At Next Reality we mostly focus on augmented reality, but that doesn't mean we're not also absolutely obsessed with virtual reality, too. If the thing that's been keeping you from diving into the deep end of VR has been clunky tethered headsets or the expensive but necessary gaming PCs, then it's time for you to try the Oculus Quest, which is currently available to buy here for less than most gaming systems on the market.
Now if you've never tried "any" VR, allow us to clear a few things up. No, we're not talking about the cheesy 360 videos you see on YouTube or on your smartphone using things like Google Cardboard. Nope, this is "real" VR, and it's completely immersive.
So what's the big deal? Simple, the Oculus Quest is, in our opinion, the best "truly" mobile VR experience you can buy. What does mobile mean in this case? It means you don't need a separate computer. Oh, and you can leave your smartphone in your pocket, the Oculus Quest works as a self-contained, all-in-one unit.
Previously, Oculus released the Oculus Go headset (which you can buy here), a less powerful, more affordable VR headset that also operated without the need of an external computer or even a smartphone. But the device is relatively underpowered and has a limited immersive gaming selection, so the device is better for watching movies and videos. The 3DoF (degrees of freedom) device is also hobbled in that it only has a single controller, compared to the 6DoF dual Touch controllers that come with the Oculus Quest. The difference is dramatic.
To put it another way, the Oculus Go is like the very best version of those older smartphone-assisted Samsung Gear VR systems, while the Oculus Quest is more like a less powerful, less visually robust version of the Oculus Rift/Oculus Rift S (which offers the "best" Oculus VR experience, but comes at a much higher cost when you include the external PC). But less, in this instance, is actually more when you consider the Oculus Quest's lower price and mobility. In practical terms, the Oculus Quest is an attempt to give you the best of both worlds, and it's an attempt that mostly succeeds.
You can use the Oculus Quest to do everything from gaming (Robo Recall is a big favorite) to communication (Bigscreen allows multiple people to meet via virtual VR to chat, play games, watch movies, or conduct meetings).
The Oculus Quest also has something for Star Wars fans in Vader Immortal, action fans can get a workout with Superhot VR (think The Matrix bullet time battles in VR), and passive video watching is available on the device via apps from Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube. And if you're interested in becoming a VR artist, you'll be happy to know that Tilt Brush is also available on the Oculus Quest.
The set-up comes with a streamlined headset and two lightweight controllers, all of which are small enough to fit into most backpacks along with your other items (you can also buy an Oculus-branded case here for about $40). Although the device comes with embedded speakers, if you want to keep the audio portion of your experience private, you can connect a pair of wired earphones, or purchase a pair of Oculus earbuds here for $50.
Once you've powered it up, you simply create a small place space virtual boundary using the system's guidance tutorial (which is incredibly easy) to ensure that you don't bump into any furniture while you're in VR. After that, you're all set, and this works in pretty much any environment where you can access Wi-Fi (except outdoors in bright areas).
What this all adds up to is that VR is finally easy enough for 90% of the public, including non-geeks, to try. The price of admission is pretty affordable, with the 64GB version of the Oculus Quest available to buy here for just $399 and the 128GB version available to buy here for $499.
If you're looking for some comparative numbers, consider the fact that in order to get the same experience using the PlayStation 4 you first need to drop around $300 for the console, and then spend another $400 for the PlayStation VR headset. And you can't easily move that setup to your local cafe like you can with the Oculus Quest.
The days of VR being limited to super geeks with elaborate power computers, trapped in their basement while connected to a crowd of wires are over. The Oculus Quest is the perfect travel companion, whether the environment is at work, vacation, or just taking it with you to an event or a friend's house. This is when VR goes mainstream, don't get left behind.