We thought that the coronavirus might help more people discover how amazing Virtual Reality (VR) is, and we were right. A quick scan of any online store will prove that, with nearly all devices fleeing the shelves faster than toilet paper. After all, this technology was made for social distancing without feeling socially distanced, and for doing so in a way that makes people want to avoid going out to begin with. While the technology has been slow to take root initially, we know it is here to stay as it continues to evolve to the point of what futuristic movies portray at a cost and learning curve that even your parents can handle.
The clear choice in the world of VR for both entry level and advanced users is the Oculus Quest. This is the device we have been waiting for. A standalone VR headset that requires nothing except putting it on. The Quest is the first standalone headset to feature 6 degrees of freedom, which adds a whole new level of VR experience and functionality.
The insight tracking reflects your movements in VR without the need for any external items. The touch controllers do a great job of imitating your hands and their gestures so that every app and game and VR experience feels very real. Also, the device has a very cool interface for creating your gaming zone (which is where you play, standing or sitting in spaces you define). You “paint” the clear area you can move around in with nothing in your way and then the Oculus puts up virtual walls around it. If you happen to get too into your exercise or game and move towards a wall or couch, the virtual walls pop up to warn you.
The games for the Quest (such as Vader Immortal, Creed and Beat Saber) are incredible, and range from immersive storytelling to excercize and meditaton, and most of the apps from our VR systems are available. That means you can wander the world in 360 with friends with Wander or watch movies together with friends using Virtual Desktop and the Big Screen app or jump into AltSpace, where you can attend hundreds of live virtual events such as book clubs or live music in virtual clubs or church, or even professional seminars—all live and with real people you can talk to as if they were really in the room with you. That’s social distancing at the highest and most effective level!
The downside of the Quest (and indeed of all Oculus products) is the lack of community and connection to users on other Oculus platforms. The Quest does not yet support Oculus Rooms which was among the best features of Oculus Go, so the only place to connect with Go users in VR is through AltSpace and Big Screen. That said, Facebook (the owners of Oculus), are planning to roll out Facebook HORIZON at some point soon, which might finally connect users of all their devices in a more accessible way.
Another con with the Oculus Quest is that the resolution, while rather strong, can’t compete with the detailed graphics that Rift and other tethered VR systems bring. But for all the fuss and knowledge that requires, we think we are speaking to 95% percent of users at least when we present Quest as the best all-around experience for the user level, simplicity, price and level of need. But enough about the cons, because buying this device is a PRO move!