On paper, the Oculus Quest looks like it could deliver virtual reality in the way science fiction promised. With all of the important parts integrated into the headset, the Oculus Quest’s premise is that whenever and wherever you want virtual reality, the Quest is ready to go.
But can it deliver? We dived into the Quest’s own version of The Matrix to give you the inside look.
Oculus Quest – price and release date
The Oculus Quest’s release is stated as Spring 2019. We’re currently in Spring 2019, so it isn’t unreasonable to assume it will launch in a month or so.
When it does hit the market, it will cost £399 in the UK. This is the same as the Oculus Rift S, and only £50 more than the current-gen Oculus Rift. It’s far more palatable than the £700 or so the Rift originally commanded at launch.
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Oculus Quest – Specs
Getting a straight answer regarding the Quest’s specs has been a little tough; Oculus has been playing that close to its chest. In terms of raw power it sits somewhere between the Go and the Rift S. We do know a few things, though.
It has a resolution per eye of 1600 x 1440, which is better than both the Rift and the Go.
The Quest also has a built-in speaker system that pumps the sound from these virtual worlds right to you, without isolating you from the real world. There’s a 3.5mm headset jack included, too, if you prefer your own audio solution.
My primary concern is the battery in both the controllers and the headset. Quest’s portable promise only works if the battery can hold out, and I didn’t get to see this in action during the demo.
There will be a three-metre cable included with the Quest for juicing up the headset while you’re playing, but that’s just another type of tether. There’s no backing for this – crucially, I haven’t seen the battery being ropey – but this is an area I’m keeping a close eye on.
Inside-out tracking, a key feature, means that the Quest can track you around a space. The chaperone system will let you mark a safe area in which to play – up to a generous 4,000 square feet in this case – and will work out where you are in the space through the use of four ultra-wide sensors. That capacity should let you map out a garden or something equally spacious.
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Oculus Quest – Design
At the risk of repeating myself, the Oculus Quest is a standalone headset, which means that all of the bits pushing pixels, the battery and all of the sensors are all contained within the headset.
Surprisingly enough, it isn’t particularly bulky. It feels no heavier on your head when you’re using it than previous-gen VR headsets, despite all that extra kit on your bonce during use.
In your hand, the headset feels quite soft. I don’t know what material it is, but it feels good quality and fairly sturdy. The Quest also has a soft rubber strap. This no-frills approach makes it easy to pull on and off – although it can feel a little like its clinging to your head quite closely. It also goes a long way to make the headset more portable, which plays to the Quest’s strengths.
One major plus of the rubberised straps is that, compared to the more rigid straps we’ve seen on other VR headsets, there’s close to no slippage.
Oculus Quest – Performance
Here’s where it all gets exciting. I played two games for the Oculus Quest, Rhythm action game Beat Saber and shooter Dead and Buried.
Playing Dead and Buried, I noticed that the “six degrees of movement” tracking that the Quest employs meant that I could easily scurry around, ducking and weaving around the place. No tether meant that movement was effortless, with no cables to get caught between my legs.
Graphical fidelity was high, and while I noticed a tiny bit of the screen-door effect – when you can see between pixels while playing – in-play performance was excellent.
Playing Beat Saber, I was impressed at how well the headset handled both the speed of the game, and also tracking my specific movements.
For the uninitiated, Beat Saber sees you swinging controllers as if lightsabers, using them to hit speeding blocks while also ducking and diving around obstacles. Tracking here is absolutely essential and I’m happy to report that there weren’t any issues at all, with every strike and movement accurately mapped.
Honestly, the fidelity and quality of tracking here is incredible when you consider what was available just a few short years ago in virtual reality. It just seems to work. Although I’ve not yet had the opportunity to test the Quest in a home environment, even through the demo it was easy to note there was a lack of the usual faff you tend to get with virtual reality. That could be where the Oculus Quest excels, if Oculus get it right.
A small fan concealed in the headset was practically silent. Playing Beat Saber is intense and you get sweaty; with the Quest there was no fogging, nor did the headset become saturated with sweat – something that was common with many first-gen VR headsets, but which no-one really talks about.
At this point it seems that the amount of time you’ll want to spend in the Quest will be limited only by battery life.