It’s difficult to get a real sense of Crescent Bay, Oculus’ latest Rift prototype, because outsiders are only ever in the headset for a few minutes at a time. Having now logged a number of sessions, I’m starting to get a solid feel for the headset and have collected some of my thoughts on its subtleties.

Lenses

The Crescent Bay prototype, sporting new custom-tailored earphones

In my latest session with the headset, I triple checked that it uses Fresnel lenses. I was 99% sure I’d seen this when I used the headset a few weeks ago at GDC 2015, but after double-checking some photos which didn’t appear to reveal the characteristic Fresnel ridges, I was a little worried that I might have mixed memories from my time with the HTC Vive and Sony Morpheus. After my triple-check though, I’m sure. The ridges are much more fine than those on the HTC Vive, and they appear to be ‘inside’ of the lens (which could hint at a multi-element lens)—probably why no one seems to have noticed, even though Crescent Bay has been floating about since September.

In the early days of the Rift, creator Palmer Luckey didn’t think Fresnel lenses would be a good fit for the headset, as he shared on the Oculus section of Reddit:

Because they kill contrast, add a variety of annoying artifacts, and don’t actually save all that much weight. They don’t help with form factor, either; Fresnels cannot come close to matching the focal length/magnification of other optics tech.

I asked Luckey about his latest thoughts on Fresnels but he opted not to comment.

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Light Rays

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An approximation of what the ‘light ray’ artifact looks like on Crescent Bay (and HTC Vive).

I’ve also reaffirmed the existence of a new visual artifact that I’ve noticed on Crescent Bay which the DK2 lacks; I believe it may due to the Fresnel lenses, as I’ve noticed the same artifact on the HTC Vive. The best words I can use to describe it are ‘light rays’. They seem to be present on high contrast scenes (especially white on black), and appear to change direction as the image moves about the scene. For the most part, the light rays seem not to be very noticeable during an average scene, but they stand out in those with high contrast.

See Also: First Hands-on – Oculus Rift Crescent Bay is Incredible

Black Smear

On a positive note, black smear, one of the DK2’s biggest display issues, has nearly been eliminated. Black smearing is the result of the display’s pixel switching time being slow when switching between true black and other colors. I’m not sure if this is a hardware fix or possibly a software approach (which could be achieved by using a 99% dark grey instead of true black), but it’s a huge improvement, especially in dark scenes. I believe I still see a faint ghosting effect, but it isn’t clear if this is related to black smear.

Display

Since the reveal of Crescent Bay at Oculus Connect in September 2014, the company has been extremely tight-lipped about the display. They still haven’t released hard details on the display tech or resolution.

I previously speculated that it was using a 2560×1440 display, as I’ve found the image quality to be comparable between Gear VR and Crescent Bay. But after seeing the HTC Vive (which has a known resolution), and the recent revelation that there are actually two displays inside the headset, my guess is that it uses the same 1200×1080 (per-eye) displays as the HTC Vive, providing a total effective resolution of 2160×1200.

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Although at this resolution it has become hard to tell, I’m fairly certain that the display uses the PenTile subpixel structure, just like the DK2 and Note 4 (which powers Gear VR).

It seems to me that Crescent Bay’s saturation is lacking compared to the DK2, but it’s tough to say without a side by side comparison.

See Also: HTC Vive and SteamVR Hands-on – A Stage of Constant Presence

Ergonomics and Field of View

Crescent-Bay_3

The improvements to Crescent Bay’s ergonomics are not quite appreciable if you’re only spending 5 minutes in the headset at a time. It’s the long-term comfort that’s important.

Crescent Bay is better fitting and much lighter than the DK2, I would guess by at least 15%. Inside the headset, there seems to be more space around your eyes, making the whole thing feel more roomy and breathable, though this comes at the cost of a larger opening around the nose which can let light into the headset, whereas the DK2 is nearly completely enclosed from the outside.

The headband seems to dodge the ears much more effectively, eliminating the irritating feeling of the DK2’s straps trying their hardest to slice off your ear during a long session.

There’s not much to say about the field of view other than that it’s noticeably larger, by about 10%. I’ll take all I can get!

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  • czero

    ‘light rays’ – new artifact, new name:) I am really curious about these fresnels in hmds. I’d like to see some paper/presentation explaining a little bit more about fresnels in hmd. Finally, it’s all about compromises;)

  • druidsbane

    How’re the ergonomics of the Vive prototype versus CB (weight/strap comfort)? Never got a clear answer on that.

    • Ben Lang

      Great question. CB is noticably better than Vive in both the face-interface and weight.

      CB vs Morphues is a toss up because CB is lighter, but Morpheus has a (arguably) better mounting system.

