The Oculus Quest 2 Is Nice, and It’s the Way forward for VR
The Oculus Quest 2 marks a big change not only for Oculus, but for VR as a whole. Compact, affordable and almost endlessly versatile, this is the blueprint for the future of VR. One day we will remember that it started here.
A crash course on Quest
In case you’ve never heard of Oculus Quest 2, it’s the latest in a line of standalone VR headsets. Standalone means that you only need to buy the headset to start using the software, just like with a video game console or PC. Inside the Quest 2 is a full mobile computer and a digital storefront of games and apps.
The Quest headsets are battery operated and do not require external motion trackers, so you can take them anywhere. Best of all, if you have a VR-enabled PC, you can also use a Quest headset as a tethered PC VR headset. You can even play PC VR games wirelessly.
Versatility is key
The Quest 2 is incredibly versatile and that’s the main reason we believe it’s the future of VR. All you have to do is buy that one VR headset and you get access to almost every form of VR. Whether you want to play high-end PC VR games, use room-scale VR, seated or on the bus (in front of confused commuters), you can.
Like a tablet or laptop, you can throw a Quest 2 in a bag and take it with you. (You’ll probably want to buy the official tote bag first, of course.)
The greatest feat Oculus has accomplished with the Quest is removing the friction between wanting to access VR and wanting to be in VR. There is nothing to set up, at least not after the initial setup. Just put on the headset and you’re back in the action. VR, which you can hop into at any time, is critical to the widespread adoption of the technology. The Quest 2 has already crossed a crucial threshold in this area.
The price of the search is right
The Quest 2 purchase page
A base 128GB Quest 2 model will set you back $299. While that’s not cheap, it’s definitely in the same range as the Nintendo Switch or Xbox Series S. It’s also quite a bit cheaper than premium PC VR headsets like the Valve Index or HP Reverb G2. Although it’s only a third the price of a Valve Index, the Index isn’t three times better. You get 80% of the premium PC VR experience for only 30% of the price. It’s hard to believe that Oculus is making any money off the hardware at this price point, but it’s a fantastic offering for users and paves the way for mass adoption of the technology.
Best Standalone VR Headset
Oculus Quest 2 128GB
The Quest 2 is the only real choice for standalone VR right now, so it’s good that it’s also the best option. Ultimate versatility combined with a great entry-level price.
It’s a gateway to mixed reality
While the Quest 2 wasn’t designed as a proper mixed reality device, Oculus has continued the tradition of the original Quest by finding new ways to repurpose the headset’s hardware to do new things. It started with their attempts to turn the first Quest into a PC VR headset with a USB cable, and it was so successful that it killed all other Oculus headsets and changed the entire course of the company’s lineup. Oculus also figured out how to use the onboard tracking cameras to track bare hands without a controller. This enables a whole new kind of VR experience and level of interactivity.
Recently, the company has been experimenting with basic mixed reality capabilities. The tracking cameras can only play black and white footage, which is enough to create some cool use cases. For example, the Quest headsets can now recognize your desk, sofa, or computer keyboard and blend them with the VR visuals. This allows you to easily interact with real objects and make VR productivity applications more practical.
The future of VR is likely to be “extended reality” where you can go from full virtual reality to mixed reality to real-world at will. All with a single headset. The Quest 2 isn’t here yet, but it’s shaping up to be the mainstream entry point for augmented reality. We expect some future Quest successors to have cameras that also accommodate full-color, stereoscopic mixed reality.
The Quest Pro and the future of VR
Speaking of the future of VR, there are persistent rumors of a Quest Pro on the way, although we don’t know much about it other than that it’s a separate device from a rumored Quest 3. Microsoft has slacked off a bit when it comes to their enterprise-focused Windows Mixed Reality platform, and we can imagine Oculus looking to push into the professional space with a more business-focused quest.
As for the future of the consumer Quest line, the trend will likely be towards smaller and lighter headsets. Possibly the use of micro-OLED panels, which could enable VR headsets that are more akin to ski goggles than a diving mask. Micro-OLED technology is a hot topic in VR and even the rumored Apple VR headset is said to use it.
Whoever cracks the mainstream VR market, we suspect this product will have more in common with the Quest than the Oculus Rift. In fact, Valve’s Index successor could also turn out to be a standalone headset. Imitation is really the sincerest form of flattery.
The Quest 2 is not perfect
The Quest 2 is a great device and we really see it breaking new ground for the future of VR – but that doesn’t mean it’s the perfect product today.
Of course, one can argue that the Oculus Quest 2 is in some ways a step backwards compared to the Oculus Quest 1. We wish it didn’t require a Facebook account either.
The Quest 2 has a lot of room for improvement, but it’s hard to recommend any other headset for the average person looking to get into virtual reality today. If you don’t already have a VR headset, this is the most compelling one to buy – unless you have a high-end VR-capable PC and are willing to shell out a lot more money for a VR headset.
While it’s not the highest-end headset, it’s packed with innovative software ideas (like hand tracking and inside-out motion tracking) and powerful hardware for standalone VR experiences. Future versions of the Quest will of course iron out any remaining rough edges, but the Quest 2 is an excellent consumer product, ready for mainstream acceptance.