There’s been some commotion about the price of the new Oculus Rift pre-order bundle, and although nearly doubling the infamous ‘$350 ballpark’ estimate given out by company founder Palmer Luckey (for which he apologized), we thought this quick high-level breakdown might help clarify what you’re getting for hard earned cash.

Headset, Optics, and Display

Making things comfortable is important, and Oculus has focused their resources on improving the headset’s overall balance and stability, choosing to evolve the front-heavy ski goggle design seen in both previous developer kits.

oculus-rift-top-side

The headset is light, and having now had the chance to wear CV1 engineering samples for 20-30 mins at a time, it’s easy to see multi-hour gameplay passing with little complaint. There is no active ventilation present on the headset however.

oculus-rift-cv1-exploded-view
See Also: Oculus Rift Manufacturing Overview Reveals 200+ Custom Parts, IPD Adjustment Mechanism

Although we’re waiting on an iFixit breakdown of the entire system when it arrives to consumers in late March, Oculus says that the headset is sporting two built-for-VR Samsung OLED displays with a 1080 × 1200 per-eye resolution – 90Hz global refresh pushing 233 million pixels per second. Displays are specially treated to reduce perceived screen door effect, or the visible spaces between pixels. If you’ve used the Rift DK1 or DK2, you’ll be surprised at how diminished the screen door effect has become.

On the underside of the headset, is a small slider, designed to shift lenses and displays to match the unique distance between your pupils, crucial for a comfortable VR experience. IPD range hasn’t been officially confirmed, but should be good for all but 5% of the population with either extremely low or high IPDs.

SEE ALSO
Guinness Record Set With 25 Continuous Hours in Virtual Reality

Founder Palmer Luckey says the custom hybrid Fresnel lenses used in the headset are “more complex to manufacture than many high end DSLR lenses.” Luckey also told us in an interview that they’ve “managed to push optics technology pretty far to make that happen.”

See Also: Oculus Rift Pre-Order ETA is Now June for New Orders

High-End Integrated Audio

The integrated headphones are designed by Carbon, the same industrial design house responsible for the original Xbox controller, so they know a thing or two about ergonomics.

oculus-rift-detatchable-removable-headphone
A close-up of the detachable headphone

Having a light, well-fitting integrated solution means no added weight pressing down on top of your head, and certainly no more 2-step ‘put on the headset, then put on the headphones’ song and dance. Again, this is something that helps keep you in the the VR experience, and not subconsciously blocking out any discomfort. Both headphones can be removed however, but we’re betting most people will opt to use them based on convenience factor alone.

In line with Oculus’ belief (and their founder’s audiophile roots), the company have incorporated a custom in line DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) and amplifier, designed to deliver what Oculus claims is the cleanest, flattest response from the audio hardware pipeline as possible.

oculus-rift-cv1-e3-2015-paul-james

In a hands-on focusing on audio, editor Paul James found the Rift’s headphones to be “clear, crisp and transparent. It seems to me that the drivers found on the Rift are designed for purity and transparency – i.e. reproducing audio frequencies as accurately as possible avoiding colouration or added ‘character’ introduced by the hardware.”

An integrated microphone on the headset guarantees a uniform audio experience when it comes to voice comms in virtual reality. No specs have been released yet on the Rift’s microphone.

SEE ALSO
Free Limited Edition Rift Coming to Oculus Kickstarter Supporters

IR Tracking Sensor and ‘Constellation’ Array

Constellation is the name, and tracking headsets (and the recently delayed Oculus Touch) is the game.

Facing away from the tracking sensor in a DK2 means one thing: breaking positional tracking. Oculus’ new 360 Constellation Tracking System has set to correct this by providing tracking LEDs not only on the front and side of the headset, but also in the back so that you can turn around without fear of obscuring any part of the headset from the supplied tracking sensor.

oculus-rift-rear-LEDs

Of course, Constellation would be a useless clump of pulsing IR LEDs without a sensor to capture them, so Oculus is including a sleek-looking device designed specifically for the task. With a wide FOV that gives you a reasonably large tracking area (decidedly less than two HTC Vive Lighthouse trackers can provide) to stand up in, the tracking sensor can be mounted practically anywhere due to the sensor’s 1/4 20 mount—the same as most tripods.

