The Oculus Rift is finally here and with it, the virtual reality industry steps from three consecutive years of ‘year zero’ to ‘year one’ for VR. There’s a lot riding on the Rift. Does it deliver?

I envy the person reading these words right now who has never tried virtual reality. While we (the VR community and industry) have waited for several years now for the first desktop-class consumer headset of this new VR era to launch, in your reality, VR has simply appeared, and in the form of a product that will almost certainly impress you.

The Oculus Rift launches today and after spending a week with the headset, we’re ready to give our thoughts.


Table of Contents


Hardware

Unboxing & Carrying Case


oculus rift cv1 unboxing (37)

Oculus has gone full-Apple on the Rift unboxing and presentation. The headset ships inside of a svelte box which doubles as a carrying case. Upon opening, you’ll find the Rift, Sensor, Remote and an Xbox One controller. That’s pretty much it, save for a few little extras like an Oculus sticker and a lens wipe.

See Also: Unboxing the New Oculus Rift Step-by-Step in Pictures

The Rift carrying case holds the headset, Sensor, and Remote in a beautiful arrangement, almost as if it was made to be left open on display. The Rift carrying case is impressively well crafted, made out of what feels like thick cardboard covered with a velvety finish. The opening of the case clasps shut with magnets, and on top there’s a woven handle the feels plenty sturdy.

oculus rift cv1 unboxing (16)

The case has already come in handy for repackaging the Rift to transport it from one place to the next. Combined with the simple set of components, those needing to move the Rift to and fro will be very happy with the case.

Design & Ergonomics


oculus rift review (2)

I’m confident in calling the Oculus Rift the most aesthetically pleasing headset among any that we know will launch in 2016. Oculus has gone to great length to meld form & function with the headset’s design.

Materials

While the company’s prior development kits felt like plastic bricks to attach to your face, the consumer Rift is elegant in its materials and design. Although it’s entirely black, it manages to feel welcoming, rather than project an appearance of a device only meant for hardcore gamers or tech nuts.

oculus rift review (4)

Fabric and soft plastics are used throughout. The main enclosure is rounded nicely and covered over with fabric except on the front. Inside, the lenses are surrounded by a flexible fabric that stretches with them as they move left and right when adjusting the IPD (the distance between the lenses, to correspond with the distance between your eyes) using a little dial on the bottom of the headset, which is the only button/control on the entire device.

Fit & Comfort

oculus rift review (6)

Oculus says they designed the Rift for long-term comfort for lengthy sessions. And while in my experience they’ve achieve that goal, the unit can actually be quite uncomfortable if you aren’t very careful about tweaking the fit.

On the prior Rift development kits, a large portion of what held the headset on your face was the horizontal headstrap which squeezed the facial interface (the front part of the headset that touches around your eyes) with the back of your head. The consumer Rift is different, and if you carry your past practices of fitting the headset like the DK1 or DK2, you’ll be setting yourself up for discomfort.

oculus rift review (8)

The most critical adjustment for comfort on the consumer Rift is not how tight the side straps are, but instead getting the rear of the strap positioned correctly. You want the triangle on the back of the headset to be down very low, cupping the crown of your head. You want the weight of the headset to be mostly held up with the strap that goes over the top of your head, with it ultimately hanging down from that top strap with only a small amount of force from the side straps pulling the device against your face.

The best indicator I’ve found to make sure you have the right fit is that the struts protruding from the display housing should be parallel/square with the housing itself. If you see the struts tilted up or down at an angle, the headset is probably not adjusted optimally.

Unfortunately that means it’s difficult to find your fit while wearing the headset. There’s two straps on the right and left of the display housing, along with the top strap. Manipulating them all into their correct positions takes some practice, but it’s worth the time to get it right because once you do, the Rift can be very comfortable indeed.

Oculus said they’ve designed the headset so that once you find your fit, it’s easy to take off and put back on without additional adjustments. For the most part this is true and it’s achieved thanks to a spring system which allows the display housing to extend an extra inch or so when pulled (in the case of removing or putting on the headset), and then spring back to the same position of your original adjustment.

oculus rift review (7)

One annoyance with this system is that the tether cable—which comes out the top left of the display and then hooks onto the strap so that it falls behind your head and not next to it—causes the left strut to not spring as freely as the right side. This often causes the right strut to be fully extended on its spring while the left is not extended at all. When this happens the headphones then feel misaligned and, even after being adjusted to compensate, feel a like they’re resting against each ear differently. This annoyed me for a while, but I got over it quickly enough.

You can free up a little slack in the tether cable between the point where it enters the headset and the strap clip point to try to avoid this.

Foam Inserts

oculus rift review (3)

It was our understanding that Oculus would be shipping several foam “facial interfaces”—the foam that keeps the Rift on your face—in the box. However, the Rift only includes the single interface that it ships with. It’s removable, and Oculus tells us we can expect to see more down the road.

For now the company suggests a frame width of 142mm or less and a frame height of 50mm or less if you want to use glasses with the Oculus Rift

Continue Reading on Page 2 (Specs and Performance)

  • Johny Smacky

    Guys,if you have time take a look at our new forums that we have just recently launched related to Virtual Reality.Consider joining us here: http://vrforums.org/

    • sintheticreality2

      Flagged as spam.

  • Mike

    I don’t know if you guys have a Vive yet or not, but any news on the Oculus Store working with the Vive? Or is it exclusive to Oculus? For the sake of all VR I hope it’s compatible for both, like Steam vr.

