Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove”: What the critics are saying

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“Of all the exciting, innovative products we’ve seen at CES this year, the Oculus Rift “Crystal Cove” prototype is unquestionably the best of the best,” Engadget, January 2014.

When you consider the international CES is the biggest annual consumer electronics and technology trade show, where more than 3,000 exhibitors showcase their most innovative products, Engadget’s Crystal Cove complement is really quite an accolade.

So what exactly is all the fuss about the Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ and should we believe the hype?

In the world of Virtual Reality, Oculus Rift has been dubbed as being the “next big thing.” Crystal Cove is the latest prototype in the Oculus Rift line up. This wearable gaming headset combines an ultra-wide field of vision with accurate 3D and, as Digital Spy is quick to point out, “unnervingly accurate motion tracking.”

The buzz surrounding the Crystal Cove stems from the fact that after twenty years or so of VR non-starters, Rift’s prototype looks to change everything, opening, as Edge Magazine states, “the door to a world of new design challenges.”

“Tickling our rods and cones,” last year’s CES “absolute highlight” was getting a first glimpse at an Oculus Rift prototype, proclaim Tech Report with similar excitement as a seven-year-old opening an Xbox 360 on their birthday. Naturally, being so ecstatic about the Oculus Rift VR headset prototype update at CES 2013, Tech Report was keen to try out the 2014 version.

Tech Report’s Scott Wasson acknowledged that Oculus thoroughly deserved their Best in Show for CES 2014 award, an acknowledgement based on what he’d seen through the goggles.

In an informative hands on review, Tech Report inform that Oculus’ first generation VR hardware came with a 720p LCD screen inside, which was the one on display at CES 2013. Later in the year, Oculus upgraded to a higher-resolution 1080p LCD, with the Crystal Cove making important inroads to its ascendants. The Crystal Cove is designed to overcome Oculus’ biggest challenge, to work well for everyone. Wasson continues that people can develop nausea, fatigue and vertigo after using a Rift prototype, a problem which is apparently caused by a disconnection between what your senses expect to see in response to the head motions and what is actually on display. The Oculus team have been working hard to “squeeze any latency it can out of the sensor-to-display loop”. Hence the Crystal Cove contains a 1080p AMOLED display, which, by delivering much faster pixel-switching time, can help quash the sensor-to-display interval.

A “spaceflight” experience

PC World was equally as impressed, noting the Cove’s rudimentary position tracking, which is implemented by way of an external camera and some fancy dots on the headset. Quick to belittle Microsoft’s “enormous motion-tracking Kinect”, PC World focuses on the Cove’s tiny camera, which is just a few inches long.

Sitting in a suite at CES 2014 rented out by CCP Games, creators of EVE Online, PC World’s veteran gamer, Hayden Dingman, endured his third iteration of EVE: Valkyrie, CCP Game’s dogfighting space shooter game. Operating from a room hired from CCP Games, it comes as little surprise EVE: Valkyrie was an exclusive Rift launch title at CES. Alongside Rift, the game has “grown up” says Dingman.

“The art assets and the Rift itself have upgraded since the last time I saw the game, making Valkyrie even more impressive. It provides an experience that’s closer than I’d ever imagined to my longtime dream of spaceflight,” continued the PC World contributor.

Oculus Rift may have bowled over the techies, journalists and editors at this year’s CES, it’s tactic as giving them as promo items was a shrewd move, but the company’s biggest challenge still lies ahead – getting the Rift into the hands of consumers. Oculus remains hush-hush about the Crystal Cove’s release date. One thing Oculus does state with diligence is “2014 is going to be a big year for VR.” With the Oculus Crystal Cove winning the Best of CES Award 2014, VR’s year has certainly got off to a flying start.

Check out this ‘hands on’ from the folks at Tested: