Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hardware Review: DK2 v. Google Cardboard

Dev Kit 2

I received my Oculus Rift Dev Kit 2 on August 25th and have been meaning to write this entry for a while but gave some time before divulging hardware and software reports.

The first thing I noticed with the DK2 was the narrower field of view. To me, FOV is a major component in the illusion of immersion and to take away from that was a kick in the pants. I understand that the aspect ratio must fit with the larger plan of mobile phone resolutions and whatnot, but compared to DK1 it was like looking through a porthole into the VR world. 

Another blow to the immersion were bizarrely placed air vents that let in tons of light, breaking you out of whatever simulation you were in. I could even look down and see the real world under my nose (and my nose is pretty big). I used gaffer tape to alleviate these annoyances.

The increased resolution is a huge plus, and was amped to hit the Rift ArcadeRiftEnabled and Oculus Share to download content. I kept in mind that DK2 is sadly not compatible with DK1 content. By the end of this I had a pile of content for Mac and another pile for PC.

Hooking up the DK2 to my PC was a bumpy ride and I ended up writing out steps to do so for the future forgetful me to refer to. Each game had it’s own particularities that I would write out the quirks to if need be. All content is not created equal and lots of stuff didn’t work. Stuff that did I separated into another folder. I use a PS3 controller on Mac w/ GamePad Companion and a Logitek wired controller on PC with GamePadder.

Google Cardboard w/ Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nyko Playpad

A few weeks ago I got the DoDo VR Case and spent an hour assembling it. The iOS App store only has a few VR experiences for it so I got a Moto G running Android for cheap and quickly found out I couldn’t try any VR apps because it didn’t have a gyroscope! I ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S3 which works gorgeously. I downloaded handfuls of apps and there are some excellent ones.

I attached a velcro strip to the sides of the headset so it can stay on my head without me holding it on with my hands, and I put some paper towel padding around the nose so the weight wouldn’t give me blisters. Very comfy, even with glasses. In my hands I had the Nyko Playpad synced using Bluetooth. The resolution looks sharper than DK2. 

Google Cardboard is much less cumbersome than DK2, and not having a tether cord to a computer is psychologically liberating. Best of all - the games you load up actually work with out much fiddling around! Just tap & play. 

The Samsung Gear VR just came out and It says my Galaxy S3 won’t fit in it but I’d like to give it a shot - I have lots of gaffer tape!

I’ll return with a software entry soon!

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