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Oculus Rift DK2 initial impressions

On Thursday morning, a representative from Oculus confirmed that the Oculus Rift DK2 (Development Kit 2) has shipped more units in two weeks than the entire Oculus Rift DK1 Kickstarter. This is very impressive, considering the fact that 50,000 more DK2 units still are awaiting shipment.

The Oculus Rift DK2 is impressive, but has a few drawbacks.
Photo courtesy of LA Gadgets Examiner, used with permission.
Oculus Rift DK2
LA Gadgets Examiner

We were lucky to receive an Oculus Rift DK2 review unit and have been spending the past two days experiencing the device. We will bring a more detailed analysis of the DK2 in the next week or so. However, our initial impressions leave us impressed with some minor drawbacks.

It took us several hours before we were able to get the DK2 up and running. We have a MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina, but the DK2 software still isn't compatible with OSX (that may change soon though). We had to install Windows 8.1 through Boot Camp and that in itself was a huge task. Then, we had to install the DK2 Windows software and adjust our displays, which was incredibly tedious. But once we were able to get everything working, the experience was, for the most part, very enjoyable.

The first app we tried was the Helix Roller Coaster, which displayed excellent and realistic graphics. As great as it was experiencing a roller coaster ride, it didn't actually feel like we were on it. Perhaps the fact that the app was only running at 25fps rather than the 60fps it was designed for had a lot to do with it.

The second app we tried was Ocean Rift and the experience here was far more realistic. We actually felt like we were in the deep water viewing ocean creatures. The app even simulates the sound of hearing yourself breath while snorkeling. Unfortunately, we didn't have a gaming joystick and had to use keyboard buttons instead, which made the experience a little less realistic.

We love the fit of the DK2 and even though the vision sweet spot is limited, it's certainly better than it is on other devices, such as Sony's HMZ-T1. We like the fact that you can use your own headphones with the DK2, which improves the virtual reality experience. Overall, the DK2 feels cheaply built, but isn't.

The one major drawback of the DK2 is that it is so heavily dependent on cords, which will hopefully change by the time the consumer version is released. There are HDMI and USB wires hanging from the top of the headset that you have to connect to your computer. Then, there are the power cord and camera connectors. It's a little too much and we found that--at least twice--one of the cords would detach and end our experience earlier.

It's important to remember that the Oculus Rift is still in the development stages and has made many strides over the past year. By the time of its consumer release, the Oculus Rift will certainly be a historic device that changes the way we view videos and play games.

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