My road to the Oculus began a late stormy night, a strange man knocked on my door, he said “Ay mang, you wanna buy some snicker doodles” and I was all like ” Yes sir, I would love some snicker doodles.” so I bought some snicker doodles, but anyways. I went back to my super epic command center, which is where I do my super awesome Epicpowergaming.com reading ( All The Adverts! all up in ya! ) When Oculus twittered tweeted “Bruh, we started from the bottom and now we will be here in 2 days.” so I made sure to get on that. So after doing the time glitch like in Animal Crossing the Oculus was finally upon me! 3,2,1 …… Wait what! The site won’t load, $600! $680 with tax and shipping! What is all this nonsense! It was a raging shit storm of angry rakins t bagging confused Sony fans at a no online service contest.
I started to question my self and also questioning if I really wanted the Oculus after all, two different subjects I know, but why not throw it in anyways, but that is besides the point. The point is as much as the future of gaming is VR, as much as I have wanted this gaming experience in my life since Disney’s Blank check and The First Kid, not to be forgotten the marvelous show VR Troopers. Did I really want it that much? Did I want it enough that I would drop $700 in a seconds notice, even though the library of games announced are trash and that there are rumors of the Vive being 10x more powerful? Well, of course, duh. But then again all it really was, was a pre order, no reason in beating myself up over the decision, I have a month and a half to cancel if I decide to change my mind. But I promise you this, I will be keeping my eyes peeled throughout the next few weeks and making my decision with which VR headset I decide to go with, because no matter what, VR gaming will be in my future, whether it’s the Vive or Oculus. Though the time is upon us to head to the other side, Hello….. can you here me…. I’m in California dreaming of what VR can finally be…
There is still time to decide and see, do you want the hype of the future to fall flat with the decision you make or do you watch carefully and make sure it’s everything you dreamt of it being. Because the last thing you want is to power a fail machine and turn a company into an un-reliable hardware distributor that everyone throws there money at, at the launch of every new device, that is just an updated broken piece of garbage as the last version they put out. Wow, where is that anger coming from? Oh it’s nothing, it’s not like the majority of us haven’t been screwed over time and time again by Microsoft, RRod Xbox 360, Broken sound in the headset Jack problem in there Surface tablets and not to mention there very very sorry excuse of an app store that has nothing in it. How can you even call it a tablet when you can’t even support Pandora or Spotify, along with a number of many other basic services we get from our android/ios counterparts. Yes, yes, I know off topic, but is it really? We are venturing into a company, a brand new company, that is just now starting there app service, that has a dashboard in the rift or that will be available for it, that has no support and even if there is, we have no clue whether they will actually support it. Although my mind is still set as of now in getting the Oculus, After setting up my mothers Surface tablet and being a early Xbox 360 adapter, I see and know of the roads that the Oculus can lead. There are many what if cons that come along with it, but what about the what ifs, from the pro side?
Well lets talk about the pros then my friend. It’s owned by Facebook, it has been in development for years so there is no way it can be lacking that much power compared to the Vive, even though it wont have the apps or same Steam software compared to HTC’s product, it is looking into venturing in the cinematic universe as well, so why do all these things make it superior compared to the Vive? Because the Oculus has more then just video games in mind, it has the same dream and idealism that Facebook and Twitter had when they where both let loose upon us. They are going beyond the blue print of Virtual Gaming and trying to bring us into the world of Virtual Reality. What does that mean you may ask? Well as of now, Twitch is already working on becoming VR/Oculus compatible, Facebook will most likely become VR compatible and I have no doubt in my mind, that many are following suit and I honestly hope they do. Because Virtual Reality should go far beyond gaming. Because whether you disagree or not, it’s not really a Virtual Reality if it’s over at Game Over.
We can go beyond gaming, we can take Virtual Reality to new heights, to a marvelous new form of education and a new way of interaction and showing affection. Soldiers being able to physically interact with there children, Teachers being able to reach out to children all across the world and be there in person through virtual reality, though for now the Oculus is too expensive to do such things, it will become accessible to all at one point, but I agree it can’t come soon enough.
Reality is upon us my friends, Embrace it.
The Oculus Rift is now a consumer ready product.
All units before this one have been aimed at developers with the expectation that the person operating it knew the risks involved and some features might not work as intended.
The year leading up to the pre-order of the Rift was ripe with speculation that the device was going to cost at most $400 with other options that included a controller and other items that consumers new to Oculus Rift needed to get started. With the pre-order scheduled for January 6th, all that was missing was the price.
The Hype Train™ was full speed ahead with plenty of fans ready to plunk down $400 for this amazing device.
