Evaluate: We don’t advocate the $299 Oculus Quest 2 as your subsequent VR system

Enlarge / It looks the same as its predecessor, but Oculus Quest 2 is very different – and mostly in a disappointing way.

Sam Machkovech

The long-rumored (and recently leaked) Oculus Quest 2 is here, at my home, on my face. I received it earlier this month, along with news that this would be Oculus’ cheapest all-in-one VR system yet, starting at $ 299 and shipping on October 13th.

That’s a hell of a high price to pay for state-of-the-art VR. But it comes at a price.

Part of this comes from Facebook’s aggressive policy to make Facebook social media accounts (the terms of which revolve around a “real name” policy) mandatory use of new Oculus VR headsets, including the Quest 2 idea. Attaching a social media account and its huge web of personally identifying data (as collected from service logins to average web browser cookies) to computer hardware (VR headsets, phones, computers, televisions, etc.) is an irresponsible move by Facebook .

If this is the beginning and the end of this review for you, I can’t blame you. I also encourage you to move comments on this particular opinion into my August op-ed on the development. (Or, in all honesty, pass that energy on to writing comments to regulators in your state or country. I’ve already written to my home state attorney general.)

But let’s say you’ve shopped into Oculus hardware or software in the past, or you’ve been content with the company’s Facebooking. Or maybe, despite all the bad news, you’d get a deal with the Mephi-zuck-eles for a more powerful, “all-in-one” Oculus Quest that’s now powered by a Snapdragon 865-equivalent SoC with more RAM, more pixels and a higher refresh rate.

If you end up there, at some point you will find another crap on Oculus Quest 2: How desperate Facebook is to bring the price down to that magic number of $ 299. It seemed like every day I tested this device in the pre-release version, I discovered a new corner problem that wasn’t worth the savings. These pile up to the point where Facebook needs to start a “2+” revision quest before I can recommend this headset.

Everything looks similar … but it isn’t

  • New box with a completely different, less elegant aesthetic compared to previous Oculus versions.

  • Inside is an even simpler box.

  • But I mean, you’ll just throw the box away anyway.

  • Headset, front view. It is almost identical to Quest 1 in terms of dimensions.

  • Headset from the side.

  • Headset, on the author’s head.

  • These lens stickers have to go.

  • Volume control. But where is Quest 1’s IPD slider? Uh … we’ll get to that.

  • New controller (right) next to Quest 1 controller (left). The buttons are almost identical, but there is now a larger pad to place your thumb on.

  • Closer zoom on both generations of Oculus Quest controllers. Yes, my original Oculus Touch 1 controllers lived long and fulfilling lives.

Oculus Quest 2 should look familiar as its design language and general form factor are almost identical to the original VR system, which launched in March 2019, starting at $ 399. Both versions have four outward-facing cameras to track your immediate surroundings, so you can put the headset on anywhere and expect a convincing “transport” effect in VR. This “inside-out” tracking model can be found in most Windows Mixed Reality headsets and differs from systems like HTC Vive and Valve Index, which have no infrared-feeding “tracking boxes” installed in your preferred play area are not working.


Unlike most other VR headsets, the Quest range does not require connections to a PC or console. Buckle it up to your face, use your hands to establish a “wiggle room” in your house, and Quest 2’s internal hardware will do all of the 3D rendering. (Like the first model, Quest 2 also supports optional connections to PCs for their high-end games.)

Quest 2’s pair of hand-tracking controllers contain the same set of buttons, triggers, and joysticks as the first version, along with the same “halo” construction to hold their infrared sensors. You may take a look and think that you are expecting identical performance when compared to other “Oculus Touch” controllers. Not so fast.

Facebook reps mentioned that the controllers had been redesigned with an emphasis on increased battery life and convenience, which I found curious. The original Oculus Quest controllers didn’t last very long, but they only needed an AA battery and were far more efficient than the HTC Vive Cosmos controllers, for example. What continued to discharge the battery? At the time, Facebook officials claimed that Quest 2’s controllers have fewer infrared sensor points: “We are able to find computer vision algorithms that are tuned to do the same thing [level of controller] Tracking in fewer LEDs, thereby [requiring] less electricity, “a Facebook representative told Ars Technica.

I went back to compare the tricky “expert” Beat Saber levels on both Quest 1 and Quest 2, and in fact the older controller is noticeably more accurate. It’s hard to measure VR controller detection perfectly without access to verbose data logs (which I’ve used to diagnose problems with SteamVR in the past). But I can safely say that after an hour between Quest 1 and 2, the number of lost wipes was higher on the newer hardware. So this downgrading of the sensor points is mature.

[Update, 3:30 p.m. ET: Since this article went live, we’ve seen infrared camera footage from Tested confirming an identical number of LED bulbs in both generations of Quest controllers, which puts Facebook’s original statement into question. The FB rep may have been describing a downgrade in frequency or power for those LED bulbs in Quest 2 controllers.]

Worse, Quest 2 removed the grippy, grainy texture from Quest 1 controllers while making the controllers a bit heavier (151g for the new controllers versus 129g for the Quest 1 controllers). As a result, I feel like they slip out of my grip a lot more often than with Quest 1. A wider pad on top of the controller to support my thumb doesn’t alleviate the problem. It is the first of many curious changes between the Quest headset generations.


Fabric feelings, strap yaps

As for the cosmetic changes, Quest 2 no longer lines the sides of the headset with soft fabric, nor does it have a similar fabric lining inside. The former is a manageable crap; I miss that gentle feeling of taking the Quest in hand, but I can live without it. The latter really affects usability by letting more light into your field of view – it’s not a lot, but with VR immersion, every bit of light leak counts.

The biggest “cosmetic” change also has an incredible impact on the functionality of the headset – the Quest 2 has a new strap. Pooh. I have never seen such an abomination in my years of reviewing VR headsets. It’s worse than Oculus Go, the former bottom line candidate for the cheapest headset strap on the market.

  • This standard cheap, backpack-like strap needs to be adjusted every time you put on or take off Quest 2 as it doesn’t come with a nifty elastic strap like the Quest 1 does.

    Sam Machkovech

  • An uncomfortable photo of this strap on the author’s head.

Rather than using a typical “Halo” strap design that both shifts support and weight to the back of the head, as well as allowing a variety of hairstyles through, Oculus went for an uncomfortable split strap design. This connects an overhead strap and two straps that go to the left and right sides of the headset. If you have long hair, now you have one less organic way to comfortably pull that hair out.

Worse, you’ll have to adjust the fit of this strap every time you put it on or off as it works like a strap on a backpack or shoulder bag: you have to pull the strap through a pair of double loop buckles. Quest 2 prompts users to pull left to tighten and right to loosen. (Have you ever heard the phrase “right-tighty, lefty-loosie” on Facebook?) It feels clumsy and disgusting every time, and its shape doesn’t distribute the weight of the headset. Incidentally, this weight is almost identical to Quest 1; The “10%” weight reduction of the new headset is almost entirely due to the switch to this lighter standard headband.

Comments are closed.