We’ve had some time with the $399 Oculus Quest headset at CES 2019 and my were we impressed. While HTC has also thrilled with its eye-tracking capability this week, but Oculus is offering something different.
While HTC’s Vive Pro Eye is a more pro-level headset (and that seems to be where Vive is setting its stall out generally), the Quest slots in between the gaming-orientated Oculus Rift with its superior graphics and the app-centric Oculus Go.
It is, if you like, a VR headset for more casual gamers than the expensive Rift or HTC Vive. it's also coming soon, in the Spring.
Its best feature though, is that it’s wireless and doesn’t depend on a PC like the Rift yet still features the same six degrees of freedom as the Rift.
Wires are a total pain for VR. All VR and AR headsets will eventually be wireless of course, but it’s too early in the cycle for these headsets to all be wire-free.
Of course, by not having any external kit, the headset has to track movement instead. So the loops on the controller are now on the top so they can be detected by the headset. They’re facing down on the Rift.
The headset itself has four sensors across the headset to track the controllers. It's made of a soft rubber-life material and is very comfortable in use - way more comfortable than the Rift.
We don't yet know what the Quest's battery life will be like but Oculus has said it is in line with the Go headset, meaning that it should be around 2 or 3 hours. Charging is via USB-C.
Playing with the Quest
- 1,600 x 1,440 resolution per eye
- Around 50 games confirmed
- Clear and punchy visuals
Around 50 games have been confirmed for Quest - an extensive list. We played two games during our 20 minute demo - Project Tennis Scramble, which is very much like Wii Sports if you ask us, so fun – and Superhot VR, which is a shooter that speeds up the more you move.
We hadn’t played this latter game on other headsets, so it took us a little while to get used to. Project Tennis Scramble was quite the opposite; instantly you were hitting balls of different types but we have to say we weren't great at hitting golf balls across the net.
But once we got going it was highly engrossing and we soon lost any perception of what was around us (naturally there’s still a fence to chaperone you back into position so you don’t move out of your zone and smash the TV).
Oculus has talked about larger playgrounds for Quest although we didn't see that in action as we were restricted by the boundaries of a hotel room.
The visuals are really rather good - the resolution is 1,600 x 1,440 per eye. You can actually see both demos we played in this YouTube video for Quest.
Thanks to the six degrees of freedom and lack of cable, you can walk around freely and make movements such as jumping or crouching. We didn't find any glitch with how our movement was tracked.
As a side note, if you wear glasses you will really like the Quest - there's plenty of room for your specs - something that can't be said of the Rift. You can also adjust pupil distance using a slider on the headset.
There's also a volume control and 3.5mm auxiliary jacks should you wish to connect a cable up to use another audio solution (yes, we know, cables).
The Quest is an exciting move by Oculus and we can't wait until it launches. With plenty of game support, is it time for VR gaming to become mass market?
We think it might well be - after all, the $399 price point is very accessible while the banishing of the requirement to have a gaming PC to use it alongside is also welcome.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Quest and can't wait to explore different games when it launches.