Oculus Quest Review: VR on the Go

Performance: 8
Features: 10
Design: 9
Value: 7

Overall Score: 8

Price: From $549

Pros:
  • A standalone, fully wireless device
  • Library of exclusive games and apps
  • Can be used with a PC
  • Easy setup
  • Lost of features

Cons:
  • Made obsolete by the Oculus Quest 2
  • Disappointing battery life

For decades, we’ve dreamt of entering virtual reality and losing ourselves in immersive virtual worlds. While the limits of the technology we have today are still far from those dreams, we do have plenty of options for enjoying VR at home. The most popular among them are products from Oculus, one of the biggest innovators in this industry.

Oculus is mainly known for its Rift headset, but the Quest lineup of devices has proven to be an even bigger hit with the audiences. Therefore, our Oculus Quest review will look at what makes this device so sought-after, what features and experiences you can expect when purchasing the Quest, and how it stacks up against similar products.

Oculus Quest Overview

At a glance, the Oculus Quest doesn’t differ much from the Rift S model. It’s a mostly black headset with several infrared cameras at the front. The major difference is that it’s wireless and fully standalone.

To use Oculus Quest, you just need to purchase the device. There’s no need for a PC or a console which, along with its fair pricing, makes the Quest a better deal than most VR headsets available on the market.

First up in our Oculus Quest headset review, we’ll look at the build quality. Since this headset was designed to be used extensively, it had to be made sturdy. Oculus absolutely succeeded here and created a tough VR headset without making it too heavy.

While its 570 grams are fairly front-loaded, the weight distribution is much better thanks to a well-designed strap, so you won’t feel like the headset is dragging you forward or down while you play.

Like all Oculus headsets, Quest also uses Touch Controllers to interact with the VR worlds. They feel good to use, the layout is perfect for almost every VR game out there, and they don’t weigh a lot, which is especially good for fast-paced action and rhythm games.

Oculus Quest Specs and Features

With the Oculus Quest being an entirely standalone device and, additionally, one that’s supposed to be more affordable than high-end VR devices, the manufacturer had to cut a few corners. Surprisingly, the hardware is still powerful for its time, though obviously quite a bit dated compared to its successor and other newer high-end headsets.

At its core is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835, a mobile processor commonly used in flagship smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S8 and Sony Xperia XZ. It’s an octa-core processor based on ARM technology, making it a system-on-a-chip (SoC). That means it’s also responsible for rendering graphics and controlling other device features, like the wireless connection.

Oculus Quest hardware also includes 4 GB of RAM and fast solid-state storage. When purchasing the device, you can choose 64 GB or 128 GB of storage, but expanding it beyond what you get out of the box is impossible. As for the sound, Oculus put two small speakers on the headband, so they’ll be sitting near your ears. You can also hook up your own headset through the 3.5 mm jack.

Oculus used two OLED 1440 x 1600 panels running at the 72 Hz refresh rate for the screens. They are based on Pentile technology, meaning they have diamond-shaped pixels, reducing the “God rays” effect common on VR screens. You can set the distance between the two screens by using the IPD slider underneath the headset.

Tracking on the Oculus Quest VR gaming headset doesn’t use external sensors, instead relying on the cameras around the headset’s edges. These cameras are part of the “Oculus Insight,” an inside-out tracking system that uses infrared light invisible to the human eye.

The controllers emit the light, and the cameras, thanks to their wide angles, can “see” where they are located. Additionally, the headset uses accelerometers and advanced AI prediction to smooth out all the movements.

The cameras don’t just act as trackers. They allow you to see the real world around you, too, thanks to the passthrough functionality. It’s one of the best Oculus Quest features and improves player safety.

It’s easy to lose track of play space when you get fully immersed in VR games, so a simple double-tap on the side of the headset is enough to switch to the camera point of view. A recent system update added the ability to use hand tracking, too, but aside from a few games and the home menu, this hasn’t been utilized a lot.

Since this headset is battery-powered, we were interested to see how long the Oculus Quest battery can last and whether a full charge is enough for longer gaming sessions. Unfortunately, frequent charging breaks are inevitable with this headset – the battery can barely hold a charge for two hours, and, in some VR experiences, it was enough for two and a half hours of playtime.

This is the biggest gripe we’ve had in our review of Oculus Quest and its features. Such short battery life shows that we’re still far from the fully untethered world of VR.

Oculus Store

You’ll need a way to download games and apps on your Quest. This is where the Oculus Store, the official digital storefront and library of all the stuff you’ve installed on the headset, comes into play.

The store offers a large selection of VR games, apps, and movies, each having to pass strict quality standards. This means that blockbuster titles like Superhot VR, Beat Saber, Blade & Sorcery, Vader Immortal, and various fitness games are available for download. You can access it via the headset, the official mobile app, or your PC or laptop.

There is a caveat, though, and a reason for many negative Oculus Quest reviews out there. It’s all tied to your Facebook account. Whether you like that social media site or not, Facebook now owns Oculus and logging into that network is inevitable if you plan on using any of the Quest’s features.

While the manufacturer said it’s working on an alternative login method, it’s still using it on its latest headset, the Oculus Quest 2, so we’re probably far off from seeing a Quest device without the Facebook sign-in method.

