This year we had the launch of two amazing 6 DOF all-in-one Virtual Reality headsets: the Oculus Quest and the HTC Vive Focus Plus. These are probably the two best standalone VR devices that are available on the market, and I have the pleasure of having both of them here on my desk.
I think that the time has come to do a comparison of the two devices: I already tried to do a preliminary one some months ago, before getting the devices, but now I can talk basing my judgement on real experience. Are you interested in knowing the pros and the cons of both? Then, follow me!
On a purely technical standpoint, the two headsets are very similar, since they are both based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 reference design.
These are the specs of the Oculus Quest:
- 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 GB
- 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;
- Battery: 3 hours nominal duration;
And these are the ones of the HTC Vive Focus:
- Platform: Snapdragon 835 VR reference design;
- Display resolution: 1,600 × 1,440 per eye
- Display type: OLED
- Refresh-rate: 75 Hz
- FOV: 110° diagonal
- IPD Adjustment: hardware
- RAM: 4 GB
- Storage: 32 GB internal memory; MicroSD™ slot,up to 2TB MicroSD™ external memory
- Tracking: inside-out with 2 cameras
- Mixed Reality: the cameras allow for some kind of black and white passthrough. Developers can access camera stream via dedicated APIs;
- Audio: integrated speakers and microphone. 1 x 3.5mm audio jacks
- Connectivity: USB, Wi-fi, Bluetooth connection. USB has OTG enabled;
- Battery: 3 hours nominal duration.
It is hard to find some technical differences between these headsets: the display is the same, the horsepower is the same, but the Focus+ has a
The only true difference is in storage. Oculus is selling two models: one with 64 GB and the other one with even 128 GB of storage, while HTC is selling the Focus with only 32 GB. But while Oculus has a fixed storage capacity, the Vive Focus can be expanded as you wish by using an SD Card that you can add to a dedicated slot. You can so reach an overall capacity of up to 2 TB.
The Oculus Quest has a very sleek design: it is very elegant, with the black color that is always a classy touch. The cover with fabric makes it look a bit like a cloth that you can wear. The design of everything reminds a bit the one of the Oculus Rift.
The Vive Focus Plus is a bit bulkier and all made with plastic. It has a quite unique shape, with two big plastic lateral wings that go next to the ears of the user. The choice of the white color makes it different from many of the other headsets that are black.
Which one you do prefer is up to you, here it is a matter of taste. I personally find the Quest more elegant and polished and the Focus Plus a bit more like a fun robotic toy.
The Vive Focus Plus is surely bulkier than the Oculus Quest and so it is also heavier on the head. The Quest internal facial mask is also softer than the internal leatherette of the Focus Plus, so it is more comfortable to be worn.
Actually, having tried the Quest for some time, I have to say that it is less comfortable than it seems on a first sight. Both the controllers and the headset are unbalanced. The headset has all the weight on the front part, and wearing it for long periods of time gives the same side effects of all the other headsets (sense of warm and humid on the face, etc…). The Focus Plus, thanks to the lateral plastic wings and the closing knob that tightens the headset to the rear of your head, distributes the weight better. Furthermore, the Focus Plus fits better the shape of my head and stays still, while the Quest seems like it is always moving a bit.
Regarding the controllers, the Oculus Touch of the Rift CV 1
Both headsets can accommodate glasses, both have IPD adjustable via hardware and both of them are very fast to be worn and removed. Maybe the Quest is a bit longer to be set up for one person because you have to move three straps (while on the Focus you have only one knob), but once you have set it up for you, it is easier to wear thanks to the springs included in the headband. You have just to put the headset on your head and in one second you are ready for VR. On the Focus+, you have to adjust the knob every time you wear it, and this
So, pros and cons for every one of them. If I had to pick one, I’d say that the Quest wins because it is lighter, so all its problems are less noticeable.
