These days we have had various leaks about a new upcoming Oculus Quest, with also renders and photos shared by the famous leaker Walking Cat. Let me summarize what we have learned until now, and also let me tell you a crazy speculation of mine about the new Quest possibly being also the new Go.
Oculus is going to release a new Oculus Quest
Various rumors and leaks in the past weeks hinted to an upcoming release of a new Oculus Quest headset. Bloomberg reported that Oculus was working on a new Quest with 90Hz display, with better resolution and improved ergonomics, Chinese magazine Yivian stated that Goertek was going to increase its annual production of VR headsets because of the manufacturing of a new Oculus Quest, and Japanese publication Nikkei announced that a new Quest was going in production at the end of this month.
While all hints were making us dreaming about a new Quest, the famous leaker Walking Cat (that already predicted the Samsung Odyssey and the HP Reverb G2), posted a render of a new headset, very similar to Quest, but white. And some days after, a redditor called Calltheplumber shared some real photos of some pre-production devices of the same headset. I think that at this point we have enough material to be sure that a new Quest is coming. But how is it? Well, let’s examine the photos…
(Just a little caveat before going on with this post: the article is based on various leaks that are still UNCONFIRMED. And even if the photos were authentic, Facebook could still decide to tweak the design before the actual launch, so take everything that is written here with a grain of salt)
A new look
The new Quest (from now on, I’ll call it the Quest S) has more or less the same design of the original Quest (the Quest 1, from now on), but it has a completely different color. It is all white, or better, light gray. The color black remains only on the internal facemask and on the top pad of the controllers, for a dual-color design that personally I don’t like at all. IMHO, the all-black design was far more elegant.
The elegance of the new headset is also inferior to the one of the Quest 1 because of the use of only plastic for its shell. The Quest 1 was covered in fabric, following the spirit of the Daydream headsets (RIP) that says that fabric make headsets feel more like a piece of clothing than a tech gadget, and so we wear it with more pleasure. The Quest S is all made in plastic and seems less cool and elegant overall. This poor design is also confirmed by the rear strap, about which I will talk quite soon.
Seeing it close to the controllers in the renders, I have the impression that it can also be a bit smaller than the Quest 1.
The comfort enigma
The biggest complaint on the Oculus Quest has always been about comfort: the headset is too front-heavy, and so it results very uncomfortable because it applies too much pressure on the face. Some tweaks and gadgets can help in solving it (like using the Vive DAS, or Rebuff Reality’s power bank), but the plain vanilla Quest is very uncomfortable. And it is also pretty weird to fit on other people, with the three-straps design that is much worse than the most modern approaches using a knob in the rear.
For this reason, I was expecting from a new Quest a design that could put more weight on the back of the device, plus a fitting knob. If a company like Pico has been able to offer it in its recent Pico Neo 2, for sure an enormous unicorn like Facebook can do that. But as always, Facebook has decided to surprise me.
With a choice that looks quite absurd to me, the new Quest has a fitting mechanism that looks like an improvement of the fitting mechanism of the Oculus Go. The rubberband of the Quest 1 has disappeared and it has been substituted by two elastic bands, one that goes on the top of the head and that can be fit using some velcro, and another one that goes around your head and can be tightened using something similar to one of those sliders using to fit the backpacks to your shoulders. At least it has only two points to adjust and no more three ones like in the original Quest… it should be a bit simpler.
The first reaction when I looked at it was thinking that the designer was drunk that day. I mean, we were all expecting a heavier back of the headset and instead we now find an even lighter one, that has a fitting mechanism that looks quite cheap. Since Oculus doesn’t take its decisions lightly, for sure there is a reason for this horrible fitting solution, and I thought about these ones:
- They wanted the Quest S to be comfortable while you are lying in the bed: John Carmack agreed with me on Twitter that the fitting mechanism of the Go was quite bad, but he also said that since it was all made in elastic bands, it was very comfortable if you had to lie on a bed with your VR headset on to binge on Netflix. If Oculus has in mind this use, the final strap made this way could come out handy (I’ll return on this point on my speculation about the Go 2);
- Oculus wants to keep the prices low, and so if it is adding some better components in this new Quest (e.g. the display), it has to lower the price of other parts of the device, and this cheap band can be one part where they are saving money;
- The headset has been made significantly lighter and smaller thanks to the removal of some features (e.g. mechanical IPD), some materials (fabric), and the use of new electronic technology, so it is not necessary to add some weight to the back to have a balanced headset. A cheap fitting solution may be enough.
These ones, or the designer was drunk, you choose.
An IPD slider is absent from all the renders, and this makes us think that there is no mechanical IPD adjustment. This is usually ok for most people, especially if this headset mounts new lenses with a big eye box, but people with eyes that are too close or far away may have some comfort issues. IPD sliders may be tricky to implement, and removing them means reducing the price and also the weight of the overall headset.
