Setup & Software
After taking everything out of the box, the setup process begins. Setting up the DK2 is a little more time consuming compared to the DK1, but the extra time spent is more than worth it. The additional time required is because there are multiple cables running all over the place, with a 3.5mm and separate USB cable running to the positional tracker, into the PC (USB) and into the DK2 (3.5mm). The Rift itself plugs into your PC through HDMI directly into your video card, and then into a spare USB port.
You'll also need to download the Oculus SDK from the Oculus Developer Center website, and then you can unleash your Internet connection to download countless games and demos that work with the Rift - with the DK2 backwards compatible (most of the time) with DK1 content.
Once you've got it all plugged together, turn the Rift DK2 on and away you go. The Oculus Configuration Utility will need some setting up, but if you've moved from the DK1, your settings will move across, which is a nice touch. In the OCU, you can adjust the Eye Relief settings, create a new User with new height settings, and you can also choose which eye cups you're using - for our testing, and my eyes, I'm using the default A eye cups.
After you've set the Oculus Configuration Utility to your personal needs, click the Show Demo Scene, where you'll be transported to a virtual desk - this is the first time you'll be able to experience the world of VR through the new Rift DK2. This will be the first time, for most people who test this, where they sit back and fully realize within seconds at the possibilities of VR. The demo is a good way to show off the positional tracking camera, as you can move closer to the desk in the demo, looking at the leaves on the little plant, or the house of cards. But this is just the beginning, and this is simply a demo scene.
Another new feature from the new SDK is that you can now render the game or demo that you're pumping into the Rift directly to the Rift itself. Normally, you'd have to have an extended desktop, which saw the Rift (DK1 or DK2) as a secondary monitor. It's not like this was a showstopper, but it made things a little more complicated. There are benefits of rendering directly to the Rift too, with reduced latency - resulting in a smoother VR experience.
This is the biggest change with the DK2, the improved hardware and features. We talked about it quickly above, but now we're going to explain a little more about the things that make the DK2 tick, and what makes it world's beyond what the DK1 offered.
First and foremost, the increased resolution is the biggest improvement - moving from 1280x800 to 1920x1080 is a game changer for the DK2. But it's not just the increased resolution that is what is driving the massive improvement over the DK1 in Oculus' new VR headset. It is something that Valve pioneered, something that Oculus has baked into the DK2 after collaborating with the company: low-persistence of vision.
Low-persistence is something that allows the new Rift to reduce motion artifacts, as it only displays the latest, correct display information that is relative to the user's vision at the time. Where things blurred to oblivion in the DK1, the DK2 feels like it is refreshing at twice the 60Hz refresh rate of the DK1. An easy way to explain this difference is, it's like going from 60Hz panel, to a 120Hz panel - and for those who have never done that, then it would be like comparing the first LCD monitors to their CRT counterparts - the higher refresh rate always, always felt smoother. The DK2 is unbelievably smooth compared to the DK1.
So, we have the increased resolution, at 1920x1080, a low-persistence display, but there's something else that forms the glue of presence - making you feel, or at least tricking your brain, into thinking you're in the VR world. Oculus went with Samsung's Super AMOLED panel, which provides a high amount of contrast, but very, very deep blacks. The deep blacks are achieved by the DK2 because there is no backlight, or other light near your eyes, because your eyes are encased within the Rift headset. This allows the OLEDs to turn off, achieving close to true black. Colors on the DK2 panel are much more vivid and brighter on the DK2 when compared to the DK1, too.
Let's talk about the DK2 itself, which weighs more than the DK1, but this is something I couldn't tell the difference apart. If anything, the DK2 felt lighter in my hands, and I also felt no difference with the DK2 on my head in terms of weight. There's more room for my nose, which meant I wasn't fogging up the lens cups so easily, which is a nice change over the DK1. The DK2 weighs 440g (or 0.97 pounds) compared to the DK1 which weighs 380g (or 0.83 pounds).
On the front of the DK2 is a power button, something that the DK1 lacked - the power functionality was on the break out box for the DK1. To the right of the power button are the USB and HDMI cables, which are held together and under an elastic band. These two cables go over your head, instead of to the side, which helps with not getting tangled in cords like you would with the DK1.
The little sync box in between the Rift and your PC (which plugs into both HDMI and USB) is much smaller than the breakout box on the DK1, as you can see in the shot above.
On the side of the DK2 we have the same adjustment that we had on the DK1, but the screws are a little bigger, making it easier to manage.
Here we have a couple of shots of the positional tracking camera.
A front-on view of the Oculus Rift DK2.
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