Skip to main content

The Oculus Touch Motion Controller Review

Using Touch Controllers And Conclusion

One of the first things you notice when you pick up the Touch controllers is how comfortably they fit in your hand. Oculus spent a lot of time designing the controllers to fit ergonomically. The trigger and grip button are positioned for easy access without moving your fingers to search for them. It's hard to imagine a more comfortable design. But that doesn't mean everyone's body will respond to Touch the same.

Hand Cramps

Oculus' Touch controllers are light enough, but they frankly aren’t as comfortable as I personally expected. Over time, I discovered that the handle is a little too small. The controllers are designed to accommodate a natural resting position, which feels great at first. But Oculus' hand gesture system puts a lot of strain on your pinky and ring fingers as you clamp down harder with them.

You see, the index finger, middle finger, and thumb are used for gestures, leaving most of the controller's mass balanced between those remaining two fingers, which are holding on tight. Despite their light weight, the controllers' handles are a lot to bear during an extended gaming session. In my experience, the grips are too small; my hands and fingers started cramping after 30-40 minutes. If the base of the handle had a bit more girth, my pinky and ring fingers might have fared better.

The shape of the Touch controller is great for a theoretical dainty grip. However, that's less practical in an intense VR experience. After all, when you hold a gun, a firm grip is more natural than a neutral hand pose.

Tracking Accuracy

The Touch evolved quickly. We tried engineering samples this past January at CES and noticed occasional occlusion problems. These were fixed, apparently. Throughout our testing, we only lost tracking when line-of-sight with the sensors was broken.

This is a difficult observation to quantify, but the Touch controllers seem to track more accurately than the Vive's. Occasionally, HTC's hardware will "jitter" a bit; we didn't see anything like that from Oculus. The tracking is almost too sensitive, though. The controllers translate every subtle movement of your hand, which is good if your hand is steady; not so good when your arms get tired and become shaky.

The Rift's tracking system also appears to work better in rooms with reflective surfaces. There is a glass display cabinet in the room I use for testing VR equipment, and it often interferes with the Vive wands when I'm close to it. Touch doesn't have any issues tracking when I'm close to the glass.

Do You Need A Third Sensor?

In the default tracking sensor configuration, you're supposed to put two sensors in front of you and play your games while facing the sensors. At first, we thought this configuration worked perfectly fine. Our early game testing selection included Medium, VR Sports Challenge, and The Unspoken. We had no tracking issues.

But those three games share one important common denominator: none give you any incentive to turn around. In Medium, your canvas is in front of you, and unless you draw something extremely large, you likely won’t feel the need to turn around while you sculpt. VR Sports Challenge puts you in the shoes of competitive athletes from various professional sports, but each experience is short and tailored to a specific task that never requires turning around. The Unspoken places you head to head against a single opponent, always in front of you.

Once we fired up Arizona Sunshine, we ran into trouble. Arizona Sunshine is an open world zombie survival shooter that lets you roam. Zombies attack from all directions, so it’s easy to get caught off guard. Although Blink teleportation lets you change orientation while moving around the map, when the undead creep up behind you, your natural reaction is to spin your body around. And because of that, the two sensors would lose line of sight with the Touch controllers often.

We’d recommend one of the alternative experimental setups for this kind of experience. Once we plugged in a third sensor, our tracking woes were gone, and the room-scale setup is ideal for games that exploit your natural reactive tendencies. The optional dual-sensor, 360° setup works well for these games also, just with a smaller tracked area. Officially Oculus doesn't yet support 360° and room-scale configurations beyond "experimental support," but we recommend spending the extra $79 on that third sensor for the full experience.

When a new piece of technology comes out, especially something as innovative as Oculus Touch, it’s natural to expect hiccups in the setup and use of the device. I really don't have any of that to report here; the configuration process is straightforward, and once the controllers are set up they work as expected, other than the aforementioned tracking hiccups with games like Arizona Sunshine. 


MORE: Best Deals


MORE: Hot Bargains @PurchDeals

Conclusion

The Oculus Touch controllers successfully complement a platform that was noticeably missing an element of virtual reality interactivity. Functionally, the Touch controllers put the Oculus Rift on par with the HTC Vive. Both now have room-scale VR and purpose-built controller input.

Until now, our recommendation was the HTC Vive, without much hesitation. But the situation just changed. From a hardware perspective, the Rift edges out HTC's Vive. From the HMD to the controllers, Oculus put a great deal of thought, design, and manufacturing into the entire package. Furthermore, the controllers, with their analog input buttons, capacitive buttons for intuitive gesture tracking, and robust tracking accuracy, really help the Rift turn the corner on what VR can be.

Of course, the Touch controllers and Vive wands are different enough that some content won't map to both platforms in the same way. And yet, many Vive-only titles are now coming to the Rift as part of this week's Touch launch. We suspect most developers are building for the commonalities. 

