Facebook's Oculus VR has announced it is retiring the Oculus Rift headset, replacing it with an upgraded version dubbed the Oculus Rift S.
Unlike the company's previous product launches, which have concentrated on pro-grade and self-contained mobile hardware, the Oculus Rift S is a true replacement for the Oculus Rift - which is to be retired once the Rift S has launched in the spring. The biggest change is a switch from external tracking stations to the Oculus Insight inside-out tracking originally developed for the Oculus Quest, meaning that there's no longer a need to set up external hardware: The headset, motion-tracking hand controllers, and a suitably beefy PC is all anyone needs to get started.
Externally, the headset - developed, interestingly, in partnership with Lenovo - is claimed to improve the weight distribution, comfort, and light-blocking capabilities compared to its predecessor. The redesign also includes a new audio system with headphone jack for users who would prefer to choose their own headphones, borrowing the system designed for the Oculus Quest and Oculus Go headsets. This, however, comes at a cost: The redesigned headset no longer comes bundled with any headphones at all, and those who do not want to shell out extra for a pair are left using built-in speakers which pipe sound through the head straps.
Other changes in the new design include Passthrough+, a stereo-correct passthrough system which uses data from the five integrated cameras to provide the ability to see the real world without removing the headset - without, the company claims, the performance issues or depth-perception problems of previous attempts.
The biggest change internally comes in the display, and that's singular: The dual 90Hz OLED panels of the original Rift, which combined for a 2,160 x 1,200 resolution, have been swapped out for a single 80Hz LCD panel with a 2,560 x 1,440 resolution. The adjustable lenses have also been dropped in favour of software correction for interpupillary distance (IPD).
UK pricing for the Rift S hasn't yet been confirmed, but Oculus VR has set a US price of $399 (around £304 excluding taxes) ahead of an unspecified Spring 2019 release date. More information is available on the official announcement.
January 24 2020 | 12:00