A new more recent photo showing the interior of the device shows what looks like a switch between the two lenses, with a number 2 on it. It is not clear if the 2 is part of the headset or just a label on the photo, but applying an AI-powered zooming algorithm to the photo, it seems clearer that it is in fact a slider with a 2 on it.
Upload VR’s journalist Ian Hamilton has hypothesized that it could be a switch to select between just two presets of IPD or eye-relief. In the first case, it could improve the comfort of all users by accomodating more diverse IPDs, while in the second case, it could help in giving a bit more FOV to the headset, but this seems a bit more improbable to me. So it could be that we have some sort of mechanical IPD adjustment also in the Quest 2.
The 4 tracking cameras are confirmed, but their setup is slightly changed, with the two upper ones that are more oriented outwards, towards the sides of the device. This seems a move to improve the tracking FOV of the controllers when they are on the side of the head, e.g. to shoot with bow and arrow.
Buttons on the headset
It is possible to see from the renders the volume buttons on the bottom of the device, exactly as in the Quest 1, plus the turn-on button on its right, that is a bit bigger than the one of the Quest 1.
From the renders it is possible to see that more or less there will be similar features on the audio side to the ones of the Oculus Quest 1:
- There are integrated speakers on the headband;
- There is a 3.5mm jack on the left side of the device. The dual-jacks design of the Quest 1 has been abandoned, also because, let’s be honest, no one was using it. Having only one jack means a lighter and cheaper headset;
- There are two microphones on the bottom, and this could help in increasing even more the audio quality of the Quest device.
The visuals of the Quest S are a bit a mystery since they can’t be understood from some pictures. We can just see from them that the lenses look very similar to the ones of the Quest. As spotted by Upload VR, actually the shape of the lenses may look a bit different, but it is not clear if it is because of a real difference, or because there is a bigger rubber part to remove the light leak of the nose. Personally, I would be quite surprised if there would be a new technology of the lenses for a Quest S, but it is not a remote possibility.
The screen is not visible, but it is not strange to imagine an increase in resolution, considering that now display panels are cheaper than when the Quest 1 has been manufactured. If I had to bet, I would pick a LED panel, that is able to give a bigger fill factor and a cheaper price. Regarding the resolution, considering the rumors by Bloomberg and the fact that her majesty John Carmack told that even the original Quest could have run at 90Hz, I think we can imagine 90Hz as at an almost certain datum.
Overall, I expect a higher refresh rate and a bigger fill-factor from this Quest S.
No info about the processing power of this baby, but if I had to bet, I would put 5€ on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 1€ on an 855. If there are more pixels to display, the new Quest S needs a bit more processing power, and an 845 Snapdragon may be the right fit since it would cost more or less like the 835 when the Quest 1 was designed. This would guarantee more horsepower for a cheap price to the new device.
I expect Wi-fi, Bluetooth, USB-C. The USB-C port is clearly visible in the renders on the left side of the device, together with the 3.5mm jack.
I don’t expect 5G connectivity, because Qualcomm told me that I should expect 5G headsets only in 2021.
The controllers look like the ones of the Oculus Rift CV1: they are round and have an area where the thumb can rest, exactly as in the first consumer Rift device. The only difference with the glorious CV1 controllers is the white color, the handle (that looks like the one of the controllers of the Quest 1), and the fact that the tracking ring goes upwards to be seen by the tracking cameras of the headset.
I personally love this choice of returning back to CV1, considering that the first Touch controllers are still my favorite controllers: they were very balanced and also indestructible, having been made by fused NOKIA 3310. I hope the new controllers will be as cool as the first ones.
In the past months, we had some speculations about some “Jedi” controllers upcoming for a new Oculus “Del Mar” standalone headset. If this device is the Del Mar, the Jedi controllers, that we imagined as something overly cool, may just be a little refresh of the previous ones. According to Upload VR, the new controllers should feature anyway some slight improvements, that is “a higher rate infrared LED pulsing mode that could relate to better tracking, a new accelerator & gyroscope, some form of analog finger sensing, and a haptics thread not present on Touch v2”.
I am very curious about the finger sensing… from the pictures, the new device doesn’t look like something implementing fingers tracking, but I may be wrong. I’m also dreaming about a hybrid tracking mode with the hands-tracking algorithm helping the Touch in reconstructing the pose of all the five fingers, but maybe I am dreaming a bit too much.
Price and availability
According to WalkingCat, the device will be revealed on September, 15th. Since usually Oculus Connect happens in September, we can speculate that 15th could be the first day of the digital Oculus Connect 7. Oculus could choose to launch the device together with its presentation, or wait for a 2021 release date, maybe during F8. Rumors say that the sales should start in 2021, but it is also true that after this news, many people are now waiting before buying a Quest, so Oculus may want to start selling the device immediately to fight the so-called Osborne Effect.
