Oculus go VR, Standalone Virtual Reality Headset – 64GB
The Oculus Go VR requires nothing to function aside from your head. You don’t need to keep it attached to a powerful, expensive gaming PC. You don’t need to insert the right type of phone to power it. The Oculus Go is neither PC VR nor phone VR. It’s a standalone device and may very well be remembered as the first VR headset to bring virtual reality to the masses.
You simply pair the standalone VR headset with your phone, put it on your head, and you’re off to the VR races. For the multitudes who have been sitting on the VR sidelines due to pricing, complexity, attachments, or all of the above, the Oculus Go will be the headset that put them into the game. Or rollercoaster. Or virtual social gathering. The reasons why are obvious: It’s easy to set up, it’s comfortable to wear, it’s immersive, and it’s cheap.
The controls on the headset are simple. There’s a power button on the top-left corner and next to it is a volume rocker, but you don’t need to push the power button because the headset has a sensor so it knows when you put it on your head and it powers on. It also powers off when you remove it from your head, which is pretty slick. On the left side is a micro-USB port for charging the headset, and a headphone jack if you don’t want to use the Go’s excellent speakers, either for privacy concerns or just consideration for those around you. The Go’s speakers offer a spatial sound that aid the immersive feel of the headset, but everyone else in the room can hear the audio too. The Go also has a microphone for social interactions as well as voice search.
Also in the box, in addition to the headset, is a controller (with an included AA battery to power it and a lanyard), a glasses spacer, lens cloth, and the charger. You don’t get two controllers as you do with the Oculus Rift, but the Go’s simple, the small controller gets the jobs done just fine for entry-level VR. It features a trigger button, a small touchpad, and back and home buttons. I became acclimated to blindly using the basic controller in a matter of minutes. Setup is super simple; just download the Oculus app on your iPhone or Android device, create an account, pair your phone with the headset, pop the battery into the controller and start shopping for apps and games. You can browse the Oculus Store with the headset or on your phone. Navigating the Store using the headset is a breeze; it’s easy to browse its offerings because things are intelligently organized, the controller’s buttons are intuitive, and the Oculus Home interface feels responsive with little to no lag.
Like the Rift, the Oculus go VR weighs just over a pound (1.04 pounds, to be exact). The foam moulding that rests against your face and the straps for your head are both fairly heavy duty without crossing the line into hospital-grade level sturdiness and ugliness. Oculus did an admirable job with the design; the Go looks like a cute consumer product while also being sturdy and comfortable. The foam moulding makes the Go feel a bit lighter than it really is and lets you forget you have a one-pound headset strapped to your face, a key component to an effective VR experience. The side straps are elastic to create a snug fit, and both the top and side straps offer adjustable Velcro strips. The Oculus Go fit over my glasses without the rubber glasses spacer, but any glasses might start to fog up after a few minutes because they sit too close to the Go’s lenses and don’t really allow for enough airflow. We found the Go to be much more comfortable when wearing contacts, but you won’t really have any trouble with the fit if you were glasses.
Oculus claims the Go will run for roughly two hours on a single charge (a little less for games, and a little more if you are just watching videos), and our testing showed that is an accurate claim. That may not sound like much, but after about 45 minutes, you might need to take a break from VR to regain your equilibrium anyway.
The Go has a fast-switch LCD display with a 2560×1440 resolution. In testing, it exhibited smooth movement but despite having a higher resolution than that of the Rift, the pixelated, screen-door effect could be seen in some apps. And despite being completely wireless, the Oculus Go does not offer six degrees of freedom that lets you physically walk around to explore VR worlds. The Go uses an orientation system where you stay seated (or standing) and only move your head to look around the VR space. The app controls the movement or you need to click the controller on a target to move to another spot.
Oculus claims its App Store has over 1,000 apps, and we don’t doubt that figure. Some games and apps are free and others are not. It will feel instantly familiar to anyone experienced with Apple or Google app stores. File size for apps varies. The Rush game I bought was only 366MB but RepubliqueVR was 3.7GB. Oculus estimates that you can fit 3 HD movies, 10 games and 20 apps on the 32GB Go, but a lot depends on the types of games you are installing, given the wide range in file sizes. In our experience, the Oculus Store has a seemingly endless supply of games and apps, but we have yet to find the one killer game or app among them. The Oculus Store is easy to navigate with the controller, just point and click, and there is also voice search, which worked well.
We tried out a number of apps and games. Our favourite games were two flying games but these felt more like polished diversions rather than meaty gaming experiences.
More ambitious games ended up showing the limits of VR gaming on a headset that lacks positional awareness. Conflict0: Shattered was cool because it forces you to look around and over your shoulder to find enemy targets to shoot, but the lack of movement was quickly evident. Your character remains rooted in place during each scene; after you complete the task or kill all of the enemies, you then click a target to move to the next scene. Likewise, RepubliqueVR felt spooky and atmospheric, but its story is slow moving and watching the main character move through the game isn’t nearly as gratifying as actually being the character.
Perhaps the most promising part of the Oculus go VR is its social gathering place, not surprising given Facebook owns Oculus. With Oculus Rooms, you have a place to hang out with friends or, more accurately stated, your friends’ avatars. Because none of my Facebook friends apparently have an Oculus Go, I didn’t yet get the full Rooms experience, but the idea shows promise. You can customize the look of your Room and invite friends to hang out. In one area, you can gather around a table to play board games. In another, you can kick back on the couch to watch movies, listen to music, look at photos, or play any of your purchased games that support multiplayer. In addition to games, there is a great deal of 360 photos and videos to explore. In fact, one of the first things you’ll do with the Go is choosing a background for the Oculus Home interface. It’s like a desktop wallpaper for your PC but 1,000 times cooler. I selected Horseshoe Bend, a rock formation in Arizona, and quickly moved back in my seat because it looked like I was about to fall off a cliff. We were pleased to find the Oculus Go has enough non-gaming utility to be useful for the VR-curious that aren’t looking for a hardcore gaming experience.
Comfortable, convenient, wireless, and affordable, the standalone Oculus Go represents a big step forward in consumer VR. There isn’t a single killer app or a must-have game just yet, but there are enough offerings in the Oculus Store to keep the VR consumers, both gamers and non-gamers, plenty busy. Other VR systems require a powerful PC to run things plus cables attached to the headset, the Occulus Go needs nothing but a wireless connection and the app, literally, nothing else. To us, hands down, the best buy for home entertainment.