The Verdict for the Oculus Quest
This May of 2019, the Oculus Quest codenamed Project Sta. Cruz was finally released to the public. The headset was touted as the wireless version of the Oculus Rift although with a lot of difference in operation, performance and delivered quality. Over the span of more than a month, the VR using public perused, tested and ran the headset through it's paces to see if it indeed was able to deliver and how far it could go.
Surprisingly, the Oculus Quest performed quite well to the delight of the VR game playing crowd. Despite it's no being able to match up to the tethered high-end HMD's, it had it's own advantages which made up for it's lack of performance power it's big brothers had. So, in order to come up with at least an acceptable verdict on the Oculus Quest, let's take a quick look once again at it's basics and how it measured up since the time it was released.
Just for a quick review, as mentioned in the preceding articles on the Quest, the unit can either have a memory storage size of either 64 or 128 GB. The 64GB version will cost around 400 USD while the 128GB version would be around 500 USD. Most users would go for the 64GB version as it is cheaper and more than enough for running the VR games they love and want to play. For those users who would like or need to store a lot more data and apps, that's where the 128GB version comes in.
The unit has four sensor cameras up-front on the faceplate (one per edge). It's got a USB-C port at the right and a Power Button at the left. Also, it's got two optional 3.5mm headphone jacks at each side. Underneath the HMD, you've got the lens distance slider and the volume control both within easy reach. The face rest (that which you stick to your face) is very comfortable and there is a face sensor that activates the headset automatically when it senses your face. The Velcro straps are easy as well to adjust.
There was one issue though that crept up for a lot of users. The weight. The front of the headset is noticeably heavy since it does contain all the components needed in order to operate. This may need a special strap with some counterbalance at the back to remedy it and users are clamoring for Oculus to address the issue.
As for the processor, the Quest still uses the old Qualcom SnapDragon 835. This chip is being run at a higher clock-rate so the quest has an internal fan to dissipate the heat created by it. Also, using the older Q835 lowers the manufacturing cost and the resulting price of the HMD. The Quest has a refresh rate of only 72 Hz but compared to the higher 90 Hz refresh rate, the effect is quite negligible and even unnoticeable. OLED display resolution which is at 1440 x 1600 which is higher than the original Rift is however very noticeable. The contrast is stronger but a glaring blurring effect can be noticed in scenes that depict brighter light.
The main advantage of the Quest however is in it's employment of it's integrated Insight Tracking and Guardian system which removes the need of external tracking sources. The Guardian and tracking system works satisfactorily well although some minor issues when it comes to calibration have been observed particularly when saving multiple data maps for the play area. It is also recommended that the Quest should only be used in a well lighted indoor environments since too much light from the Sun or too dark an environment may damage and render useless the tracking cameras respectively.
Quest was launched with around 50 available apps on it's own specific Quest store and will need more apps to be developed or ported over. With this, Oculus is currently encouraging and working hand-in-hand with more third party developers to meet the content needs.
Compared with the high end HMDs particularly the HTC Vive, the Quest cannot be expected to deliver the same kind of graphic fidelity and performance that the tethered behemoths do. The Quest only uses a mobile processor that cannot compete with the i-series Intel processors and the powerful GPU chipsets. In terms of enjoying the game play however, as long as the app ports have been done well, the results are quite the same.
Controller wise, the duo controllers work pretty well provided they are within tracking range of the HMD's face plate scanners. The speakers work well as the positional sounds are piped through the straps and can be heard by those close by. However, the two optional audio ports come in handy when one wishes some privacy when listening. Also, a built-in mike can come in handy and the sound quality of recorded audio is good as well. Average battery life is around 2 hrs and likewise for the charging time. This is the only time when the Quest becomes a tethered headset though charging and using at the same time is NOT recommended.
As for the verdict, the Oculus Quest is a significant breakthrough and advancement in the world of VR gaming. It can deliver a high quality performance (although not at par with the tethered high-end headsets) that is actually good enough for VR game play. It's playability and user interface though can provide an awesome VR experience especially to those who are new to the world of VR. It's main advantage is in it's wireless portability and using it is akin to using a Rift with no wires and that you can take it anywhere with you to use in a suitable environment. The headset may still have a few minor issues to iron-out but overall it did pretty well.
Wireless VR headsets are the future of VR and in time, compact mobile processors will be developed that can match the power and performance of today's CPU and GPU power chips. The Oculus Quest might as well be just the tip of the iceberg and by the time we get to the time of Ready Player One, who knows what kind of wonders wireless VR headsets would be able to deliver.
Till then, let's enjoy the Oculus Quest.