Gaming Product Reviews

Oculus Rift Review

James Bruce 20-04-2016

Virtual Reality is not new, but it’s finally affordable and within our grasp. 4 years ago and after many prototypes, VR enthusiast Palmer Luckey announced on the MTBS3D forums that he was going to make a VR headset kit available through the relatively new Kickstarter crowdfunding platform, and soon found ten thousand of us throwing money at him for an Oculus Rift Development Kit 1 Oculus Rift Development Kit Review and Giveaway The Oculus Rift has finally arrived, and is making heads turn (literally) all over the gaming community. No longer are we confined to to peering through a flat window into the gaming worlds we love... Read More . It was a glorious moment, and 2 years later his fledgling company was acquired by Facebook for a cool $2 billion. Which brings us promptly to today: the final consumer edition of the Oculus Rift.


If you haven’t already, I also suggest you read our HTC Vive review HTC Vive Review: Virtual Reality is Finally a Thing The HTC Vive for Steam VR redefines gaming, and more besides. It's the closest thing to a Holodeck I've ever seen. And it's absolutely incredible. Read More , the only current competitor, developed in partnership with Valve.

And for those reading this a year after its initial release, we’ve produced a “one year later: Oculus Rift vs HTC Vive” video. Enjoy!

What’s In The Box?

The Oculus Rift by itself costs $500 plus shipping and local taxes.

oculus rift review - 1 - box

Inside the magnetically sealed box, which has a strong fabric handle so you can carry it around easily, you’ll find:

  • The headset itself, with a 13ft cable
  • Infra-red “Constellation” tracking camera
  • Oculus Remote
  • Microsoft Xbox One wireless gaming controller and USB receiver

oculus rift review - 2 contents

The headset has a single combined cable, which carries both the HDMI and USB signal; this requires one USB3 port on the PC end (and HDMI). The tracking camera requires an additional USB3 port, and the wireless receiver is happy with USB2. No additional power is required, as it draws all the required power from the USB3 port. At a later date, when the Touch motion controller are released with an additional tracking camera, you’ll need yet another USB3 port – so you may need to buy an additional PCI-E interface card.

The tracking camera should be placed at desk height, and then a short installation routine will ask you to angle the camera, and stand as it calibrates. Unfortunately, this is where I hit some frustrating problems. I’ve already established my living room as a VR play area, so I don’t have a desk to place the camera on, opting to use a floor standing speaker instead (about half desk height). No matter how I angled the camera or where I stood, it refused to proceed, telling me the camera was tilted wrongly. I tried on a roughly desk height shelf too, with no luck, and in the end just bodged it by making it think I was standing when I was actually sitting. I now need to reset the view everytime I play, which isn’t a huge issue, but I thought it worth noting how inflexible the Constellation tracking system seems to be at the moment. I had no such issue when setting up the Vive, pointing them straight forward (instead of angled), or at different heights.

oculus rift review -5 tracking camera


Despite being a Microsoft product, the wireless Xbox receiver refused to work out of the box, claiming that drivers were not loaded, nor could any be found through the usual “search for drivers online” process. I had to manually run a Windows Update in order to find a special patch containing the drivers. This is on a Windows 10 machine with regular updates enabled, which leads me to believe the wireless receiver is non-standard, perhaps having been sourced through a third party (and might therefore be responsible for the component shortage that’s plagued the Rift’s launch).

Design and Comfort

The Rift headset is a marvel of engineering, with a sleek black fabric covering the screen enclosure, and spring loaded head strap that makes putting on the headset really easy. The strap is rubber, with a solid triangle at the back which cups the base of your skull, and also houses a number of tracking LEDs which should maintain tracking when you turn fully around.

oculus rift review -7 rear rigid cup

This shifts some of the weight away from your face. It’s already lightweight, but with the solid rubber triangle at the back cupping the base of your skull and correctly adjusted, you shouldn’t feel any significant weight pushing down on your nose or eyes.


