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Oculus Rift Crystal Cove

The Oculus Rift, the virtual-reality gaming headset that stole the show at last year's CES, is back again this year. A mass-market version isn't available yet, but Oculus VR is showing off its latest prototype, code-named Crystal Cove, adding a few key improvements, a higher-resolution screen, and some more immersive games. So, a bunch of us at CNET went over and slipped on Oculus goggles one more time…and the results, a year later, are impressive.

Oculus VR has been building momentum with US$75 million in new funding for the Rift and a year of game development from a variety of small and large-scale companies. The new headset has a more finished feel than a year ago, but it's far from what a final product will look like. The ski-goggle-like design fits snugly, but this time the outside's studded with little LEDs that add positional tracking, and the 1080p OLED display incorporates newer antiblur technology for better persistence of images. Basically, there's less lag, and hopefully less virtual-motion-induced nausea.

We tried two different demos: in the first, we sat down and looked at a large tabletop tower defense game full of turrets, grunting monster minions, and little corridors. Sitting on a virtual throne, I could lean over and poke my head around corners of the table, and get a closer look at any part of the elaborate game. This test of positional tracking showed how much better the Oculus Rift is getting at mapping precise head motions.

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