The Oculus Rift is currently the world's most talked-about virtual reality (VR) gadget. While it isn't the first to have promised lush virtual worlds experienced in a like-you-were-there manner, we can credit it for renewing interest for VR tech—especially for jaded technophiles who have been underwhelmed by past VR products.
Now, we can finally get a verdict. The Rift was launched as a Kickstarter project back in 2012. Four years later, it's finally available in the market. It was launched last March 28, and can now be ordered at the Oculus site. Expect local stores to carry it soon.
But the real question is, should you buy it? We've got a rundown of reviews here, culled from some of the world's best tech sites. (We've had our own experience with it too, but that was the old, preproduction version.)
1) It's a beautiful piece of modern design
"You’d expect almost four years of development to result in a refined product. And that certainly describes the Rift. [A competing product] HTC’s Vive looks like a prop designed for a B-list cyberpunk film. The Rift is something you’d be proud to have on your desk." —Matt Smith, Digital Trends
2) It can make you dizzy
"While the Rift’s initial comfort was excellent, motion sickness quickly became a problem. All six of our testers reported discomfort. For some, it was little more than a lingering sense of vertigo. For others, the problem was so bad it meant putting the headset down after a few minutes of play." —Matt Smith, Digital Trends
3) The virtual reality experience is not always seamlessly immersive
"The real problem was the dreaded 'screen door effect,' a pattern of visible lines in the picture. Pixels have gaps between them, and when the gaps are too large (relative to viewing distance), they’re visible. Old computer displays often had this problem, but it went away as pixel density increased. Now, it’s back." —Matt Smith, Digital Trends
4) The available games don't fully justify investing in the Rift yet...
"Most of the first-person experiences could translate to flat screens without much trouble, and some—like space exploration game Adrift —are already coming to both VR and flatscreen platforms like PC and PlayStation 4." —Adi Robertson, The Verge
5) ...but there's still a worthy experience to be had right now
"Many of what's on tap are standard gaming fare in terms of themes, settings and objectives, though there's nothing standard about the sense of presence and immediacy they induce. Others, though, offer one-of-a-kind experiences that you can't have on any other platform" —Michelle Fitzsimmons, Techradar.com
6) Still, if you can afford it, there's nothing like it
"Ultimately, the Oculus Rift proves that virtual reality is a viable way to experience games and new types of media. I've played games projected on a 100-inch screen, and that's still not nearly as immersive as what the Rift provides... But it's also hard to champion the Rift completely when few people can afford it. It's the very definition of elite technology." —Devindra Hardawar, Engadget
7) The future is promising for the Rift
"The ability to explore faraway places without ever being there physically. Or to learn to empathize with people of a different race, gender or economic situation by standing in their shoes for a day. To seamlessly blend virtual reality with the real world, instead of trying to block it out.
These are not just dreams, developers are working on all these things. They’re just not here yet." —Scott Stein and Sean Hollister, CNET.com
"It delivers rock-solid, comfortable VR, and it does so easily. You’ll be able to put this thing on anyone and show them the magic. You’ll have friends coming over just to go through the Dreamdeck. (Seriously, you will.) But you’ll have to make your peace with the idea that your $600 (or P27,660)—or realistically, $1,500 (P69,150) or more, if you need a PC to go with it—is an investment. —Peter Rubin, Wired
OUR VERDICT: The Oculus Rift, as with any pioneering device promising this much hype, is imperfect. It's expensive, and the overall experience could use some more polish. But in spite of this, we're still drooling for it. Once the quality games and software come in, and the price tag becomes more palatable, it's hard to ignore the experience that the Oculus Rift will be able to offer.
Images via the Oculus Rift website