(Cybertech) – The Oculus Quest 2 is an interesting update to the tether-free, wireless virtual reality (VR) headset from Oculus.
The original was one of our favourite VR headsets as it was a fantastic leap forward from smartphone VR headsets and a great middle-ground between those and much more expensive headsets. With no PC requirement, the Quest still managed to offer high-end VR gaming experiences at an affordable price.
But with the original Quest still being so fantastic, what more can the Quest 2 offer? Well, 50 per cent more RAM, 50 per cent more pixels, plenty of design enhancements, and a great starting price too.
Comfort and design enhancements
- Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform, 6GB RAM, 64GB / 256GB internal storage
- Six degrees of freedom-tracking through integrated Oculus Insight technology
- Integrated speakers and microphone with positional audio
- Stationary or Roomscale play (6.5sqft minimum)
- Weight: 503g
The first thing that strikes about the Oculus Quest 2 is its design. Gone is the black plastic of old and it in its place is a striking white on both the headset and the accompanying controllers.
The headset itself has been lightened (by 10 per cent, according to Oculus) and made more comfortable to wear too. The head straps have been rethought, making it easier to balance and get it comfortably on your head.
What’s struck us most, though, is how the design of the faceplate leads to a lot less light-bleed from the outside world when you’re playing, meaning a much more immersive experience.
Under the hood, the Quest 2 has had an upgrade too. It now sports a spec that includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 platform, which is the best mobile chipset available. This, along with 6GB of RAM, gives the Quest 2 more power and more potential for future development. Game developers will be able to squeeze more out of it and produce experiences that continue to be on par with PC VR games – just without the need for you to buy the PC.
For spectacles wearers, the Quest 2 offers a glasses spacing system in the box which you can attach to the headset to give you a touch more room. As we wear glasses, that’s a major convenience.
The headset is also more accessory friendly. There are numerous optional accessories you’ll be able to buy to improve usability – including faceplates, strap upgrades (with a built-in battery), audio accessories, and more.
Essentially the Quest 2 has been crafted to be more accessible, more user-friendly, and just more appealing.
It’s still built upon the familiar design of the original, though, with similar built-in, rear-firing speakers that leave the headset wire-free and easy to use. Alternatively, you can plug in your own 3.5mm headset or headphones for a more personal experience, but the speakers offer the bonus of positional audio.
Like the original Quest, the Quest 2 uses the company’s inside-out tracking technology. This uses multiple outward-facing cameras that track the movement of your head and hands in the real world.
When popping the headset on, you’re encouraged to map out a playspace in the room by ‘painting’ lines with the controller. Using Passthrough+, the Oculus Quest 2 lets you see your environment without taking the headset off. This means you can map out the room, accounting for any obstacles that might be in the way with ease. That map is then used for the guardian system, which presents a virtual wall if you get too close to the edges of your real-world environment and warns you of the potential danger.
We really liked this system on the original Quest and it’s just as good here. It’s possible to setup a shortcut so you can double-tap the headset to activate the passthrough cameras and see the real world as and when you need, meaning you don’t need to take the headset off to see what’s going on around you. You can also use those cameras to move to another room without even taking the headset off, though Oculus recommends against doing so.
The headset is also clever enough to recognise if you do move rooms and will encourage you to re-draw your guardian map to prevent any mishaps – you know, like punching the fridge or bumping into a precious vase.
Another small change to the design also allows you to flip the headset up ever so slightly, in more of a visor style, so it can almost be moved out of view without removing it entirely. Ideal if you need to talk to a loved one, answer the front door, or just regain your real world location. Not that 2020 has been much cop, so the virtual world might seem more appealing.
Impressive and convenient visuals
- Fast-switch LCD display panel
- 1,832 x 1,920 per eye resolution
- 72Hz refresh rate at launch; 90Hz support to come
- Manually adjustable IPD with three settings for 58, 63 and 68mm
As you’d expect, Quest 2 hasn’t just been improved with more power under the hood and a more comfortable design, it’s also had visual enhancements too.
That includes an upping in the pixel count for starters. The Quest 2 now uses a fast-switch LCD display panel in place of the OLED display on the original Quest. That LCD delivers 1,832 x 1,920 pixels per eye (compared to 1600 x 1440 pixels in the previous headset), meaning a clearer image and a better experience whatever you’re doing. That’s higher than Full HD per eye, which is a bit like strapping two-and-a-bit flatscreen tellies to your face (minus the weight and practical impossibilities).
With the extra power, the Oculus Quest 2 can now also run that screen at up to 90Hz, which should lead to a smoother experience as well. At launch, however, this refresh rate is limited to “home” and “browser” experiences, but will be expanded further as developers add more support in future. For the time being it’s otherwise 72Hz maximum.
Oculus has tried to make the Quest 2 more convenient with an easy-to-use IPD adjustment system. Baffled by such an acronym? It stands for interpupillary distance. And, no doubt, it’s a faff trying to measure and work out what your IPD actually is (er, maybe ask your optician?).
