Oculus or Vive?: Now and later

Virtual Reality is here, and both Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are shipping, albeit a little slowly. I have preorders of both… and the waiting.. it’s the hardest part 🙂

Forbes claims there is absolutely no avoiding a “Console wars” of VR and I am inclined to agree.

There are numerous reviews of both and what has struck me is the difference in how the two platforms have tried to differentiate themselves and how the current crop of reviews and previews have bucketed them.

The consensus right now is that Oculus is cheaper and has more titles available, but that Vive delivers “room scale” VR and is technologically more advanced. It has more “wow factor” largely because of the motion controllers… and some pretty cool apps.

If you’re making your decisions today, I think you’re likely to make a mistake, and here is the rub.

This is Vive, from TheRoadTioVR.com

Vive-consumer-unboxing-68

…and here is Oculus, also from TheRoadToVR.com:

oculus-rift-review-9-1021x580

Notice that the Vive has bigger, heavier everything. A bigger tether cable, bigger headset and also bigger touch controllers:

[Vive controller pic from Engadget here]

 

The Vive looks like the previous iteration of the Oculus – the DK2 – with lots of cables, boxes and parts that haven’t been refined yet…. But you’re buying it now.

In addition, the tracking system the Vive uses has a large piece of its ability built into the headset. The headset actually determines its location using sensors in the headset itself, as do the controllers. This means your ability to improve/expand is basically sitting with a headset upgrade…. But the headset is done, so you’re ok.

On the Oculus, the headset (aside from he motion sensors, gyroscopes etc, which both have in common) is pretty dumb. The smarts are in the tracking cameras and your PC. Which means upgrading to the equivalent of the Vive is actually not an issue tied to the headset at all…

There are already folks messing around and getting room scale from a single Oculus receiver as seen here

When the Oculus motion controllers ship, they can make significant upgrades just in Software and a few additional “cheap PC cameras”. Ahem, Oculus Constellation trackers.

The short version: The Vive, while it shows room scale today, will ultimately feel like you have a brick strapped to your face while you swing around turkey legs to play in VR, while the Oculus will feel light and refined all the way around….

HTC

[Original image ripped off from PCWorld here]

Oculus’ ability to improve tracking and do multiple trackers sits outside the headset, and in fact in your PC… which means Oculus WILL get to room scale and ultimately win over time because you don’t have a big ole set of cables handing off your head:

496494-htc-vive-pre

oculus-rift-strap-setup

This level of simplicity is also evident in the controllers, software, connection boxes themselves…

So given that they’re both going to do average-size-room-vr, the Oculus will have better physical refinement, with a lot of titles at launch. The Vive will be a little more “neanderthal” and will hopefully benefit from the Steam platform.

Oculus controllers will ship in a few months and then the true game will be on!

My money is on simplicity – and Oculus.

[UPDATE]

I have now tested both, here they are side by side:

IMG_0750

The vive is heavy and hot… you sweat int he headset…. so i am more convinced now that Oculus will win out in the end. The Vive store and UI isn’t nearly as polished and in fact it wasn’t clear where to buy or find games initially for VR.

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