Consumer virtual reality systems started out in two kinds. One was completely powered by a smartphone, with the headset acting as a simple holder for the phone and lens. The other was a heavier headset that, despite the heft, still needed to offload its work to a powerful PC. The likes of the Google Cardboard have silently disappeared into the background and now it might be the turn of PC-only VR headsets, starting with the disappearance of the Oculus Rift S from main retail sources.
Launched two years ago, the Oculus Rift S succeeded the first commercial Oculus VR headset, adding “in-out” tracking to do away with external sensors. Although it naturally has some electronics, the Rift S can’t function without an attached computer. It was, along with the likes of the HTC Vive and a handful of Windows Mixed Reality headsets, part of a generation of PC-only systems that may be falling out of fashion as far as Oculus and Facebook are concerned.
The writing has been on the wall since last year but the time has finally come. Stocks of the Oculus Rift S from official channels have officially run out and, according to the communication with UploadVR, the company won’t be replenishing them moving forward. You might still be able to find a few units from third-party sellers but those won’t be around forever either.
This pretty much ends Oculus’s PC-only phase as it switches its focus to the Oculus Quest 2. Not only is it lighter and more comfortable, it can also function both as a standalone VR system as well as one that’s tethered to a PC. Whether HTC and other VR headset makers follow Oculus’s lead, only time will tell.
That said, the Oculus Quest 2 is also facing some resistance and criticism, not because of the hardware itself but everything else around it. It is the first Oculus headset to require a Facebook account to even use and that has exposed other limitations and flaws that Facebook seems to have taken for granted before it imposed the requirement.