Oculus VR will begin to ship the long-awaited Rift, the Facebook-owned outfit announced on Wednesday.
The Rift, on show at the Consumers Electronics Show this week, will begin to ship on March 28 at a price of $599, Oculus VR said. “People have been dreaming about immersive high-end VR for decades, and we’re thrilled to share Rift with you this March,” the company said in a statement.
Indeed, VR enthusiasts have been waiting for ship-date clarity since May of last year when the company said that the consumer version of the Rift would ship in the first quarter of 2016.
For the uninitiated, virtual reality simulates a physical presence. In the case of Rift, this is achieved through a VR headset that immerses the user in a virtual world. More modest forms of VR include Google’s Cardboard that can, for example, simulate a presence at popular tourist spots in Paris.
Because Oculus’ VR is sophisticated, it requires a lot of horsepower. On Wednesday, Oculus revealed the minimum requirements beyond the Rift itself. That includes a PC with an Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD R9 290 graphics processor, an Intel i5-4590 processor equivalent or greater, 8GB of RAM, HDMI 1.3 video output, multiple USB 3.0 ports, and a USB 2.0 port. The operating system must be Windows 7 SP1 64 bit or newer.
Bundles that include an Oculus-ready PC and a Rift will be available for pre-order in February starting at $1,499, the company said.
At those prices, the total package is an expensive proposition, one of the hurdles to wide adoption of more sophisticated consumer VR.
So, what’s in the Rift box? The headset integrates two high-resolution OLED displays for each eye, providing a total resolution of 2160 x 1200 (1080 x 1200 per eye) and 3D audio headphones. Also included are a mic, sensor, and an Xbox One controller.
The controller is for games like “Lucky’s Tale,” included with every Rift. The “EVE: Valkyrie” Founder’s Pack will also come with preorders, Oculus said. Other games are on the way too, with more than 100 titles available by the end of 2016, including “Minecraft.” And Oculus Studios will introduce more than 20 games, including “Rockband VR” by Harmonix, “Edge of Nowhere” by Insomniac, and “The Climb” by Crytek.
Rift, however, will not by any means be limited to gaming. Battlefield, tourism, and space exploration will likely emerge as popular applications. Medicine is also ripe for VR. A surgeon, for example, could perform a simulated operation.
Among other VR announcements at CES, HTC demonstrated the Vive Pre virtual reality system for developers. The company will give away 7,000 of the systems to developers.