Free yourself of cables and smartphones with the new Oculus Go VR headset.
Once I got it up and running on my Wi-Fi the brand new Oculus Go was a real surprise. Every new VR headset from the big companies takes us a small step closer to enjoying the true possibilities of VR but I have become a bit jaded by the slow progress. Each baby step forwards a new device takes feels so small and iterative it leaves me feeling like I am wading through mud to get to the future of VR. The Oculus Go, however, took a solid and pleasing stride ahead of the rest, not a jump or a leap but enough to make a real difference in how we access and consume VR.Every new VR headset from the big companies takes us a small step closer to enjoying the true possibilities of VR but I have become a bit jaded by the slow progress Click To Tweet The Oculus go takes a solid and pleasing stride ahead of the rest, not a jump or a leap but enough to make a real difference in how we access and consume VR Click To Tweet
That step is VR that is independent from cables or mobile phones. For a couple of years now we have been waiting for the latest phone with the latest VR tech onboard, paying a fortune then plugging it into unimpressive headsets while it overheats and crashes or tethering ourselves to PC towers or more recently backpack computers. You do need a phone with Bluetooth to set up the Go but after you have created your account and connected it to your Wi-Fi you are free and the Go becomes something we have not seen before, an affordable, standalone device for enjoying VR whenever and wherever you want.You need a phone with Bluetooth to set up the Oculus Go but after you connect it to your Wi-Fi, you are free and it becomes an affordable, standalone device for enjoying VR whenever and wherever you want Click To Tweet
Don’t get too excited, the Go has a bunch of limitations but the liberation of an independent VR device is the true achievement here. Oculus has basically built a stripped-down mobile phone into the Go and the specs are very last year. The 5.5-inch screen is 2560 x 1440 resolution (1280 by 1440 per eye). It uses a 2016 Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and comes in two flavours, a $199 base model with 32GB of onboard storage and a $249 64GB version. Clearly keeping it affordable was the goal here and considering you don’t need the latest and greatest $1k phone to use it the prices look very good indeed.The Go has a bunch of limitations but the liberation of an independent VR device is the true achievement here Click To Tweet
In use, the screen is as good as most consumer VR devices out there but good content always helps you forget about the pixels and sucks you into the experience so I try to judge the content, not the screen. Motion is OK, with a refresh rate of 60Hz it is a little juddery but generally fine and I only felt a twinge of nausea when first getting used to the Go. The environments feel nice and solid around you and the simple hand controller was very effective and runs on a single AA battery so is easy to power. Charging the headset battery is also easy via any micro USB cable and is quite quick. To keep the weight down Oculus limited the battery to a stated 3 hours of charge, I got a bit less than that in real-world use but I’m never in VR for more than an hour or two anyway.To keep the weight down Oculus limited the battery to a stated 3 hours of charge, I got a bit less than that in real-world use but I’m never in VR for more than an hour or two anyway Click To Tweet
Sound is another feature worth discussing, as – a bit like the Microsoft Hololens – the Go has built-in speakers that direct sound into your ears without the need for headphones. Oculus claim you get spatial sound and I did identify some instances where the sounds around me worked very well with the environment, making me turn to find the source but generally the freedom from headphones was the best part of this system. Those around you in quiet rooms will hear a bit of bleed but it is nothing bad and if you want to go old school the Go does have a 3.5mm headphone jack so you can be more private if you wish.The Oculus Go speakers direct sound into your ears without the need for headphones Click To Tweet
In use I found the Go to be very comfortable if a little heavy. After a couple of hours, my neck did feel it but it is really no worse than something like the Samsung Gear VR with an S9 in it. I used the included glasses spacer and found the new lenses Oculus boast about to be adequate but my field of vision was a bit limited and the grooves in the lenses did become visible to me at points. I found I got a better experience by turning my head to look at things rather than using my peripheral vision.The lack of friction for the user feels so good after years of faffing and fiddling and popping phones in and out and trailing headphone cables around that it felt like real progress Click To Tweet
I highly recommend you try out the Jurassic World: Blue to experience to see a first-rate, cutting-edge VR demo. It was a stiff test for the Go but the extra detail and quality of the textures and animation is worth it. Another, more interactive test was the Tomb Raider Lara’s Escape VR I found this to be quite compelling and made good use of the handset. The spatial audio here was also effective as you are chased through underground tunnels. However, I spent the longest time in Bait by Resolution, just fishing.Soothed by gentle music and surrounded by cool lapping water and palm trees I cast my lures and emerged calm and rested Click To Tweet
Soothed by gentle music and surrounded by cool lapping water and palm trees I cast my lures and relaxed, finding myself calm and rested when I emerged. I really think the power of VR to affect us emotionally is best observed through the gentle experiences rather than raging first-person shooters. Overall the Go wasn’t flashy but was comfortable, affordable and easy to use.
All sounding good you say but what exactly got me so excited? It was the fact I could just pick it up, put it on and Go (excuse me, but it is true). The lack of friction for the user feels so good after years of faffing and fiddling and popping phones in and out and trailing headphone cables around that it felt like real progress. The Oculus Go is not breaking any new technical ground but it cuts the cord and shows us the way forward.
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