What is the Oculus Quest? Read here description, specs, price and how to preorder it (even from China)!

(Image by Oculus)

Yesterday I detailed you what is the Oculus Rift S, while today I want to write you a recap about what is the Oculus Quest, the most awaited virtual reality headset of 2019. I will briefly go towards its features, specifications, pros and cons, so that you will be able to decide if it is the headset for you.

What Is the Oculus Quest?

Oculus Quest is the first standalone 6 DOF virtual reality headset by Oculus. “Standalone” means that it is an all-in-one headset that doesn’t require you to buy a companion PC or smartphone. 6 DOF means that wearing it on your head, you will be able to move freely in your virtual space and also use your hands in virtual reality.

It is probably the first true consumer-ready virtual reality headset.

What is its difference between the Oculus Quest and the Oculus Go? And with the Oculus Rift?

The Oculus Rift is a device that you attach to your PC, and so exploits all the power of your graphics card. The Quest is an all-in-one headset: you don’t need a PC to use it, and this also means that it is less powerful. The Rift is more for playing graphically-intense games, the Quest more for casual gaming.

Oculus Go (Image by Oculus)

The Oculus Go is a 3 DOF standalone, and this means that while using it, you can only rotate your head and point at objects. With Quest you can also move in space and use your hands in VR. The Go is mostly to watch 360 photos/videos and play simple games, the Quest is a more complete gaming machine.

Who is the device for?

The Oculus Quest is a device for people wanting to buy a headset that is:

  • polished;
  • easy to be installed and used;
  • so easy to put on and start that allows short casual gaming experiences;
  • affordable;
  • convenient to be carried everywhere in a little bag;
  • able to offer the curated content library of the Oculus Store.

It is not for people wanting:

  • The best virtual reality experience ever (in this case, it is better to choose a tethered headset like the Rift S, the Valve Index, etc…);
  • An open ecosystem (the Oculus Quest ecosystem is very similar to the one of consoles);
  • A super-cheap headset just to watch 360 videos (pick a good cardboard, Gear VR, or Oculus Go).

The target of Oculus Quest is the casual gamer that has an attention to innovation. It is not a device for hard gamers (that would prefer tethered headsets) or for the real average consumer (that may still not understand the value of VR). But for the first time, we have a 6 DOF headset that is not for techies only, but can be interesting also for people that do not have a deep technical knowledge and are not in the VR ecosystem.

Person wearing the Oculus Quest (Image by Adi Robertson / The Verge)
What about using Oculus Quest for enterprise?

As I have detailed in this other article, Oculus has just launched a new Oculus For Business program that offers various interesting enterprise offerings: dedicated support, 2 years warranty, kiosk-mode, and some tools to configure and control multiple headsets at once from a simple web panel.

The services offered by the new Oculus For Business program (Image by Oculus)

The Quest can be useful for enterprises looking for a headset that is quite affordable, easy to be moved across departments and that offers a good experience. I think that for training applications, that usually require simplified models, it can be great. Since it can be carried on easily, it can be used also by commercial agents or freelance professionals to go to the customers and showcase their VR portfolios. Architects also would find this amazing, to let people navigate inside the simplified model of a house before having it approved by the client. Then it could be cool also for psychologists and for rehabilitation (someone already asked me about the possible therapeutic uses of HitMotion: Reloaded, the game that we made for the other 6 DOF standalone headset, the Vive Focus Plus).

It is instead not the right choice for businesses looking for a headset offering great visuals: all the design of a product (e.g. a car, or a yacht), IMHO, should be made with a high-quality high-resolution tethered headset, like Varjo or the Vive Pro. It is not even suited for training scenarios where the user should feel exactly as in reality. Architects that wants to show a realistic model of a house, with perfect lighting will have the same problem. In any case where the visuals are fundamental, this is not the right headset for your business. If your application has to do some complicated stuff (e.g. some AI, CV or data-analysis algorithm that must run locally), then you should go for a tethered headset as well.

