Oculus Rift Resolution – Why Are People so Obsessed With it

Remember the DK1 days? Those were the days when people were watching content on-screen with a fairly moderate headache. Bad resolution was also something that followed. Even to the point that you started to count pixels between loading times.

DK2 came along and it fixed the pixel part to some degree. Can you compare DK2 pixel visibility with regular monitors? Of course not, unless your nose touches the screen this very moment. And here is where the biggest issue comes along. Rift is so in your face that even very high-resolution objects are pixellated.


Why Are People Obsessed With it Though?

For some it is immersion, for some just a general beauty of the game. I am personally very picky when it comes to graphics, so when I see triple-A games with bad textures or false advertising (seeing in trailers one thing but experiencing another in-games), I get bothered.

Do I get upset with the general look of VR games?

oculus rift skyrim

Not really. Especially when it touches the subject of resolution. I appreciate overall beauty of games, but in no way am I in position to cry over something that will be fixed with time. Resolution doesn’t depend on games or their developers. This duty solely lies with hardware creators, and they also are limited to technology advancement.

Oculus Rift resolution has been improved by a margin over the previous kit, yet individual pixels are still visible. Now that “Powering The Rift” plog post has been released, we know that Oculus Rift CV1 will feature 1080×1200 pixels for each eye with 90Hz dual split screens. DK2 has 960×1080. Doesn’t seem like a huge improvement, right? Right, because it isn’t. Still, you will get around 20% more pixels stuffed into CV1.

We do have to remember that for getting a crisp and solid image, we have to take into account fill factors. Fill factor is the distance between each pixel.

oculus rift resolution

If by any chance CV1 has a higher fill factor, it will drastically reduce the screen door effect, and would also increase the brightness since less light would be emitted sideways away from the lens.

What thoughts do people have of CV1’s screen and resolution?

I have read around just checking what people think of the new Rift, and it’s quite divided. Some say they did not see any pixels when testing it out at conference, some were very sensitive about that topic and wished CV1 was even higher resolution.

At some point even Palmer himself stepped in and gave his input regarding the screen:

palmer luckey resolution

The idea that Oculus chose a low spec panel has no basis. The Rift uses the absolute best panels possible today, not only in resolution, but in every other spec as well. You probably wish display technology was a few years better (as I do!), but this is the best that can be done today, and the optimizations we have made paid off – the Rift looks fantastic, even better than Crescent Bay.

I remember Palmer giving interview about half a year ago, and he was asked about the technical side of CV1 and could it be improved even more if you had more money. His answer was that of course it could, but for now it just doesn’t fit in, and technology hasn’t caught up yet to be implemented into the first commercial headset.

And it makes sense. HTC Vive – biggest competitor to Oculus – rocks with same specs. Changing the resolution to even higher numbers would be same as if you bought 4K TV from the store, and started watching regular TV shows with hopes that overall quality increases. If hardware advances, video quality has to be up to par, or you are going to be left with di… remote in your hands with no visual upgrade.


How Does the Future Look in This Area?

Well, like Luckey already said, only thing that is holding them back is the advancement of technology. The idea and concept behind higher resolution and better screen is already finished. Or so it is rumored.

The thing with VR displays is, it shouldn’t be compared to regular monitor panels since it behaves differently and has some fundamental differences. For example, few weeks ago I published a news article about Oculus hiring LCD tech engineers. That means that they might consider switching back to LCD display (don’t take my word for it though).

Why might they have such ideas?

Because technology advances. New ideas surface. Especially when a new medium like VR becomes popular. Last year Nvidia has made a VR prototype that works completely well on cascaded LCD panels, and has 4x times more pixels (or so it seems to viewers) than normal OLED displays have on DK2.

Could Oculus implement such an idea to CV1? Highly doubt it since they already released specs for CV1 and it seems that screen is much darker than before (something that OLED displays share). Is it off the book for CV2? Of course not. When we are at the beginning of the VR race, all ideas can be good, no matter how absurd it sounds.

All we need is a little bit of patience for such technology to catch up to what we are used to seeing everyday on-screen, and from there on out the burden of visual appearance can be given to developers.

Just my 2 cents and thoughts on this topic.


