Oculus Quest 2 will get official wireless-VR mode, 120 Hz assist through patch
Enlarge / More hidden features will soon be released to Oculus Quest 2 owners.
Last year’s VR headset Oculus Quest 2 is still one of the cheapest – if not necessarily recommendable – ways to enter virtual reality. But even I have to admit that his sale offer on Tuesday became more tempting with a nightly announcement from Facebook representatives: Two deactivated functions in the headset are now activated by default.
The first is a wireless VR mode that Facebook calls the Oculus Air Link, which is “coming soon” to headset and PC combinations running compatible Oculus software. The short version: Soon you will only be able to connect your Oculus Quest 2 to a gaming PC via a local WLAN connection. This function is supported by the standard headset software, no additional apps are required. And the connection to the VR apps on your PC works essentially the same as the VR apps that are built right into the Quest 2 memory.
“Not every network and PC setup is ideal”
“We know gamers want to use Link wirelessly,” says the announcement, and in fact, this is the loudest cry in our VR hardware reviews. No more cables in VR, readers complain, and Facebook responded with no more cables. But, my god, do you really want to use this feature, guys?
Remember, the Oculus Air Link is “experimental”. As Facebook says, “Not every network and PC setup is ideal.” Connecting your headset to a PC using a cable (as in Oculus Link) is “the way to go” for most users and provides the “highest fidelity possible”. The “Known Issues” list states that even if you have AMD’s latest high-end products, AMD GPUs can only stream wirelessly over Air Link at half the rate of Nvidia GPUs.
This plethora of caution for the average user is not surprising, given that wireless VR comes under a significant drain on convenience and fidelity. If your local network can’t consistently deliver high resolution 72 fps or 90 fps images straight to your face, any blurring or control lag can feel even more serious. Some Oculus Quest owners already know this from testing wireless VR modes enabled through a third-party virtual desktop app.
Still, under the right network conditions, Virtual Desktop has proven Quest 2’s ability to stream high-end PC VR games to the cheaper Oculus Quest 2 with acceptable performance. And when these features are built right into the firmware, this could prove to be even more efficient – although Oculus’ records suggest a maximum of 200Mbps up and downstream over local wireless networks, which is well below the 1,200Mbps maximum. s from Virtual Desktop. We look forward to testing and comparing the two options.
120 Hz: “Soon”, but when? And what for?
The other key feature announced on Tuesday is that Quest 2’s panel will jump from its current maximum of 90Hz to a whopping 120Hz update. As it turns out, Quest 2’s single LCD panel was designed for refresh rates of 120Hz all along – meaning it likely came from production lines that made displays at the same speed as a new standard for smartphone screens.
After a tease from a Facebook executive in February, longtime Oculus employee John Carmack confirmed in March that the feature would eventually arrive. “Only a few existing games are optimized for 120 [Hz]but some new titles will consider it an option in their design phase, ”he wrote on Twitter.
The official 120 Hz announcement from Facebook confirms this plan, albeit in a different language: “Not many apps will support 120 Hz yet”, it says in the statement, and it does not apply to the standard “home environment” of the hardware. There is no release date after “soon” for the introduction of this feature. In response to a request from Ars Technica, Facebook declined to offer a list or pointers of what existing software may be receiving a 120 Hz update update at the time.
In the standard use case of Quest 2 as a fully wireless headset with software installed internally, the 120 Hz mode may have limited effects. Quest 2 hardware is already being used quite heavily at 90Hz speeds, which is why many Quest 2 games, including the hugely popular and Facebook-owned Beat Saber, stick at the lowest refresh rate of 72Hz. Another jump not only boosts the SoC (and its cooling system) even more, but also puts a strain on the system’s already capricious battery life.
Dream about PC updates and productivity
On the other hand, as a connected PC-VR option, the 120Hz mode could be a serious treat, especially for PCs that are equipped to run VR games at such speeds. Higher frame rates, in particular, seriously affect long-term VR comfort when sessions exceed 30 minutes at a time. My earliest tests of the Valve Index, which natively supports 120Hz and 144Hz modes, depended on using this headset as a virtual work monitor for hours, and what I said at the time still holds true: higher refresh rates make juggling many times over, floating work screens and panels are all the more pleasing to the eye.
But while Facebook is vague about the 120Hz modes for standard Oculus Quest 2 use, it’s still kind of vague that the same will be used for connected PC VR (aka Oculus Link). That comes in a “future release” as opposed to “soon”. I wish it were the other way around, provided one takes longer than the other.
Everything I said above about using VR to run a virtual office is clear on Facebook, too, as Tuesday’s blog post included hints of productivity gains built into Quest 2’s “home” user interface . Among other things: The headset will soon be able to “place a virtual desk on your real furniture” and it will add support for “Bluetooth enabled keyboard tracking” in VR.
When you’re not typing, point and pinch your real fingers to navigate the Oculus Quest 2 windows and menus.
And when you want to type, your real keyboard appears in your virtual world in a seemingly correct size and placement. Not that you look and peck or anything …
This requires a compatible keyboard to boot, with Logitech’s K830 being the first supported model. Facebook’s latest sample GIF shows a 3D rendered keyboard appearing in your virtual world, along with a black and white sheen of your real hands tapping on it. Switch between typing on the keyboard and gesturing in the air with your fingers to control VR windows and interfaces like a mouse.
This is clearly Facebook, building on its finger tracking system, which launched as a beta in the Oculus Quest 2 firmware in late 2019, and it is a good indication of the company’s drive to make VR a part of a balanced diet to make at home. even if such features feel completely too late for the pandemic party. I have contacted Logitech regarding the K830 and plan to test it out for a future article to see if Quest 2 is right for my remote office needs. Why buy countless monitors when a single VR headset paired with intelligent office hardware could practically produce them more cheaply? (However, with Facebook’s embedded Oculus cameras watching all the time.) I’ll test and follow up.