Tech

Facebook shows it's still serious about virtual reality with new $399 headset

Key Points
  • Facebook on Wednesday announced the $399 Oculus Rift S, the latest version of its PC-connected virtual reality headset. 
  • The Oculus Rift S will launch this spring alongside the standalone Oculus Quest headset, which is also priced at $399. 
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Facebook's Oculus unveils new virtual reality headset

Facebook on Wednesday announced the $399 Oculus Rift S, the latest version of its PC-connected virtual reality headset that will go on sale this spring.

Although virtual reality seems far from Facebook's core market of social networking and its recent focus on private messaging, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly believes it's the "next major computing platform after mobile in about 10 years," according to a 2015 email published by TechCrunch.

Last year, reports emerged that Facebook was going to ditch VR hardware that required a PC to function, which offers the best performance and is geared toward hardcore gamers, and instead focus on stand-alone headsets like the Oculus Quest. The Rift S, although a modest update, proves that Facebook has not given up on the market.

The new headset is the successor to the company's original Rift headset and will include a higher resolution display, a new tracking feature called Oculus Insight and a feature called Passthrough+ that allows users to get a glimpse of their real-world surroundings without having to take off their headset. The Rift S will also include a halo headband that is designed to increase comfort.

Facebook on Wednesday announced the $399 Oculus Rift S, the latest version of its PC-connected virtual reality headset that will on sale this spring.
Oculus Rift S

Oculus also announced a number of games that will launch for Rift S throughout 2019. Additionally, the new headset will be able to run games already available for the first Rift.

The new headset will launch alongside the Oculus Quest, a stand-alone headset announced last year that is also priced at $399. While the Quest is more portable, the Rift S is more technologically capable as it must be connected to a PC running Windows 10 in order to function.

The announcement of the Rift S comes after Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe resigned from Facebook in October. TechCrunch reported that Iribe left after Facebook canceled plans for a new headset.

At the time, Facebook's head of VR product, Nate Mitchell, refuted the report, "we're still driving forward on the Rift/PC platform with new hardware, software, and content."

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