Oscillating sprinklers have a line of small jets which shoot water out in a uniform stream. A single unit gives a fairly even distribution of water over the coverage area. As you say, most of the impact or rainbird types give 360 degree coverage that hits mostly at the outer edge of the spray zone. When set to trip back and forth the coverage is much better. When paired with a second or third sprinkler where spray patterns are allowed to overlap, these kinds of sprinklers also give excellent coverage.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.