As VR continues its steady march toward the mainstream Occulus continues to be at the forefront. Until recently a full VR experience required a fairly well-equipped gaming pc, plenty of space and a big chunk of change. Installments like the Occulus Rift and HTC Vive were not only expensive but required the use of the aforementioned ‘beefy’ PC’s. Enter the Oculus Quest.
Priced at a reasonable 399.99 USD this stand-alone VR system is unique in the VR niche. It’s truly portable, not requiring the user or the device to be tethered to a PC or phone.
The killer app, in my opinion, is the room-scale tracking that can automatically map your play area and by using the four external-facing cameras, provide the user with a “virtual curtain” that allows them to see the room area on the display if they step out of it. This should help users with smaller spaces avoid bumping into objects or furniture in their play space.
Initial reviews say the Quest is comfortable and fairly lightweight for a fully self-contained unit. The Quest does weigh in at 100 grams more than its kin, the Rift and the Go, this is mainly attributed to the extra hardware required (namely the battery). The three velcro head straps attach the device firmly and in place on your head for even the most active of games.
The resolution is where it does seem to falter. The “screen door” effect is still present to some degree, and until the smaller displays are able to up their pixel count this will be true for the mid-tier VR systems for a little while yet. However, the pricing and portability seem to be worth the resolution trade-off.
With 50 games at launch (mostly older Rift titles) the offerings are fairly robust for a user who wants to get their feet wet in VR. Hits like Beat Sabre, Dance Central and Sports Scramble will give users a variety of options to try out their new system and experience the new controllers.
The controllers are reportedly light, solid, ergonomic and most importantly responsive. But the magic really happens with the latest update which implements native hand tracking. In a surprise update Occulus announced, you can now ditch the controller altogether and manipulate your virtual environment with only your bare hands. This is the first implementation of native hand tracking of ANY VR system and could usher in a new era of immersion and adoption.
VR hasn’t made its way to the mainstream yet, but with offerings such as the Occulus Quest driving prices down and adding features not found on the more expensive options, we could be welcoming our virtual overlords sooner than we expect.