It's worth noting that although the extra features of Touch controllers seems advantageous, the variety of input options is a double-edged sword. Some users may find it a bit intimidating. HTC's simpler Vive wands are easier for newcomers to use, and in my early experience, Touch wasn't perfectly comfortable. But I’m a sample size of one. With all VR systems, I’ve made a point of introducing dozens of others to the hardware to gather more points of view, and I will do so with Touch as well. Look to our Best PC VR HMDs page, which we will be updating later this month, along with our original Oculus Rift review, and we’ll provide even more updates over time.

Ultimately, the choice between HTC and Oculus (or even Sony’s PSVR), goes beyond the hardware. It must also factor in the entire experience, including the software environment and the trove of content. But simply put, the Touch controllers are a fantastic, if not necessary addition to Oculus' platform. An extra $200 is a bit steep, but if you already own a Rift, find room in your budget.


MORE: Best Virtual Reality Headsets


MORE: All Virtual Reality Content

Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

  • edhem
    So it appears that the Oculus setup costs more than the HTC Vive, and for someone who does not have Donald Trump hands it might be uncomfortable? In addition, it appears that the Facebook Rift is not that easy to use for non-gamers, which to me seems to be very unusual for Facebook.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    After spending a couple of days with these things at OC3, I was super impressed. One thing I wish for, though--and Kevin pointed out--is control over (for lack of a better term) the DPI. I like to dial down my mouse DPI somewhat, and I want to do the same with the Touch controllers.
    Reply
  • stairmand
    I didn't bother to order these for my Rift, too expensive and the whole room-scale bit of VR didn't impress me. Driving games, flight sims etc are amazing but everything else seems a bit mediocre to me.
    Reply
  • dark_lord69
    I have an Oculus but having a hard time convincing myself to buy these $200 controllers.

    When I first bought a controller it was about $25-30, which seemed like a lot for a controller. Then I bought one for my PS3 and I thought $50 was completely insane. So, no surprise that I'm not willing to listen to my wife bitch about spending $200 on controllers that don't even come with a game...

    You'll have to do a lot to convince me that these are worth $200.
    Reply
  • Sakkura
    18963471 said:
    So it appears that the Oculus setup costs more than the HTC Vive, and for someone who does not have Donald Trump hands it might be uncomfortable? In addition, it appears that the Facebook Rift is not that easy to use for non-gamers, which to me seems to be very unusual for Facebook.

    It costs the same as the HTC Vive, actually less for people who preordered. And the Touch controllers are extremely comfortable in my average hands.

    As for ease of use, the Rift certainly has the Vive beat. Setup is very intuitive.

    18963675 said:
    I didn't bother to order these for my Rift, too expensive and the whole room-scale bit of VR didn't impress me. Driving games, flight sims etc are amazing but everything else seems a bit mediocre to me.

    I think you should reconsider, unless you're dead set on sticking to those genres. It is pretty damn mind-blowing when you first pick up and use these controllers.
    Reply
  • Chris_342
    I've seen maybe 5 reviews and none complained about the comfort and I agree. I have medium sized hands and after a long demo at Best Buy on 2 separate occasions I felt that the controllers were the best I've used for the games I played.
    Reply
  • kcarbotte
    18963471 said:
    So it appears that the Oculus setup costs more than the HTC Vive, and for someone who does not have Donald Trump hands it might be uncomfortable? In addition, it appears that the Facebook Rift is not that easy to use for non-gamers, which to me seems to be very unusual for Facebook.

    I wouldn't go so far as the say its not that easy. Most of the games don't rely on the buttons that much.
    The buttons and joysticks add complexity, which will deter newcomers, such as people who have never played a video game before. But i would argue that Touch controllers are no more intimidating than a gamepad to non-gamers. .
    Reply
  • problematiq
    Wish they used the "Lighthouse." I use them instead of the vive's wand.
    Reply
  • scolaner
    18963837 said:
    18963471 said:
    So it appears that the Oculus setup costs more than the HTC Vive, and for someone who does not have Donald Trump hands it might be uncomfortable? In addition, it appears that the Facebook Rift is not that easy to use for non-gamers, which to me seems to be very unusual for Facebook.

    It costs the same as the HTC Vive, actually less for people who preordered. And the Touch controllers are extremely comfortable in my average hands.

    As for ease of use, the Rift certainly has the Vive beat. Setup is very intuitive.

    18963675 said:
    I didn't bother to order these for my Rift, too expensive and the whole room-scale bit of VR didn't impress me. Driving games, flight sims etc are amazing but everything else seems a bit mediocre to me.

    I think you should reconsider, unless you're dead set on sticking to those genres. It is pretty damn mind-blowing when you first pick up and use these controllers.

    Note: Parse out room-scale from the Touch controllers...those are two different things. Both great. I might buy a Rift without the third cam. But I would definitely *not* buy one without the Touch controllers at this point...they're really, really great.

    Reply
  • kjohnsen045
    A solution to the hand cramping issue the author had is to use something like Sugru to mold your own grip around the base
    https://sugru.com/
    Reply