Both headsets feature great tracking technologies: the Quest using four cameras to track both the headset and the controllers and the Focus+ using two frontal cameras to track the headset and ultrasound sensors to track the controllers. Both of them work and get the job done.
Anyway, Oculus is slightly better here: the tracking of the headset appears more fluid, resistant (because it uses 4 cameras, so it has a bigger field of view) and less prone to drift. I made some tests this summer between the Focus and the Mirage Solo going back and forth in an open space, and I noticed that the tracking of the Focus drifts a bit on the long run. When I returned to the initial point in the virtual world, my position in the real world was slightly different.
With the Quest, instead, this doesn’t happen. Here you are a test that I have made today… and as you can barely see from the video, my final position is the same of my starting position and this means that the headset had almost no drift during all the time.
Regarding the controllers, the tracking is very resistant with both headsets… this is a video that I shot with the controllers of the Focus Plus… and as you can see, the tracking doesn’t get lost easily.
With the Oculus Quest, it is the same. there are some hiccups that happen seldom, but most of the time the tracking is super-reliable. The Quest seems to have a bigger vertical tracking FOV than the Focus+, but it is more prone to optical interferences (e.g. if you play in front of a window when there is the sun)
The true difference is in the jitter: the Oculus Quest controllers have almost no jitter, while the ones of the Focus Plus jitter a bit, especially when they are far from the headset (HTC has told that it is going to solve this issue with an update, though).
Both headsets feature a pentile AMOLED display with 1440×1600 resolution per eye. According to some reviewers, the display may also be the same one made by Samsung. It is a very good screen… the SDE is still visible, but it is less than on Rift or Vive. Colors are very bright. For some obscure reason, I see the SDE a tiny bit less noticeable on the Quest. I don’t know if it is because of a different arrangement of the displays (Upload VR states that on the Quest they are 1600×1440 while on the Focus are 1440×1600), or if it is just an impression, but I wanted you to know this.
The lenses, instead, are different. Both of them feature next-gen lenses (the Focus Plus has not the lenses of the original Vive, but better ones), that reduce a lot the god rays and glares. Both lenses are good, but IMHO the ones of the Quest have
Furthermore, that genius of Carmack has found a way to correct via software the chromatic aberration of the lenses (through what is shown on the display), so while the central part of the vision is great on both devices, on the periphery of the lenses, you have less perceived distortions on Quest. On the Focus Plus, the more you look away from the center, the more you
This win by the Quest is actually counteracted by another mechanism introduced by Oculus: the fixed foveated rendering. To spare computational resources, the peripheral regions of the visuals of the device are shown with worse resolution. This means that, when the device has to optimize aggressively your visuals, if you look there, you see things pixelated like in a Japanese porn movie (I think you got the idea). This has really a weird effect (you see your visuals looking “blocky”) and, in my opinion, wastes all the good job made in correcting the aberration of the lenses: in any way, you have bad visuals in the periphery. The good news is that this doesn’t always happen… you can see it so much only when the device really needs to optimize aggressively.
The overall effect is similar on both
Both headsets feature integrated audio solutions and both of them allow people to attach external headphones. I am not an audio expert, so I can only tell that the integrated audio is good on both devices. Not the best audio ever (with some pro headphones, the quality is better), but good for sure.
The nominal battery time is 3 hours for both headsets. In my tests, it seems that the Quest drains the battery faster, while the Focus has a better management. Anyway, I have not done a perfect comparison between the two running the same app for hours to check its actual use, so take this impression with a grain of salt.
Both headsets are standalone headsets, so require no setup: you turn it on, and they work out of the box.
Anyway, Oculus has done a great job in helping the user in setting up his/her headset. From the first moment you turn the headset on and open the companion app on your phone, to the moment you see your Home Menu, you feel guided in every step. Oculus provides the user photos, videos, tutorials, and all that is needed to teach the user how the headset works and let him/her configure it.
