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Part 2: Oculus Rift DK2 Review

There have been only a few lucky people who have been able to use the Oculus Rift DK2.
There have been only a few lucky people who have been able to use the Oculus Rift DK2.
Photo by Cindy Ord


Oculus Rift DK2
Photo courtesty of LA Gadgets Examiner, used with permission.

One minor drawback of the DK2 is the 960 x 1080 pixel (per-eye) resolution. Though it may sound good on paper, it doesn’t look as good when the screen is pressed against your face. You will notice individual pixels and a “barn door” effect on all the games and movies you watch. Still, this isn’t as bad as the almost unusable 640 x 800 pixel resolution per eye on the DK1. We have been told that the consumer release of the Oculus Rift, scheduled to be released during the first half of 2015, will have a much better resolution.

We also realized the drawbacks of not having a gaming-centered computer while using the Rift. The MacBook Pro with an Intel HD400 graphics chip may be excellent for video editing, photo editing and other tasks, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for gaming. One needs a powerful computer with a powerful and discreet graphics card (Nvidea for example) in order to fully experience the DK2 in its glory.

A perfect example of why one needs a powerful gaming-centered computer is especially evident when running the Helix Roller Coaster app. The graphics looked great on our computer, but the app only ran at 20 fps. We barely felt the effects of the roller coaster as it went straight down or upside down, because it felt like a bunch of fast-moving pictures instead of an actual roller coaster. It gave us a lot of motion sickness without the benefits of feeling like we were on a roller coaster.

Running the Ocean Rift app was a little more realistic. We actually felt like we were in the ocean. But it felt awkward moving around at 20 fps. The same can be said about many other apps. What we experienced was good, but left us wanting more—just “good” doesn’t cut it for a device as promising as the Oculus Rift.

Fortunately, the most important app—Cineveo—ran almost perfectly with the DK2. Cineveo is a movie-watching app and it completely replaces the need to go into a movie theater. This app allows you to watch regular or 3D movies on a curved screen in a space station, in the Ocean, or even in a haunted valley. Watching Gravity in 3D was an amazing experience that can’t even be described by words. The app ran smoothly and the movies played just as well as they would have on a Blu-ray or DVD player. Sven Kohn, who developed the Cineveo app, deserves all the praise he can get.

Owners of the DK1 may be upset that most of their favorite apps haven’t been updated yet for the DK2. However, this is changing by the hour and a huge percentage of the apps developed for the DK1 should work on the DK2 by the end of the month. Making apps DK2-ready is a huge task for developers, but most are happy to do it.

At $350, the Oculus Rift DK2 is a steal—that is, if you can get your hands on one. The backorder log for this device is huge and it may take several months to get your unit if you order now. However, some DK2 units are selling for as much as $800 on Craigslist—still a good buy for what you get. You can bet there will be huge lines like one has never seen when the consumer version of the Oculus Rift is finally released.

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