The Oculus Quest is undeniably a brilliant bit of kit. It’s an affordable VR headset that surprises many people that use it and is certainly one of the best virtual reality headsets currently available.
It’s a wire-free VR headset that doesn’t require a PC to run and yet still manages to deliver a premium virtual reality experience without breaking the bank.
We’ve been playing with the Oculus Quest for a few months now and love it for a number of reasons, but we also wanted to see what “real” people thought of it, so we boxed it up and took it to a friend’s house to see what they made of it.
This is what happened.
The surprising power of Quest
Aside from geeks, gamers and technology enthusiasts, most people have very little in the way of experience with virtual reality.
Generally, people may have dabbled a touch with a smartphone-powered headset like the Samsung Gear VR or variations of Google Cardboard/Daydream. Chances are they were impressed, but not enough to buy one or keep on regularly using it.
It’s for that reason that Quest is so impressive. When we had friends (and their family members) pop the headset on, we were quickly met with gasps, oohs and ahhs as the VR magic worked into their eyeballs and earholes.
The simple reason is the quality of the games on the Quest belies the mobile portability of the thing. We were impressed when we first played with this headset trying out VR games that were also available on high-end flagship PC-tethered headsets like the Oculus Rift S.
We assumed games like Superhot VR, Beat Saber, Creed: Rise to Glory and Space Pirate Trainer would be trimmed down for this portable headset but some tech wizardry means they’re almost indistinguishable in terms of graphical quality and playability.
Knowing this, we set the headset up to show off these games and the many other games and experiences available too. They immediately got lost in the fun of it all and were thoroughly impressed with how it played.
New users should be aware of their playing area and be careful to make sure there’s a safe perimeter around them – the last thing you want to do is to bump into others or furniture.
We’ve had a couple of near misses and a few light bumps and scrapes. Of course, the headset accounts for this too with a Guardian system.
Guardian enables you to create boundaries that appear in front of you when you get too close to the edge of your playing area. They look like virtual walls. When setting up the Guardian system, you can choose from different sizes for the playing area.
Like us, our friends were also impressed by how comfortable the Quest is to use. Sure, you get a bit hot and bothered after a while, but it’s lightweight, well designed and without the nag of wires it’s a joy to use. The set up of the display also means there’s far less chance of VR-induced vertigo or nausea the likes of which we felt more frequently with the less capable but equally portable Oculus Go.
It’s great for watching video too
The other thing we impressed our captive audience with was the ability to turn the Oculus Quest into something else entirely.
With the likes of the Prime Video VR app the Quest is able to a small screen into a big one. With an Amazon Prime subscription, you can watch Amazon Prime Video with your own personal movie screen. All your favourite shows wherever you are. It’s a great way to watch on a massive screen without having to pay out for a large television.
After all, if you jam a display a short distance from your eyes, the viewing experience is similar to sitting in front of a much larger one. This setup comes with the added bonus of 360-degree VR style videos available to watch too.
Our friend’s father especially the idea of being able to watch TV in bed without actually having a television in the bedroom.
Things can only get better
There are already plenty of reasons to like the Quest, but even more are coming in the near future too. The fantastic passthrough system that appears on the Rift S and lets you see a real-time view of your surroundings is rolling out now.
At the recent Oculus Connect event the company showed off its plans for the future of the Quest that include hand-tracking. This should see the ditching of touch controllers in favour of using your hands in virtual reality instead. That, in turn, should lead to a much more immersive and exciting experience, as if VR isn’t already good enough.
Oculus is also going to give Quest owners the ability to tether to a PC and use the Oculus Link software to play Oculus Rift games in the near future, meaning even more games and an improved experience too. This adds to the cross-play capabilities with Oculus Quest owners being able to play games with friends who own the Oculus Rift.
There’s no denying that the Oculus Quest is capable and continues to be improved too. After our recent visit, we expect the favourite people in our lives are now wondering if they can afford to buy their own. If you still need convincing, be sure to take a look at our in-depth review.