Configuring the Wi-fi is really easy using your smartphone and you don’t have to type the password with an annoying virtual keyboard. Once the configuration is done, you learn how to use the controllers with little games that let you throw paper planes, shoot at things or dance with a robot (that personally, I hate, but I see that many people consider him cute. Maybe I’m just an evil person). This lets the user learn while having fun.
The configuration of the play area is majestic, thanks to the use of the passthrough functionality: you configure your play space by just drawing your area on the floor.
The initial setup of the Quest is fantastic and I think that whatever person that has even just a minimum of technical knowledge can do that. And when you have finished it, you have immediately 5 demos of games that are waiting for you.
I can’t say the same of the Focus+: yes, there is an initial tutorial, but it is very simple. The play area is set automatically as a box around where you were when you turned on the device (and this is usually not useful). You have to configure your Wi-Fi typing on a virtual keyboard. The initial content is very simple and you have to open the store to find something really compelling.
The Quest is a device for consumers and nails the first steps perfectly. The Focus+ is good if you already know how to handle a VR device.
UX and Usability
Regarding the User Experience, the situation is similar to the one of the previous chapter.
The Focus+ aims at “getting the job done”: the initial menu works well, and has improved a lot in the last months. It is also set in an alien environment that is nice. You can buy games on the store using a handy search function, you can launch games from your library, and so on. There are also some nice animations.
The Chaperone system activates when you go out from a 2m x 2m cage that is centered on your initial position and it just shows you a grid. Every time you put the device on your head, it re-initializes its play area. Since I usually don’t start my VR experiences at the center of a 2m cage area, I have immediately disabled this safety mechanism. This means that I risk stumbling on stuff while using it.
To change the settings of the device, you have to enter into a settings menu that is identical to the settings page on an Android phone.
Something that annoys me a bit is the fact that every
Everything is functional, but it seems lacking a bit of polish.
The Quest, instead, is very polished. The experience is very refined in all its aspects.
The User Interface is very nice: it is the same of the Oculus Go. It is simple, but very effective and covers the user in all his needs (even closing the current app is very easy, while is a long process on the Focus+). And if you need some extra settings, you can define them directly into the companion app (even if, someone may argue that having the constant need of using a companion app makes the headset less “standalone”). I still think that the Mirage Solo had the best UX ever, but the Quest has a very good one nonetheless.
The controllers are automatically detected by the device, and so is your play area. Once you enter in a room for which you already have configured the play area, Oculus remembers your settings and you can start playing immediately in full safety (even if, like 30% of the time, it doesn’t recognize the room to me… but this can be solved with a software update). When you go
Oculus has also a very handy streaming mechanism directly to your phone (called Casting… here you are a guide on how to use it) and to Chromecast devices. HTC provides streaming to Miracast
The UX on the Focus+ is good and is improving (I’m seeing its evolutions), but Oculus has still clearly the
Oculus Quest starts with 5 free demos of awesome games like Beat Saber and Creed. Then in the store you may find very popular games like Beat Saber, Robo Recall, Vader Immortal, etc… You can also enjoy popular apps like Bigscreen VR, Netflix, Youtube, etc…
In total, you have 50+ apps, all of the highest quality. Oculus is actuating a very strict content review and will publish for Quest only the best games.
The Focus+ has a completely different approach: it has a very open Viveport ecosystem, with more than 260 titles, 20+ optimized for the Vive Focus Plus (the other ones work with the original Focus as well). The content is much more, but the quality is not always the best. There are great titles and very mediocre titles, all together. You can for sure have fun with it, but you have to search the right games for you. Furthermore, the lack of the popular Beat Saber and of all the various Oculus Exclusives is a huge miss.
It is a bit like Android vs Apple: Android’s Plays Store is more open and cheaper, but the
In general, being Viveport a bit more recent than the Oculus Store, Oculus Store is better. BUT Oculus misses our game “HitMotion: Reloaded”, the mixed reality fitness game that we have developed (with support of HTC) for the Vive Focus Plus. I think that this alone is worth all the games that are offered by Oculus… don’t you agree? 😉
I have used both Vive Wave and Oculus Utilities and I have managed to create content for both Oculus and HTC headsets. In general, I have to say that HTC is a bit behind in the development of its SDK: Oculus one is more polished, better documented and it integrates betters with the game engines. On Unreal Engine, the Wave SDK for the Vive Focus has lots of issues.
