the hardware sufficently for development work i.e. advice on performance at lowest cost and no I don’t need the standard gamer mentality answer of “the best video card you can afford”.

    As i said i’m looking at 3P (price/performance/power) ratio issues for example to build a transportable large NUC sized block or ideally a rucksack based computing device capable of carrying sufficent batteries for use as a devlopment enviroment – you can guess the sort of application I am thinking of here.

    As far as i am aware due to v-lock issues I need hardware capable of delivery 960×1080@75fps x2 and I need to be able to scale that to a minimum of 90fps x2 and probably to 1280×1440 at 120fps x2? in due course. I have no idea at this point what the 3P ratio for 1280×1440 itreation is likley to be, nevermind the extension towards 4K and 8K in due course

    thanks for the article