Wanna feel old? It’s been seven years since Doom-creator John Carmack first unveiled his ski-goggles contraption that would eventually become the Oculus Rift. A lot has happened in the years that have since passed, including Oculus’ 2 billion dollar acquisition by Facebook. What was then only a finicky but promising prototype, is now a multi-billion dollar industry. 

However, virtual reality still isn’t very accessible or mainstream. Sure you can get a PlayStation VR headset for like 250 bucks, but that still needs to be hooked up to a PlayStation 4. Other solutions are even more expensive and require beefy computers, or are glorified phone cases that allow you to strap your phone to your head, which is obviously far from ideal.

Enter Oculus Quest, a headset that is completely self-contained, affordable and hassle-free. It’s completely wireless, doesn’t require any additional devices (besides your phone) and it’s capable of decent-enough graphics. It even has a decent built-in speaker, though you can plug in your 3.5mm headphones to either side of the Quest. The Quest comes with two Oculus Touch controllers and a long USB-C charger (don’t charge while playing, please), which is all you need to get going.

Specs-wise, the Oculus Quest has the innards of a decent modern smartphone. The full list is as follows:

  • Display panel: OLED
  • Display resolution: 1440 x 1600 per eye
  • Refresh rate: 72Hz
  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Weight: 571g
  • Battery life: ~2 hours (depending on the game)

One thing you won’t find on that spec list, are the two cameras mounted on each side of the Oculus Quest. These sensors track your controllers’ positions from the inside out, as well as the position and rotation of your head. This setup works surprisingly well for the Touch controllers (it gets confused when your hands get too close to your head, but that’s not a real problem) and it enables ‘six degrees of freedom’ tracking. Cheaper headsets like the Oculus Go and Google Daydream only track your movement along three axis (roll, pitch and yaw), while the Quest’s inside-out tracking system allows you more freedom of movement. This GIF is a good explanation as to why that matters.

Getting started

The setup process is incredibly intuitive and simple. After pairing the headset with your phone, and connecting it to your wifi, you ‘draw’ your playable area on the floor (which you can see thanks to the four outwards-facing cameras) and off you go. No need for external sensors, cameras or calibration; it all just works from inside the headset.

It’s hard to overstate how big of an improvement the Quest is over competing headsets when it comes to ease-of-use. Sure, PC-based VR glasses still have the edge when it comes to graphical prowess, but what the Quest lacks in horsepower, it makes up in usability. Being able to simply pick up the headset and wander around in virtual reality for a couple of hours feels incredibly futuristic.