Oculus will also be selling IR tracking sensors both as a part of Touch, and on an individual basis so you can extend tracking to any devices that include it’s own constellation tracking array. Limits on this are unknown, how many individual devices that can be tracked individually may have more to do with processing time to calculate each devices’ constellation, but it’s extremely unlikely any user would hit these theoretical limits anyway.

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  • P. Pzwski

    As I wrote before:

    Middle DSLR – 800-1200 USD
    Middle projector -700-2000USD
    Middle 4k screen – 600-1000USD
    Hi-end VR googles – 599 USD…

    All of those are in similar segment – optics, and display. What can we do – tech is pricey. And NVIDIA will be waiting until everybody who bought Oculus and VIVE will buy old 970. 980. 980Ti, and then release new Pascal GPUs.

    Time to say good bye to dreams about cheap VR. What can we do…

    • Heimdal

      Eeeh cheap VR is already here, otherwise good points. Cheap good VR was never for 2016. Cheap good VR 2017-2018 while the next great stuff will be expensive in its place.

      • Thiago Braga

        I would bet 3-5 years for it

    • tokukaede

      My GPU situation worries me the most as I have only two options, wait for the obviously better Pascal(or AMD equivalent) to come out and play with poor VR for months or buy a 970 right now only to have it be outdated next year(probably.)

      I think I’ll wait and get my Oculus, play games with my current video card and if it really reaaaallly sucks then I’ll get a 970(or 980?) but if I can bare it I’ll just wait.

      • P. Pzwski

        That’s very reasonable. You should wait and buy cheapest 970′ if you have to. And you can always sell 970 if you decide to change GPU in the future (it still will be good card in next 1-2 years).

        On the other hand – those ‘suggested’ specs for Oculus don’t have to be real – for example – you can play in every today’s game on old GF660. I understand demand for higher frame rate but… will see. And on PC (in contrast to PS) you can do much more stuff than gaming.

    • GOD

      have 980ti.can confirm.am happy.

      • P. Pzwski

        Good for you:)

        But if somebody doesn’t have – that person should wait, because in this year he can (probably) get much much more for the same money.

        • For sure. Let the hardcore fanboys jump on the expensive gear first, figure out all the flaws, send it back to the drawing board and then in a year or so, get a better quality version for half the price :P

    • John Malkovich

      “Time to say good bye to dreams about cheap VR” – No.
      The price on these things will drop in half in one year.
      I’ll just wait a year or two and get one when it’s 300 $ or 400 $, Oculus Touch included, with A LOT more exclusive content than it has today.

      • Tyraelkurt

        yes but that is a whole year or two that you don’t have VR fun. Think of it in terms of hrs of fun / $ and you will find good value. a movie costs about $10/1.5 hrs, disney world $80/10hrs etc. just imagine, some people will clock up at least 2000 hrs before you decide to cough up an extra $400 dollars, pretty stupid if you ask me

        • John Malkovich

          Dude, not everyone can afford it right away.
          The price of Oculus Rift in Europe is 700 eur, which is about 770 dollars, not including the Oculus Touch, which will cost AT LEAST another 100$.
          For a technology that requires a 1200+ dollar PC to run it, and for a technology that still doesn’t have enough content for it, that is just waaaay too much.

          Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that there are enough enthusiasts and early adopters,
          but I have no problem waiting a year or two until the technology gets cheaper and
          big game studios start making AAA VR games.

          • Tyraelkurt

            When i was a kid in the 90s i remember buying piggy banks and labeling them with a toy or video game i wanted and then i would do extra chores around the house, wash family friends cars etc and add to the piggy banks, it could take many months but it was worth it.

            Re the content, there is actually a lot of demos etc that people have developed for the oculus over the last couple of years.

  • Stefan Eckhardt

    The PSVR will very probably come out without any bundled controller, as every PS4 owner obviously has one DualShock 4 (wich is even better suited for VR than the Xbox One controller). Also many have the camera already, so there will be an SKU with only the goggles and breakout box, I bet. Of course there has to be another one with the camera.

    The Move controller also sits and waits in many target group drawers. I guess they will start selling two of those in bundle with a game needing a pair, but IMHO not tied to the PSVR itself.