The strap is also spring-loaded where it meets the screen enclosure, enabling you to quickly pull the screen forward and not get caught up when putting on and taking it off. There’s also a small degree of tilt for the screen, independent of the strap, so quickly adjusting to find the “sweet spot” is a breeze.

oculus rift review -11 overview

A single, lightweight cable exits the headset on the left side, and tends to drop down your chest. For seated experiences, I rarely noticed the cable, but it’s difficult to tell how comfortable this would be for standing experiences where you need to move around more, since there aren’t any games like that at the moment.

One unexpected highlight of the Oculus Rift is the integrated headphones. These can also be repositioned to perfectly match your ear thanks to a clever mechanism, but moreover, they just sound great. It’s easy to dismiss these as a minor feature, but it really shouldn’t be underestimated how important these are – having wrestled with my own pair of headphones on the Vive, and the complications that it and another cable adds to the equation, having great quality integrated headphones contributes to the Oculus Rift being the superior design.


oculus rift review -8 side

A good quality integrated microphone finishes up the offering, though there isn’t much to do with it at the moment due to lack of social features.

As with the development kits before it, those who are long sighted need not wear glasses in the Rift. However, while previous dev kits included additional lenses for anyone short-sighted, the final consumer Rift does not. Instead, you must wear glasses, and they mustn’t be too big.

To use glasses with your Rift headset, they must fit within the following specifications: A frame width of 142mm or less, A frame height of 50mm or less

I had no problems with my small frames, though my wife’s had a tendency to get stuck in the headset when she was taking them off, and hers are also relatively small. Medium to large framed glasses-wearers will have problems, and may find the frames pinching at their temples during use.

It’s also worth noting that the facial interface – the foam that sits between the screen enclosure and the user – is quite thin and therefore doesn’t conform as much to different face shapes. For me, this meant a large gap around my nose where light could leak in. It’s quite distracting on a sunny day, but you may appreciate being able to quickly glance down at your keyboard or mouse.

oculus rift review -6 front

Visual Quality

The increased resolution from the DK2 and custom designed fresnel lenses results in stunning quality of visuals. There are lens flares from bright objects, and these can sometimes appear like smudges, but for the most part, they either look like an intended effect or aren’t significant enough to detract from the experience.

oculus rift review -12 lenses

There’s a large sweet spot in the middle, with clarity and sharpness maintained throughout except in the extremities. The screen door effect is present, though less so than previous iterations, and the layout of the sub-pixels mean it’s not as obvious as a square grid. It was noticeable during dark loading screens and menus, and the blacks tends to be washed out.

If you think I’ve glossed over these issues, it’s because they simply don’t matter. Enthusiasts have a tendency to agonize about these visual flaws and love to draw diagrams explaining why one lens design is superior to another, but the truth is that they are easily forgotten once you’re immersed in a game, regardless of which headset you choose.


An Xbox One wireless controller and adaptor is included; there’s no Oculus branding or special markings on this, it’s just regular Xbox controller which you can throw on eBay if you don’t need it (you might want to be quick though, I’m sure there’ll be a glut of these things in the coming months).

oculus rift review -3 more contents controller

Also included is a small Oculus branded remote; it looks and feels like a cheap Apple remote, with a couple of buttons, and a clicky touchpad at the top. It isn’t tracked though, nor does it have any motion sensing capabilities – it’s just designed to be a simple remote for browsing the store or consuming content.

oculus rift review -4 oculus remote

I used it once, to adjust the volume, then promptly forgot about it.

Software, and Launch Games

After running through setup, you’ll be launched into DreamDeck, a series of short scenes, such as standing atop a skyscraper, in a museum where a dinosaur runs wild, or meeting an alien. As someone with previous VR experience, I found it to be quite underwhelming, but for first time users I can see the appeal.

Thanks to an occupancy sensor within the headset, the Oculus Home environment automatically turns on when you put on the headset, and any games are automatically paused and the screen blanked out when you take it off. Oculus Home is a pleasing enough experience, but as yet lacks any customization and really serves just as a storefront and VR shortcut to launch games. It feels unfinished in places, and frustrating in others.

