Fb’s Oculus Quest 2 First Impressions: Is This Nonetheless the Greatest Digital Actuality Headset Round?
What’s the best VR headset you can buy in 2021? A lot of people have asked themselves this question thanks to Covid, and as it turns out, your options are pretty limited. That led me to try the Oculus Quest 2 to see if this standalone VR headset from Facebook could provide enough escape into a world that is still far from normal.
Buckle up a headset, hold the controllers in your palms, and you’ll be transported to a whole new virtual world, defining a play area and having games at hand, or controller tips in this case. This is the promised magic of a virtual reality headset. Much has been said about VR’s potential and that it still has a long way to go, and Facebook-owned Oculus seems to be leading the brigade when it comes to VR gaming.
When it comes to design, the Oculus Quest 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor. The headset has a pure white housing with a black foam face mask, which now has a silicone attachment. In terms of specs and performance, Oculus has taken everything to a new level with this headset. The screen is much better, the ecosystem is more robust, and the headset itself is lighter and more comfortable than before. I’ve been using the Quest 2 for a few weeks and often had it buckled for more than an hour at a time – it was overall pleasant and didn’t give me any headaches.
There is a simple head strap that can be adjusted. Oculus offers three manual lens distance settings for an even clearer view that feels less restrictive. The Quest 2 isn’t cluttered with too many buttons, which keeps its simple look. There is a power button on the right, a volume rocker on the bottom to the right and a USB Type-C port and an audio port on the left.
The Oculus Quest 2 was launched in 2020 and is not officially available in India. It may show up at very high prices on some ecommerce sites, but these are units that are unofficially sold by third parties. In the US, it is good value for money at $ 299 (about Rs.22,200) – that’s about $ 100 (about Rs.7,400) less than its predecessor. There’s also a silicone case that can be purchased for an additional $ 39 (almost 3,000 rupees).
Setting up the Oculus Quest 2 isn’t as complicated as you might think. There are no external cables, cameras or sensors to be placed in your room. After taking the headset out of the box, it only took me a few minutes to get it working. You’ll need the Oculus mobile app on your phone to connect to the headset, and you’ll need to sign in with a Facebook account (this is required to use Quest 2). Then just put on the headset. As soon as you pick up the controllers, you can virtually see them through the headset. Quest 2 will then ask you to create a play area. Download a game and you can start playing. Whether you tilt your head up, down, or to the side, you will see a clear picture around you. There are many games and videos that you can watch here. Experiences include looking at the New York City skyline or riding roller coasters
The Quest 2 uses the Oculus Guardian system to create a safe play area. This allows you to use the controllers to sketch a virtual boundary around your furniture and space that prevents you from bumping into things. This is made possible by the headset’s Passthrough + mode, which uses external cameras to show you around. It’s pretty clear, albeit in black and white. If you leave your Guardian boundary while using the headset, it will switch to this mode so you can see your surroundings instantly and avoid collisions. I found this very useful in super immersive games and prevented me from bumping into my TV multiple times.
Oculus recommends an area of 6.5 x 6.5 (approximately 2 x 2 m) for room-scale VR activities. If you are short on space, you can also stand or sit and create a stationary boundary.
The controllers have an orbital shape and are comfortable to hold. There are straps that I had to wrap around my wrists to keep my controllers from falling off. There are a number of buttons including a trigger-like button for recording, shooting, or selecting something in the virtual world. Navigating the VR UI takes getting used to, but overall the controllers work really well and are snappy. Motion detection is super accurate.
The Oculus Quest 2 has seen a significant increase in performance compared to the previous Quest with a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 SoC and 6 GB of RAM. This processor makes playing on the Quest almost a PC-level experience. Even the headset’s main interface is very slick. There’s a lot more storage space too, which is useful considering apps are taking up more storage space than they were before. The base variant is now 128 GB, which I think is sufficient, but serious gamers will appreciate the 256 GB variant.
There’s a new resolution of 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye that is absolutely breathtaking. There is absolutely no pixelation even at the edges of the display. Quest 2 goes runs in some games and apps with a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz.
I played Population the battle royale style: One, Beat Saber and Eleven table tennis. The graphical details of these heavy-duty games were impressive. I was immersed in the action and felt almost like I was in a science fiction movie at times. In the Epic Roller Coasters app, I felt butterflies in my stomach as I drove down steep slopes at my desk. Beat Saber made me hit dice that came towards me to the beat of the music, while my controllers were cool virtual lightsabers. There are also many multiplayer games like Population: One. I even watched Surviving 9/11, a VR documentary about the 2001 fatal attack on Quest 2 in New York, and was transported to the New York skyline that hovers over the city.
In Population: One I was able to take pictures without any problems and cut out blocks of color in Beat Saber. The haptic feedback from the controllers is impressive. They make me feel pulses with a slight vibration and this definitely added to the thrill of a roller coaster on a steep track! There are different haptic cues in different apps, sometimes even just gentle vibrations, that come with the music in the game.
There are a few apps and games in the Oculus VR Store. Most of the highly rated ones aren’t free, however, and you’ll have to spend anywhere from $ 5 (around $ 374) to $ 30 (around $ 2,246 rupees) on each one. There are limited free apps and their content can be repetitive. Videos have low repetition value beyond the initial novelty of VR, but that is not the case with most games.
If you’d like others to see what you’re doing in VR, you can go in for a casting! You can stream to the Oculus app on your phone or to your TV using Chromecast. This way you can also show other people the VR experience you are immersed in.
You can pair an external Bluetooth keyboard to use the Oculus web browser or Facebook Messenger. The experience is not ideal as you have to sit down and look for keys is a bit of a hassle, especially when you have to enter long URLs. Oculus has recently added support for some keyboards like the Logitech K830, so navigating its physical surface in virtual space is much easier. The real benefit of using a Bluetooth keyboard is currently limited on the Quest 2. You can also get phone notifications on the virtual screen, which is probably more useful.
When I used the Oculus Quest 2 for more than an hour at a time, I found it a little uncomfortable towards the end. The straps were wrapped tightly around my head and I felt the weight of the device on my nose, causing a slight physical discomfort. However, because the virtual screen is so clear, I didn’t feel disoriented even after an hour of gaming. Of course, VR glasses can cause eye fatigue for more than 45 minutes at a time.
There are speakers on the sides of the headset. Audio is crisp, if a little thin. The only problem I’ve had with this is that everyone else in the room can hear the sound too. Unfortunately, you can’t pair wireless earbuds with the headset to use instead. The headphone jack allows you to connect headphones, but hanging a cord around in action-packed games is not a good idea. Audio is a big part of the experience and the Quest 2 delivers in that regard, especially the sound direction that the speakers allow. The built-in microphone is neat and does its job too.
The battery life is not the strength of Quest 2. It lasts about three hours with heavy use, but needs to be charged afterwards. I found this to be sufficient for my needs, as playing for more than an hour at a time becomes a bit tiring. One disadvantage is that the controllers cannot be charged via USB. Each controller requires an AA battery, and in my experience they ran for several weeks without running out of charge, so hopefully this isn’t a huge limitation. Of course you get rechargeable AA batteries.
Oculus has spiced up its game with Quest 2. Virtual reality with this headset doesn’t seem to be in an iteration phase, but rather as if it has finally taken shape. The Quest 2 has a full ecosystem with some really cool games in the Oculus Quest Store. It works wirelessly and the visual fidelity, audio, and content make for a great overall experience. Oculus defines a lower age limit for users aged 13 and over, and since something like this will have a lot of teenage buyers, the device could also have benefited from parental controls. I also wish it had a wireless headphone connection to make this the ultimate VR experience.