For too long now we have been waiting for a new innovation to launch VR into the mainstream, and let’s be honest, many of us were starting to give up hope.
Most people that have trialled the current crop of hardware will have had positive, enjoyable experiences, agreeing that the technology shows much potential, but are yet to be fully convinced. Why is that? What is putting them off from actually forking out on a headset?
Although cost will be a factor for a lot of consumers, others say that for a platform that is supposed to fully immerse the user in a virtual world, and give them a sense of freedom, it can often feel, well, restrictive. Because even when you can’t see anything from the real world when wearing the headset, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re going to accidentally trip over that wire you know is sticking out of your head.
Perhaps they’re lacking a PC with the right system requirements, or they’re not too keen on the idea of having additional external sensors placed around the room to prevent tracking problems. These are some of the main issues that VR hardware manufacturers have been struggling to overcome … until now.
All Together Now
Enter the brand new Quest headset from Oculus - arguably VR’s best chance yet of appealing to the masses. It’s an all-in-one system, so it doesn’t need to be played through a PC or other machine, and it’s all wireless.
It also comes with four wide-angle cameras built in as part of the new Insight tracking feature – no need for those extra sensors any more – while its six degrees of freedom means it can track your movements in – you guessed it – six directions: up, down, left, right, forwards and backwards. Because it automatically senses the space you’re in and adapts to it, the headset can be used in rooms of varying sizes with minimal setup.
Even so, some users will still feel a bit uneasy moving around too much in case they get too close to a real-world surface or object, which is why the Quest comes equipped with the same Guardian system as the Rift. This enables the wearer to draw out a boundary so they can avoid accidentally punching a wall or stubbing a toe on the sofa.
If you are planning on using it across a number of spaces then the Quest is capable of remembering the Guardian layouts for multiple rooms and recognising when you’ve moved from one to the other, eliminating the need to retrace the grid every time you boot up the system again.
A Touch of Class
Also similar to what came with the Rift are the new Touch controllers, although they’ve been moderated slightly with the Quest. Those familiar with the Rift design will notice that the tracking strips have moved from below the hands to above them. This is so it can be more easily picked up by the head-mounted cameras, and the effect on the accuracy of the tracking is extremely impressive.
This might be a standalone system, but that hasn’t resulted in efficiency being heavily sacrificed. The Quest really makes the most of its built-in Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a chip that’s actually been around for a while and can be found in smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S8.
Despite its chip being a few years old now, the new headset is more than capable of running popular VR titles like Beat Saber and Robo Recall without a hitch, and you can be confident that the tech won’t let you down when lining up that winning serve on Sports Scramble – a new sports package that could just become the new Wii Sports if enough people get the chance to try it.
However, these games aren’t the most demanding in terms of performance. It remains to be seen how the system fares when it’s really put through its paces, and you can expect some of the real top-spec titles, which would probably be too much for the Quest to handle, to head to the PC-backed Rift instead. Still, its capabilities for a mobile device represent a real leap forward.
And the price for all this? The Quest comes with an RRP of £399, which is the same as the new Rift S headset from Oculus – an improved and upgraded version of the original Rift – released on the same day (May 21st). The Rift S may be a preferable option for those with a high-end PC, but for those who don’t and have been waiting for the right piece of kit to come along and give them the ideal entry into the world of VR, the Quest may just have everything they need.