Oculus Go Review

What is the Oculus Go?

The first time you try virtual reality, it's hard not to get carried away by the feeling of immersion, the feeling that, for the first time, you're inhabiting a virtual world instead of just watching it from the other side of the screen.

But anyone who has spent money on products such as Oculus Rift or HTC Vive can tell you, having to constantly take care of a strong cable that ties you to your PC is not like that. very immersive at all.

That's if you can even afford to buy a Rift or Live in the first place. Both are expensive hardware pieces, and will also need to be powered by a powerful independent computer.

Related: The best virtual reality games

Oculus has a solution to the problem: the Oculus Go, a new headset that offers a completely autonomous VR experience. It is wireless, which means that it is not necessary to have a PC for games, and it is not necessary to connect a phone with other mobile virtual reality solutions.

The company is selling the new handset for £ 199 / $ 199, which is a fraction of the price of its PC VR brothers, and even cheaper than the virtual reality of the economical console offered by Sony with its PlayStation VR headsets. A more expensive model that exceeds internal storage from 32GB to 64GB is available for £ 249 / $ 249.

Is this a handset that has only a fraction of the functionality of its older siblings, or does it increase your budget? Form factor?

Oculus Go – Design

Oculus Go is a stand-alone VR headset, which means you do not need a computer or console to function. There are some quite significant benefits for this, but there are also some drawbacks.

Let's start with the good things. Being independent drastically reduces the cost of using an Oculus Go. Instead of the full-sized Oculus Rift or the competing HTC Vive, the Go does not need a computer to run. As such, you will not have to spend hundreds of pounds on a decently equipped PC, and you will not have to be constantly connected to the tower through a strong cable.

Having said that, there are some drawbacks. The Oculus Go is limited to tracking the movement of rotation, instead of knowing its position. This means that it is very good to know when you are turning your head to the left, right, up or down, but you can not determine whether you are moving forward or backward.

The most expensive competitors include external tracking stations that can decipher their head position, but there's nothing like that with the Oculus Go. Everything is completely autonomous.

All Oculus Go headphones come with a motion controller. This is not as complete as the Oculus Touch controllers launched for the Rift. Instead of a joystick and numerous buttons, there is simply a trigger, a trackpad, a button to return and a start button.

It's not much, but we like the fact that, unlike the Gear VR controller, one has been included with every Go, which means that hopefully it will become a standard control scheme, rather than something that the developers admit as a last-minute idea.

As a final point, the ergonomics of the headphones is quite solid. At first we were worried that the strap would look quite weak compared to the HTC Vive Pro, but since the headphones are so light, we do not experience the level of discomfort we feel with the first generation of HTC Vive with extended periods of time. use

The cushions that rest on your face remain cool and pleasant while you use the headphones, and in general the Oculus Go feels like a consumer technology very well made instead of a prototype, even if there is only a little too much Light bleeds around the cutout of the nose.

Oculus Go – Specifications

The lack of an external PC in the configuration limits the amount of energy under the hood of the Oculus Go. Instead of a thick Nvidia or AMD graphics card, the Go uses a Qualcomm mobile GPU: the Snapdragon 821.

It would be crazy to compare this processor with what you would find on a gaming PC, but it compares pretty well to what You see in the virtual reality mobile solutions that run on phones. The processor is identical to the chip in the Google Pixel 2016 phones of Google Daydream, and is just a step better than the Samsung Galaxy S7 compatible with Gear VR that year.

The chip is not as good on paper as the Snapdragon 845 on the latest Samsung Galaxy S9, but since Go is not running its software in addition to an OS that saves power for everything else a phone has to do, the computer of Oculus believes it offers performance similar to the Snapdragon 835 found in the Pixel 2 and Galaxy S8.

The bottleneck we experience when using headphones is that it can take a few seconds to load each new application. It is not terrible, but it can interfere a little.

At least part of the test comes with the resolution of the screenthe Oculus Go is packaging, which at 2560 x 1440 is surprisingly better than the resolution of Rift and Vive of 2160 x 1200, although not quite at the level of 2880 x 1600 from Vive Pro.

Both Google's Daydream and Samsung's Gear VR are compatible with a variety of phones that offer different screen resolutions, and the Oculus Go compares very favorably with these.

Its 2560 x 1440 screen resolution is on par with the Samsung Galaxy S7 or Google Pixel XL, and although it can not compete with the Samsung Galaxy S9 (2960 x 1440) or Pixel 2 XL (2880 × 1440), these phones only gain in resolution due to their slightly wider aspect ratio.

With VR, the frequency of updating a screen: the number of times per second that it is image changes – it is very important. Too little and the world will seem to "stutter", ruining the dive. The Oculus Go refresh rate reaches 72Hz, and many games run at 60Hz, which is much less than the standard 90Hz PC headset, although it's better than most 60Hz screens.

The screen itself is an LCD panel, which has a bit of a mixed reputation for VR. OLED is commonly considered to be the superior type of headphone display, but this is not an area that we find particularly concerning with Go.

The biggest problem with all this technology is that the battery life simply is not good enough. With a maximum of 2.5 hours of use (less, if you are playing a game), this is a device that you will want to keep charged, especially when you need approximately 3 hours to complete completely from the void.

