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Thursday July 27, 2017
Review: Oculus Touch controllers
by Bennett Ring | Jul 10, 2017 | Comment Now
Best Value
Review: Oculus Touch controllers

"Give Oculus some time to iron out the kinks, add a third camera and we think the Rift may end up being the superior of the two products, especially once price is factored into the equation."

$99 AUD *

> Pricing info

Kit includes two controllers and camera • IR-based tracking solution • single triple A battery for each controller.
* Price at time of review
Oculus is back on equal footing.

When the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift arrived, PCTA was lucky enough to be one of the first magazines in Australia to receive review samples. After a week of testing we came to the conclusion that the Rift was the superior HMD, while the Vive was the superior overall package, and it came down to one reason – the lack of motion controls for the Rift. Instead we had to make do with a crummy Xbox controller, and it really took away half of the VR equation. Well, we’re pleased to finally see Oculus’ motion solution arrive in the form of the Touch controller. The million dollar question is whether it brings the Rift platform up to the same level as the Vive? 

We expected Touch to cost around US$299, so the release price of a mere US$99 is simply astonishingly good value. For this you get two touch controllers and a second tracking camera, identical to the first. Now that your Rift has two cameras, Oculus suggests setting up a camera on each side of your display, but we found this to be a terrible suggestion. The problem is that unless your display is right at the front of your desk, your desktop will occlude tracking below desk level, which is a huge problem when you’re leaning down to pick things up. 

Thankfully the Rift community are a savvy bunch, and they’ve come up with a better solution – mount them the same way as the Vive’s. That is, diagonally opposite, at ceiling height, pointing downwards. This allows much better coverage, and also enables room-scale tracking, though it’s not the same size as the Vive, at around 7 feet diagonal. However, you can purchase a third camera (US$79), which will increase the play size to around 11.6 feet diagonally. 

Oculus really needs to work on their setup tutorial for the Touch controllers, as it’s confusing to say the least. Once again the community has saved the day, with third party software that show exactly where your controllers are being tracked, and any problem spots. Like the Vive, having room-scale tracking means that the Rift now displays a blue ‘wall’ whenever you approach the edge of your play space. 

In terms of ergonomics, the Touch are hands-down the winners, no pun intended. They’re held like pistol grips instead of the wand-like design of the Vive controllers, which makes them far more suitable for pointing at things, and especially in games involving guns… which unsurprisingly is a large amount of titles. There are two triggers on the main grip, one for your pointing finger, the other for your middle finger. On top of each controller are two main buttons, along with a thumbstick that also clicks in. Finally there’s a menu/settings button each controller. 

Once we’d spent a few hours finally getting the tracking to work adequately, we have to admit that the Oculus tracking system doesn’t feel quite as accurate as the Vive. It’s not a night and day difference, but looking down the sights of guns or using bows and arrows shows they’re not quite as on point as the Vive. They also seemed prone to lose tracking a little more often, glitching out now and then. They’re also powered by non-rechargeable batteries, whereas the Vive controllers can be plugged into USB and recharged. 

Despite the quirks with losing tracking and the setup issues, we should take into account that Vive’s controllers had issues at first, and they’ve had a year of extra polish. Give Oculus some time to iron out the kinks, add a third camera and we think the Rift may end up being the superior of the two products, especially once price is factored into the equation. 

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