    Sony says there are over 100 games confirmed:

    http://www.idigitaltimes.com/playstation-vr-will-have-over-100-games-attracting-gamers-first-priority-says-sony-501977

    Also someone at NeoGAF made an effort to assemble all the information, he currently sits at 62 confirmed titles in the start posting but the thread has one more (Music VR):

    http://neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1044658

    So I know you are primarily a PC site, but IMHO the PSVR deserves some love, too. I wouldn’t say it is just the cheapo VR, that label fits other devices better. Very curious about the price… :)

    • Thiago Braga

      This is not a PC site I think, It’s more like it’s the PC’s turn. Wait for a lot of news when PSVR comes out.

    • Brandon Daniel

      The reason they talk about the Rift (and the Vive to an extent) more often than PSVR at the moment is because there really isn’t too much new for them to say about the PSVR yet. Once it gets closer to release I am sure there will be a lot more articles on it.

      That being said, I don’t really see the PSVR and PC based VR really competing with each other. Most people who play on consoles don’t have real gaming grade pc’s, and most people that play on gaming grade pc’s aren’t very interested in consoles beyond potentially a handful of exclusives spread out across Xbox, PS, and Nintendo (which means that there are only like one or two every year or so on each console; and even then, it might not even be worth it to pick up a console for those games for PC gamers).

      I am also predicting PSVR to cost roughly the same as oculus (probably just a bit less), since Sony has said that they are aiming for it to be about the price of a console. Even with that goal in mind, I am guessing it will still be pricier than a console and will be heavily subsidized. Even if they don’t need to bundle it with the camera, controllers and stuff (which really a controller costs next to nothing in this equation; it’s probably at most $20 for Oculus, as an example, to include it in their bundle) the PSVR will still came at a price I don’t think many console gamers are going to be willing to shell out.

      It’s nice that console gamers at least have the option for reasonable VR and it will definitely come at an overall lower entry price for the system and VR HMD.

    • brandon9271

      What if Sony pulls a fast one and makes the PSVR PC compatible? That would be very interesting. People use PSMove and Kinect on PC so folks might have the option to use PSVR the same way. I’m sure somebody will hack together a driver to make it work one way or another.

      • Stefan Eckhardt

        I’d like that, too – doubt it will be done officially by Sony, but here is hoping it will be achieved anyway.

  • Kevin White

    I’m excited about the audio, except for one thing: I need isolation. These being supra-aural (resting ON the ear) and open (letting sound in and radiating sound out) mean they’ll have limited use for me in my noisy abode. I will instead use either my Audio-Technica ATH-M50s (which are circum-aural and closed) or some good in-ear monitors. But overall I’m glad they went with decent audio. I wonder how they compare to, say, Sennheiser PX100 or Sennheiser HD-25 II.

    • George Vieira IV

      I wonder about the choice to go one ear, rather than over ear too. Personally I prefer over ear for comfort as much as anything. Their decision was deliberate though, they said they didn’t want complete isolation from the world, perhaps due to fear of events happening in the real world not being realised by the person in VR. However I have heard that they are plenty capable of drowning out the outside world when things are happening in VR (action sequences, loud music)

    • Sven Viking

      A couple of people who’ve demoed it have claimed it has impressive noise-cancellation, but I didn’t notice it myself so don’t know if they’re mistaken somehow (or it’s a new feature I guess).

    • yag

      Palmer said the audio compare to the very decent ATH-AD700, so it’s good enough for all purposes (gaming, movies…)

  • CURTROCK

    Excellent article. Informative refresher on just how much Oculus has put into this product. Staggering.

  • Ainar

    I hate the Xbox controller (am I the only one?). Since I have to wait until they release the Oculus Grope, or whatever it’s called now, I might as well wait until Fove has a customer version to see how it compares to Oculus. Vive is not the kind of experience I’m looking for and PSVR is not even in the same league nor market, also, I don’t own a console.

    • BlackMage

      With the controllers out of the picture aren’t Vive and Oculus the exact same experience? Oculus’ tracking is basically just a subset of Vive’s. I find it hard to believe any Oculus game would be incompatible with Vive and vice-versa once the controllers are taken into account.