(And by the way, if you need my help in integrating VR in your business, just get in touch with me)

Oculus Quest specs
  • Platform: Snapdragon 835 VR reference design;
  • Display resolution: 1,600 × 1,440 per eye
  • Display type: OLED
  • Refresh-rate: 72 Hz
  • FOV: more or less like Rift CV 1 (circa 100° diagonal)
  • IPD Adjustment: hardware
  • RAM: 4 FB
  • Storage: 64 GB / 128 GB (depending on the version that you buy)
  • Tracking: inside-out with 4 cameras
  • Mixed Reality: the cameras allow for some kind of black and white passthrough
  • Audio: integrated speakers and microphone. 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks
  • Connectivity: USB, Wi-fi, bluetooth connection. USB should have OTG enabled.
Oculus Quest and controllers (Image by Oculus)
Visuals

Oculus Quest features very great visuals:

  • The compound 3,200 x 1,440 resolution is an improvement above Rift CV1 and Rift S;
  • OLED make colors crystal clear;
  • Lenses are next-gen Fresnels with a good sweet-spot and reduced god-rays (but some are still present).

The downsides are:

  • The framerate is quite low: only 72Hz. Most people won’t notice that, though… it will affect only very sensible people;
  • To spare computational power, the headset uses the so-called fixed foveated rendering... that is the experience will run at full resolution only in the center of the screen, while the more you will go towards the edges, the more it will become blurred. According to Upload VR, this kind of blurring is noticeable in some games and may ruin a bit the magic of the experience.

The overall impression is that the visuals provided by the Quest are highly satisfactory.

Comfort
Comparison between the fitting headband of the Quest (left) and Rift (right). (Image by Road To VR)

The Quest is a very comfortable device. People claim having used it for 2-hours sessions without issues. It is a bit heavier than the Rift, weighing 571g against the 470g of the previous flagship headset, but this is hardly noticeable when you wear it.

You can fit the headset in a way very similar to the Oculus Rift CV1: there is a rubber band that goes around your head, with three straps (two on the sides and one on the top) that you can regulate to make it fit it to your head. While I don’t love this solution because I find regulating three straps unintuitive for newbies, it is easy to be used and also very effective to make the headset suit well on all types of heads. The overall fitting solution is a slight upgrade over the one for the CV1 and the fact that there are no more headphones means that wearing it, especially for people with long hair, is easier.

When I was a wizard with long beard and hair, my hair often stuck in the joint of the headphone of my Rift CV1. This won’t happen with Quest… also because I cut my hair!

There is hardware IPD adjustment: every person with an IPD between 56mm and 74mm should feel fine inside it.

Controllers

The controllers of the Quest are very ergonomic and feature a thumbstick, two buttons, two triggers and a system menu for each controller.

They are slightly different from the ones of the Oculus Rift CV1. The biggest difference is that now they have an upwards ring and not a downwards one, since it has to be seen from the inside-out tracking system. Also, the ergonomics are slightly different and the buttons have a different arrangement.

The good news is that now the controllers have a better grip on the hand of the user. The bad news is that they are a bit less comfortable than the ones of the CV1 and sometimes when playing some fast game, it is easier to press accidentally the system buttons or to slide the battery compartment.

Comparison between Oculus Touch for Quest (left) and for Rift CV1 (right). The old ones were a bit better (Image by TESTED)
Tracking

The tracking of the Oculus Quest, called “Insight”, is pretty solid, both for what concerns the position of the headsets and the controllers.

The positional tracking of the headset is computed thanks to the 4 cameras that are installed at the four corners of the faceplate of the device. They work using visible light, so the so-called room-scale can’t work in a dark room. The tracking is stable and precise and it is really hard to make it lose tracking: usually, it happens only in very special conditions (e.g. if you try to make it work outdoor when it’s sunny).

The four cameras performing the tracking (Image by Techcrunch)

For what concerns the controllers, the tracking works very well, too. We were afraid about this point, but Oculus did a great job. The tracking system is comparable to the one running on PC headsets, like the Oculus Rift, unless:

  • There is some IR interference (e.g. direct sunlight);
  • You put your hands too close to the headset. This may not seem a big deal, but in a boxing game like Creed, where you have to defend yourself putting your hands in front of your face, this can be an issue;
  • You put your hands behind your head. For some instants, the system will try to infer the position of the controllers, but then, if they don’t come back in front of you, the tracking will be lost.

