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GDC 2019: Oculus Rift S VR Headset Revealed With Higher-Res Display, Built-In Tracking

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During the Game Developers Conference, Facebook-owned Oculus quietly unveiled the Rift S, a successor to its flagship Rift virtual reality headset, confirming rumors that surfaced back in October 2018.

Two big changes include a built-in Inside-out "Insight" camera tracking system and higher-resolution displays. But perhaps the biggest surprise is that Oculus worked in partnership with Lenovo to create the Rift S, and the latter's design signature is all over this new VR gear.

Oculus Rift S

Oculus cofounder Nate Mitchell calls the Rift S an "evolution," not a "revolution" of the baseline Rift. Even still, it boasts an entirely new design and will be replacing the Rift in the Oculus product lineup. It also brings a number of smaller changes to the table, some of which fans might not be too happy about.

For starters, while the Rift S bumps the resolution from 1,200 x 1,080 to 1,280 to 1,440 per eye and brings improved lenses, it's also dropping the framerate from 90 hz to 80 hz. Taking a cue from the more budget-friendly Oculus Go headset, Facebook swapped out the OLED display for an LCD one, as well.

There are five cameras flanking the headset for inside-out tracking. It also ships with updated Oculus Touch controllers, the same ones that ship with the Oculus Quest. However, the on-ear headphones are a goner, in place of it are cheaper-sounding near-ear speakers similar to Oculus Go.

The flexible strap has been let go, too, in favor of a rigid "halo" design similar to the PlayStation VR headset. Plus, there's no manual adjustment of distance between the player's eyes.

As for spec requirements, Oculus says they're roughly the same, although a faster-performing CPU might be needed.

Oculus Rift S Price And Release Date

Clearly, Oculus had to institute tradeoffs to accommodate enhancements. That's common in consumer tech, of course. What isn't common, however, is paying a higher price for what some might think are downgrades — the Rift S costs $399, a great deal more than the last generation's $349 starting price.

Whether gamers will be willing to contend with these compromises remains to be seen. The Oculus Rift S launches later this spring.

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