Virtual reality (VR) has come a long way from the first Oculus Rift developer kits in 2016 and even further from the primitive VR of the early 90s. While not perfect, modern VR has solved the really serious issues that kept VR from being great. .
If you own a first generation device like the original HTC Vive or Oculus Rift, you still have an incredible device in your hands that offers fantastic VR experiences. However, if you are looking for a new headset today, you have a lot of interesting choices, which brings us to the . brings Oculus Quest†
The Quest is a standalone VR headset. This means you don’t need to connect it to a computer or use a smartphone towards it. That makes it an affordable entry into the premium VR world, but recently Oculus Quest has also enabled devices to act as Oculus Rift devices, connected to a computer via USB 3.
This completely changes how attractive the Quest is, as it’s the only headset that seems to do it all, while costing the same as the paired Oculus Rift S model. Is the Quest really a jack of all trades?
We also did a full review of the Oculus Quest, which you can watch on our YouTube channel here:
Before we get into hands-on impressions and observations in this Oculus Quest review, it’s worth going through some of the key specs so you know what you’re getting.
First, the Quest has two OLED (Organic Light-emitting Diode) panels with a resolution of 1440x1600px per eye. Compare that to the original Rift, which has “only” 1080x1200px per eye. Plus, the lenses in the Quest are significantly more advanced, with better focus and clarity than we saw on their first product release in the premium, tethered VR space.
Resolution aside, the display panels support a 72Hz refresh rate, which sounds like a downgrade on paper compared to the 90Hz and above displays in other high-end VR headsets. However, these are low latency, low persistence that subjectively outperform the faster panels in modern first-generation VR headsets.
Getting accurate field of view figures has proved challenging, but third-party estimates we’ve read suggest the Quest offers at least a 90-degree horizontal view. Which is at least as good as the Rift.
Since this is a standalone VR headset, it also has a full on-board computer. At the heart of the Quest is the Snapdragon 835. This was the flagship system-on-a-chip seen in phones like the Samsung Galaxy S8, meaning it’s going to be ahead in years. However, the Quest doesn’t have the same thermal limitations as a wafer-thin phone.
It is also actively cooled which means higher clock speeds and no throttling. The 835 is paired with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB or 128 GB of storage. We are reviewing the 64 GB model, but apart from the storage size, there is no difference between the two models.
What’s in the box?
To see exactly what’s in the box, check out our unboxing video here† If you’d rather just read it and use your imagination, that’s fine too.
There aren’t too many pieces in the box and, as usual with Oculus, the packaging is high quality. You can easily use the pre-shaped box as a place to store your Quest when not in use. Cleverly, the USB-C charging port on the main headset units is accessible while the Quest rests in its box.
As for the contents of the box, this is what you will find when you slide the lid off:
- The Oculus Quest headset.
- Two Oculus Touch controllers.
- A long USB-C cable for charging and data.
- A spacer for glasses.
- A USB-C charger.
- Two AA batteries for the controllers.
The only immediate problem was the inclusion of a charger that we were unable to plug in. It’s an American style wall wart, despite the Amazon listing for this Quest being referred to as a “UK Import”. Adapters aren’t hard to find or expensive, but most people shouldn’t worry as USB chargers are probably a clutter in any typical home. We picked up a 60W MacBook Pro charger, which worked a treat.
Setting up the Quest was quite easy. Out of the box, our unit was about 50% charged but it’s a good idea to charge it no matter what’s in the tank as your internet connection will affect how long it takes to get everything up and running .
Do yourself a favor and write down or remember your Wi-Fi password, because one of the first things to do after turning on your device and following the start-up instructions is to connect to the internet. Once connected, you’ll either need to create an Oculus account, use your FaceBook account, or log in with an existing Oculus account if you own one of their other headsets.
An important part of any VR headset is certainly how comfortable it is to wear. Results in this department have been mixed when it comes to the Quest. The headset’s design is very similar to other Oculus headsets. Rather than using a halo-style headband like the PSVR and Windows Mixed Reality headsets, it’s a three-band Velcro solution.
Overall, we found the headset bearable in the short to medium term, but it definitely puts a strain on the face. This is compounded by the fact that tightening or loosening the headset is the only way to fine-tune the focal length, as the Quest has no mechanical adjustment to vary the distance from your eye to the lens.
With the right technique, you can get the perfect focus without overdoing the tightness on your face, but it’s a minor quibble if you want to play. Speaking of focus, we didn’t need the spacer even with normal frameless glasses, but adding the spacer can also help increase the focal length. Which can be useful for certain individuals.
Overall comfort levels were acceptable, but it may be worth considering looking at a third-party halo headband modification.
The software library
We just bought $200 worth of software and also tried some of the free demos from the Quest Store. You can see the list of apps along with their prices below.
While there is a variety of great titles on offer, you get the sense that there is limited development attention being paid to the Quest as a platform at this point. Nevertheless, new games, experiences and utility apps are regularly released and highlighted. The store also seems to have special offers on a regular basis. Many popular Oculus Rift PC titles now have Quest versions, and in many cases you get both versions for one price.
The price in the store also seems reasonable to me. The most expensive games we’ve seen cost about $30. About half the price of a premium console game. Whether these games are worth it for the price is up to you. Games like BoxVR or Beatsaber last indefinitely. On the other hand, narrative experiences like Vader Immortal are relatively short. However, thanks to Oculus Link, the Quest now has a much larger selection of titles to play. As long as you have the computer to control it.
The Big Party Trick: Oculus Link
Now we come to one of the big deciding factors in this Oculus Quest review, at least for us. Oculus Link promises to turn the Quest into a Rift, meaning you have access to all Rift and SteamVR titles. That’s a huge library and represents some of the very best visuals VR has to offer.
You do need a moderately powerful gaming PC and a high-quality USB 3 Type A to C cable or a USB 3.1 Type C to C cable. Recently, Oculus has certified USB 2.0 cables, such as the one included for charging, as compatible with Oculus Link.
You can read our full hands-on review of the Link Beta here, but the short version is that during the hours we spent with the feature before writing this review, there were no issues at all. High-end titles like Half Life Alyx worked flawlessly, switching between Oculus Link and Quest mode was as easy as clicking a button, and even SteamVR and Epic Game Store titles easily detected the Quest and its Touch controllers as a Rift.
As far as we could tell, it works just as well as the Rift we’ve used in the past and is even better thanks to improved optics, tracking and screens.
VR Performance and Judgment
Despite the screens being at a lower refresh rate than the Rift, the Quest feels snappy with no issues affecting immersion. The room-scale wireless VR is a revelation, and the Guardian system worked flawlessly in our tests.
Sure, a headset like the Valve Index offers wireless VR with PC graphics and better overall hardware, but the Quest is in a league of its own when it comes to versatility, performance and price. Thanks to Link, this is now the VR headset most people should look at first: one headset to master them all, and the best in class as a standalone system.