From Road to VR:
Early DK2 Unboxing Photos
Looks amazing! Oculus did a very nice job on the product design – note the cover plates for the HDMI and USB connection ports. The front face looks clean with everything integrated when the cover plates are installed. The over the head routing for the cables is also very sleek.
The Rift will eventually benefit from a 4K resolution which will have a tremendous impact on its clarity for gaming and other computer tasks. It may start to be taken seriously as a replacement for traditional computer monitors as John Carmack has claimed. The 4K improvement for draw distance clarity and the text readability can be seen with the previously discussed Oculus Simulator. It’s like night and day.
Oculus has been vague about the actual resolution of CV1 although they say it will exceed 1080p. Achieving 4K in an eventual consumer unit has two current obstacles.
The first obstacle is the availability of small form factor 4K OLED panels. They may theoretically exist but they are produced in extremely low volumes and are expensive. Price would certainly drop as production ramped up to meet a wide demand for interested cellphone or tablet manufacturers. Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus may give them the cash and buying power they need to design their own custom panel and buy in enough volume to make the manufacture of a panel inexpensive.
The second obstacle will be the limits of current computer hardware. Rendering 3D scenes at a 4K resolution and the high frame rate required by the Rift is extremely taxing (if possible) on current PC hardware. Gaming has recently adhered to a 1080p 60fps standard waiting to the cost of 4K equipment to fall. While a $2500 “low cost” 4K build may be possible, it will be many months before a rig of that caliber is affordable to many consumers, and at that point it may not even meet the required frame rate to support the Rift.
Over the last few months I’ve heard nothing but praise sung for the Oculus Rift. More recently while I have ramped up my research I’ve found the most common complaint regarding the Oculus is the limited “draw distance” due to the low resolution of the display. Anything in VR that is of a great distance from the viewer will be a challenge to display with the current Oculus technology, including DK2 and CV1.
The issue isn’t actually draw distance in a traditional sense. Your PC is theoretically able to draw an object at any distance whether it be two feet or two miles. The challenge is displaying that object on a screen at a given resolution. The clear lines your PC sees must be broken up and represented by individual pixels. The more pixels, the more clarity for displaying your object.
I lack the knowledge and effort to really give this explanation justice but the Oculus struggles with “draw distance” because it is forced to use half of the normal screen real estate to display an image. A normal image displayed on a monitor will take up the entire screen. To display a stereoscopic image you need two slightly different copies of that same image, one for each eye. That’s fine if you can display those stereoscopic images individually on separate monitors. But if you want to display those images side by side on one screen (like the Oculus does) then you need to squeeze each image to fit both of them on screen. All of a sudden you’re using half a screen to display a full screen image and your using less pixels per eye.
With fewer pixels objects lose clarity. This is especially true for objects that are farther away from the viewer. An object that is displayed with clarity and definition in a full screen image may be reduced to a smudge of pixels in VR. Anything of great distance from the viewer will be a challenge to display in VR.
This problem can be explained and understood much better than I could ever articulate with an interactive visual demo. Luckily I was able to find one:
The Oculus Rift Simulator
To see the resolution and draw distance limitation issue illustrated, focus at a point on the map and switch between the available resolutions. Notice how much of an impact this has on text. We should be happy that everything from here on out will be an improvement on DK1. DK2 and CV1 look comparable. 4K is obviously where this technology is headed but will be further down the road. Available 4K displays need to drop in price and rendering smoothly at 4K will massively tax current PC hardware.
Note that I’ve read complaints about the above simulator regarding the fact that it doesn’t accurately represent the pentile pixel arrangement of future displays. This is a minor quibble with a great demo.
Yesterday Oculus community manager cybereality released a statement regarding the shipment of DK2.
Via Oculus’s forums and reddit:
The first batch of official DK2s have left the manufacturing facility and are making their way to our distribution centers now. We expect to ship roughly 10,000 DK2s from the factory in July, with just over half of the units through distribution centers and on their way to doorsteps before the end of the month. The very first units are expected to reach developers the week of July 14th. Tracking numbers for all DK2s will be generated as soon as the shipment has been processed by a distribution center.
Please take a moment to confirm that your shipping address is up to date via the Oculus Sales page (https://www.oculusvr.com/sales/). We’ll ship to the address on file, and if the information is incorrect, it may cause delivery delays. In the event that your payment information is no longer valid, you’ll receive an email prior to shipment with instructions on how to complete your payment.
We’re now over 45,000 DK2 pre-orders, which is incredibly exciting. That said, we’re slightly behind in manufacturing and there’s currently a high chance that some developers with estimated shipping in July may not have their DK2s shipped until August. We have a team in China working on continued ramp of production at our factory, and we’ll work our way through the queue as fast as we can.
Once your Development Kit 2 is ready for shipment, you’ll receive an email with a tracking number which can be used to see an estimated delivery date. Please do not contact Oculus support asking for a shipping estimate, as we do not know the status of your package until a tracking number has been generated.
We’ll continue to post status updates, so everyone can stay current on what’s going on behind the scenes. Thanks again for your continued support, and we hope everyone is excited to be begin working with DK2!
So it sounds like my DK2 will be pushed into fall, hopefully I’ll see it sometime in September.
The very first line of this statement is interesting:
The first batch of official DK2s have left the manufacturing facility and are making their way to our distribution centers now.
Apparently I am way off base and ill informed about Oculus’s distribution network. The following blurb was originally included with this article and is best described as nonfactual.
Without reading between the lines too much it sounds like the first batch of DK2s are in a sea container steaming across the Pacific. And that’s if we’re lucky and the container has already left China. Otherwise you’re looking at a minimum of 20+ days before the container hits US ports for domestic distribution. I’m guessing Oculus is using the US as their main distribution hub so orders outside of the US will lag further behind.
DK2 units should still reach early preorderers before August but shipment dates will realistically be in late July. Expectations should be tempered.
For those of you who are curious if your current PC can handle the demanding Oculus requirements (myself included), I decided to do some cursory research.
From Oculus’s own DK2 FAQ:
Recommended specifications: A desktop computer running a dedicated graphics card with DVI-D or HDMI graphics output, with capability of running current generation 3D games at 1080p resolution at 75fps or higher.
Hmmmm, the concern here is the required frame rate at a 1080p resolution. That’s a lot of high res frames for a graphics card to crank out.
A little more digging and I find a reddit comment from cybereality, a community manager for Oculus, regarding a recommended graphics card :
A GTX 770 is probably the minimum spec that would be OK. I wouldn’t go any cheaper than that.
So the floor for a graphics card is a Nvidia based GTX 770 card which is currently $300+
Interesting, I may need to invest in some new hardware soon. I’m guessing most low end demos will run fine on my current PC so I plan to do a lot of initial evaluation before I start piecing together a new PC.
How is this still domain available? Internet, I am disappoint.
DK2 ordered as of yesterday, patiently waiting…