CES 2014: Oculus Rift Crystal Cove Makes An Appearance

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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CES 2014: Oculus Rift Crystal Cove Makes An Appearance

It was a product that was almost as mysterious as its name. The folks at Oculus—makers of the Rift, and perhaps one of the biggest names in gaming for 2013 as well as in all likelihood 2014 as well—showed off a whole new prototype of the Rift that was going by the name Crystal Cove. What Crystal Cove was offering, however, proved just a bit less mysterious—and a lot more exciting—following a little explanation from Oculus out at the CES 2014 event.

The Crystal Cove version packed in a complete positional tracking system—as evidenced by the IR dots on the front of the device, which use a camera to track the location of said dots and translate that information into events on screen. Though that sounds like quite a bit of new hardware and development, reports from Oculus' founder, Palmer Luckey, said that the extras won't boost the price of the unit very far up. Oculus, as Luckey explained, has always been cost-conscious and keeping the state of potential buyers' wallets in mind when it comes to any modifications to the device. As Luckey put it: “Cost has always been at the crux of the entire Oculus platform, if the hardware is not affordable, it might as well not exist. We made sure this is a low-cost solution without sacrificing any quality.” However, the thing everyone was hoping to hear—price and release date—wasn't forthcoming at CES...though the VP of product at Oculus, Nate Mitchell, was heard to note that 2014 should be “a very big year for VR.”

But while this is quite the development, there's a further improvement to the device in the form of persistence. Specifically, the persistence has been lowered, which essentially means that the pixels involved in the OLED display quickly turn on and off, leaving each individual pixel engaged for a fraction of a second. With this, the frame refresh rate increases and things like judder and motion blur are lost, making the image feel more natural and overall impressive.

Really, a better refresh rate is awesome. Even just looking at two televisions running at different refresh rates will often betray subtle—and not so subtle—differences in image quality; try standing next to a Samsung with a 60 Hz refresh rate and another with a 120 Hz rate; you should see a pretty marked difference. So hearing about improved refresh rate is likewise welcome. Naturally, I think we all would have preferred some concrete news about this, like when it's coming out, where it can be had, how many kidneys we'll have to sell to get one, and so on—because the news coming out so far about this has been almost universally good. I just want to see if it's really too good to be true. Only time will tell for that one, of course, but man, is 2014 ever looking like a year for the gamer.

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