The last two points show how games for the Quest should be designed to take this in count and avoid hand poses that may ruin the experience to the user.

Upload VR gives us an idea about the stability of the tracking: in two hours of play, Jamie Feltham had 5 or 6 glitches in the controllers tracking. I think that this is a very satisfying result.

Just a final note: controllers gets tracked using IR light and so the tracking can work in the dark. So, if you use the Quest in a dark room, it reverts to an Oculus Go with two 6 DOF controllers 🙂

Oculus Quest insight tracking extracts some notable features from the environment and use them to track the position of the headset (Image by Oculus)
Sound

There is an integrated microphone to let you speak in VR applications.

The headband contains two integrated speakers that emit sounds towards the ears of the user. These speakers work quite well and are probably the best among the ones of Quest’s siblings: Oculus Go and Rift S are reported to have worse audio solutions. Anyway, the quality of the audio is not supreme and especially bass frequences get suppressed.

For a better audio experience, you can attach your own stereo headphones to the device exploiting one of the two 3.5mm jacks that are on the side of the Quest. Oculus is reported to be releasing a dedicated audio accessory for audiophiles later on this year.

Passthrough

The four cameras allow for some kind of black and white passthrough, but it is not clear and neat as the one of the Rift S, but it is actually a bit distorted. German VR publication MIXED explains this pretty well.

This is because the four cameras are not in the position of the eyes and so it is hard to create an undistorted stereo image from the eyes’ position. And for this reason, passthrough is currently used only in the few instants of the Guardian setup and when you are putting your headset on (so you can find your controllers). It is also possible to trigger it, but it requires some hoops in the menu (there is no shortcut to call it).

At this moment, I don’t see it usable to do some kind of mixed reality applications. Maybe in the future, when it will be undistorted.

Setup

Setting the Oculus Quest up is a true pleasure. First of all, you use the companion app to update the firmware of the device and connect it to the Wi-Fi. Then you put it on and in augmented reality you configure your play area. After this, you are ready to play! As you can see: no cameras to install, no strange settings to configure… nothing. As I have said, this is the first headset truly for consumers and for this reason the setup is doable by anyone.

Guardian System

I particularly love how you configure your play area using the passthrough: you see your surroundings and just draw the area inside which you are safe to play on your floor and you’re done. Look at this video that shows the process for the Rift S (it is almost the same for Quest). I love everything of it.

Once you have defined your play area once, the system will remember it every time you will enter the same room. The system can record up to 5 room and their related play areas. From early reviews, it seems that this system doesn’t work marvelously and may happen that the Quest won’t recognize the saved rooms when you enter them again.

When you will be in the Quest, the Guardian system will always be active and will protect your safety. Once you will go out your safe area, the passthrough will be shown, so that you can see onto which objects you are stumbling. This is very cool, but I’m afraid it may also make you lose the sense of immersion… if while playing, you keep seeing the real world every time you go out the play area for some reasons, this is frustrating. Anyway, Guardian can also be disabled.

Computational power

The Oculus Quest is a mobile headset based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. Its computational power is good, but absolutely not comparable with the one of a PC headset.

Because of this, the games that run on the Quest have mobile-level graphics. If you compare them with the PC versions of the same games, well, you will really feel the difference (less lighting, approximated shadows, worse textures, simplified models, etc…).

Difference in graphics between Oculus Quest (left) and Oculus Rift (right) for creed. The lighting effects on Rift are much better and everything appears more realistic (Image by Upload VR)

It is possible to have great games on this headset, but forget the stunning graphics that you have seen on The Climb on PC.

Battery

Oculus has said that the battery charge is enough for 2-3 hours of playing, depending on the content that you are enjoying. If you want to play more, you should use a battery pack.

Games
Beat Saber is the most awaited title for the Quest (Image by Oculus)

Facebook will treat Oculus Quest like a console and so will publish there only high-quality curated content. So, forget here the 1000+ crappy titles available at launch for the Oculus Go.

This is the list of the 50+ experiences (mostly games) that according to UploadVR will launch together with Oculus Quest on May, 21st.

