Excerpts from a Virtual Reality Researcher

The Oculus + Laptop Conundrum

In general, I think Oculus has been making some good moves and making some good general progress on the advancement of their HMD.  I am looking forward to trying out the consumer available HMD later this Spring.

One area that hasn’t made a huge amount of sense to me was their move to disallow the Oculus from working with most laptops.  It sounds like the move was due to many laptops having more than one graphics card present (an on-board card, plus perhaps an nVidia mobile card), and a piece of technology present in these laptops called “Optimus” which automatically handles switching between the two cards depending on what application is currently running and has focus.

It sounds like the Optimus technology interferes with their desire and ability to implement their “direct to hmd” mode, which in the long run, will probably make things easier for most people to run applications.

What this does take away, in many regards, is the ability to have a portable HMD in a nice form factor.  I could fit the Oculus and a laptop in a single bag, go anywhere in the world and show off our research and software technology driving many of our research projects.  (I still can actually, due to my refusal to upgrade the Oculus run time on some of our laptops).  But this does cut us off from having the ability to keep up-to-date with the latest available run-time and its benefits.

No one wants to lug around an entire desktop PC with the Oculus, but many people are now being forced to.

It sounds like there are laptops out there that are compatible, due to them not having a mobile graphics card; however the price tag on these laptops are not cheap, minimum $2,000 a pop from what I’ve seen.

Perhaps this is a smart play by Oculus in the long-run as maybe they will drive laptop manufacturers to start wiring non-mobile cards into their machines and as more hardware companies do it, the price will come down across the board, which will be beneficial to the public.  But this will depend on the success of the Oculus after consumer release!