- The system that helped grow VR’s popularity was the Oculus Rift.
- Meta’s VR division discontinued the Rift in 2020 to focus on the Oculus Quest system.
- On paper, the Quest is superior to the Rift, but which device suits you is personal.
In the 1992 psychological thriller “The Lawnmower Man,” the titular character transcends the physical plane and enters into a virtual reality.
“Virtual reality will grow, just as the telegraph grew to the telephone, as the radio to the TV — it will be everywhere,” he says in the film.
The quote was at least semi-prescient. Virtual reality, or VR, is very much a part of our world today, and the system that helped grow its popularity was the Oculus Rift.
What was the Oculus Rift, and why was it so pivotal?
When the first Oculus Rift virtual reality headset was released in 2013, it was a watershed moment for technology fans everywhere. The then-cutting-edge Oculus Rift DK1 was not the first VR headset ever created, but it was the first high-quality yet affordable VR system available to the general public.
Largely catering to gamers and upgraded several times, the Rift was a major success throughout the rest of the 2010s. And with the release of the Oculus Rift S in the spring of 2019, the Rift system was further improved due to the system’s added ability to track the movement of its user’s hands and head.
Thanks to a technology called Oculus Insight, VR users could enjoy a fully immersive experience wherein they could not only look all around but also, in a sense, move all around within a completely virtual world.
Why is Oculus Rift no longer available?
Following the excitement around the Rift S after its release in 2019, it was a surprise that just one year later the maker of the Oculus system, Reality Labs, announced that the Oculus Rift line of VR headsets would be discontinued.
But it was hardly the end of the line for Oculus writ large. The Rift system was discontinued so Reality Labs, which is a subsidiary of Facebook’s parent company Meta, could focus on its newest project, the Oculus Quest VR system.
Is Oculus Quest 2 or Rift better? Which is newer?
The first Oculus Quest headset came out in 2019, the same year as the last Oculus Rift system was released. The very next year, in 2020, Reality Labs released the Oculus Quest 2, which is also called the Meta Quest 2 and remains the most advanced VR system sold by the company at the time of this writing.
The Meta Quest 2 is lighter weight than any Rift headset. It features a faster refresh rate, higher image resolution, and a fast-switch LCD display that makes for a flawless visual experience. And while the Rift S requires a cabled connection to a computer, the Quest 2 is completely wireless.
On paper, the Quest 2 is better than the Rift. It’s a more technically advanced and user-friendly system. Can you still think the Rift is the better VR headset based on your own preferences? Of course.
Are Oculus Rift S headsets still good?
A car that looked great and was a thrill to drive a couple years back can retain those qualities even though a newer model came out. That’s the case with the Rift S as well.
At this point, it may not be worth seeking out and buying a Rift S instead of a Quest 2, especially as you’d have to buy on the secondary market and would likely forgo any warranty. If you already have a Rift S, there’s no reason to stop using it, and there may be no immediate need to upgrade to a Quest 2.
Can you still use the original Oculus Rift?
Because the Oculus Rift and the Rift S will still be getting updates and customer support, per Meta, for the foreseeable future, you can continue to use the older VR systems from Reality Labs and count on them working properly. And if you believe the many commenters on Reddit, the Rift is still a great piece of technology more than a decade after its initial development.
Do note that while newer games and other software are being developed for the Quest line of VR headsets, the Quest 2 has backward compatibility with programs created for the Rift, so with a cable attached to a Quest headset, you can play your favorite Rift games from the past.