The Oculus Experience: The Oculus Quest Review

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If you don't know about virtual reality and what it has to offer, you soon will. Virtual reality and VR entertainment is making a leap forward in the next decade, and that has a great deal to do with VR headsets such as the Oculus Quest—one of the best VR headsets to debut in recent years. Oculus is offering three headsets this holiday season: the entry-level Oculus Go, the mid-tier Oculus Quest, and the gamer's delight, the Oculus Rift S, a quantum leap from the previous excursion, the Oculus Rift, from 2016. The Oculus Quest has the power, the games, and the simplicity to easily become the go-to VR headset this holiday season.

What does the Quest bring to the table that the others don't? Staying within the Oculus line, the Quest has a distinct advantage over the Oculus Go with an even more robust lineup of games and the addition of far superior Touch Controllers, and even more sensitive head and hand tracking than the Go. But like the Go, the Quest has a distinct advantage in the VR market—the headset is completely wireless, with all sensors and trackers embedded in the headset. Does it surpass the Oculus Rift S? More on that in our next review.

The smooth tracking and Guardian system (which sets a virtual "boundary" to make sure you don't run into an obstacle, like a chair or your mother) make all experiences on the Quest seem far more immersive than they do on the Oculus Go. Where the Go was primarily aimed at first-timers and newbies to VR, it's obvious that the Oculus Quest is mainly focused on the largest segment of gamers—both casual and experienced—who take joy in a new gaming experience while not sacrificing game play or mechanics.

One of the Quest's biggest draws is Vader Immortal, which quite frankly, is not a game changer, but once you start slashing away with your lightsabers, you may be compelled to keep playing until the end. Other games and experiences, like Beat Saber and SuperHot, seem made exclusively for VR, and don't work as standard stand-alone games.

But let's get back to the wireless features of the Quest. It's almost inconceivable that you can experience such a fully formed VR headset without being encumbered by a single wire. I own and have extensively played the PlayStation VR, and although I found the lineup of games thrilling and satisfying, setting the PSVR required a Gordian labyrinth of wiring through which not even Alexander the Great could cut. It was frustrating, and when sharing the experience with others, I was constantly afraid that someone would trip over one of the many wires that connected the headset to the PlayStation 4.

The Oculus Quest bypasses all that anxiety with a completely wireless headset that not only doesn't require a hard connection, but doesn't require a separate boundary marker (like the old Oculus Rift did, and similar to the HTC Vive). And without a console, PC laptop, or desktop to weigh me down, I can easily take the Oculus Quest wherever I go—camping, a neighbor's house, even church (I don't take it to church). But the portability of the system makes it perfect for party gatherings, where everyone can take a crack at the VR experience, and if your headset is running the Oculus Quest 10.0 update, you can now cast the Quest to your Chromecast or Chromecast TV. Just follow these simple steps so that everyone can see what you're seeing.

  • Go to the Oculus Quest Home screen on your headset.
  • Select Sharing.
  • Select Cast.
  • Select the Device to which you want to cast.
  • Select Next.
  • You may need to select Start Casting on your target device depending on what device you're casting to.

So, with this new addition to the Oculus Quest (only available with the update), you can now turn your VR experience into a shared one. But even this addition doesn't give you the full depth and breadth of what VR can do. For that, you have to put the helmet on and try a few games and experiences.

The headset has a steady strap system to keep the headset in place, even during strenuous gaming sessions, and the straps make it very easy to adjust quickly to any head circumference. Once again, as with the Oculus Go, sound is provided with positional audio built directly into the headset, and on the Oculus Quest, it is a much more fulfilling experience than it was with the Oculus Go. You can hear in an immersive 360-degree virtual reality soundstage, so opponents sneaking up behind you, or an enemy approaching with guns blazing and engines revving is enhanced by the sound coming at you from all angles.

As we stated in the Oculus Go review, (read it here) there isn't much need to go into the specs of the unit, because virtual reality is about the experience and not the graphical achievements. However, the Oculus Quest does have some unique graphical specs. For instance, using custom-designed Fresnel lenses (which are like magnifying lenses using concentric rings that amplify light) the resolution on the headset is 1440 x 1600 per eye with a 72 Hz refresh rate using OLED tech. The Oculus Rift S, on the other hand (a similar headset but with a tethered cord), is only 1280 x 1440, and uses LCD instead of OLED. The Oculus Quest uses four sensors (one front, one back, one left and one right) while the Oculus Rift S (read our review here) adds an extra sensor on the top of the helmet. The Oculus Go also uses an LCD screen in its lenses.

Where the Quest surpasses the Go (and possibly other players in this field) is with its outstanding Touch controllers. The Touch controllers are super responsive, and once you get used to the button layouts, you'll find that they have the capability of much higher-end VR gloves, with actions assigned to almost each finger (although not quite the same feel as wearing a VR glove and having any grabbing, pulling or intricate control automatically assigned to each finger). The Touch controllers are lightweight and won't weigh you down in long game sessions (or with movement intense games like Beat Saber). They also magically appear (sometimes) in the headset's viewfinder when you have the headset on and activated, which makes finding them without removing the headset a lot simpler.

There are two versions: the 64GB and the 128GB. These sizes refer to the storage space for games on the helmet. Like most phones, you may want to go with the heftier storage version since you won't be able to add additional storage to the unit (it does not accept memory cards, nor does it have a USB connector for external storage). On the 64GB Quest we had, we downloaded about 15 games and still had about 36GB left. Some games are bigger than others, so it's really a matter of personal game maintenance. Do you want to keep every single game you downloaded? Then opt for the higher-end system (which escalates the price by $100). As always, it depends on the type of gamer you are. Avid gamers want more games—we have to own everything! Casual gamers will be fine with 64GB of storage.

Is this the VR experience that is going to bring one billion users into the market, as Mark Zuckerberg had prophesied? It may not bring that many, but it has certainly sold itself to one reviewer. The Oculus Quest is the must-have system this holiday (if you can find one—they are selling out everywhere—B&H Photo is getting more units soon), and as long as they keep adding to the VR library on the Oculus website, it may be the go-to VR system for 2020, as well.

What do you think? Have you found a better headset with such an easy setup and seamless startup capabilities? Is VR going to advance, or is this the swan song of the whole movement? Let us know in the Comments box, below. And for even more news about the exciting world of virtual reality, check out our dedicated VR page, here. You can also get the full rundown on the entire Oculus catalogue, including news, reviews, and more, at our dedicated Oculus Experience page.  

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