Oculus Quest - Creator’s Review
What is the Oculus Quest?
The Oculus Quest is the second standalone VR (Virtual Reality) headset released by Oculus since being founded in 2012. As a standalone headset, the Quest works on its own, without needing to be tethered to a gaming PC.
Pitched as an “all-in-one gaming headset”, the Quest is accompanied by Oculus Touch controllers for each hand and already has a growing library of VR apps and games to choose from.
What do we use it for?
Here at Fractal CG, we create many different forms of 3D rendered content. Virtual reality experiences are becoming very important during design and development processes. We create 3D rendered experiences to demonstrate early concepts, full-scale layouts and photorealistic architectural designs.
Previously using earlier Oculus virtual reality headsets and various Google Cardboard solutions, we were very excited to learn that Oculus would soon be releasing a whole new generation of headset.
When was the Oculus Quest released?
We first heard about the Oculus Quest back in September 2018, when Oculus publicly announced the upcoming launch. Available for pre-order in April, the Oculus Quest was released 21st May 2019.
Arrival & Setup
The Oculus Quest comes in a well designed box that can be used again for keeping the headset safe when on the go. The only cable needed is a thankfully long USB C power & data cable that helps when charging the headset and syncing large amounts of images & videos (WiFi syncing is available, but is more suited to lighter transfer loads).
Setup is quick and easy, by simply installing the Oculus App and pairing with your smartphone. A comprehensive tutorial shows off the Quest’s room tracking capabilities and introduces the user to interacting with virtual objects, using the Touch Controllers.
Having spent some time with the Quest over the last two weeks, here are the key features we think are important:
Anyone who had one of the early versions of the Oculus Rift will know that being closely tethered to your PC tower is not the pinnacle of immersive experiences. The first virtual reality headsets to reach the public were ground-breaking products, but are seriously held back by the need for a powerful VR capable computer. Tethered headsets are still needed today for high-performance VR content, but the Oculus Quest gives an insight into what you can achieve when you’re not hardwired to your computer.
With the entire VR experience being handled by an internal Snapdragon 835 processor, the Quest can be used anywhere. With a per-eye display resolution of 1440 x 1600 pixels, we were seriously surprised by how smooth the Quest displays content.
A key feature of the Quest is the built-in spacial tracking system, called Oculus Insight. Unlike many other systems, the Quest is able to track the wearer’s head, hands and standing position without the need for any external sensors.
Using Oculus Insight, wearers are free to walk around the virtual world, giving a new dimension to VR scenes. The Quest simply asks the wearer to draw a guardian boundary, defining a safe space for use, and is then instantly ready to go.
Oculus Touch Controllers
The Oculus Quest comes with left and right Oculus Touch controllers. Each controller has full position tracking, as well as buttons, triggers & joystick control. Paired with cleverly designed software these controllers are capable of understanding many naturally gestures, such as pointing, grabbing & throwing.
The controllers aren’t just built for games though. Navigating software menu screens in VR has always been a slow, awkward process, but having dedicated controllers makes it so much easier to interact with VR software.
The Oculus App (& Store)
A controversial detail about the Oculus Quest is that it runs inside a very locked down ecosystem of software. Users can only install apps from the Oculus Store, which has a pretty small initial library for users to get started with. Although this is a problem right now, this limit has been imposed to keep app quality and security at the top of the priority list for developers, as everything has to be approved before being signed off for release in the Oculus Store.
This tight integration with the Oculus App does provide a much more refined user experience during setup and brings some very useful features to the table, such as casting your current headset view to a paired phone or tablet so that you can share your virtual reality experience with others. You can even cast your headset view to other devices such as Smart TVs.
Our Thoughts: A true all-in-one VR headset?
This may be the first all-in-one VR headset that Oculus have released, but the Oculus Quest already provides a very refined VR experience right out of the box. The locked-down nature of the operating system and store is a limiting factor for now, but will ultimately push developers to create better quality experiences for the Quest than previously seen in other headsets.
The high level of included features, such as built-in tracking & high resolution OLED displays makes it surprisingly good value for money and it really feels like a no compromises device. The biggest surprise of all is perhaps that the Oculus Quest is being marketed primarily as a gaming headset, when many of these professional level specs are also perfectly suited for design development and other commercial applications.
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