We all knew 2019 was going to be a special year for virtual reality (VR), three years since the original consumer headsets arrived it was time to bring some new toys to the table. HTC Vive did that with the Vive Focus Plus and Vive Pro Eye, while rival Facebook and its Oculus Quest headset is soon to arrive. However, it’s the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 and surprise surprise the Oculus Rift S has now been officially announced.
Rumours first emerged last November, claiming that the Oculus Rift S wouldn’t be a new model, rather an upgrade with slight improvements. From what’s been announced today ‘slight improvements’ doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s been done.
Firstly, the Oculus Rift S is still a tethered headset, with Oculus’ head of VR Nate Mitchell mentioning to VRFocus at GDC 2019 that: “We didn’t think wireless was right for Rift S at this point,” referring to weight and balance when adding a battery. The device has had the expected upgrades with a higher resolution display offering a resolution of 2560×1440 and improved optics to make experiences look even better, with new ergonomics through a partnership with Lenovo. There’s no mechanical IPD adjustment anymore, with the new headset featuring a face slider similar to PlayStation VR.
One of the biggest changes from the original Oculus Rift is that the Rift S now features inside-out tracking – so no more external sensors. It’ll have five sensors – one more than Oculus Quest – with the fifth providing a larger tracking area.
Thanks to Oculus’ software the Rift, Rift S and Oculus Quest will all feature crossplay compatibility to help populate multiplayer videogames, plus VR titles will be able to offer cross-buy compatibility as well – although developers decide this not Oculus.
When it comes to the controllers, the Oculus Rift S’ is the same as Oculus Quest, and they’ll both work with the original Oculus Rift. However, the original Touch controllers will not be compatible with the new head-mounted displays (HMD).
Oculus will be making a big push on Rift S and Quest this year, recently Oculus Rift has been getting harder and harder to find at retailers. “We’re in the process of phasing out the original Rift right now… we don’t expect there to be any crossover at all,” was the response VRFocus got from Mitchell on Rift vs. Rift S.
Oculus Rift S is scheduled for a Spring 2019 launch, with a retail price of $399 USD. With the headset competing with Oculus Quest at the same price point it’ll be interesting to see how the market develops. Oculus is confident, however: “We believe this price point and this hardware is right for the audience right now,” Jason Rubin, Oculus’s Vice President of Content commented to VRFocus. As further details are released, VRFocus will keep you updated.
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