Oculus announces the Rift S, a successor to the Rift

Oculus today announced the Rift S, a successor to the flagship Rift headset; featuring inside-out tracking, slightly higher resolution, and improved lenses, the headset is developed in collaboration with Lenovo.

Starting at $399, the headset is described as an “evolution not a revolution” by Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell. Its design is entirely new – in many ways inspired by the work Lenovo has done with its Windows Mixed Reality headset – but some of the changes aren’t going to be to the liking of enthusiasts.

As mentioned, the display resolution gets a slight upgrade; the original Rift used dual PenTile OLED panels with a combined resolution of 2160 x 1200. Rift S, on the other hand, uses a single LCD panel with a resolution of 2560 x 1400, which is the same panel as the one used in Oculus Go. However, the refresh rate is reduced from 90Hz on the Rift to 80Hz on the Rift S.

Also borrowed from the Oculus Go are the headphones; replacing the on-ear headphones, the Rift S now has near-ear speakers built into the strap – now featuring a rigid “halo” design and made out of plastic, much like the strap on the PlayStation VR headset. There’s also no physical IPD adjustment, with Oculus opting to rely on software to resolve that problem.

Oculus is also ditching its external sensors for positional tracking; the Rift S uses cameras for “inside-out” tracking, much like the Oculus Quest. Though, the Quest utilizes four cameras for the tracking while the Rift S uses five – two in front, one on each side, and one on top.

Rift S will also ship with the same Oculus Touch controllers that will come with the Quest, with the tracking ring moved to top rather than bottom, making the IR LEDs in the controllers visible to the IR cameras in the headset for tracking.

At the end of the day, the Rift S appears to be a product of compromises with its existence based only on an attempt by Oculus to linger to its roots. This was somewhat expected; the more ambitious “Rift 2” headset was reportedly canceled by Facebook months ago, following which Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe announced his departure. Iribe was heading Oculus’ PC VR development.

Asgard’s Wrath by Sanzaru Games, Stormland by Insomniac Games, and Vacation Simulator by Owlchemy Games, are the three titles that Oculus is featuring for the Rift S. Oculus also says that cross-play between Oculus Quest and Rift S titles will be possible.

Oculus will be launching the Rift S at $399, which is quite a big difference when compared with the launch price of $599 for the original Rift headset. Though, it’s only $50 more than Rift’s current price. It will be available for purchase in spring later this year.

Interestingly, the Quest was also announced to be launching in spring this year for $399, meaning that both Quest and Rift S will be launching around the same time, at the same price. Oculus Rift, meanwhile, will remain available for purchase via the Oculus Store and retail partners "while supplies last."

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