Tesla Owner’s Party: How Did I Get Invited to This?

Somehow, someone at Tesla got the idea that I own one of their automobiles. I was emailed an invitation to a Tesla owner’s party, a nice little congratulatory event for recent buyers of Tesla vehicles…even though I drive a Volt.

The event accompanied the recent unveiling of several new charging stations at the mall where this store is located…for Teslas, of course. But then, after market adaptors exist to let plebeian owners of non-Tesla EVs charge for free from Tesla destination chargers (not super chargers, crucially)…we’re just “not supposed to”.

They were so kind as to prepare a brunch for us. Brunch is a bullshit meal imo, but the quality of the food (as expected) was very upscale. You don’t invite a bunch of rich people to a mall, then feed them Dunkin’ Donuts or something.

The scent of spicy sausages made the wait unbearable. The invitation said 10am but I was informed it actually would begin an hour later, at 11. So I walked around the Mall, looking for something to occupy my time before the party began.

That’s when I saw these VR rides. It’s a blast from the past to see pay-per-use VR kiosks in malls again, like in the 1990s. $10 for your choice of any two rides seemed a little steep, but they were using the PiMax 4k HMD which I hadn’t yet tried. I mostly just wanted to get an idea of the quality of the headset’s displays.

I wasn’t impressed overall. The first demo, a haunted house type VR ‘ride’ inspired by The Ring and Silent Hill, was very cool. The motion seats impressed me way more than the HMDs.

The seats moved and jostled along with the motion on the ride, and there were timed air jets pointed at my hair, as well as something that pressed into the small of my back at one point, and some kind of spinning strap that whipped at my legs.

That’s an impressive degree of sensory stimuli for what I thought was only a hydraulic motion seat. The first letdown was the HMD. I could barely notice any resolution improvement. The field of view was slightly worse than Oculus CV1, and because it uses LCD panels, there was terrible ghosting/blur when turning my head, especially in the dark “haunted house” demo.

Then came a spaceship demo that they simply didn’t have enough hardware power for, because the framerate was sickeningly bad. That, plus the terrible ghosting (and subpar tracking) of the HMD made for a poor experience indeed.

Most of the demos were free stuff you can get and play with at home from wearvr.com anyways. $10 for something they paid nothing to develop or license seems dubious. Verdict? Very impressive interactive motion chairs. Cool horror demo. GPUs were too slow however, and the HMD blew.

I returned at 11 and was let inside with some other eager early birds, to enjoy a smorgasbord of tasty treats. I only had a little bit of the sausage and some salmon, not wanting to gorge on free food at a party I wasn’t even technically supposed to be at.

I did avail myself of the free Tesla mugs, however. Having one of those in the cupholder will remind me to keep reaching for bigger and better things. Though frankly the car I have now is more than ‘good enough’ and the amount even a Model 3 would cost seems hard to justify given how many care packages the difference between the two prices would pay for. Speaking of the Model 3…

Look what I found in the parking lot! Not for test drives sadly but owned by a Tesla employee, some of the only people who have one right now. It looks so similar to the Model S you’d be hard pressed to distinguish one from the other unless shown what details differ between the two.

It really is a beautiful machine, but noticeably understated in certain ways compared to the Model S, as expected given the price difference. I hope the owner doesn’t mind that I creeped on his car. I bet he’s used to it by now, though.

There’s the wood grain dash, which I absolutely hate. But just about every interior surface you’re likely to touch with your arms is covered in plush leather. It has the same giant touch screen interface as the Model S but aligned horizontally and imo less elegantly integrated into the dash. It just looks like someone bolted a large tablet on there.

The ass shot. Get your tissues ready, lads. What a shame they don’t have one to test drive. I was able to sign up for a test drive of a Model X however, which interests me more than the Model S due to the larger interior and generally increased utility.

I’ll be doing that soon and will be sure to let you all know what it was like, including some footage if the Tesla employee riding with me is patient and gracious enough to oblige. Until then…

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