My wife is on a business trip for the next few days so I thought it would be the perfect time to buy an Oculus Rift with the intention of returning it. I picked one up at Best Buy yesterday, complete with a $450 NVIDIA GTX 1070 graphics card to help make the experience as smooth as possible. Both are boxed up and ready to go back today.
While the setup was a breeze — I just needed to install the graphics card and plug in the HDMI and USB 3.0 cables for the Oculus Rift headset and sensor — the experience wasn’t nearly as immersive as I had remembered. I first tried the Oculus back during CES 2014, when it was simply named the “Crystal Cove Prototype.” I remember being floored with how the headset felt like it could sweep me off to other lands.
I couldn’t wait for the launch and the future opportunity to buy one.
Of course, I didn’t end up buying one, not until yesterday, and now I know why. With the introduction of Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and, most recently, Google Daydream View, you can experience much of what virtual reality has to offer without spending big bucks. Gear VR and Daydream View are especially immersive, though the latter is still building its content library. Both cost under $100, too.
All said, I spent about $1,123 at Best Buy yesterday buying the graphics card and the Oculus Rift. I understand some folks might only be looking at the cost of the Oculus Rift, not the graphics card they might already own, but this is a crazy-expensive cost of entry. The results, too, aren’t that much more impressive.
While using Rift, I couldn’t help but think the main homescreen looked almost identical to that of Gear VR, not any more immersive. I played a bit of Eve Valkyrie, which comes free with the Rift at Best Buy. It was amazing flying through the universe and shooting enemy ships, I admit it. But was that experience really worth the cost of a real vacation? Not to me.
You can get a great VR experience for much less money
For some reason, I thought that the higher-tech specs required for the Oculus Rift and the big headset would trickle down to a far superior experience that’s equal to the much higher costs. Sure, your field of view is slightly wider and, yes, the graphics look better. But you can have just as much fun with much more affordable hardware.
I think the Oculus Rift will be more appealing as the cost of entry declines and as less powerful computers can take advantage of the full feature set. I understand it uses new technology and so costs will be high, but $600 for a headset and sensor that seem to do little more than what a $100 alternative costs just doesn’t add up to me.
I technically have 45 days to return the Oculus Rift to Best Buy, which means I could use it and enjoy it for more than a month. But I just don’t find it appealing enough to keep around when I have my Daydream View VR that satisfies my small urges to hop into another world for a few minutes at a time. It pops right on my phone, too, and I don’t have to worry about being tied to a computer.
Perhaps some big must-have game will launch in the future, reigniting my desires to use the Oculus Rift again, but I’m not so sure that’ll be enough to pull me back.