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It has been five years since Oculus launched its virtual reality project on Kickstarter and got $2.4 million for their initial efforts.
The company has since been snatched up by Facebook yet they still continue to bring VR products into the market. They have seen a lot of competitors rise against them, including HTC Vive and Samsung Gear VR. Now, there is also Google Cardboard.
How does Oculus Rift compare with the search giant’s Cardboard?
Bottom Line up Front: If you are looking to experience VR for the first time and want to see if you enjoy it (or get motion sickness), go with the Google Cardboard here. For VR purists however, the Oculus Rift available here is the superior experience.
Contents (Jump to)
Oculus Rift is a headgear that you wear over your eyes in order to have an immersive virtual reality experience.
Wearing the Oculus Rift would make you feel like you are inside a game, experiencing a tourist spot from halfway across the world like you are really there, fighting life-like monsters, or interacting in a virtual environment.
The Oculus Rift is very comfortable to wear. You can adjust it according to your own preferences and it is clear that the designers have put a lot of thought into the design to make it as comfortable to the wearer as possible.
Oculus Rift has a special kind of fabric that covers the display and is penetrable by infrared light so you do not see the sensors that help Oculus do its job.
When you check the different elements of the Oculus Rift headgear, you would find that it is made of top-notch materials that result to its being durable and lightweight.
It is not an exaggeration to say that the Oculus Rift has both an outstanding design and an eye for comfort. It looks cool and it feels comfortable. It is much lighter than the Samsung Gear VR and it stays in place even as you move around.
The Oculus Rift also delivers resolutions of 2,160 pixels by 1,200 pixels, making the video crisp enough to be enjoyable.
The Rift also comes with built-in headphones that do not cause hearing loss because they do not go into your ear. You are also aware of what’s going on around you even when you are wearing them.
Further, the Rift comes with a one-year warranty. It sells for $500 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) on Amazon.
What could be better
The Oculus Rift demands quite a lot of resources from your computer. A look at the minimum specifications would tell you that it requires topnotch graphics, CPU, and memory resources.
The Oculus Rift needs an NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti / AMD Radeon RX 470 graphics card, an Intel i3-6100 / AMD Ryzen 3 1200, FX4350 or greater CPU, and more than 8 GB of RAM.
If you are not sure whether your computer can handle the Oculus Rift or not, you can download a compatibility tool that will check if you have the required specifications based on the Oculus Rift Web site.
Also, people who are new to Oculus Rift might experience motion sickness, or at the very least, discomfort while wearing it. For this reason, Oculus tries to rate games according to its comfort rating. If you are prone to motion sickness, stay away from games that have an “intense” rating.
Furthermore, while the resolution might be enough for vivid gameplay, it looks more like playing on a 720 pixel monitor, not a 4k display.
That means the resolution could be further improved, especially because the Rift is very close to your eyes. In some games, you can see the lines between the pixels, making them look as if you are watching from behind a screen door.
Talk about examples of polar opposites such as night and day, or hot and cold, and you can probably add Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard to the list.
It is hard to take Google Cardboard seriously if you are one of those who have seen the Oculus Rift, or other VR headgears already available in the market.
In essence, the Google Cardboard is just that, a cardboard that you can use to convert your smartphone in a virtual reality device. For $15 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here), you get a cardboard phone case, glass lenses, and a mobile app.
Google Cardboard is a simple DIY project. The cardboard comes precut and you would need to fold it according to directions. Creating the cardboard phone case takes about five minutes.
The cardboard has creases already made into it, and it has numbers that make it easier for you to tell which tab to fit it into. You also get a rubber band, Velcro, and double stick tape to make sure that your phone stays in place.
The Cardboard also comes with a magnet used to control the phone by using your smartphone’s magnetometer.
What really sets the Google Cardboard apart is that it is very accessible and affordable, and fast, too. It gives you a chance to try out virtual reality for less than $20 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) and you do not even have to take longer than five minutes to set it up.
What could be better
The Google Cardboard may deliver an affordable VR experience, but the quality of that experience depends on your smartphone. The display quality would be good if you have a capable but smaller phone such as the Google Nexus 4, Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S4, Galaxy S5, and Galaxy Nexus.
Bigger phones might not be a good fit for the Google Cardboard. You should also have Android phones that run on Jelly Bean 4.1 or higher to get the best experience. You can also use Cardboard with iPhones.
The mobile apps available for the Google Cardboard are quite limited and most of these are available only for Android phones. Currently, there are more than 30 apps in the Android Play Store that allow you to experience virtual reality.
There is also no way for you to have a hands-free experience with the Google Cardboard. You need to hold the box in place and there is no way for you to wear it like you could the Oculus Rift.
The Google Cardboard relies on your phone while the Oculus Rift relies on your desktop or laptop computer to deliver the experience. The display on the Rift can be likened to a 720-pixel monitor while the Cardboard would, of course, be dependent on your smartphone’s screen.
Both suffer from latency. Latency is the time that lapses from the moment you move your head and the moment that the VR headgear actually reflects that movement.
Oculus Rift has a shorter latency than the Cardboard because of the software and hardware limitations of your smartphone, compared to the processing power you find on your computers. High latency means more people are going to get motion sickness while using the Google Cardboard.
Furthermore, you should not expect a fully immersive experience with the Cardboard. This is because the Cardboard is rather limited at only 80 degrees. The Oculus Rift, on the other hand, has a wide field of view,.
Final word on Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift
Even with its cheap price, the Google Cardboard can be used to experience virtual reality. You can even play games with it.
The Google Cardboard is not a serious competitor in the VR headset space, but it still serves it purpose to satisfy the curiosity of those who are interested in virtual reality but are not willing pay top bucks for the experience.
That said, Google Cardboard might even help devices like the Samsung Gear VR, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive by making people more aware of VR technology. They can spend $15 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) to try it out and, if they find out that they like it, they can go for the more expensive VR gadgets.
Google Cardboard might also be a good way to find out if you are sensitive to motion sickness, which is an accepted negative effect of the VR experience.
The Oculus Rift, on the other hand, is the product of years and years of design revisions. This is obvious when you put on an Oculus Rift for the first time and see how comfortable it is. You can also clearly see the quality of materials used.
If you are impressed with the virtual reality experience that the Google Cardboard gives you and if you are interested in seeing what the other, more expensive VR devices can offer, then you can definitely go for the Oculus Rift.
It is understandable, however, that you might be turned off by the expensive price.
Thankfully, there are other reasonably priced VR headgears available, such as the Samsung Gear VR for Samsung Galaxy S6, Note 5, S6 Edge, and S6 Edge+ smartphones that retails for $49.99 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) from Amazon.
Alternatively, you can go all out with the HTC Vive, which is more comparable to the Oculus Rift. HTC Vive costs $800 (For the latest prices and discounts, check here) but it comes with two wireless controllers and base stations.