In defense of HTC, I can tell that I’m seeing the Wave SDK evolving quite fast and adding lots of features (the latest version adds support for finger tracking and foveated rendering, for instance). But as for today, Oculus one is still better and better integrated with the game engines.
The advantage of Wave is that it is like the SteamVR of mobile headsets: once you have developed your application for the Vive Focus Plus, it works out of the box with all the other headsets powered by Vive Wave, like for instance Pico Neo and Shadow VR. With Oculus, instead, you are developing for only one device.
The last two points are mostly in favor of Oculus. Anyway, for
Oculus is a closed ecosystem, that is betting on super-high-quality games. If you are not able to develop at a high level, you are out. HTC is instead very open (sometimes even too much), and this means that if you are a little indie team, you have an opportunity to create your content and distribute it on Viveport, to start getting some money and visibility, until you climb the ladder and become a better team able to create better content. My team is
On the other side, if your team is already big, Oculus can guarantee you better revenues, since the Quest works on a console model. Beat Saber costs $29.99 on the Quest… as far as I remember, there are not titles with such a high price on Viveport. Beat Games is for sure earning a lot of money on the Oculus Store. And the Quest will probably sell more than the Vive Focus Plus in 2019. So, Quest offers you a bigger market, with the possibility of deciding a higher price and that means more profitability.
Summarizing: if you are a little team, go for the Focus+. If you are already established, the Quest may be the primary choice (and a subsequent port to Focus+ may let you enter the Chinese market).
HTC has a clear business licensing and support since a lot of time: the Vive Pro is the most used headset in arcades not only for its great technical features. Even if is very pricey, it offers companies what they wish.
Oculus is quite new to business licensing: in the beginning there was no business licensing for its headsets, then it added a nonsense one (just a higher price for a “business device”) and now finally it has launched the Oculus For Business program that is really offering what companies want: possibility to configure multiple headsets at once, kiosk mode, dedicated support, dedicated customizations, etc…
So, both of them have now a good business program. Due to the novelty of Oculus’s service, I am actually more reliant on the offering of HTC, that works with companies
The Oculus Quest is like an Apple phone. It offers a lot of cool stuff, but that’s it. On the other side, HTC, being a company focused on technical innovation, offers a more open system.
The Focus+ has been presented as a “Multimodal” device, since it can do things like:
- Connecting it to your PC via Riftcat VRidge or AMD ReLive. This means that you can play your SteamVR games with your Focus Plus. I tried it and it works very well. Actually,
Riftcatis compatible with Oculus Quest as well;
- Connecting it to your smartphone to see your smartphone apps in a big screen in VR (e.g. you can watch Netflix from your phone in this way);
- Connecting it to your console (e.g. Xbox, Switch, PS) to play the games in a semi-immersive way on a big virtual curved screen in front of you;
- Streaming 5G content from the HTC 5G hub (actually this is still experimental since 5G is a rather new technology);
- Direct streaming from Insta360 VR camera.
Most people may not be interested in these features (if you just want to play Beat Saber, you do not need this), but they may be interesting to have anyway (especially the console one… that is cool).
Regarding the SDK, the Vive Focus already lets you perform bare hands tracking with recognition of some gestures. I have used it in some demos of mine.
The fact that there are two front cameras in the same position of the eyes lets the Focus have a working passthrough. The passthrough of the Quest is heavily distorted (even if I really praise Oculus for what has been able to accomplish… with the cameras in that position, it wasn’t easy to obtain a
This means that on the Focus+ it is possible to create working AR and MR apps. I already told you about our mixed reality game… but I actually have also made various other experiments, like this musical app called Beat Reality that lets you see the world around you pumping following the rh
I hope that Oculus will offer similar features in the future: Carmack has already teased the possibility of offering hand tracking if they will manage to optimize it for mobile headsets. And if the passthrough will be undistorted, maybe we will be able to use it also in custom apps.