We don’t know anything about the price, but I would speculate something in the same order of magnitude of the Quest 1. At that point, Oculus could choose to lower the price of the Quest 1 to like $299 to favor its adoption, while keeping the Quest S at $399, or it could remove the Quest 1 from the market and keep only the Quest S at $399. It will depend on some business predictions that people at Facebook are doing.
Is this a Quest 2?
According to WalkingCat, this device is referred internally as the “Quest 2”, but it is not clear if it is its official name or an internal nickname.
Whatever the official naming will be, no, it is not a Quest 2. This looks very much like a side-step from the original Quest. Many features look similar to the one of the Quest 1, some are copied from other devices (like the controllers taken from the Rift CV1 or the head strap that takes inspiration from the Go), and this is a sign of a refresh made with limited budget more than like a new iteration that requires a complete redesign of the headset. I don’t see features that I would see as mandatory in a new Quest 2, like eye tracking, or wide-lenses for a wide FOV, or microdisplays, or controllers that track reliably all the five fingers and let you open your hands like the Knuckles. This is more a Quest S, or a Quest 1.5… a refresh of the Quest to improve some of its common pain points, like it being too heavy on the front, or its screen-door-effect, or the controllers being unbalanced.
Oculus is a company that wants to bring VR to the masses, and this looks like a headset carefully designed to keep the price low: look at the cheap fitting mechanism… a new innovative Quest 2 would never feature that horrible thing. Facebook doesn’t want to be innovative, it wants to put 1 billion people in virtual reality. Remember what Oculus’s Jason Rubin told to Upload some months ago:
There are amazing things we could do for $2000 right now. I will tell you that. We would blow you away for $2000. You would leave the show and write a awesome article about what we could do for $2000. For ten grand, we would change your life — and exactly a thousand people would buy it. And so like there’s this interplay between the price point and what we can deliver rationally into an audience big enough to give developers an ecosystem. That we’re very cognizant of.Jason Rubin
Low prices and a coherent ecosystem, this is what Oculus is looking for, and the Quest S is a great step in this sense.
Is this a Go 2?
It’s time for me to tell you a speculation of mine that probably is complete bullsh*t, but I want to tell you anyway: this device can also be the new Oculus Go. I mean, I imagine it as also being the new 6DOF headset for media consumption in VR.
What has triggered this reasoning is that there are many features of this device that seems inspired by the Go, like the 3.5mm jack and the USB port that are one next to the other, the absence of IPD adjustment, or the rear strap, or the color. And especially the last two are what makes me fantasize.
As I have told you, the rear strap made in fabric seems made this way so that to let people lay down comfortably with a Quest S on. And this would have only one useful purpose: enjoy videos. And the Oculus Go was made exactly as a media consumption device, while the Quest should have been the gaming device. With the discontinuation of the Go, the burden of letting people enjoy videos goes on the Quest, that so should let people watch videos comfortably wherever they want. And if people don’t like the terrible strap with elastic bands, well, probably there could be an aftermarket accessory that is more comfortable.
The other reason is color. The color of the Quest S looks a lot like the color of the Oculus Go, just a bit lighter. For sure Oculus wants to make the new Quest noticeably different from the previous one, but why change it so much? The Rift CV1 and the Rift S share the same color, after all. Yes, in this case, the two designs are very similar, but a dark grey color or a black color with a colored line would be enough to differentiate the two. Colors are never chosen by chance from companies: no one would make a VR headset pink, unless it would be a product aimed at teenage girls. If Oculus decides to make the Quest S with a color similar to the one of the Go, there might be a reason.
The reason may be that this device can work in a hybrid mode, as suggested some months ago by the journalist David Heaney (that is closer to Oculus than me): you could buy this headset without controllers (and control it with hands tracking) as a media viewer headset for maybe $249, or you could buy it with controllers for gaming for $399. This way, Oculus could offer a fully-working 6DOF headset, useful for consumers and companies, for a price below the magic number of $299, favoring the adoption of virtual reality. This would be great because the Go and the Quest would become the same line of product, with the users just deciding if they want controllers or not. Of course, once bought a headset for $249, the player could decide to upgrade his/her experience by buying the controllers as a separate add-on. $249 could be the right number to make Zuck go towards the billion people in VR.
The launch could happen at OC7 together with the launch of Facebook Horizon, the new metaverse by Facebook, that could work also with just the headset and hands tracking, reducing the friction to enter in it. The new cheaper Go could so also favor the new social space by Facebook, making more people buy the headset to enter in it.
I’m not saying that this is going to happen, it is quite a bizarre idea of mine just based on a color, but I seriously think it is a possibility: the cheaper design of the new headset made some people think about a Quest Lite, and the differences between a Quest Lite and a Go 2 are almost inexistent.
And that’s it for my speculations… what do you think about the new upcoming Oculus Quest? Do you have some questions about it? Do you have some speculations of your own? Let me know everything in my comment section, or contacting me on my social media channels!
(Header image by WalkingCat)
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