Though there is a friends list, you can’t do anything with your friends. Updates aren’t automatically installed, so I spent a while trying to figure out where I should navigate to find apps with updates available, then having to manually tell them to download. The store contains static images for screenshots (unlike the first thing you can click in Steam VR store pages, which opens a theatre mode video of the game), though more immersive previews were promised. Then there’s the tragic “C: drive bug” – you better hope you have a lot of free space, because everything installs to C: and you can’t change that. I’m not kidding – this is lazy programming at its finest.

oculus rift review -10 using overhead

In time, we’ll obviously see more social features – a voice chat interface, maybe even the ability to watch your friends play or view YouTube videos in a shared environment – but right now, those just aren’t there. Software issues are easily fixed though and will improve with time. Launching an entirely new gaming platform isn’t easy. The initial release of the Steam client was essentially just a patching system for first party games.

There is one major issue worth noting for international customers as well: at the time of writing, you’ll be charged in $USD, and you cannot use PayPal. In the UK, most banks will add a processing fee on top of this, in some cases as high as a few pounds per transaction. Check with your specific card and bank – I have a Halifax Rewards credit card just for purchases in dollars, precisely because there’s no fee.

Pre-orders include a copy of Eve:Valkyrie, a space dogfighting game (normally $50). It’s here that I’ve spent 90% of my time, but my initial reaction was that of nausea (and that’s having spent the previous week fully immersed in the Vive launch titles). It takes a while to get your VR legs when floating around space, and my wife refuses to touch this one again because of that initial sickness. The gameplay itself is fast paced, and the addition of a virtual body really helps with immersion, but progression is slow. 5 hours in and I’m still flying the same spaceship, since I refuse to participate in any in-app purchases. That said, I’m clearly enjoying it, having now ordered a bass shaker for my chair and a X52 HOTAS. I haven’t tried Elite Dangerous yet, but it’s next on my list.

Lucky’s Tale is a playful platformer, and if you enjoy platformers, you’ll appreciate the added dimension. My wife’s thoughts after an hour: “I’ve had enough now. It’s just Mario”. Unlike other VR experiences I’ve tried, Lucky’s Tale simply adds very little by virtue of being placed in VR. It would work just as well on a 2D monitor.

Farlands is another free launch title. It’s an experimental alien exploration “game”. I forced my wife to play it for an hour or so, and she begrudgingly complied. There were no exclamations of joy, or squeals of surprise, just sighs of frustration as she couldn’t figure out what to do next or why the cute little aliens were so unhappy.

I didn’t splash $50 on Chronos, because I refuse to play any more games with a fixed camera, and at this point, I’m not sure I want to invest any more money in Oculus Home until it improves.

The Seated Experience

All of the games I’ve tried in the Rift exhibit a sense of presence, but there’s just no wow factor. I’m not blown away by any of them. Although the Oculus Rift is an incredibly well designed and technically capable VR headset, the lack of motion controls is bitterly disappointing. The inclusion of an Xbox controller will appeal to regular gamers, but just makes the system inaccessible to new users who aren’t so comfortable with the traditional analogue stick control schemes. A gamepad just isn’t a natural or intuitive way to interact with VR, and it stops me from being able to demo Oculus Rift to my non-gamer friends. New pre-orders for the Rift are backed up for months anyway, and the Touch controllers will be here within 6 months – but right now, at launch, the line-up is just underwhelming.

oculus rift review -9 using sitting down

We can only speculate as to why the decision was made to bundle in an Xbox controller and not wait for the Touch controllers to be ready; it may have been a simple case of wanting to launch anyway given the competition, or it may have been a conscious decision of “let’s make the controllers optional, play it safe with a controller for now to avoid VR sickness”. Considering that Palmer Luckey himself deplored the use of a regular controller, the decision was likely a business one.

The Rift is better suited to cockpit games – racing, flight and space sims – no doubt about it. The visual quality is stunning, and it’s simply the best way of playing these genres right now. If these are your thing, I have no trouble recommending the Oculus Rift as the best VR headset for you. Strap in, grab your racing wheel or HOTAS, and be prepared the most realistic simulation experience you’ve ever had.

