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The Oculus Rift S is impressive, but unnecessary



The Rift S is the direct descendant of the first Rift and offers a number of improvements over the original. The S includes enhanced lenses, a fifth integrated position tracking sensor, a slightly better screen resolution and some useful new software features. The S weighs a bit more than the first Rift, but the new Halo band developed by Lenovo provides a much better balance between the headset and the Noggin. The weight of the unit is distributed more evenly on your head instead of attaching to the front of your face with a harness. However, I am most pleased with the fact that external positioning pylons are a thing of the past (with the Rift S), by adding an inside-out tracking system called Insight.

What's more, Oculus has expanded the existing pass-through system (now Pass-Through +) so that by switching a menu switch, the user can see the physical world around them without having to unplug the headset. This is a blessing when, for example, you are playing a game and your phone is ringing. Oh, is it a spam call? Boom, you've already sent it to voicemail and are back in the game within a few moments ̵

1; no rush, no must.

The Passthrough + system adds another handy feature that lets users customize their own play areas by creating a virtual "paint" border around them. That way, you do not have to rearrange your living room before every game session. I donned the new gear before the GDC 2019, but unfortunately I only had a hands-on demonstration of this feature (in the form of a video presentation) and could not test it for myself. However, if it works the way it was shown in the demo, this could be very handy.

I also appreciated the new wiring scheme very much. While the S still requires a hardline connection to a Windows 10 PC, the cable selection of the first Rift has been merged into a single 5-meter cable. The experience does not offer the same freedom of movement as the wireless Oculus Quest (and launch at the same time), but the S balances that with excellent graphics.

The look is slightly better than the original. The Rift S offers resolutions of 1,280 × 1,440 per eye, compared to 1,080 × 1,200 Rift. In addition, the S relies on LCD screens and not on the OLED of the Rift. This reduces the "screen door" effect and, in Oculus's view, slightly increases the field of view, but at the cost of slightly lower color saturation, contrast, and refresh rate (80 Hz for S, 90 Hz for OG Rift). My biggest criticism of the visual system is that you can not set the distance between the lenses (IPD) manually because the S uses a single screen. There is a software-based solution for the S, but it's just not quite what the existing Rift users expect, and I'm not completely convinced.

The Rift S provides backwards compatibility with existing Rift libraries, but unfortunately that does not apply to the controllers. Since the original Rift used an outside-in-tracking scheme, the ring on each controller was set below the user's hand. With the new inside-out system the S uses, these rings are over the hands. Therefore, the Constellation controllers you used with the Rift are not compatible with the S, and you'll need to buy another pair in addition to the new $ 400 headset. I've also noticed that while the delay on the S is comparable to the original, the hand and arm avatars are really restless – as my in-game persona has developed a slight tremor.

As far as the audio is concerned, the Rift S in speakers work admirably. Even in the noisy co-work space where the demo was being held, I did not feel the need to connect a second set of headphones to the device's 3.5mm audio jack. However, the sound quality became a little quieter as the sound in the game grew louder.

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In this game, you play as a flying god who was taken under Loki's protection and has the mission to fulfill various quests to become a foot member of the Holy Pantheon. The visuals on the S were clearer than I expected and not much worse than the early PS4 games, the head and controller tracking was just right and the game was really fun. I spent 15 minutes chopping and cutting the octopus, cutting thrown ships with a blazing sword, snatching oversized leeches, and squeezing life out with my "bare" hands. As a rule, she exploded a huge sea monster until it retreated into the giant monster's depths.

Overall, the Rift S is an impressive piece of hardware. Its resolution and clarity is outside the PSVR and is much better than the Quest, but only slightly better than the original Rift. And since the Rift S does not play anything the OG does not do, it's hard to justify paying another $ 400 for a new headset.


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