Oculus Quest as a PC VR Headset

The Quest devices might be advertised as “standalone only,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t use them on your computer. Both Quest 2 and the original Quest can be connected to a PC and used with Steam and other VR-enabled apps.

While we won’t go into too much detail about setting everything up in this section of the Oculus Quest 1 review, we’ll overview different ways you can use it as a PC VR device. The headset works well in both wired and wireless modes, and the official Oculus App has made the experience rather seamless.

For the wired or tethered connection, as it is more commonly called, you’ll need an Oculus Link cable. The original Quest comes with said cable, but if you’re PC further away from your play space, just get any USB-C cable at least 3 meters long. Then it’s just a matter of plugging everything in and running the app on your PC.

Wirelessly connecting the headset is a bit more convoluted and requires your home setup to meet certain technical specifications. Your PC must be connected through Ethernet, while your router has to offer a 5 GHz Wi-Fi connection to the headset.

While running our Oculus Quest benchmark, we’ve noticed the distance from the router matters the most, and it’s recommended to play VR titles in the same room that your router is in.

No matter which option you go along with, you’ll be able to access Steam VR and hundreds upon hundreds of additional games and apps available on that platform.

Sideloading on the Oculus Quest

Another feature of this headset reserved for enthusiasts and tinkerers is sideloading. In short, this means installing content unavailable through the Oculus Store directly to the headset. This includes mods and extra content for games, beta versions of apps/games, and alternate builds. For example, it’s handy when you want to return to an older game version.

That being said, we have to issue a warning as part of our Oculus Quest review – this process isn’t officially supported and, if not done correctly, may corrupt a part of the system software.

The method has been made easier over the years, though, so now you can sideload apps from either a PC or your smartphone, thanks to apps like SideQuest. Sideloading is also handy if you want to use remote desktop apps to fully utilize your PC in virtual reality.

Oculus Quest Price

Pricing was one of the biggest reasons why Oculus Quest took off when it launched in 2019. Most VR devices were expensive, and out of reach of many potential buyers, so Oculus introduced a better deal that let way more people buy the device.

The Quest is available in two variants – with 64 GB or 128 GB of storage space.

There were no other differences between the two models, making it an easy purchase depending on how much different VR content you plan to use. The starting price for the 64 GB model at launch was $549, while the 128 GB model cost $649.

Oculus Quest: Competitor Comparison

To round off our Quest review, we need to see how this VR headset fares against similar devices. For that, we chose those close to the Quest feature-wise and compared their features, value, and build quality.

Oculus Quest vs. Oculus Rift S

The Oculus Rift S headset is the last tethered VR system that Oculus has ever made, launching just a few months before the Quest. Some could even say that Quest stole its thunder, as it was more impressive for the global audiences than the Rift S seemed to be.

But was it really that plain? The device was well made and was the first headset from Oculus to use the inside-out tracking system. It was reliant on a powerful gaming PC, though, so its $549 launch price wasn’t perceived as affordable, especially when the Oculus Quest was an all-in-one VR gaming headset.

Aside from the price, it was an interesting piece of tech. It had a single 2560×1440 LCD screen running at 80 Hz and offered a 115-degree FOV. Its controllers are the same ones used on the Quest, so the performance and many features do not differ greatly between these two systems.

Oculus Quest vs. Oculus Quest 2

Many consider Oculus Quest 2 the best purchase you can now make regarding VR tech. Priced at a very competitive $399 for the 64 GB model, it’s way more affordable than the original Oculus Quest headset. Furthermore, it’s widely considered a direct upgrade with no downsides apart from the mandatory Facebook login. It’s also slightly lighter, at around 70 grams.

The Quest 2 also uses two LCD screens with a resolution of 1832 x 1920 (per eye) and up to 120 Hz refresh rate. Adjusting IPD is possible, but instead of a fancy slider, you have to push the lenses by hand.

This headset also uses a four-camera setup and has integrated stereo speakers, while the controllers got a slight upgrade to their battery life. Facebook and Oculus provide a lot of support for this device, and there are several great accessories for it, unlike the original headset, which had very few.

Conclusion

The Oculus Quest was and still is a fantastic piece of technology.

A fully wireless VR system you can carry anywhere with you and get back into your favourite games instantly is well worth the investment. But should you buy it now that the Oculus Quest 2 is so affordable? Well, only if you can get it at a discount or just really enjoy having the original Oculus Quest as a collector’s item.


FAQ

Is the Oculus Quest worth buying?

The answer to this question is a bit complex. Now that the Oculus Quest 2 is available, there’s not much reason to purchase the previous model. The new headset does everything the old one did and more, featuring better tech and a lower price. Maybe if you catch the original Quest on a big sale, then go for it.

Do you need a PC for Oculus Quest?

No, Oculus Quest is an entirely standalone device. That being said, it’s possible to connect it to a PC to play Steam VR games.

Does Oculus Quest have free games?

Yes, like every VR platform, Oculus does offer some free games on its storefront. Look for the Free Experiences section of the store to locate games and apps that you can download for free.

Which is better: Oculus Quest or Oculus Quest 2?

As mentioned in our Oculus Quest review, both devices are brilliant. Naturally, as a newer device, the Quest 2 features more powerful hardware and will get longer-lasting technical support. As such, we’d give it an edge over the older model.

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Overall Score: 8

Price: From $549

Milica Milenkovic
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