Facebook today announced a new version of the Oculus Rift called the Rift S. It is estimated at $ 399 and will be released this spring.

Rift S replaces the original Rift. Applications and games are fully compatible between them. Like the original, the Rift S is powered by your gaming PC, so it should work both with the Oculus PC Store and with other stores, such as Steam.

Updated screen & lenses

The original Rift used PenTile OLED dual panels with a total resolution of 2160 × 1200. Rift S replaces it with a single LCD panel with a resolution of 2560 × 1440 – the same panel used in the stand-alone Oculus Go. This is about 40% more pixels, and each pixel consists of three subpixels instead of two.

This provides a higher resolution and detailed image with a reduced “screen door effect”. However, you will not get a deep black color like on OLED, since LCD displays use a backlight. The refresh rate is 80 Hz compared to 90 Hz of the original, but we did not notice a visual difference between these two indicators.

Oculus Rift S lenses

Perhaps the main drawback of the Rift was the reflections in the lenses that appeared in high-contrast scenes. Rift S uses the “next generation” lens technology introduced in Go, which almost completely eliminates this problem. There are no words about the field of view, but expect it to be similar with other Oculus headsets.

Built-in tracking: 5 cameras

Rift used external USB sensors for position tracking. They were difficult to set up, and you had to buy a third for a full 360-degree tracking area. Like the upcoming stand-alone Oculus Quest, the Rift S instead uses built-in cameras for tracking.

However, while Quest uses 4 cameras, the Rift S uses 5, and they are in different positions: 2 in front, 1 on each side and 1 on top. This should provide a wider range of controller tracking than Quest, and eliminate many blind spots.

Oculus Rift S Controllers

The controllers are essentially identical to the original Oculus Touch, but the tracking ring is at the top, not the bottom. This allows you to see the IR LEDs inside the rings using a headset. These same controllers are used in Quest.
The Rift S is not compatible with the original Rift sensors. Facebook seems to be confident that their five-camera system is so good that you just don’t need them.

Comfortable Halo Mount

While the Rift used a semi-rigid belt, the Rift S uses a much more cumbersome stiff halo system, similar to PlayStationVR. We found this to be a significant step forward in comfort. This design balances the pressure on the head.

Facebook collaborated with Lenovo to provide such a belt design for the Rift. This may be due to the fact that Lenovo has licensed the patent from Sony. However, it is now a heavier headset with a new strap, which makes it less convenient for luggage or storage.

The nasal gap has also been reworked, so you will no longer see a lot of light from the real world coming from below.

No physical setting for interpupillary distance

Each person has a different distance between the eyes. This parameter is called interpupillary distance (IPD). Rift, like the HTC Vive and the Samsung Odyssey, had physical adjustment of the interpupillary distance in order to allow consumers to ensure an optimal IPD.

Like the PSVR, the Rift S lenses are fixed in position. Instead of hardware configuration, you enter your IPD into the software. This will correct scale problems, but unfortunately, people with very narrow or wide IPDs will still experience blur and other visual problems.

Audio system

The Rift had built-in headphones. They were removable, but used a non-standard connector, so you could not use your own headphones. Rift S removes these headphones and instead includes the same audio system as Go with Quest:

Sound is transmitted through the side straps directly to the ears. This makes the sound more natural and allows you to hear others around you, but the disadvantage is that it can be heard by others in the room, and the sound quality may be lower. The headset also has a 3.5 mm jack, so you can use existing headphones or any one that you purchase in the future.

New Guardian System, Passthrough +

The Rift setup process included tracking the boundaries of the Guardian without using a headset. These borders appeared in VR when you approached them, but could not be seen during setup and should have been redone if the sensors were moved incorrectly.

Rift S has “proprietary technology” called Passthrough +. It uses computer vision algorithms to deliver “stereo-correct positioning” – although the look is black and white, not color. It can be activated at any time in Dash.

Passthrough + is integrated into the new Guardian system. Now you set up the Guardian by drawing the borders inside Passthrough +, and if you go beyond the borders in VR, Passthrough + is automatically activated so that you do not encounter things in the room.

PC requirements & cables

Despite a higher display resolution than the Rift, the Rift S supports the same requirements for CPU and GPU. This is probably because it uses the same default rendering resolution.

While the Rift used a 4 meter HDMI cable, the Rift S uses a longer 5 meter cable with a DisplayPort connector. Just like with the Rift, you will need a 1x USB 3.0 port for the headset too, but since there are no more sensors, this is the only USB port you need.

There is a Mini DisplayPort adapter in the laptop box. There is not a word about VirtualLink support – an adapter may be released in the future.

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Announced Oculus Rift S: 1440p LCD, best lenses, built-in tracking for $ 399

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