Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Oculus Rift pricing - it's not that bad

The couple days ago I decided to pre-order the Oculus Rift CV-1. Rumors were that it was going to be around $350 so I hesitated when I saw the $600 price ($688 after taxes and shipping). Might as well go with the HTC Vive if the entry price for VR is around a grand.

The few minutes I spent looking up info on the Vive cost me a March receipt date. Looks like it's May for me.* There was a lot of anger among Oculus enthusiasts over the price but I think that's a kind of psychological loss aversion based on the earlier anchors of the DK1/DK2 prices and the $350 ballpark figure.

But $600 in context of a multimedia PC is pretty mild. 

Here's an ad from BYTE in 1993, around the time when multimedia computing was becoming mainstream. A typical 486 33MHz was around $2000.

Adjusted for inflation, it's like spending $3,200 in 2016 for a desktop. 

Whereas the 486SX/33 was a midrange computer you'd find in an early 90s household, a $3,200 desktop today is unheard of. For that kind of money, you'd can get a computer faster than 99.5% of other computers.**

The specs for a computer that can power the Oculus Rift with some fluency would cost less than half that; around $1,500. All told, today's multimedia PC is significantly cheaper than it's ever been and promises experiences that are orders of magnitude superior to what was available just twenty years ago.

By comparison, in 1993, the just-released Super NES was $199 ($291 in 2016 terms) but no one seems to notice that consoles have become more expensive. The XBox One was released at $500.

And to be perfectly honest, there are so many technologies being developed for VR that the Oculus Rift will hopefully be the Atari 2600 in a long line of VR headsets.

* The March release is the 28th or so which means the release is basically April. So I'll be behind a month, maybe two at worst. Pascal won't be out by then so it will be interesting to see how AMD's Hawaii and Fiji fare against Maxwell in VR.

** Just a quick stop to iBuyPower and $3,200 buys an overclocked liquid cooled i7-5820k (6-core) CPU, dual 980TI cards, 16GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD, 1000W PSU, 24" 144Hz monitor, Windows 10, and 3yr Warranty.

My own machine, which is much less powerful: i7-3930k (6-core) overclocked, single 980TI card, 16GB RAM, SSD etc. scores better than 99% of other systems (as of Jan 12 2016) on the Firestrike benchmark so I would assume that the $3,200 system would be in the 99.5% percentile or so.

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