Then the Hype Train™ derailed yesterday when it was announced that the Oculus Rift Consumer Kit would be a shocking $599,
well out of reach of the more casual consumers who were expecting it to be something like a Playstation 4 or Xbox One. The subreddit /r/oculus erupted in dissatisfaction and declared that the Oculus Rift is dead and there was no way it would be successful at that price point. But that didn’t stop Oculus from selling out all of their pre-orders. But it could change before they ship in April as Oculus didn’t charge at point of sale and instead opted to collect when the device ships.
So is it worth it?
Is the Oculus Rift worth $599 not including the fact that you need a fairly beefy PC to power it? Well. Yes. It is worth $599. Whether you were expecting to pay only $300 for something that never had a price tag attached to it, the Oculus is worth the 600 bucks if you can afford to drop that kind of money. The display is top notch, comes with headphones, a head tracking tool and an Xbox 360 controller. Also two free games are included with and guaranteed to be optimized to worth with the Rift.
The Oculus Rift is another product that needs early adopters to bring the product to the masses. Will the Rift stay at $599? No. I predict that in 3 years we’ll see an Oculus Rift selling for $299 that can do more than what the first kit can do now. New technology is always expensive.
The VCR was $5000 (adjusted for inflation) when it first came out in 1972 and didn’t become popular in the homes of the masses until 1985.
The technology is obsolete, but you can find one for 2 dollars at the Goodwill if you want to experience “retro tech”
The countertop microwave was $3500(adj for inflation) when it was released in 1967 and didn’t see an affordable price drop until the mid 70s.
Need a more current example?
The first iPod was released in 2001, had a 5gb hard drive, had a 160x128pixel “high resolution” black & white display and retailed for $399. Also it only worked on Apple computers.
The first generation iPhone was also $599 without a contract and didn’t even have copy and paste. It still sold like hotcakes and now you can get a modern iPhone for $99 on contract or still pay $599 out of pocket for a new one.
So will the Oculus Rift be in every home by 2020?
Probably not, but the chances are pretty good that eventually everyone who wants an Oculus will have one by that time. It won’t be a device that is out of reach of the average consumer. The problem that has plagued Oculus from the beginning is that they’re a victim of their own success.
Technology has finally provided a practical, immersive virtual reality experience and enthusiasts are hungry for it to be adopted by everyone. Some have been waiting their entire lives for Virtual Reality to be science fact and now that it’s finally here, they’re a bit overzealous about how much this technology should cost and have to remind themselves that while the idea has been almost 40 years in the making, the actual tech costs still need to come down before it’s a mainstream reality.
I recently purchased the Samsung Gear VR Innovator Edition for S6 from Samsung directly. This is a virtual reality headset powered by Oculus. After 3 solid days of testing, I can give an accurate rundown of this device.
I should preface this review by stating that I only paid $99 for it through a deal on Slickdeals. The regular price of the Gear VR is $199.It should be noted that the Samsung Gear VR I purchased isn’t intended for the average consumer. As a matter of fact, Samsung has you click 3 boxes acknowledging that you are buying an unfinished product that might not work as intended from time to time before you can proceed to checkout. They also stated that returns weren’t accepted. I kept this in mind when I was playing with the headset.
Build Quality and Comfort
The Gear VR is made of out premium plastic with two glass lenses, a touch pad on the right side with a back button and volume rockers. The goggles have a comfortable foam padding that keeps the device from pressing against your nose and face. The foam also serves to keep the light out and provide an immersive experience. The back strap and head strap are removable and can be adjusted to be worn comfortably. Both straps have a leatherette padding that gives a premium feel. Also this Gear VR has a micro USB slot that allows your phone to charge as you’re using it. I wear glasses and I was able to wear them while having my face in the Gear VR. I used this device for about 20-30 minutes each sitting and didn’t notice any fatigue in my neck or shoulders. I did notice that my eyes would dry out after a bit if I didn’t have my glasses on. I’m sure I could sit through a full movie before I would get uncomfortable.
First time use:
Using the Gear VR is really simple; you just put your phone in and the Oculus software automatically starts to install. You’ll need to create an Oculus account and add a credit card to use the services. Once the setup is completed, you’ll be guided through a quick tutorial to using your device. The start menu allows you to start up frequently used apps, go to the store, and view your library of apps as well. The start menu is hosted in a full 360 degree lobby that gives you an immersive experience.
The issue with new technology is that applications are hard to come by. It’s a chicken and the egg scenario – for a device to sell, you need apps. To get more developers to write apps, you need people using your device. Samsung has partnered with Oculus to get a decent amount of applications on their device, however, most of them are glorified tech demos. Here’s a rundown of a couple of the ones that stood out:
Oculus Cinema (Free):
Oculus Cinema is a video view application. On any other device, the app would be a basic video player, but with Oculus the video player puts you in an empty theater and you can watch movies on the big screen. You can choose different locations such as a home theater, ant village (you’re a tiny ant and watching the movie on the phone), Large theater, the moon, and the void which is just a large screen on a black background.
