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Facebook shows it's still serious about virtual reality with new $399 headset

Salvador Rodriguez
  • Facebook on Wednesday announced the $399 Oculus Rift S, the latest version of its PC-connected virtual reality headset.
  • The Oculus Rift S will launch this spring alongside the standalone Oculus Quest headset, which is also priced at $399.

Facebook FB on Wednesday announced the $399 Oculus Rift S, the latest version of its PC-connected virtual reality headset that will go on sale this spring.

Although virtual reality seems far from Facebook's core market of social networking and its recent focus on private messaging , CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly believes it's the "next major computing platform after mobile in about 10 years," according to a 2015 email published by TechCrunch .

Last year, reports emerged that Facebook was going to ditch VR hardware that required a PC to function, which offers the best performance and is geared toward hardcore gamers, and instead focus on stand-alone headsets like the Oculus Quest. The Rift S, although a modest update, proves that Facebook has not given up on the market.

The new headset is the successor to the company's original Rift headset and will include a higher resolution display, a new tracking feature called Oculus Insight and a feature called Passthrough+ that allows users to get a glimpse of their real-world surroundings without having to take off their headset. The Rift S will also include a halo headband that is designed to increase comfort.

Oculus also announced a number of games that will launch for Rift S throughout 2019. Additionally, the new headset will be able to run games already available for the first Rift.

The new headset will launch alongside the Oculus Quest, a stand-alone headset announced last year that is also priced at $399. While the Quest is more portable, the Rift S is more technologically capable as it must be connected to a PC running Windows 10 in order to function.

The announcement of the Rift S comes after Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe resigned from Facebook in October. TechCrunch reported that Iribe left after Facebook canceled plans for a new headset.

At the time, Facebook's head of VR product, Nate Mitchell, refuted the report, tweeting "we're still driving forward on the Rift/PC platform with new hardware, software, and content."

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