For everyone else, you should wait or look elsewhere. Oculus Home is yet another storefront, and not a particularly good one at the moment. Once the Touch controllers are here, we’ll be able to better judge how they enable natural interactions and the sort of gaming experiences they bring, but right now, the launch games just aren’t that compelling with an Xbox controller.

If you’re on the fence about which headset to buy, I’ll be writing up a more direct comparison between the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive soon. I will say this though: I’m keeping both.

Our verdict of the Oculus Rift:
Stunning visuals and ergonomic design make the Oculus Rift an easy winner for some types of games, but the lack of tracked controllers leaves us with a disappointing launch line-up.
9 10

Related topics: MakeUseOf Giveaway, Oculus Rift, Virtual Reality.

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  1. Patrick
    April 29, 2019 at 1:53 am

    I regret buying the Rift. They refuse to provide a offline install. It has failed to install over and over again and each time you gave to download over 6 gigs!! POS!!

  2. Jeryd
    May 20, 2016 at 4:32 am

    :C Im crying now

  3. Anonymous
    May 19, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Congrats Robert! Enjoy the VR experience! Im slightly salty but massively jelly!

  4. Razvan Costel Vladu
    May 19, 2016 at 6:47 am

    patience young padawa, the winner will be announced shortley

    • Hicham Boumahsen
      May 19, 2016 at 7:03 am

      Hhhh you got us there

  5. Darth
    May 19, 2016 at 1:45 am

    How to tell if you won?

  6. Somebody
    May 19, 2016 at 12:56 am

    How would you be alerted to winning if you signed up using Facebook? Pretty sure our emails aren't shared when using that method...

  7. Hicham Boumahsen
    May 19, 2016 at 12:09 am

    Who won?

  8. Goat-senpai
    May 19, 2016 at 12:00 am

    didn't win but that was really fun :D

  9. Goat-senpai
    May 18, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    i know i'm not winning shit but oh well let's just join the fun boat lol

    May 18, 2016 at 9:07 am

    May the VR be with me... good luck everyone... 20 out of 100,000, better than lotery i think?

    • Goat_senpai
      May 18, 2016 at 1:20 pm

      that is sooo true hahahahahahah

  11. Jeryd
    May 18, 2016 at 5:43 am

    18 HOURS LEFT!!!!

  12. David Smith
    May 17, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    I'm Sooo happy that VR technology is finally a usable thing and it will only get better! I hope I win so I can join in on the experience!!

  13. Anonymous
    May 17, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    34 hours left. Heres really hoping.
    I dont own a mobile phone atm. And dont use twitter. So the "odds are not really in my favour."
    But still a chance.

    Good luck everyone.

    • Anonymous
      May 17, 2016 at 2:06 pm

      Hmm posted that comment under the Google name, and not my youtube name Andy 'Lullaby' Jones.. Hehe, and heres me thinking I'm pretty good at technology.

      Cant post under the correct username. ? Shameful.

    • Roshawn terrell
      May 18, 2016 at 4:55 am

      lol "odds are not really in my favour" i did the math there is about a 1 out 4000 chance that you will win, the odds are really not in yours anyones favor here.

      Only way to tilt the odds towards your favor to atleast 50%, it would take you making about 3000-4000 new facebook, and gmail accounts.

      And it takes about 15 mins to do that plus complete this whole process again. So that would take you approximately 750 hours.

      Which working a simple 10$ an hour minimum wage job would net you about 8000$ in the same amount of time.

      So yea...

  14. Darth
    May 17, 2016 at 3:14 am

    Hope I win my fans would love to see me use it! :D

  15. Santiago
    May 16, 2016 at 12:29 am

    I participate hopefully win'm from Argentina HELLO,IT'S FREE???

  16. Shane
    May 15, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    Man I hope I win this! I'm only a short drive down the road so I could literally pop down just to pick this beautiful bit of tech up haha!

  17. Jeryd
    May 13, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    I wana win :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

  18. Heavensrat
    May 13, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Awesome review, I would like to be added for the give-away

    • James Bruce
      May 13, 2016 at 11:25 am

      You need to enter using the giveaway widget at the end of the review. If you can't see it, please disable your adblocker.