    • Metrogenic

      Just the Rift for now. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

    • benz145

      Right now the Oculus Store only supports the Rift. I will see about trying the Rift with Steam though.

    • Most of it will be Steam focused, since that seems to be the general consensus on pc gaming market anyways. Most of the Oculus games will port to steam hopefully.

  • George Vieira IV

    Can’t wait to get mine. I hope the white on black light ray issue isn’t too distracting for me.

    Maybe a typo on the first page : “…feel a like they are resting…”

    • benz145

      This wasn’t a typo actually but I adjusted the wording a bit to try to make it more clear. Thanks for the feedback : )

      • Sven Viking

        I’ve never actually heard the expression “feel a like” before. It’s definitely not meant to be just “…feel like…”?

  • Dwayne Johnson

    How come no one ever lists their system specs? I want to know how well the headset performed on the system they were using.

    • Stu Whisson

      They have, the last page of the article states that they used this system to test it: http://www.avadirect.com/Exemplar-Road-to-VR-Custom-Gaming-PC

      • Dobba

        They also say this:

        Disclosure: Oculus provided Road to VR with a loaner Rift and PC to facilitate this review.

        So if they lent them a PC, why do they also say it was tested on their own Exemplar Rift PC.

        Confused as to what it is as I’m guessing Oculus didn’t provide them with an Exemplar to test on.

        • benz145

          We tested with our Exemplar PC, but it’s still important to us to disclose that Oculus sent a loaner PC to us even if we didn’t use it as the basis for our review.

  • DonGateley

    With no diopter adjustment on the device the virtual focal plane distance will be fixed and those requiring glasses at that distance will need to use them with this.

    I’d like to know what the distance is to that virtual focal plane because my eye’s focal distance is fixed at infinity from plastic lenses due to cataract surgery.

    • DAB

      You only need glasses in VR if you’re nearsighted. VR focuses at infinity for comfort.

      • DonGateley

        Excellent news, thanks.

  • Joe

    Any word on the audio experience?

  • How well does it work with Windows 7? I *REALLY* want to avoid Windows 10. I know, if you work hard enough at it, you can gut all of M$ spyware, but I’d rather avoid the hassle, if possible.

    • benz145

      Haven’t had a chance to try with Windows 7 yet unfortunately, but according to Oculus, Windows 7/8/10 are all supported.

  • Leo Richard Comerford

    Here are some bits and pieces which would be worth looking into in the weeks ahead: https://www.reddit.com/r/oculus/comments/4cffhu/reviewers_and_early_cv1_rift_owners_here_are_some/

  • Christopher Conley

    I was
    talking with a student the other day (I’m a philosophy professor) who was
    apologizing for having to check his phone while expressing his amazement/shock/pity
    that I don’t own a cell-phone. While his thumbs were-a-twiddling and his face
    was pointed at his hands, he said, “I can’t imagine being so disconnected
    from the world.” I didn’t say anything. I was too busy looking at the odd
    triple V formation of the geese flying over our heads.

    I am not a Luddite. I like my computers. But I like my mind a whole lot more. I
    try to avoid the instant memory machine that is google. E-mail has made life
    hell because now it seems I’m never not “at” my job. Twitter, Facebook,
    Instagram – unimaginable to me. To my mind, internet should not be between
    water and bread as it is for most young people see the details of recent
    research:

    http://www.northeastern.edu/news/2012/10/3qs-the-social-impact-of-social-networks/

    http://technologyessays.org/effects-of-technology/.

    But I totally understand the fascination with wireless communication and the
    technology that surrounds it. I was an amateur radio operator when I was a kid,
    and I was playing with flight simulators and writing code on the Commodore 64
    and the old 386 series when most of the country was still struggling with the
    difficult transition from rotary dials to push-buttons.

    When the Times sent out the Google cardboard VR thingy, I made it, wrapped it
    in a lot of duct-tape (a ham radio habit), and made my son download some VR
    content on his phone so I could check it out.

    It was fun. For a while. I marveled at the technological advance. And it would
    be awesome for flight simulators and driving games. I just can’t imagine
    it replacing a classroom…

    • Sven Viking

      All reasonable, just also keep in mind that a $600 PC-powered headset provides a rather different experience from a phone in a piece of cardboard with $2 lenses.

  • Bog Nakamura

    I’m feeling like the actual software is really polished and user friendly. After the DK’s I was put off and opted to wait the PSVR, but looks like the Oculus might be even better at plug and play experience. Waiting for some serious games to be suported.

  • Scott Krueger

    Anyone Have any Experience using Both on the Same System? I have pre-ordered both the Oculus Rift & HTC Vive and Plan to get the PS VR on order soon. I’m a All of the Above type of guy… So as far as the Rift & Vive I am wondering how well they will play together on the Same System? Can I leave both Plugged in and Choose in the Game which Headset I want to use? Will I have to Plug in one or the Other Exclusively to switch, etc…

  • Chrissy Columbus

    woop WOOOOP, just ordered off ebay for double the release price… f**k it, worth iT!

  • VRDRUMMER

    My Oculus Rift is shipping they took payment and are about to issue tracking, so very happy about that! There are games I want to experience with the Rift!
    Excited!
    The VIVE is Awesome too! Room Scale VR is a great immersion into the VIVE VR World! Motion controllers are very accurate.