The IPD can now only be adjusted in three levels. On the inside of the headset you’ll discover it’s possible to move the lenses in and out with your fingers. You can do this to switch between three different levels: 1 (58mm), 2 (63mm) and 3 (68mm).
Oculus says that this three-step approach was done to simplify things and the majority of users will find one of the three levels is satisfactory for their needs. This may well be a gripe for some users where a less than average IPD results in a less than satisfactory experience though. That said we’ve certainly not had issue with it.
Intelligent battery management
- AA battery-powered controllers with intelligent power management
- 2-3 hours battery life on headset
- USB-C charging (2.5 hours)
The Quest 2 also features redesigned controllers, featuring a design that’s inspired by those from the original Quest and the Rift S. Oculus has also rethought the way the tracking works here, with fewer LEDs inside the tracking loops that result in four times the battery life with – as far as we’ve seen – no negative impact on hand tracking.
It’s the little things that make the difference here. When popping the headset on, the controllers automatically turn on when you pick them up, so there’s no need to fiddle about trying to turn them on manually.
There’s also clever sleep logic implemented to ensure the headset isn’t unnecessarily running when you’re not using it. So in terms of battery power we found the Quest 2 could manage around three hours of use before it needs charging, depending on what you’re doing. Less taxing tasks that don’t require movement tracking – like watching Netflix, for example – means longer life.
The controllers certainly last a lot longer than the headset itself, which is a bonus as they run on AA batteries and cannot simply be plugged in to recharge.
Recharging the headset is easy enough though. It’s USB-C powered, meaning you can simply plug it in and get a full boost in under three hours.
Upgrading the experience
Oculus is treating the Quest 2 as the holy grail of VR gaming. Not only is it wire-free and impressive for the asking price, it also has a number of other tricks up its sleeve.
Oculus has been working on hand and finger tracking for a while now. It was an experimental update for the Quest and now it’s shipping as a more serious addition to the Quest 2. It appears as part of the menu navigation when you first put the headset on and is surprisingly intuitive to use. We just hope more and more developers embrace it and we start to see hand tracking appear in games.
Quest 2 also supports Oculus Link. With an appropriate cable, you can hook up your Quest 2 to a gaming PC and use it as you would a fully-fledged PC VR headset. Of course, doing this means you’re no longer cable-free, but it also means you can access a lot more VR games via Oculus Store. Link is coming out of beta later in 2020 and with support 90Hz on PC VR games as well.
When the original Oculus headset launched, it had just 50 titles available. Oculus Quest 2 has over 200 games to play. And when you’re using Oculus Link on PC that’s access to a heck of a lot more as well.
The Facebook future
However, there is one potential problem that might put some prospective Quest 2 users off. Recently, Oculus announced that it will soon require users to have a Facebook account in order to login to and use Oculus devices. The idea seemingly being to make it easier to login and to find, connect, and play with friends in VR.
This new requirement applies to Oculus Quest 2 users. You’ll need a Facebook account if you want to play. However, Oculus did tell us that it’s fully expecting some people to sign-up to Facebook in order to use the Quest 2 and then never use their Facebook account for anything else.
General users who already actively use Facebook will obviously have a different experience as Facebook intends to make use of your data by:
“Showing you personalized content, including ads, across Facebook products. This could include recommendations for Oculus Events you might like, ads about Facebook apps and technologies, or ads from developers for their VR apps.”
You don’t need to worry about your privacy though, as you can adjust who can see your real name and other data when you’re playing online via the Oculus account settings.
One problem with Quest 2, as with any other VR headset, is how hot and bothered you’ll get while gaming. Especially when playing fast and frantic games or indulging in some super VR fitness games. This issue can lead to a sweat-covered faceplate and steamed up lenses, which is certainly frustrating and also not something you’d want to share with friends.
VR Cover’s Facial Interface and Foam Replacement accessory for the Quest 2 is the answer. These are faceplates you can swap with the standard Quest 2 ones for enhanced comfort and cleanliness. Made from PU leather, they’re easier to clean – just a simple wipe. But these faceplates also have a clever passive air venting system which helps keep you cool(er) while you game and reduces the problems with steamed lenses. If you’re not a fan of leather, there’s also a silicone/cotton option that’s machine washable and easy to clean.
If you’re going to get one accessory for your Quest 2, we’d suggest it’s this.
The Oculus Quest 2 is an undeniably awesome update to the previous VR headset. If you can forgive the necessity of a Facebook login then you’re in for a real treat.
Hand tracking, intelligent battery management, enhanced visuals, and the ability to play PC-level VR games via Oculus Link make the Quest 2 incredibly appealing. Despite being more powerful than the original it’s even more affordable too.
In our mind there’s no doubt that Oculus Quest 2 is the wire-free VR headset king. We’re hard-pressed to find almost anything negative to say about it – and if VR is your thing then we’re sure you’ll feel the same.
Oculus Rift S
The Oculus Rift S is the company’s current VR flagship headset for PC gamers. You need a PC to run it and it’s wired, which means you’re not as free to move around, but inside out tracking and thousands of games might make it more appealing.
Writing by Adrian Willings.