      • Ainar

        No, they’re not, there’s even another article on this site I believe comparing the two and it flat out says the picture quality in Oculus is better. Most people seem to find the lighthouse system the most appealing part of Vive but I don’t even have enough free space in my living room to warrant that :)

        • Full Name

          Note that the Vive Pre shown at CES is still not the final consumer version, so things like image quality can change. It is very minor now (I have tried both). The fresnel lens on the Rift consumer version is of slightly better quality than the Vive Pre development version. Again, not much different, the resolution and refresh is the same on both headsets. Feature-wise, even if you don’t have room for Lighthouse, the built in Camera in the headset would be a big plus for me on the Vive. It allows you to take a sip of your drink, or talk to someone while you see them, if they walk into the room, without removing the headset.

          • Masato Indou

            so how does the Vive handle moving around in the game world, from my understanding it’s basically limited to the size of the room it’s set up in
            Interested in knowing how the Vive handles the future (inevitable) open world VR games (some sort of treadmill maybe?)
            :)

          • Full_Name

            The Vive handles up to 15x15ft spaces at the moment. It is up to the developers to utilize this. The demos are geared towards 10-15ft in each direction, but it would be possible to create different experiences based on the size of the room. Developers can do this. For instance, job simulator could do OK w/5×5, but if you have the room, you can move around more., since the developers made it for different “template sizes”.

            I think if you utilize a treadmill-type device, both the oculus and vive will function well,but if oculus only has one camera for tracking and the upcoming touch controllers are used, you could potentially block those with your body if you turn away from the camera you do have. Vive works great on anything like sit down, treadmill or rooms of
            various sizes.

          • Masato Indou

            I think Palmer Luckey mentioned once that he managed to replicate vive’s lighthouse by using 2 of the oculus trackers, honestly though I’m hoping they do come up with a solution for the room limitation, that’s always been what I thought as the deal breaker for the Vive (a treadmill like device is still the way to go I think)

          • Ainar

            No matter how big the space, you will run out if it sooner or later. The only way to properly do movement within VR without artificially limiting the virtual space is either something like the treadmills or a neural hook up (and that’s still decades away).

          • crim3

            The Touch controllers will be bundle with a second camera. They (Oculus) keep saying it.

          • Ainar

            The lighthouse and the Oculus cameras have actually a very similar effect, it’s just a matter of which side is the emitter and which one the sensor. You can have issues with occlusion in both cases unless you have proper space to set up the stationary parts. With that in mind, right now Oculus does better in limited space environments as with the IR diodes on its back it requires only one camera to fully track the HMD at all times.

          • Full Name

            When you have two cameras for Rift perhaps (crim3 says the controllers will ship with a second camera). Until that, I see no way the Rift would work BETTER in a small area, though it will be EASIER to set up.

          • Ainar

            In a small area you won’t be able to set up lighthouse properly while Oculus will still track the HMD without problems just as it would anywhere else.

          • Full Name

            No, that’s not true. unless by small area you mean sitting inside a shoe box. (which would be impressive). If all you want to do is sit at a desk and use a regular game controller, keyboard, mouse, HOTAS, you don’t strictly need any lighthouse units, but even if you set that up, they are small cubes and they will fit fine on either side of your monitor. If you want to use motion controllers with the Oculus, it also sounds like you need to set up a second camera..

          • Ainar

            I don’t think you know how the lighthouse system works, you see there are two emitters that flood the area with light and both the HMD and the controllers use that to track their position in relation to the lighthouses. You do need to set them up even if you are only using the HMD and depanding on how you do it the resulting coverage may vary. I’m not sure whether you need to put them in specific places or is it completely up to you but assuming the latter you still would want one of them to stand in a place allowing you to look back from your chair. Until they put receivers on the back of Vive Oculus wins in that it tracks the HMD from a single point without losing it unless all diodes are occluded (which would require you to literally bend over backwards).

          • Full_Name

            I’m perfectly aware – see my response above. Vive CAN be tracked without them, though it may have been a preference to use Lighthouse for greater accuracy. In either case, with Vive you get two boxes so you won’t have an issue with tracking (and they have a wider area coverage than the Rift camera, so tight places will be fine).

