K E Y P O I N T S
The Oculus Go is the first truly standalone virtual reality headset. That means you don’t need a smartphone, PC or games console to make it work. All the components are built into the headset itself.
It’s based on the Oculus Rift which means it’s really well-built, is extremely comfy to wear and feels pretty sturdy.
The headset gets extremely warm after continued use at the front, you can’t feel it on your face but it’s noticeable when you hold the headset.
It has an integrated surround sound audio system that’s remarkably clear and immersive.
It’s a QHD display so while it is quite high-resolution it’s still far from crystal clear. Content still often looks pixellated and in some cases downright blurry.
It has a battery life of around 2 1/2 hours which is fine for home, but nowhere near good enough for a flight or long journey.
V E R D I C T
Virtual reality has had something of a quiet patch of late, Since the launch (and commercial success) of PlayStation VR we’ve seen some new headsets from Microsoft partners and the continued support of Google’s own VR platform Daydream.
One of the problems is that VR is either still very expensive, or just technically not good enough. There is no middle ground.
Facebook’s hoping that the Oculus Go can change that, by offering a £200 dedicated virtual reality headset that requires no wires, has a high-resolution screen and gives you access to the Oculus library of over 1000+ apps and games.
The headset itself is a very impressive gadget. It’s well-built, looks subtly futuristic and is extremely comfy to wear. You can tell that Oculus have really tried to get over the pain point which is that you’re effectively wearing a cinema screen on your face.
The soft foam face mask fits really well and thanks to improvements in the optics it’s really easy to find a spot where 90% of what you’re seeing is in complete focus.
The single controller you get for navigating around is incredibly light but feels like its plastic-heavy construction could break easily. That being said it’s very easy to use and accurate.
Once you charge the headset you’ll be prompted to go through the setup process which does, sadly, require you to download the Oculus app on your smartphone. Once you’ve shared the WiFi network from your phone and got things up and running though you can pretty much ditch the phone.
Oculus has one of the more impressive collections of games on offer, however the majority I’ve found range from being either arcade-style mobile games or experiential titles that use the VR to either scare you, excite you or just make you feel nauseous.
There are a few exceptions, usTwo’s Land’s End is a blissfully calming puzzle game that deserves your attention. The rest however are mostly games made originally for Gear VR. There’s a lot of arcade-style content here but nothing yet that feels as meaningful as the full-size games found on PlayStation VR or HTC’s Vive
Oculus also want you to use the headset as an entertainment device for consuming gig, TV shows and films. This works in principle but sadly again the quality of the Go’s screen gets in the way. While the immersion is impressive, if what you’re looking at is at a lower resolution than your own phone you’ll often end up just watching it on your phone.
There’s another issue with entertainment, which is battery life. Oculus wants you to enjoy watching Netflix and films and even gigs through your headset, but with a battery life of around 2 1/2 hours you’re unlikely to get that far into your box set. The worst thing about this is I understand the rock and hard place that Oculus is trapped between. Watching films on a giant virtual screen would be amazing, but to achieve that you’ll need a super high-resolution display and a huge battery. Neither of those things are either practical or affordable with today’s technology.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
Display: 5.5-inch 2560 x 1440 display
Processor: Qualcomm 821
Connectivity: WiFi, Bluetooth
Software: Oculus Home
T A K E H O M E M E S S A G E
Oculus Go is where virtual reality should be heading, but the problem is it hasn’t reached the destination. Removing the wires gives you some relative freedom but considering the battery life only ever stretches to around two hours it’s still not your default entertainment gadget for a long-haul flight.
For VR to ever reach a stage where it feels as natural as watching TV or playing a game it needs to look as sharp as TV, and contain experiences as immersive and compelling as your PlayStation. Oculus Go contains lots of good experiences, but just nowhere near enough great ones.