  19. Jordan
    May 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    Good luck everyone!

  20. salaheddine chkino
    May 10, 2016 at 3:21 pm


  21. Dave F
    May 10, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Great review. Been following VR for the last 2 years. So excited that these are now available to consumers but just so far out of my price range. Would love to win any of these headsets. Here's hoping.

  22. Anonymous
    May 10, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I like this for play games

  23. Noah
    May 9, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    I really would love to win this giveaway! :D

  24. Merlin M.
    May 7, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Entered!!!!

  25. Chris Jones
    May 6, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Give away!!! awesome review

  26. Not So Big Rick
    May 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Would love to win. Although my secret paypal balance that i'm using to save for a Vive is going well @ £540. The missus was recently none too impressed when she found my 3D printer purchase that I had "accidentally" forgot to tell her about. Could do without the grief ;o)

  27. Mat G
    May 6, 2016 at 7:58 am

    Great review, please add me to the giveaway.

  28. Matt Bilker
    May 6, 2016 at 3:50 am

    I am confused. Is there a giveaway since you said at the end that you are keeping both?

    • James Bruce
      May 6, 2016 at 7:03 am

      We're giving away an Oculus Rift and PC bundle.

      I'm keeping both, as in, my Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. ;) But we have extras to give away, too.

  29. Jeffrey
    May 6, 2016 at 1:43 am

    Gotta be in it to win it!

    May 5, 2016 at 6:32 pm


  31. Serpher
    May 5, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    BTW, PALMERTECH speaks to me.

  32. Serpher
    May 5, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I couldn't test Rift CV1, but I know that seated experience is for me. As well as the Rift itself.

  33. Alexander
    May 5, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Good Luck to everyone! I've been saving for a new VR system, I can't wait to experience all the new possiblities that the technology unlocks... right in our own home!

  34. terry welsman
    May 1, 2016 at 3:35 pm


    • terry welsman
      May 1, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      Saying that I never win anything so winning this would be awesome!

  35. Schadenfreude
    April 28, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    So, with my 19 entries my odds are currently 19/63707, or roughly 0.029%. Now, the odds of dying in a car crash for a person are 1/113 (
    Therefore I am roughly 30 times more likely to die in a car accident than winning this Rift Bundle. Yay.

    • Somebody
      May 19, 2016 at 12:58 am

      Well, that statistic for car crashes is over a lifetime through. The chances of dying in a car crash from going out for a single drive are significantly lower than your chance of winning this one time contest.

  36. Sharona61bio
    April 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    Your entry form for the +3 review video is not working. I typed in BESTFORME just as it is in the video and I got an error message.

    • James Bruce
      April 27, 2016 at 6:56 am

      The entry form works: that's not the code.

  37. Kevin
    April 26, 2016 at 4:17 am

    Man this think is the coolest, I can't wait to create a 3d universe. My bc won't be able to power it much but T least il be able to shoe all my streemers and fans the future of gaming.

  38. FierceDeityLink
    April 26, 2016 at 2:48 am


  39. Savvas Lelekis
    April 25, 2016 at 7:10 am

    Anyway I don't have much hope because I've never won something in a giveaway.

  40. Harvey Setterfield
    April 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    Nice! Thanks for the competition, I will keep my fingers crossed! :oD

  41. Emily
    April 24, 2016 at 8:48 am

    Oh my goodness...if I won this contest, it would be an absolute dream come true! Like some of the other commenters have said, thanks for this opportunity!

  42. Anonymous
    April 23, 2016 at 7:04 am


  43. Anonymous
    April 23, 2016 at 5:15 am

    hope to win this time

  44. Danny
    April 23, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Hey - How do I enter the competition - I want one for sure!!! Nice review too.

    • James Bruce
      April 23, 2016 at 6:22 am

      Don't you see the entry widget at the end of the article? If not, please disable adblock or any other blocking system you're running.

  45. Anonymous
    April 22, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    Although i haven 't been following the Rift as much as the Vive, it still has obvious potential.
    Having the controllers launch later has pros and cons.

