Davy Watts is one of the lucky first owners of both Virtual Reality (VR) sets and he left his impressions about how both sets work on LFS. Live for Speed use to be one of the main test for VR as has been evolved to support them and it is light enough to work at best possible settings.
- HTC: Taiwanese mobile company
- Vive: Steam VR package
- Oculus: Facebook VR package
- DK2: Oculus Development Kit 2nd version
- SDE: Screen door effect
- FoV: Field of view
- CV1: Oculus Consumer Version 1, first version to be available to the general public.
So, the Vive impressions with Live for Speed. A definite improvement over the DK2. From least to most, the resolution, SDE, FoV and sweet spot are all improved.
The resolution is primarily improved at near and moderate distances. Menus and the car interior are clearer. Virtual mirror is clearer. Track-side scenery is clearer. Unfortunately, long distances still suffer. The brake markers become readable around 75m on the long straight on Blackwood. Everything at ~200m+ becomes blurry quickly. At ~300m+ everything is pixel soup.
The SDE is improved, although the SDE never bothered me much on the DK2. Not much else to say on SDE, other than I didn’t really notice it unless I was looking for it. It gets lost in the noise of the experience, and the lack of resolution is much more noticeable.
FoV is a nice improvement over the DK2, primarily the vertical FoV. Horizontal FoV seems a tad wider from what I remember of the DK2, although nothing remarkable. The vertical FoV is noticeably wider and adds more to the immersion than I would have assumed. It really helps relieve some of that periscope-view feeling.
The sweet spot. Wow. I wasn’t expecting this much of an improvement. The lenses still blur moving outwards, but the blurring is much more progressive and only gets terrible at the edges. It’s nothing like the DK2 blur that gets immediately terrible outside the small sweet spot. You can actually read in your periphery with the Vive, unlike having to look directly at text with the DK2. Even though the text isn’t very focused at the edges, I can read the entire Live for Speed menu without much head movement.
Firstly, I can’t state enough how much more polished CV1 is. Everything about it feels and looks high-end. The materials, fit, finish, etc. It’s really unfortunate HTC didn’t have an extra 4-6 months to catch up refining the Vive to a similar state.
The comfort is miles ahead of DK2 and Vive. The strap system is streamlined, simple to use and feels good on the head. CV1 uses a single combined cable that’s much less cumbersome than the bulky, flat, multi-wire cable coming off the rear of the Vive. There’s still a slight inertia effect when turning your head, but nothing like the Vive which is fairly front heavy. No contest here; I think comfort is the Rift’s biggest advantage.
The resolution gets a very small bump over the Vive, but the two headsets are very comparable in what can be resolved by the eyes. Pixels blend together better on the CV1 and the image is softer and more natural looking while maintaining a similar resolution. The Vive has a more digital presentation by comparison. The softer image undoubtedly stems from Oculus’ goal of reducing SDE using hybrid optics and whatever software techniques they’re utilizing. I prefer the CV1 image presentation. Going down the straight on Blackwood the signs are comfortably readable around 75m, maybe 85m, so if anything a very small bump in what’s resolvable over the Vive. The text on the sign is less jagged on the edges, like there’s some type of aliasing being applied.
The CV1 image isn’t as bright, but I find it more comfortable than the very bright Vive screen (should be adjustable in the future, I imagine). However, contrast favors the Vive, regardless of screen brightness. Blacks are blacker on the Vive. From what I understand, blacks levels were increased with 1.3 to combat black smearing. Hopefully Oculus can address the black smearing in the future without having to bump the black levels.
On the topic of black levels, it’s worth pointing out the light rays from bright images on dark backgrounds. The effect is very noticeable on both CV1 and Vive, mostly in the periphery when bright objects are out of the FoV and the light is shining into the FoV. However, the CV1’s light rays are considerably more distracting, as they’re more focused and intense. The Vive’s light rays are diffused, seemingly dispersed by the fresnel lens edges. I can foresee people having night racing problems, especially with CV1.
If SDE on the DK2 is your worst enemy, then you’ll be happy to know SDE on the CV1 is greatly improved. The SDE decrease from Vive to CV1 is about the same as DK2 to Vive, so a very dramatic improvement. Not much else to say, other than CV1 is the best in regards to SDE, followed by Vive then DK2.
The sweet spot is nice and large just like on the Vive. Again, I can read the Live for Speed menu with minimal head movement, and looking around the cockpit is a much better experience than DK2. Just like the Vive, the image only becomes significantly distorted at the very periphery. However, the CV1 periphery is closer to the center than on the Vive, which brings me to FoV…
Damn. This is where the CV1 starts to fall short, at least to my eyes. If you were banking on increased FoV over DK2, you’ll probably be disappointed. After experiencing the Vive FoV, the CV1 FoV felt considerably more limiting. My subjective FoV observations reflect the camera measurements taken by Doc_Ok, and also reflect observations from other co-owners of both headsets. The extra FoV on the Vive, especially vertical FoV, adds a lot to the presence and immersion I feel while sitting in the car.
Each headset has an advantage over the challenger and this should be a very nice starting point for the VR with regarding to simracing software. We must wait a few months to see how these hardware pieces are implemented on many of the current titles as Assetto Corsa and iRacing, while LFS and Project Cars are already working almost at full performance.