It has felt like years since the original Oculus Rift Development Kit, or DK1, was released - but it was only March 2013 when the future of VR was unleashed upon the world. Between March 2013 and now, Oculus VR has shown off different iterations of the Rift, including the Crystal Cove prototype at CES 2015 in January, and then the Development Kit 2, or DK2, just after. The company announced it would be selling the DK2 in July, 2014.
Oculus VR opened the doors up to the world for DK2 on March 19, seeing over 12,500 units pre-ordered in the first 36 hours. Days later, the company announced it was being acquired by Facebook for a huge $2 billion. This acquisition worried the world, including myself, but the team at Oculus were quick to react to the criticism. Fast forward to July, and Oculus begins shipping its first batch of DK2 to eager users. I missed the first batch, but made the second batch, receiving my unit on August 12 - but missed the postman, and didn't get my DK2 until two days later.
Oculus has been working closely with Samsung for a few months now, with Oculus receiving early access to Samsung's next-gen OLED panels. In return, Oculus provides early access to its mobile software development kit (SDK) to Samsung, with Samsung set to unveil its own VR device, Gear VR, in the coming weeks. This partnership with Samsung, which was most likely only made possible with the backing of Facebook, had allowed Oculus to bake in a considerably better panel into the DK2, which we're going to start talking about now.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The original Rift, at the time, was great - but its Achilles Heel was its display panel. DK1 was using a 7-inch 1280x800 LCD, similar, if not identical, to the one found in the Nexus 7 (2012 model) that was out at the time. This provided 640x800 per eye, with a 60Hz refresh rate, leaving users with a screen-door effect. This screen door effect was atrocious, but there was nothing else out at the time, so it was the only option. Still, DK1 was an impressive piece of kit, with the first device delivering a truly next-gen experience. Next-gen in the sense that it wasn't just a faster GPU, or console, but an entirely new device that provided a very unique experience - VR.
Oculus knew it had to up its game for DK2, with the company using a 5.7-inch 1920x1080 panel for its next-gen Rift. The 5.7-inch panel is ripped, quite literally, right out of the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone from Samsung. This means that the Rift DK2 unit uses a 5.7-inch 1920x1080 Super AMOLED display, which provides 960x1080 per eye, compared to just 640x800 per eye from the DK1. But it's not just resolution that helps the DK2 surpass the DK1.
What's In The Box
One of the first things that made the Oculus Rift unique at the time was the packaging that DK1 arrived in. The Rift DK1 arrived in a super-premium plastic case that made transporting, and keeping your Rift headset safe, something that was worth talking about. It was one of the surprise moments when opening up the outside box of the Rift, to find this premium plastic case inside. Well, unfortunately, there's no plastic case this time around - with a simple, but practical box for the DK2.
The box itself is great, but definitely no way near what the original DK1 unit came in. Oculus has wrapped everything individually, in perfectly packaged bags. Everything from the Rift headset itself, down to the B eyecups, all the way through to the positional tracking camera.
For those who don't want to watch the video, or want a quick list of what comes inside of the box, here's a list:
- Oculus Rift DK2 Headset (with detachable cable)
- Positional tracking camera
- 'B' lenses
- Positional tracker mini-USB to USB cable
- Positional tracker 3.5mm to 3.5mm sync cable
- DVI to HDMI adapter
- Power adapter (with 4 plugs: US, EU, UK, AU)
- Lens cleaning cloth
What's a list without some pictures?
The box that the DK2 comes in is plain, but it does the job.
The DK2 box is filled with stuff, lots of VR stuff!
Pricing & Availability
When it comes to pricing, I really think what Oculus is offering with the Rift DK2 is an incredible price. I've read about the place that people don't recommend purchasing the Rift just yet, as it's just an 'expensive toy' or an 'expensive beta kit', but at $350 (without shipping), I think it represents great value. Even the DK1 was a fun time for over a year for $350, but the DK2 has much better technology, positional tracking, a low-persistence higher-resolution screen, and much more.
As for availability, you're going to be waiting quite some time to get it if you were to order it today. I would say that it would be at least the middle of October before people will get it, if they were to order when they read this review.
I used my everyday PC to run the Rift DK2, which also ensured that I constantly hit the 75FPS mark to meet the 75Hz refresh rate of the DK2's display. This meant that I didn't experience judder for most of my testing, but I did hit a few snags that I'll talk about in a follow up piece where I go deeper into the games and demos I'll be playing. For now, here's what I was running with the Rift DK2 headset:
- CPU: Intel Core i7 4930K processor w/Corsair H110i cooler
- Motherboard: ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition
- RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro of 2400MHz DDR3
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 SLI
- Storage: 240GB SanDisk Extreme II and 480GB SanDisk Extreme II
- Chassis: InWin X-Frame Limited Edition
- PSU: Corsair AX1200i digital PSU
- Software: Windows 7 Ultimate x64