Hollywood, CA—The new news about the Oculus Rift today? No news.
Okay, that’s not quite true, but there wasn’t a peep about the news everyone wanted: A release date and price. After nearly three years of asking and being met with a stony “We’ll have more on that at a later date,” or some other such PR non-answer, we’re…still waiting. The Rift is scheduled to come out sometime in Q1 2016 and that’s still all we know.
Oculus was content to spend Oculus Connect 2015 speaking in grander terms—talking about being at the beginning of something big, changing the world, et cetera. And that’s all well and good, but it’s the same rhetoric we’ve heard from them for a few years now. With an actual virtual reality consumer headset right around the corner, we needed a bit more than back-patting and vague promises from this morning’s keynotes, and we didn’t really get it.
In fact, the one big piece of concrete news is actually fairly disappointing: Oculus Touch—the alternative controller that allows you to use your hands in virtual reality—won’t be ready until Q2. Meaning, in other words, that it won’t be ready for the Oculus Rift’s launch, a possibility that Oculus founder hinted at when the made-for-VR Touch was revealed earlier this summer.
That’s a potential blow for Oculus, which pitched Oculus Touch as an answer to the HTC Vive’s hand-tracking wands. Unlike Oculus, however, the HTC Vive only utilizes those wands; they’ll be ready and in the box when HTC’s headset launches later this year.
Another interesting tidbit: Oculus Touch will ship with a second Oculus Rift position-tracking sensor—again, similar to the HTC Vive. Keep in mind however that the range on the Rift sensor is optimized for five or six feet. I’m not sure it’s enough to enable the sort of walking-around VR the HTC Vive is built for, with its 15 by 15 foot range, but we’ll need some hands-on time to know.
And again…no price. The big challenge facing Oculus Touch is convincing enough consumers who already own a Rift with its packed-in Xbox controller that they need this presumably-expensive peripheral in order to convince developers they should support it. That’s a tall order, and it gets taller with every dollar you tack on to the price and every day the Touch is delayed past the Rift headset’s launch.
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