Hands-on with Oculus Go Wireless VR headset

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Hands-on with Oculus Go Wireless VR headset

Poised to take on Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream, we go hands-on with Oculus Go

 

Oculus Go is what Oculus Rift needed to be if VR was ever to go mainstream. Designed and built in collaboration with Oculus VR and Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, Oculus’ latest headset simultaneously covers familiar ground while venturing into the unknown.

 

Having previously worked with Samsung on its Samsung Gear VR device, Oculus knows what works in a mobile-powered VR headset. Oculus Go is the distilling of this knowledge into a single device that doesn’t need a smartphone to act as the display and computer for the device. The result, a compact and effortless VR headset that – from our short hands-on time at GDC – is an absolute dream to use.

 

The chief question is, can Oculus Go offer something better than Gear VR and Google Daydream? £200 it’s not an insignificant amount to invest in a device that might not even go anywhere, so should you spend your time thinking about going all-in on portable VR experiences?

 

In all honesty, it’s still too early to tell. We’ll be able to give you a more definitive opinion once we’ve snapped up our review unit and can give it a thorough going over. Until then, here are our thoughts, gleaned during our short hands-on time with the device.

Oculus Go review: Design

Oculus Go takes a lot of design cues from its bigger sibling, Oculus Rift. In general, it’s the same sort of shape with a similar head strap and even the Go controller looks like a much simplified Oculus Touch. At first glance, those not intimately acquainted with the products might think the Oculus Go is actually a Rift.

 

To the trained eye, however, there are some significant design differences. For starters, Oculus as dropped the fabric-wrapped finished of Rift in favour of a grey, matte-plastic shell. It still feels nice to the touch and certainly doesn’t look like a cheap device, but it’s clear this isn’t in the same league as the Rift. It is, however, much higher quality than Google Daydream and Samsung Gear VR, both of which feel cheap in comparison.

On the top of the device you’ll find discreet power and volume buttons that are easy to find while using the device. There’s also a headphone jack and micro USB charging port on the left-hand side of the device, too. It’s a little perplexing why Oculus and Xiaomi didn’t opt for a USB Type-C connection, but ho hum.

 

Oculus Go review: Specifications

Because Oculus Go is a self-contained, wireless VR headset, there’s a lot more than a display tucked away in the HMD (head-mounted display). Basically, Oculus Go has a Xiaomi phone built into the device, and one that’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and backed up by 32GB of storage. There’s also an impressive 2,560 x 1,440-pixel LCD screen that delivers higher resolution per-eye than the Oculus Rift.

 

Oculus Go uses different lenses to the Oculus Rift, which give the same field of vision but with significantly less glare. The end result is a sharp picture, much crisper than on the Gear VR, Google Daydream and regular Rift.

 

If that wasn’t enough of an improvement, Oculus Go also comes with 3D spatial audio. During my hands-on it wasn’t immediately clear where the speakers were located. The Oculus site states they’re in the headband but I couldn’t see them.

 

Oculus Go review: First impressions

Even though my hands-on time with Oculus Go only amounted to around ten minutes, it’s clear Facebook and Oculus have something exciting on their hands with Go. It’s truly fantastic compared to rival VR products.

 

The feeling of immersion is far more immediate than with Gear VR and Google Daydream. It’s also a lot more comfortable to wear and I can imagine myself using it for a lot longer each session than I would with either Samsung or Google devices. Not only did Oculus Go fit over my glasses comfortably, the difference the new lenses has made is abundantly clear. Picture quality is sharp and bright, there’s little to no smudging or blurring around the edges and – despite the lack of focal distance adjustment – details and text appear clear and sharp.

Compared with the Rift, Oculus Go’s head and hand tracking is clearly rudimentary. There’s no positional tracking, for instance, so Go has no idea where in space I’m holding the controller. It is still very much aware of head movements, though, and seems to understand the slightest forward/backward movement, allowing you the impression of leaning in towards something or pulling your head back away from it. It’s definitely not as sensitive as the full-blown Rift but this small touch does add another layer of depth.

 

What’s most impressive about Oculus Go is its audio capabilities. Even on the busy show floor of GDC, I was able to hear everything wonderfully clearly within the headset without the need to plug in a pair of headphones. It’s still not clear just where the integrated audio is coming from, but it does sound as if things are playing inside your head. There’s some sound leakage at high volume levels but it much less than you’d think.

Compared with the Rift, Oculus Go’s head and hand tracking is clearly rudimentary. There’s no positional tracking, for instance, so Go has no idea where in space I’m holding the controller. It is still very much aware of head movements, though, and seems to understand the slightest forward/backward movement, allowing you the impression of leaning in towards something or pulling your head back away from it. It’s definitely not as sensitive as the full-blown Rift but this small touch does add another layer of depth.

 

What’s most impressive about Oculus Go is its audio capabilities. Even on the busy show floor of GDC, I was able to hear everything wonderfully clearly within the headset without the need to plug in a pair of headphones. It’s still not clear just where the integrated audio is coming from, but it does sound as if things are playing inside your head. There’s some sound leakage at high volume levels but it much less than you’d think.

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