Just a few months ago, in the summer of 2018, VR technology giant Oculus launched the Oculus Go — the first great stand-alone VR headset. Go didn’t require a PC, console, or even a mobile device to work, it was compatible with mobile controllers, the headset was state-of-the-art.
There was concern that a stand-alone VR headset would be limited in terms of what experiences it could provide, but it works with over 1000 VR apps including games, VR video and other content. With the most expensive package, which included extra memory, the Go only costs around $250 (a little over half the price of their flagship headset the Oculus Rift) and was designed to show that VR technology could be both portable and affordable.
Now skip ahead to late September of 2018. Oculus announced another stand-alone VR headset to be available in the spring of 2019, less than a year after Go. This new headset is expected to cost around $400, the same price as Rift. We don’t know a lot about the Oculus Quest yet, but here’s what we do know:
Like the Go, the Oculus Quest will be entirely self-contained — no external sensors, wires, PCs, or consoles. Just the headset and the controllers, which we’ll talk about later. As with the Go, there is room to be concerned about exactly how much the Quest will be able to handle in terms of experiences.
Oculus has said that there are “over fifty titles lined up for launch”. It’s unclear whether this means that there are fifty titles currently ready or whether that’s how many they plan to have ready when the Oculus Quest hits the market in a few months. Either way, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the titles available on Go. We also don’t know exactly how much memory the Quest is going to have, which is always a concern with self-contained VR technology.
While what we know about most of the hardware is still limited, Quest’s actual headset looks strikingly similar to that of the Go, though with a more head-conforming strap. There are also more adjustments for toward the front of the headset to change things like lense spacing and make the headset more comfortable for people with different head shapes. To compare, Go only has a spacer that can be inserted into the front of the headset.
The main difference that Oculus is talking about is Insight, a new tracking system that allows the Quest to register six fields of motion without external sensors. This will likely be a key selling point for Oculus Quest, as it will allow more movement controls and more precise movement controls than other self-contained VR technology. However, as with all other things about Quest, there’s a lot that we still don’t know.
Oculus promises that Insight can adjust to your surroundings whether big or small, but that’s as close as they give us to a real range. It also says that Insight lets you move in your environment more safely, but it doesn’t quite explain how. While this aspect of Quest definitely sounds cool, we don’t know a whole lot about it just yet.
The headset isn’t the only new VR technology that Quest is bringing to the table. The controllers are a lot more industrious than those that were included with the Go. They look more like the controllers for Rift and other VR machines. That means more controls and better comfort than with the more minimal remote that comes with Go.
These controllers also have haptic feedback to mimic the feeling of your hands interacting with your environment.
How Does It Compare?
There is still room to question things like memory space and what apps and programs will be available for the Oculus Quest when it launches next year. Based on all of the other good things that we have to expect from the Quest, however, it’s probably safe to say that these figures will be just as impressive as everything else about this exciting piece of VR technology.
That brings up the question, however, of who exactly the Quest is for. The Go serves a market by being a great stand-alone headset with more advanced VR technology than a mobile adapter but more limited technology than a console-based system. Being a middle-of-the-road headset with a middle of the road price puts it in a unique position in the market.
With Quest, however, Oculus might be overplaying that hand. As a stand-alone VR unit, Oculus Quest looks like it’ll be much more advanced than Go. However, it will also cost almost as much as Rift.
As a piece of VR technology overall, Rift is still going to be more advanced than Quest, with the key difference being that Quest is wireless. This means that if you’re looking for a VR headset, Go remains a solid option for the lower price, while Quest and Rift look like completely different systems but are very similar in a number of ways, including price.
In the end, there are still some details about Oculus Quest that we don’t have yet that we should, before deciding whether Quest is worth buying, when Go is so much cheaper and Rift is nearly the same price.