      If Morpheus is equal in weight to CB, Morpheus would take the trophy, IMO.

      • druidsbane

        Thanks! I’ve yet to try CB and while Morpheus is nice it doesn’t really interest me due to being tied to a console. Looking forward to seeing what the consumer Vive ends up like as well as what Oculus’ latest prototypes are like. Shame that input won’t be necessarily part of CV1 Rift but I’m sure that what does come will be competitive with Lighthouse in completely different ways.

      • William Wallace

        Further, geekmaster just went to GDC, to test crescent bay, he said thier DEMO was very CONTROLLED so you dont see the light affects on fresnels that you and ben talking about in other thread. That thier hardware and software stuff VERY CONTROLLED, and this may be deceptive, why not show what a REAL USER may experience really at home, with all kinds of lighting scenarios, why kinda try and deceieve in this way? http://www.mtbs3d.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=20930#p158055 Finally, geekmaster just sent me a link, about a movie called THE PENTAGON WARS, starring cary elwes (dread pirate roberts from Princess Bride) and kelsey grammar, you can watch it free on youtube. It is a true story about the bradley tank, how messed up it was, from so much corruption and graft. And in the movie, cary elwes walks into the barracks and talks about an m16 rifle, and how people died in vietnam, because GOOD testing was not done, and public demos of the gun that were done, hid internal problems. And this mattered, because these guys were doing PUBLIC demos of the bradley tank, but HIDING the internal issues, from everyone, from congress, so that when this thing was used in real world, it would KILL the soldiers depending on it, and how EVIL that was. This applies to Oculus, doing their public demos, geekmaster said they had VERY CONTROLLED public demo when he tested crescent bay, the lighting conditions, the game being played, etc, but I ask is this them just doing SILLYness like that movie THE PENTAGON WARS, giving a very managed and CONTROLLED public demo, that is not very ACCURATE or REALISTIC of a real HOME experience, so just like in the movie, they could sell hype, and make sales, but kinda LIE to the public of what they can REALLY expect at home? Denny Unger, of cloudhead games, he had many posts at reddit, talking about comfort mode, and about these MANAGED demos being shown by oculus to the public, but that it really may not be representative of TRUE real world HOME experiences, and I just wonder, isn’t that kind of DECEPTIVE in a way maybe? Selling the public on hope and lies that wont be the real world at home experience maybe, and cause many people to get SICK at home, that did not get sick at the demo, with all the maybe deception? Well I don’t know, it was geekmasters point. What is best for VR? Deception, Lies? Or truth, so we can fix real problems, instead of hiding them like that movie the pentagon wars talks about? Its food for thought anyways. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UWRzE_JeVU&t=5367 (the pentagon wars, watch the whole thing)
        Ben I know you had yuval boger of OSVR talk about his dual element optics on your Blog, how much clearer they are, distortion free, can you tell us if they have this same HIGH CONTRAST issue? Maybe if developers use OSVR, they won’t have to code around it like for Oculus?

        • brandon9271

          Hopefully the consumer version won’t have any of the problems that these prototypes have and it won’t make any difference. Them writting demos that play to their strengths instead of their weaknesses could be seen as deceptive but that’s not necessarily their intent. You work with what you have and do your best with it. I’m sure they’re weighing out the cost vs performance options to make CV1 have the most bang for the the buck and hopefully if issues such as ‘light rays’ are present there will be optics upgrades for those who don’t mind the added cost or weight. I don’t think Oculus is evil like the Pentagon ;)

  • -Mars

    I hate to be that guy, but please don’t write things like “should of”, “might of”, “would of”. It makes absolutely no sense ;-;

    It may sound similar, but it’s ACTUALLY written “should’ve”, “might’ve”, “would’ve”, because they are abbreviations of the expressions “should have”, “might have” and “would have”. Those abbreviations are definitely pronounced “should of”, “might of” and “would of”, but they’re not spelled that way at all. Spelling it that way makes it nonsensical and it hurts my soul.

  • Sean Concannon OculusOptician

    Thanks for the update Ben, very informative. I can’t help but notice all the contradictions from Oculus at this point. Dual displays, fresnel lenses and surround sound seem sacrilegious after all the previous statements they made in the past. It begs the question, why didn’t Oculus take this direction from the beginning? and how much is the consumer version going to cost after all these costly changes. Also can’t help but notice their internal conflict with VRVana. They purchased 13th labs, invested in surround sound and are looking into built-in cameras with the purchase of Nimble sense. They also announced Crescent Bay right in the middle of the VRVana kickstarter bringing it to a standstill. Very contradictory for a company claiming to support the industry in general.

    • bg,annn

      cost much more now… :(