    Pro: Cheaper launch at a price point more consumers can afford so i much better chance at creating a dedicated install base.

    Con: No true interaction with the environment, cant play certain games that need motion controls.

    But you have to give props to Palmer Lucky as if it wasn't for him, none of these headsets may even exist until years later.

    Hopefully Facebook can stay out of the Rift experience especially with their T&C's...

    Still, would love to win one!

  46. Neill
    April 22, 2016 at 7:03 pm

    Thanks for the opportunity to win! Great review

  47. Abdul Razak
    April 22, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Cant wait for the Result and this is an excellent review making website !

  48. Iegen Neri
    April 22, 2016 at 5:26 pm


  49. Anonymous
    April 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Nice review! Now I really want one. Cant afford it though and the pc to go with, how do I enter the competition?

  50. Curios
    April 22, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    Wow a great training tool

  51. Ron
    April 22, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    Sounds like fun. But it appears I'll have to buy a new pair of glasses just to be able to use the OR .

    Is there any way of using the OR to "enhance" "normal" desktop applications like MS Office or Browsers?

  52. Beth
    April 22, 2016 at 10:55 am

    I have the Google Cardboard, but the OR is waaaaay cooler! How do I win it????

  53. Anonymous
    April 22, 2016 at 6:38 am

    After watching the review i want this PALMERTECH

  54. Guido De Filippo
    April 22, 2016 at 5:28 am

    This review makes me want one so bad now!

  55. Edmond
    April 22, 2016 at 1:30 am

    Great Scout , Marty. . Wow, prize oculus is fab. & splendid. 2 fingers snap. It is tight, fly & off the chain. Thank you for the awesomeness, the contest, and generosity. :) Pick me.

  56. DERP
    April 21, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Google Box!

  57. Franco
    April 21, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Wow! I may finally become really not ugly with one of these on!

  58. mike
    April 21, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for the review, I hate to say this but for me to win
    you ALL must lose.


  59. Andy 'Lullaby' Jones.
    April 21, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    Waited for VR for over 25 years. Ever since seeing it with my Ex wife in Dave and Busters, back in the early 90s in Solihull.

    It was about 20 pounds- (even back then) -for about 10 minutes, we couldn't afford a go.
    My ex was never a gamer. But for me...Wow, just the thought of "going into the game."

    Having been a life long gamer since Pong I was about 5, and my neighbour had one.

    So now VR is finally.. finally here. Well...

  60. Abraham Thomas
    April 21, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Its time to get one for myself as well !

  61. Qamar
    April 21, 2016 at 6:32 am

    I want to win oculus.

  62. tt2787
    April 21, 2016 at 6:05 am

    Me me me

  63. amerul
    April 21, 2016 at 4:55 am

    please lets me win this one...thx makeuseof

  64. Anonymous
    April 20, 2016 at 9:27 pm


    Thank you for this excellent review. I really appreciate the depth and honesty about the Rift.

    And please thank your wife. Greater love hath no woman than to sit in her living room looking goofy for an hour. :D

  65. sonugrag
    April 20, 2016 at 8:01 pm

    I Love Oculus Rift Iwant it

    April 20, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    where in the article does it mention how to sign-up for the giveaway?

    • Anonymous
      April 20, 2016 at 9:30 pm


      I think my original reply got lost in cyberspace.

      The "enter" link is below the review, just above the share links (the multi-colored boxes), just above the MakeUseOf groups listings.

      AndroidAuthority and SoundGuys are also doing the same, if you're a patron there. I had a few minutes of discombobulation the first time I encountered it.

  67. Kirk Johnston
    April 20, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Regardless of there being motion controllers at launch or not, I still think the launch lineup is actually better than the Vive's for the most part. Oculus looks to have more fleshed out games and Vive looks to have more tech-demo and arcadey kind of games. But then, I don't think that the best VR experiences necessarily have to feature some kind of motion control and possibly room-scale to really count. I just measure the games based on how good they are on their own merits, and games like Lucky's Tale, EVE: Valkyrie, Chronos, AirMech: Command, Project Cars, and Elite Dangerous, and likely a couple more, all look like pretty greta titles to me.