Oculus Quest 2 Evaluate: VR For Everybody
Virtual reality is one of those consumer technologies that has always seemed beyond the mainstream. It’s an integral part of fiction, and it seems enticingly close to ruling our reality. But due to a multitude of tradeoffs – including price and complexity – it stayed in the realm of die-hard tech fanatics with deep pockets.
After years of attractive but buggy VR headsets, the Oculus Quest 2 may be the one breaking down barriers to invite everyone else in. If the Quest 2 – the best VR headset ever made – can’t do this, maybe it is time to admit that VR will simply never be in every living room.
The Oculus Quest 2 in a nutshell
- Excellent resolution
- Works completely wirelessly or tied to a PC
- Excellent pricing
- Head strap is uncomfortable
- Mandatory Facebook login
rating: 4.5 out of 5
Price: $ 299 for 64GB; $ 399 for 256GB | Resolution: 1832 x 1920 pixels per eye | Battery life: 3 hours | Weight: 1.1 pounds
Dave Johnson / Forbes
Oculus Quest 2: Game Changing VR
The Oculus Quest 2 is not just an improvement over last year’s Oculus Quest. It’s a perfect storm of marquee changes, which makes this headset a really compelling headset for anyone with even a passing interest in trying VR. The resolution is a clear leap over the original, while the scales as a lighter and more comfortable headset are not tilted. It has a significantly faster processor, more optional memory, and is $ 100 cheaper despite all the upgrades. At $ 299, the Quest 2 is exactly in the price range for spontaneous families and casual gamers.
Much of the Quest 2’s appeal comes from the fact that it is a standalone headset. Unlike models like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the Quest 2 doesn’t need to be plugged into a high-end computer at the end of a 20-foot cable because all of the computer processing is on the computer. The processor – Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2, which is itself considerably faster than the original Quest – does all of the processing on the headset.
The headset is not only wireless and self-contained, but also uses what is known as inside-out tracking. Here’s why this is important: some VR headsets are based on location tracking devices that you need to mount on the wall. These outside-inside tracking systems require a lot of initial setup, essentially forcing that particular space to become the permanent VR room in the home.
With an inside-out tracker like the Quest 2, a phalanx of tiny cameras attached around the headset looks outwards and provides all the positional information the headset needs. Not only is there no setup, but you can use Quest 2 anywhere. It’s not chained to a specific room and portable enough to go to a friend’s house for an afternoon to play.
The Quest 2 experience
Setting up a new Quest 2 only takes a few minutes. You put on the headset, activate your account, find a play area, and you’re in business. During setup, you can see your room through the Quest’s cameras and “paint” the outline of your play area with one of the controllers.
Every time you put the headset on in the same room, the Quest 2 recreates your play area so you can be warned if you are about to hit a wall or furniture. In addition, it saves up to five rooms, and there is a sitting mode for times when you don’t want to use the room-scale gameplay.
Dave Johnson / Forbes
The headset is accompanied by two controllers, although Oculus recently introduced hand tracking. In games that support this, you can turn off the controllers and grab, grab, push, pull, and otherwise manipulate objects with your bare hands, accurately depicting each of your ten fingers.
This, more than anything, puts you in VR in a way that makes you feel like you are in the future. The only downside is the lack of any tactile feedback as you grasp virtual things with your bare hands.
When you put Quest 2 on, you will be taken into a virtual waiting room with access to your game library and headset controls. You can also customize the space – there are a handful to choose from, but I’m currently in love with the futuristic cyberpunk style apartment. From there you can start a game, adjust the headset settings or browse the online shop and make purchases.
How it looks in Oculus Quest 2.
UploadVR / YouTube
The original quest had a resolution of 1440 x 1600 pixels in each eye. That was respectable, but it made the usual “screen door” effect of VR fairly obvious – it created a grid-like pattern that made it look like everything was being seen through a screen-door-like network. The Quest 2 offers a resolution of up to 1832 x 1920 pixels and a resolution that is 50% higher, which essentially calls into question the effect of the screen door. Everything looks more real and haunted.
The headset also has the potential for a higher refresh rate of 90 Hz (currently 72 Hz) which, when Oculus activates it, should result in even smoother animation and better realism.
Oculus Quest 2 comfort
If you try a Quest 2 with no VR experience, you won’t notice that it’s about 10% lighter than the original Oculus Quest. It doesn’t make much of a difference, but the 503-gram headset is less stressful to wear than its predecessor.
Dave Johnson / Forbes
The strap and padding have also been redesigned, and while the changes aren’t objectively bad, this is an aspect of Quest 2 that still calls for a significant improvement. The Quest 2 is perhaps the least comfortable VR headset I’ve ever worn, and during lengthy gaming sessions it slips around or digs into my skull in a way that distracts you and takes you out of the feeling of immersion into that Otherwise you will feel the virtual universe.
Oculus sells an optional strap upgrade – if it’s in stock – that replaces Velcro with a rotatable tensioning mechanism in the back of your head and doesn’t completely solve the problem. I had to learn to live with the fact that it felt uncomfortable for longer VR sessions.
Play games in VR on Oculus Quest 2
A gaming platform is only as good as its games, and Oculus had a year to develop a reputable catalog of games for the Quest. The Quest 2 is fully compatible with all of them.
While most VR games are typically short snack games created by smaller developers, Quest has a wide range of titles that cover everything from fast and casual to deep gameplay that offers hours of storytelling. Last year the Quest started with the three-part Star Wars game Vader Immortal and looks and plays just as amazing on Quest 2. Meanwhile, Arizona Sunshine, a zombie shooter, was an early quest hit and remains popular.
Beat Saber, a rhythm game that requires you to hit incoming blocks in time for the music, is a viral sensation. A similar game called Supernatural was specially developed as a fitness game and I work on it daily with the help of in-game fitness trainers and a modern musical soundtrack. And Red Matter, a game that puts you in an abandoned Soviet base on one of Saturn’s moons, is a kind of exploration-based game that VR is perfect for.
There are dozens of other popular Quest titles out there, but perhaps more importantly, the headset takes it to a whole new level thanks to Oculus Link. Connect your headset to your PC with a long USB cable and you will have access to the entire game library for the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets.
I previously owned an HTC Vive and all of my Vive games remain playable on the Quest 2. Yes, when you use the Oculus Link you are tied to a computer, but the fact that you have a choice and can use the Quest 2 in each mode is incredibly powerful and liberating.
The Facebook puzzle
There’s a virtual elephant in the holodeck: New Quest 2 owners need a Facebook account to use the headset, while existing Quest users have until January 2023 to switch to Facebook.
Is that a big deal? It all depends on how you feel about Facebook. There are people who don’t have an account – who vowed never to get one – and for them that requirement makes Quest 2 a non-starter. Your mileage may vary.
Last word on Oculus Quest 2
This is how VR should be. There is no technical configuration, no trackers to screw to the wall, or complex settings. You turn it on and it just works like technology from the future.
Dave Johnson / Forbes
The Quest 2 offers an extensive catalog of entertaining games, features like controller-free hand tracking and the ability to play PC VR games if you don’t mind plugging in a long USB cable. Every hurdle – technical and otherwise – that tripped older VR headsets seems to have been overcome.
In fact, if it weren’t for the Facebook login problem that I know is worrying some people, I would say this is the VR headset for everyone. But if you can get over it, the Oculus Quest 2 is the perfect and totally affordable gaming system of the future, right here, right now.
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