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/ 03.05.2018

The REWIND Guide To The Oculus Go

– Luciana Carvalho Se
Head of Partnerships, REWIND

OK, who was expecting the world of VR to change literally overnight? At Facebook’s F8 conference, Oculus announced that its latest headset, the stand-alone Oculus Go, was now available!

Mashable says that ‘Oculus Go is the VR headset we’ve all been waiting for’, and we’re inclined to agree. We’ve been trialing ours for a little while now and it’s everything we expected it to be. It’s not the flashiest piece of hardware or packed with the latest tech, but it has something else going for it – the Go is quite simply the best mobile VR device on the market – at a price point that makes the medium far more accessible than it has ever been.

The Tech

The Go isn’t as fancy as Oculus’ Santa Cruz prototype, which includes full motion controllers and inside-out tracking. Feature-wise, it’s directly comparable to the Gear VR, just with all the hardware inside the headset – no phone required! The specs are also pretty similar to a smartphone – there’s a 5.5-inch display with a 2560 x 1440 resolution (1280 x 1440 per eye), and inside you’ll find a Snapdragon 821. It’s a processor from 2016, but heavily tweaked and optimised to provide the best performance possible. There’s none of the overhead of running a VR experience on top of a phone OS, so there’s more power for a developer to play with. Oculus has also said that they’ve optimised all the hardware for VR, and from our experience, it’s clear that there’s a decent amount of power under the hood.

 

The Lenses

The biggest difference comes from the optics themselves. Oculus has replaced the Gear VR’s lenses with Fresnel Lenses, similar to those in the Rift itself. The picture is sharper, there’s less screen-door effect, and everything just looks that little bit nicer, a difference that’s clear to see when comparing a Gear VR and a Go directly. WIRED was also suitably impressed, saying “It’s not just better than a Samsung phone looks in a Gear VR; it’s better than the Rift’s display as well.”

No Phone Needed!

The best part of the Oculus Go is that you don’t need a smartphone to use it! You pair it with a companion app on your phone for the initial setup, and you can load apps onto it using that, but the rest of it is phone-free. You can buy games and adjust settings from either inside the app or the headset – with the full Oculus Home interface along for the ride too. The launch lineup is solid too, especially if you’ve never owned a Mobile VR Headset before. Titles like Land’s End, Republique and Settlers of Catan are there from day one, and there’s plenty to dig into on the store – Oculus is touting over a thousand experiences for Oculus Go, thanks to developers being able to easily convert their Gear VR projects over to the new platform – smart thinking! There aren’t just games, either; social spaces like Oculus Rooms – customisable virtual environments where you can hang out with friends and watch videos – are also available. The more headsets Oculus sells, the better the social element is going to get, I can’t wait to be able to hang out with my family across the world, and watch a movie together, no matter where they are. There’s even Oculus Venues, a new app the company has developed – I can watch live shows from the comfort of my sofa, so the next time Coachella is streamed in 360° video, I can be right there…without having to get out of my PJs. VR content is only getting better, and this is just the first wave of experiences for the Oculus Go.

 

Comfort Factor

The whole feel of the headset itself is remarkably comfortable, with a stretchy strap with a split back – meaning you can even thread hair through it, perfect for ponytails! You even get a spacer insert, so if you wear glasses, you can still keep them on while using the Go. It also supports prescription lenses, so it’s pretty accessible. The padding is softer, and at 468 grams, it’s a big drop from the weight of the Gear VR with a smartphone in it – those cheek marks take a lot longer to show up! The design of the Go feels incredibly considered – it isn’t going to win any awards for style, but it all works really well, and importantly, is easy to wear for extended periods of time. Yeah, you’re still going to look slightly silly playing it in public, but until VR headsets get significantly smaller, the Go’s simple design is as good as it gets.

The Bottom Line

The Oculus Go is the best option for low-cost, mobile VR, and that in itself makes it worth celebrating. Engadget writes that Ultimately, VR’s future won’t depend on expensive and niche hardware like the HTC Vive Pro. Instead, it’s the cheap and comfortable headsets like the Go that will win hearts and minds.” And I think they’re right. The Go doesn’t cost the earth, doesn’t drain your phone’s battery, and makes it easier than ever to get into VR. I’d say that that’s mission accomplished. I’m really excited to see how this latest piece of tech will help bring more brands and consumers into VR – now that the hardware is cheaper, mass adoption is imminent. Will you be putting it on your Christmas list?

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