We know that not many people will use a VR headset for 2.5 hours at a time, but for us this is about ensuring that the headset has power when we need it, and this battery life means paying more attention to load levels. of what we would like Oculus is also pressing the headset as a great way to watch movies, which obviously will consume at that moment rather quickly.

Charging is handled by a micro-USB port, and there is a 3.5 mm connector for using your own headphones [19659031] Oculus Go – Sound

Audio functions are controlled by a pair of speakers on the sides of the headphones, which direct the sound towards the ears. The Oculus Go is surprisingly effective in positional audio, but we would be lying if we said it was the best way to use the headset.

Much more effective was plugging a pair of headphones into the 3.5mm jack. The headphones in the ear or on the ear will be a bit bulky, but the headphones work well.

Oculus Go – Configuration

Since it is essentially a mobile VR headset, the Oculus Go configuration is much simpler than that of its PC brothers. There are no problems with having to connect devices via USB and download drivers. Instead, pair the headset with your phone to complete most of the installation.

The phone part of the configuration is handled through the Oculus application, which is paired with the headset via Bluetooth to get your Wi-Fi login details and install games.

You can configure much of the configuration from within VR, but we found it easier to configure games to download through the application.

In general, the configuration proved to be a fairly fluid process. Our one false step came with the configuration of the Netflix application. With the application that asked us to enter our password from within virtual reality, there was no easy way to copy it from our password manager and enter the experience. In the future, we would love to be able to enter the password from the complementary application.

Oculus Go: applications, videos and games

At the launch, Oculus announces that Go has more than 1000 applications, games and movies to play with, and 100 of these are new or have been updated significantly for the new headphones.

What this means in practice is that much of what is currently available in the Oculus Store was originally made for Gear VR. This means experiences like Blade Runner 2049 Replicant Pursuit, but they do not make full use of the Go motion controller, the equivalent of what was an optional accessory with Gear VR.

Boot in some games that have been optimized for the Go and what you'll find is pretty impressive.

Titles like Coaster Combat are good with their bright and thick simple and visual controls. It's a sitting experience (so you do not notice the lack of positional tracking) and all the action takes place in front of you, which means you never have to shout awkwardly to look back. The refresh rate was also solid as a rock.

While the images in a game like this are not as detailed as what is possible in the VR headset of a gaming PC, the resolution means that everything is fine and clear.

That said, the Oculus Go has the same problems with the text as Rift and Live. We enjoyed playing B-Team with its endless VR runner, but relied on pages and pages of text in its tutorials, and the handset simply does not have the resolution to make it easy to read.

In a similar line, we thought that Anshar Online did not play with the strengths of the headphones. The third-person space shooter makes you fly by shooting at enemies, but it requires you to be able to turn full 360 degrees to be able to move back and forth across the world. That's fine for a scale VR PC experience, but it's a bit more complicated when you sit down with a mobile VR headset.

The general impression is that games designed with the limitations of the Oculus Go in mind felt great. Of course, their graphic fidelity was not particularly high, but the tracking of movement, resolution and frequency of update meant that the classical sense of virtual reality immersion was present.

But for games where hardware limitations were not considered, we became much more aware of the feeling of wearing a VR headset. To some extent, this also applied to games that run at 60 Hz instead of at 72 Hz.

Oculus Rooms lets you hang out with friends and watch movies or play games (shown here)

In addition to game content, Oculus wants to emphasize Go's video observation capabilities, but they feel a bit early and disconnected.

There are Oculus Videos, where you can watch 360 videos from a variety of media organizations, or the Oculus Gallery where you can view your own photos and videos from Facebook, Instagram or the internal storage of your device. Finally, Oculus Spaces, where you can chat and play games with friends, also includes the ability to watch videos and view photos.

In the coming months, Oculus will launch Oculus TV and Oculus Venues. The first will act as a portal for TV content, while the second will allow you to watch live comedies and musical shows with friends.

It's a bit difficult to keep track of what's available, and how you can interact with each of the different viewers. We would love to be able to watch Netflix with friends, but at this moment the whole experience is relegated to an independent application that does not support multiple users.

It's a shame, because using the Oculus Go to watch movies on a big virtual screen is super fun and we could even see ourselves using it to spend time on a flight. We have no doubt that the software will improve over time, but for the time being it definitely feels early.

Why buy the Oculus Go?

You should buy the Oculus Go if you want a budget – friendly way to get into VR, and you do not have a phone that supports a mobile virtual reality solution like Gear VR or Google Daydream.

That said, even if you have a phone like that, the Oculus Go could still be an excellent choice. Having a separate phone and VR headset instead of having to constantly disconnect the phone from the strap when you need it is more ideal.

But the problem is that there is not a single application that justifies the purchase. Like buying a new console on launch day, I would buy Oculus Go with the promise of continued support in the future.

That does not mean that the available experiences are now deficient; In fact, many are very funny. However, there is nothing here where you find yourself playing for hours (although the maximum 2.5 hours of battery power of the device could be a longer term problem here).

Verdict

There is a very strong foundation here for a great virtual reality experience, with good motion tracking and a decent screen, but the Oculus Go does not have a killer application at launch.