So, the Focus is more open and offers more features and more hackability. The Quest is closed and offers maybe a bit fewer features… but these ones are all super-polished and work incredibly well.
HTC is Taiwanese and has a strong presence in Mainland China. The Focus+ can be easily bought in China and works flawlessly in the red country.
The Quest is from Facebook, and the Chinese Govt and Facebook are not friends. This means that buying the Quest in China is harder (you have to actually order it from Amazon US and pay a lot for the shipping). Furthermore, the software won’t be able to work properly unless you set up a VPN on your local router and downloading the companion app is a mess.
So, if you are in China, there are more hurdles to use the Quest.
Price and availability
Both headsets are already available on the market. In the West, the Quest is eas
The final price for the Oculus Quest is $399 (€449) for the 64 GB version and $499 (€549) for the 128 GB one. The Vive Focus Plus costs $799. As you can see, there is no competition: for the price of a Focus Plus, you can buy two Quests.
If we sum anyway to the headset the price of content, things may change a bit. The Quest is a console, and as all consoles, it subsidize the hardware with the sales of the software. The high-quality games on the Quest are all pricey and most of them cost more than $20, with the top ones being $30 each.
On the contrary, once you’ve sold a kidney to buy the Focus+, you can pay only a yearly subscription for Viveport Infinity and play all the games that you want per only $114 per year.
This means that if you like to play really a lot of games (and so, again, quantity is more important than quality for you), the Focus has a lower total operating cost. Suppose that you want to buy 3 new games a month… on the
On the long run, paradoxically, the Focus may be cheaper if you want to play a lot of games. Anyway, again, I’m just comparing games as if they were all equal: big hits like Beat Saber and Creed are only on the Quest at the moment. And if you just play free games and one paid game once in a while, the Quest may still be more affordable.
For what concerns the enterprise, the Focus+ is actually cheaper: it still costs $799 (+$150 of Vive Enterprise advantage), while the business edition of the Quest costs $999 (+$180 per year after the first year).
What should you buy?
We are at the end of this long comparison and you may ask yourself: ok, what should I buy now?
My answer is, as always, “it depends”. Are you a consumer or an enterprise? Are you in China or in the US? Do you like to play a lot of games or just a few ones? Do you want to do some MR apps? Are you a developer that wants to publish his/her products on the
The true difference, IMHO, is that the Quest really looks more like a product ready for the mainstream, while the Focus feels still a bit like a devkit that needs some time to become polished.
As a rule of thumb, if you are a consumer in the West, I would advise you to buy the Quest. It is better suited for consumers, it has better games, it is cheaper, it is more polished and it has faster assistance. You buy it and it works flawlessly… and you can play Beat Saber from the first instants. It is not perfect as the hype wanted us to believe, but it is really a great headset, trust me.
If you are an enterprise, instead, the Focus+ may be the better choice: in this case, factors like available games, good UI, polish and such have almost no interest. HTC’s support for enterprise features may be the key, together with better customization, hackability (I like doing crazy stuff with it and its cameras) and the possibility to deploy easily the projects to China. Also, the smaller enterprise price is an incentive, even if businesses don’t care about this that much.
In any case, I think that they are both great headsets, and I love both. Whatever one you will buy, you will like it.
And you? What is your opinion? Which headset do you prefer? Let me know your impressions here in the comments or on my social media channels! And if you need some help in choosing your headset or in implementing VR in your business with them, please contact me 🙂
Disclaimer: this blog contains advertisement and affiliate links to sustain itself. If you click on an affiliate link, I'll be very happy because I'll earn a small commission on your purchase. You can find my boring full disclosure here.