Get stuck into our bumper Black Friday product reviews!
If there is one gadget to pick up this Black Friday it is the awesome Oculus Quest. I know this review of the Quest is very late to the party but we have taken our time and here are our thoughts. When we reviewed the Go back in June 2018 I summed by saying:
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.
This liberation from accessories and cables is still its most compelling feature and makes it truly portable just like the Go. The Quest, however, does break new ground and feels like a serious upgrade. It’s not just one simple thing, it’s a combination of advances in different areas that make this nifty stand-alone HMD our new go-to headset.The Oculus Quest does break new ground and feels like a serious upgrade Click To Tweet The 1,440x1,600-pixel LCD is a small but pleasing update and the Quest uses fixed foveated rendering to go easy on the Snapdragon 835 Click To Tweet
The 1,440×1,600-pixel LCD is a small but pleasing update and the Quest uses fixed foveated rendering to go easy on the Snapdragon 835 while the grainy black and white Passthrough camera is a functional, if not glamorous, feature. It does feel like you are walking through a 1990’s video game but it is a useful and practical update from Oculus.
I feel the real game-changer is ‘Oculus Insight’, their take on inside-out tracking. This is the introduction of two Oculus Touch hand controllers that work with the Quest’s new on-board sensors to track and map the movement of the user and the space and objects around them.
The foundation of Oculus Insight’s inside-out tracking is simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM, which uses computer vision CV algorithms to essentially fuse incoming data from multiple sensors in order to fix the position of an object within a constantly updated digital map. (Source: Facebook)
You can dive deeper into the creation of this amazing technology here on Facebook’s Tech site but suffice to say that packing an advanced SLAM sytem into the Quest where is had to run off a mobile chip and a small low-power battery was no mean feat, but boy does it work!The real game-changer is ‘Oculus Insight’, their take on inside-out tracking Click To Tweet
Overall, Oculus Insight just makes the whole proposition of playing and working in VR without, or at least with much fewer, perceptual artifacts like swimminess (the disorienting sensation you get when your physical and virtual positions and movements don’t line up) and judder (visual strobing and smearing between frames), a reality. Facebook acknowledge that there is a long way to go but this initial accomplishment is a huge part of what makes the Quest so comfortable to use for longer periods of time and makes it feel, well, just right.
The Quest features externally mounted speakers, so you can listen in VR and still interact with sounds around you Click To Tweet
Oculus Insight marks the first time that fully untethered six-degree-of-freedom (6DoF) headset and controller tracking has shipped in a consumer AR/VR device. Built from the ground up, the Insight stack leverages state-of-the-art computer vision (CV) systems and visual-inertial simultaneous localization and mapping, or SLAM. (Source: Facebook)
Like the Go, the Quest features externally mounted speakers, so you can listen in VR and still interact with sounds around you, in addition to two headphone jacks, one on either side of the headset, that let the user seal themselves off completely from the real world. It might have annoyed my colleagues but I stuck to using the speakers so I could keep chatting with them while in VR.
One drawback is that the app platform is not shared with the Go so you can’t get all the same apps, but Cnet has a good list of available games here. The Quest will be around for a while and with talk of the upcoming Oculus Link expanding its capabilities once tethered to a PC I’m sure that Oculus will be adding more ambitious apps and games as time passes and there are plenty there already to keep you busy. Having messed around with demos, video content, games and other VR whatnots I can say that the content is pretty good and will only get better.
Battery life was about 2 hours, sometimes a little more, which I think is fine for a device like this. The speed and fluidity of the VR interface was noticeably faster and smoother than the Go and browsing for content was easy and fun. The HMD felt generally more comfortable than the Go and the included glasses spacer really helped but did allow light to leach in around my nose, nothing that caused an issue, but worth noting.
At the moment the Quest is our recommended go-to HMD for consumer VR media or gaming and I’m betting it will remain our favorite cable-free VR experience for a good while yet. With Link technology and real-time hand tracking on the way in 2020 the Quest promises to become even more compelling.
Watch out for Black Friday deals but you can pick up a basic 64GB version here for $399
Animo Activity Tracker & Behavior Monitor for Dogs by Sure Petcare
I have three very active dogs so I was very keen to try the Animo from Sure Petcare. It’s basically supposed to be a Fitbit for dogs! I don’t really care how many calories they have burned but knowing that they get a good 1 hour plus of exercise a day reassures me about their health and, to be honest, mine as I get pretty much the same exercise as they do, following them around and picking up after.Animo learns and interprets the unique activity and behavior patterns of your dog Click To Tweet
Animo learns and interprets the unique activity and behavior patterns of your dog. It’s with them 24 hours a day, giving you a greater understanding of their lives. Morning walks, sleeping under the table, barking at the postman; your dog’s days are action packed and now you get to know about it all.
Animo uses an adaptive algorithm that learns, interprets and gives you facts that are specific to your dog. This changes throughout your dog’s life, so you can understand more about your pet as they get older.
Animo sends alerts if your dog begins to show significant changes in behavior including barking, scratching and shaking. You can also discover long term changes in your dog’s sleep, where a decrease in quality may be a sign of arthritis or other environmental factor which is disturbing your dog at night.
SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder from Sure Petcare
Moving swiftly on to the next Sure Petcare product we are faced with the elaborate and very very niche SureFeed Microchip Pet Feeder Connect. Now there is a clear market for this in the older and tech-savvy pet owners who dote over cats with very specific diet control challenges, are often away from home for days at a time and have the cash to invest in an expensive system like this at £169.98 or $252.79.
It’s the ideal feeding solution for overweight cats, cats with medical conditions that require close monitoring of feeding or multi-pet homes where one pet steals another pet’s food.
The Microchip Pet Feeder Connect links to the Sure Petcare app via the Hub, which is connected to your home router. Each Hub can connect up to ten devices, including our connected doors.
“We want to conect with influencers and artists who are interested in pushing the boudaries of live broadcasting to capture and hold an audiences attention in VR. The launch of our VR Studio provides a place to upload, host and share your 360 content to all major VR headsets and web platforms including publishing directly from your Studio account to YouTube. What’s exciting right now is people are innovating on all fronts in VR, the whole indusry is pushing forward really fast. Headsets have taken a giant leap forward, even in the past two years. It’s an exciting time. Manzur concluded
To sum up, the Live Planet system makes broadcasting your live event to the web in 4K 360 easier and cheaper than ever before. The company is also constantly evolving the product and I have heard that in-camera still photo capture and 6K recording are on the way soon so this is a platform that should stay relevant for a long while. It is a compelling option for venues and artists who want to ride the booming trend of 360 VR video.