1. Angry Birds VR: Isle of Pigs, Resolution Games
2. Apex Construct, Fast Travel Games
3. Apollo 11, Immersive VR Education
4. Bait!, Resolution Games
5. Ballista, High Voltage Software
6. Beat Saber, Beat Games
7. Bigscreen Beta, Bigscreen VR
8. Bogo, Oculus
9. Bonfire, Baobab
10. Box VR, Fit XR
11. Creed, Survios
12. Dance Central, Harmonix
13. Dead and Buried 2, Oculus Studios
14. Drop Dead: Duel Strike, Pixel Toys
15. Electronauts, Survios
16. Epic Roller Coasters, B4T Games
17. Face Your Fears 2, Turtle Rock Studios
18. First Contact, Oculus
19. Fruit Ninja VR, Halfbrick
20. Guided Tai Chi, Cubicle Ninjas
21. I Expect You To Die, Schell Games
22. Job Simulator, Owlchemy Labs,
23. Journey of the Gods, Turtle Rock Studios
24. Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes, Steel Crate Games
25. Moss, Polyarc
26. National Geographic VR Explore, Force Field VR
27. Nature Treks, Greener Games
28. Ocean Rift, Dr. Llyr Ap Cenydd
29. Oculus Browser, Oculus
30. Oculus Gallery, Oculus
31. Oculus TV, Oculus
32. Oculus Video, Oculus
33. Orbus VR, Orbus Online
34. PokerStars VR, LuckyVR
35. Racket Fury: Table Tennis, Pixel Edge Games
36. Rec Room, Against Gravity
37. Robo Recall, Drifter Entertainment
38. RUSH, Binary Mill
39. Shadow Point, Coatsink
40. Skybox VR Video Player, Source Technology Inc
41. Space Pirate Trainer, I-Illusions
42. Sports Scramble, Armature Studios
43. SUPERHOT VR, SUPERHOT Team
44. The Exorcist: Legion VR, Developer Wolf & Wood, Publisher Fun Train
45. Thumper, Drool
46. Tilt Brush, Google
47. Ultrawings, Bit Planet Games
48. Vader Immortal, ILMxLab
49. Virtual Desktop, Virtual Desktop, Inc.
50. Virtual Virtual Reality, Tender Claws
51. VR Karts, Viewpoint Games
52. VRChat, VRChat
53. Wander, Parkline Interactive

Other titles, like Vacation Simulator, will come in the upcoming months.

When you will buy the headset, you will have installed the free demos of:

  • Beat Saber
  • Journey of The Gods
  • Space Pirate Trainer
  • Creed: Rise to Glory
  • Sports Scramble.

Notice that these will be demos and not free games: for Beat Saber, for instance, you will have two songs for free. This will let you have a taste of how is gaming on the Quest.

Playing with the Quest is fun (Image by Oculus)
Price and availability

The Oculus Quest is available for preorders on Oculus website and on the website of selected partners (like Amazon and Best Buy). The shipping will start from May, 21st 2019. The final price is $399 (€449) for the 64 GB version and $499 (€549) for the 128 GB one.

How to preorder Oculus Quest from China

Oculus doesn’t ship to China, so the suggestion of Chinese magazine Yivian is to order it from Amazon US indeed (64 GB version or 128 GB one) and specify a Chinese address. Buying on US Amazon requires payment of product taxes, postage, and tariffs, so the total cost may increase by around $100. Orders will be shipped starting from May 21st, but it may take more time to reach China.

Is it worth the price?

Yes. This is a high-quality headset, with great curated content. Probably it will be the headset of the year, so you can’t miss it.


And that’s it for today! If you still want to read more about the Quest, you can read this thorough post of mine on the headset, read the beautiful review of Ben Lang on Road To VR, the incredibly in-depth review by Oscar Garcia on Real Or Virtual (in Spanish) or watch this video review by TESTED.

And now, let’s all buy the Quest!

(Header image by Oculus)

Skarredghost: @Skarredghost AR/VR developer, startupper, zombie killer. Sometimes I pretend I can blog, but actually I've no idea what I'm doing. I tried to change the world with my startup Immotionar, offering super-awesome full body virtual reality, but now the dream is over. But I'm not giving up: I've started an AR/VR agency called New Technology Walkers with which help you in realizing your XR dreams with our consultancies (Contact us if you need a project done!)
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