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  1. I’ve been waiting for home VR since the days of Dactyl Nightmare. I owned the iCuiti glasses a few years ago, which had good head tracking but very low resolution. I want something that I can plug directly into my PC and go. I gave the iCuiti glasses away to a friend, great for watching a movie on the plane but not good enough for sim racing. Now I have the Rift. It’s great with Project Cars on Steam, and I hear it’s available on the Oculus site, but not compatible with the Steam version (?). Not sure why that is, goofy I guess. Anyhow, I’m enjoying it so far, and I think the resolution will improve in time. I’ve waited decades for it to reach this level, so a little more time will be easy. I’m also using it with non-VR games like Left4Dead, rFactor2 and Fallout4 to good effect with the help of some aftermarket software. So quitcherbellyachin’ and have fun. Or wait on the sidelines until it’s “perfected”.

  2. Doesn’t that mean that Gear VR has a better resolution than Oculus Rift CV1 ? From my point of view, the more accurate the image is the more immersive VR is. Head tracking is very good on Gear Vr, i haven’t tested a Rift so far, but just for curiosity, does it worth the price of the gaming PC since you don’t get more accuracy than from Gear VR ? I am asking this because my intention was to buy a Rift later in 2016.

    1. In theory, Gear VR does have a better resolution compared to DK2, but since Samsung Galalxy phones are not made “entirely” for Virtual Reality from the start, screen door effect kicks in (which is basically a space between pixels). DK2 has lower resolution, but due to lower SDE, it might look better for some people.

      1. Interesting thing, though: i have an DK2 and an HTC one m8 with a higher quality Cardboard thingie, and pixelquality on the cardboard system beats the oculus by a WIDE margin. No screendoor effect on my cardboard system at all, just kinda low resolution. And no chromatic abberation also. So Palmer kind of lied when he said “best display technology possible”, especially considering that my htc one is only 5,5 inches with 1920×1080. Just sad that everything else about the cardboard combo sucks 😀

  3. Good feature. Yes, there is a lot of hostility I’ve noticed about resolution. People saying VR is useless because it isn’t 4K or 8K. Most of this negativity comes from people who have never experienced Oculus Rift or who have tried DK1 only. There is a percentage who have purchased Oculus DK2 and instead of appreciating the fact that it’s the most advanced home VR system ever – they complain about the resolution and announce to the world on youtube they’ve sold it because it didn’t meet their standard for perfection. Both camps of people (those who’ve never tried but are hostile & those who buy & complain) really fail to understand VR progress and development.

    Many years ago I purchased a used IO-Systems PC3D on ebay from a seller in the US (I live in the UK). It arrived without any packing material. The seller had placed the HMD loose in a box with the sharp metal pins of the PSU free to collide. Needless to say the HMD wasn’t working and actually it wasn’t working before the seller shipped it. I had to ship it back to the US and get it repaired by the manufacturer. Fortunately it was repaired and returned to me very quickly.

    It was my first experience of home VR… The LCD back in those days had very little contrast (black wasn’t on the color palette), were highly temperature sensitive (I had to add a mini fan to the unit to keep it cool) and many games were unplayable (Unreal was absolutely unplayable due to lack of clarity). Serious Sam 2nd encounter was the best looking game on that old HMD. It gave me a taste of immersive VR albeit without any head-tracking.

    Now towards the end of 2015 and I own an Oculus Rift DK2. My reaction to DK2 was wholly positive. The resolution was better than I expected. The contrast is stunning. The head-tracking is amazing and the life-size stereoscopic 3d exceeds my expectations. I’ve been playing a lot of games and demos and find the whole experience incredible. I purchased Oculus with reasonable and realistic expectations. The problem is the percentage who have no idea what they’re buying and then complain that it doesn’t approach the quality of a 4k monitor or they complain about “the poor drivers and lack of games” (oblivious to the fact that it’s a development kit).

    There’s a percentage who are hostile to any new form of gaming hardware if it deviates significantly from a standard gaming setup.

    I had a conversation with a scientist who worked with a variety of high end HMD VR and he told me that resolution wasn’t the most important factor for VR. He said he’d used very high resolution VR but the most important features were precise head/body tracking and the ability to see your hands in the VR world.

    I look forward to CV1 and Half-moon.

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