Jurassic World (Free):
Jurassic World is a two minute tech demo that you can show your friends. You’re sitting on a log watching a Brontosaurus wake up and eat leaves. The coolest part is that it’s in 3D and I actually caught myself looking away when it came up to my face. There’s nothing more about it, but it’s cool to show your friends.
Oculus 360 Photos (Free):
Oculus 360 photos is probably the best non-gaming application for the Gear VR. There are about 50-60 photos that you can view in the 360 degree environment. The photos of action events tend to fall short since the image breaks in certain parts, but the 3D generated art is stunning. Photos are of various locations like on top of the Eiffel Tower to a farm witnessing a UFO abduction.
Any new technology that comes out needs to serve at least some purpose that sets it apart from any other gadget that you have in the house. The games that are available on the Gear VR are not some easy port of Angry Birds; they are well thought out and utilize the features of the device. Games vary from free to 10 dollars and have a variety of mechanics that range from basic puzzle solving to immersive 3D adventures like Legend of Zelda. There are plenty of games on the shop, but since I pay for my own titles to review, I was limited temporarily to free titles and demos:
Esper ($4.99) – A basic puzzle solving game in the same vain as portal – you’re a voiceless test subject who has ESP and you need to learn how to control it. I liked this game because when you use the touch pad on the right side of the Gear VR, it’s like you’re actually using ESP. The game is really basic, but utilizes the Gear VR to create a fun game.
Proton Pulse ($2.99) – A 3D Brick breaker where you control a glass paddle and hit a ball back to break bricks. Nothing too special about this game, but for the price, it’s a nice proof of concept game, but you can get dizzy as you use your head to move the paddle back and forth.
Temple Run VR (Free) – this is one of the only titles I actually recognize by name alone. Temple Run VR is the exact same concept as the Android and iOS versions, except its first person and the environment is 360 degrees. This is one of the better games that I have played because it gives you a real feel for what the Gear VR is capable of. You get a sense of speed as the game moves forward and you can also look behind you to see the monsters chasing behind you. Of course you need to be facing forward to avoid any of the obstacles.
What I don’t like:
I don’t like that the device has a habit of overheating too easily. This didn’t happen with movies or viewing basic applications, but when viewing 3D intensive games, the device would clonk out within minutes of launch stating that the device was too hot.
Also the lack of system selling apps really prevents me from recommending the Samsung Gear VR. Especially at $199. I got mine for a heck of a deal and I love it – and paying $100 less than the going rate kept me from asking too much out of my new bleeding edge gadget. Not to mention, this only works on 2 phones – the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. There’s another model that fits only the Note 4 and there’s rumors that they’ll be releasing another Gear VR for the Note 5 and S6 Edge +.
Since the display is limited to the Galaxy S6 Edge, you’re still going to see some of what users like to call SDE – the Screen Door Effect. Basically since your face is so close to the display, you’re still seeing individual pixels despite the massive PPI of 577. This doesn’t come up too often, but you’ll need computer rendered video moving at 60FPS for it not to be noticeable. Live action video takes a mega hit because most video is 1080p and when halved, it becomes 540p which is really noticeable when it’s right in your face.
Some games require a Bluetooth controller which the Gear VR is VERY picky with. My Moga Pocket wasn’t able to be recognized by the system so I’ll have to spend 30 dollars for one that is.
What I like:
It’s a VR headset. The sky is the limit to what this thing can do once I start to crack it open and play with custom applications only meant for people with PCs and Oculus units. Out of the box it’s kind of lame – but if you’re a tinkerer and like to color outside the lines, this is a perfect starter unit for those who don’t have the beefy PC to run Oculus at home. Plus it’s portable; I’m getting married in 3 weeks and I plan on taking this on the plane to our honeymoon. Big screen movies on the plane!
Overall the Samsung Gear VR is off to a wonderful start, but it’s not there yet. It will probably be another year or so before it’s ready for consumer hands. And even then, what applications will be done with it? Will it fall flat like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy? I hope not because I really want Virtual Reality to work – I hope that the people behind Oculus will come up with some killer applications that will make more and more people want a VR headset for their own. Like what iPad did for tablets.
We created our first podcast.
Thank you to everyone that came to the live taping on our Twitch Channel and thanks for all your feedback!
Tune in next Wednesday April 8, 2015 at 6 PM PST to our Twitch channel to be part of the fun of our next taping!
The podcast is available to watch from YouTube and also available to download to listen on the go. Audio podcast is available below the video podcast.