          • Ainar

            True, we are yet to see the final Vive and the price is still unknown. That being said it will most likely be more expensive than Oculus and if they put in a better screen that price will only rise. Now if you don’t need features like the lighthouse or the AR camera, it does not make any sense to pay more for Vive. That camera, again, sounds nice when used in conjunction with the ‘room experience’, not much of use though if you’re only going to be sitting down or standing in place. If someone talks to me while I’m in VR, I might as well take the HMD off since the immersion is broken anyway :)

          • Full Name

            I have seen two notes about why the Oculus is slightly better at the moment, one of which is pretty clear, the other one, not sure about;
            1. The Fresnel lenses of the Rift are better. (We are talking about the lens, not the screen in this case.
            2. One person referenced that Samsung had applied *something* to the screen to reduce screen door effect. Note that both headsets use the same resolution/refresh/technology screens, so if this is indeed the case, it is still unclear if it is only applied to the Oculus version, or if HTC gets similar treatment (either from Samsung, another screen manufacturer etc)

            I don’t mind paying more for the Vive either way. The lighthouse technology still seems more expandable than keep adding cameras, plus the killer feature for me is the built in camera on the headset.

          • Ainar

            Regarding 2, maybe he meant that tech where the screen goes dark between frames to decrease the chances of nausea? I don’t think I’ve read anywhere about the details of Vive’s tech, Valve and HTC are much more secretive unfortunately so it’s hard to tell what exactly went in there.

            Edit: Or it could simply be the use of OLED displays ;)

      • Full Name

        Well, it is hard to say how big of an area the Rift can potentially track. I read somewhere you can add a second camera, but not 100% sure if that is correct. If not, the Rift will be unable to track the Touch controllers when you are facing away from the camera.

        In any case, the second difference is that the Vive now has a built in camera in the headset – which is extremely useful, as it allows you to see an overlay of the real world if you want/need to. Want to take a sip of your soda? Just doubleclick one of the buttons and you can see it in front of you. Almost walking into a wall? the wall will actually be shown on your screen.

        • BlackMage

          Right, so Oculus is basically a subset of Vive’s features. Any experience Oculus can provide Vive can provide in the exact same way. Which is why his interest in Oculus but “Vive is not the kind of experience I’m looking for” made no sense to me.

          The other direction I guess wouldn’t work quite as well without enough cameras, I’m honestly surprised Oculus didn’t just use lighthouse since Valve is making it open technology.

          • Ainar

            I would be careful with the ‘exact same way’ as we haven’t seen the customer version of Vive and the current one does do things quite differently. It is most apparent in seated experiences which is what’s most interesting to me right now. It’s going to be a long while before moving around in VR stops being a kinect-like gimmick and actually gives more immersion rather than reminding you about the real world with messages like ‘you can’t go there because that’s where you have a wall in real life’. To clarify the ‘experience I’m looking for’, it’s about space sims ;)

          • BlackMage

            See that’s where you lost me, I’m missing something here. Price-point aside I don’t see how the Vive won’t be exactly like the Oculus when you sit down with a HOTAS especially if the difference in visual quality of the screen/optics is negligible. If you ignore the inside-out camera, just sit in your chair and use your own controllers what’s different about the Vive?

            If anything it just means I can stop moving the tracking camera around between my playseat for racing and where my HOTAS is setup like I have to do with the DK2 now.

          • Ainar

            Well, see those are specifics of your surroundings and with what you said Vive might be a better choice for you. I have pretty much only on place where I can put somethign like the lighthouse emitter or the oculus camera and that’s right next to my PC’s monitor. Everywhere else would mean clutter I have to hide somewhere after every session with the device and always be wary while using that someone may trip over it. Without putting up the second lighthouse somwhere to cover more angles the Oculus has an advantage in head tracking due to the IR diodes on the back. Also, why would you put the price point aside? it’s a fairly important thing, especially if you’re paying extra for features you’re not using. Note what you wrote yourself, ignore this ignore that. Sure, if you boil it down to the most basic level they are both just HMDs that can be used in pretty much the same fashion. That said, Vive is just a few months from shipping and what we’ve seen so far still loses, granted just a little, to Oculus in terms of image quality.

          • Full Name

            I think he says price point aside because he is actually interested in the extra features sometimes.

            I’m not sure why you think a lighthouse is so much harder to place than a camera that you also need to put on your desk. From what I have read, if all you want to do is use the headset, i.e. look around (and not use motion controllers), you don’t even need lighthouse unit(s) set up. If you want to use motion controllers, you need at least one, perhaps two (I have heard conflicting stories). In any case these units are small, you can have them placed on either side of your monitor. I’m pretty sure they will either include small stands or make it available.

            Did you try the latest Rift and Vive Pre by the way? If you did, you would know the image quality is VERY close, so for some of us, even if that does not get adjusted before release, it is worth the extra features/options we get.

          • Ainar

            There’s 2 lighthouse units and you require both to track the position of the HMD afaik. Oculus only needs one camera for the HMD and another is only required if you use the controllers (or maybe they just add it to provide more accuracy? not sure about that one).

            No, I haven’t tried them yet. I know the quality is close but I’m sensitive to the details and if I can get the better thing for less money, I don’t see why I shouldn’t :)

          • Full_Name

            Valve’s Gabe Newell: “..while Vive will provide enough tracking for a person who’s sitting, bigger challenges like having “ten people in a room moving around” is what lead to the creation of Lighthouse.”

          • BlackMage

            Price point aside because I’m loose with money when it comes to my favorite hobby. I am lucky enough to have the leeway to ignore the price fluctuations at this level. So I’m looking at these things from a purely technical perspective.

          • Ainar

            Well then, what are you doing here? Just pre-order both and see which one fits your needs better, then resell the other one or gift it to someone :)

    • George Vieira IV

      Can’t speak for everyone, but I love the Xbone controller, much better than the 360, and for me more comfortable than the PS3/4. Couple that with built in windows drivers, making setup easy.

      Fove was the one with eye tracking right? Pretty interested in that tech, but not going to wait for it myself.

      • Masato Indou

        eye tracking is interesting but I personally don’t want to be limited to just strictly eye tracking, I’m hoping they don’t stop at that and develop their own controllers as well (until at least we get to that SAO level of VR:D)

  • Great article!

  • Full Name

    Vive does not have 15 square foot tracking. It has UP TO 15ft x 15ft tracking…

    • Chris Malone

      Do we have confirmation of this playspace size? My understanding from the first VIVE Dev kit was a 3 meter x 4 meter area, but Ryan from HTC mentioned a 15 by 15 environment when being interviewed by Norm from Tested (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2WmDszPe5M&t=11m50s).

      • Full Name

        This is from an article that was written closer to a year ago, but I don’t think there were a lot of updates to the Lighthouse portions:

        Coverage

        When asked about how much space the Lighthouse covers, the initial answer was 15 feet x 15 feet. This very specific answer caused a lot of unnecessary alarm and confusion. What if I have a smaller room? What if I have a bigger room? What if I can’t dedicate a whole room and I want to sit in a swivel chair at my desk*, or to stand in the middle of my living room?

        In response, Valve’s Chet Faliszek clarified this issue at a presentation at EGX Rezzed. “We say 15 feet, which is what a lot of people have heard. That isn’t required; that’s just one version of it. You can be seated, you can be standing, you can have a small room or big room. We like having those options.” He wasn’t walking it back; Valve is offering all those possibilities.

        * – It is worth noting that if you intend to use the Vive at a desk, you should place your Lighthouse units where they will have an unobstructed view of your head and arms.

        The minimum space for a Lighthouse appears to be enough so that you can sit or stand in place, and freely move your arms about you. Perhaps 6 feet by 4 feet. The maximum space for two Lighthouse units have not yet been defined, but is expected to be greater than the 15’x15′ figure given.

        Down the road, they expect to provide the ability to concatenate multiple spaces together with additional Lighthouse units. That is another feature that might work out really well for a specific application.

  • mellott124

    It’s a ton of tech for $600. An HMD like this was well over $10k just a few years ago.
    Exciting times.

  • Great in-depth article! The picture of the screen really shows all the moving parts involved in the rift… Fascinating. I can’t wait for my pre-order to come in.

  • Mitt Zombie

    You get all the motion sickness induced vomiting you could ever want, enjoy!

  • paul middleton

    nice. shut up and take my money

  • manhill

    The Vive supports a 15 BY 15 foot tracking volume, and NOT 15 square foot tracking volume as written in the article…