Oculus widens the doors into the VR Oasis even further with its Quest 2 headset. There is no better time than now to jump in.
Technology moves pretty face nowadays, and the lifespan of the Quest has been no different. The Quest is just 1.5 years old and this year we are already bringing in its new brother, the Oculus Quest 2. Just like smartphones, Oculus (Facebook) is now pushing standalone VR along at a similar pace. As long as your wallet can keep up, that’s no bad thing if the Quest 2 is anything to go by. So is the Quest 2 worth upgrading to, or buying as your first VR headset? Read on to find out…
So first things first, inside the rather cheaply designed box you’ll find the Quest 2 headset itself, two touch controllers, a lens spacer (for anyone that wears glasses), a USB C wall charger, and a very short (and almost laughable) USC-C to USB-C charging cable. This is all you need to enter into Virtual Reality, which is great for anyone embracing this technology for the first time.
On first glance of the Quest 2, it’s redesigned, slimmer and white form factor is very strikingly different, yet also familiar to the original Quest. This gets even more so once you get your hands around it. This headset is quite a bit smaller than the Quest, and it should, as VR evolves over the years.
Oculus has managed to reduce the overall bulk of the headset’s depth whilst also shaving off the pounds from its outer casing. The result is a much better-balanced headset that weighs 503g lighter than the original Quest, which weighs 571g, it’s heavier than the Go, that was 468g, and it’s even lighter than the now-discontinued Rift S at 561g. In practice, you can certainly play inside this headset for longer without feeling the weight of it. With its front side weight being closer to your face, the pressure is reduced off of your cheekbones (so there is less “Quest Face” here) whilst the forehead pressure remains pretty much the same as the original Quest.
The Quest 2 has had several cost-cutting features to help keep its low entry price of $299 for the 64GB version and $399 for the 256GB version. The first cost-cutting feature is with its head strap. It reminds me very much of the cloth material of the Oculus Go strap, minus the bottom supporting headband. The Quest 2 now uses a similar cloth strap to the Go, that adjusts at the back of your head (by pulling two grips away from each other) and there is a top Velcro strap that can be adjusted to raise and lower the headset on your head.
It seems rather low-fi compared to the elasticated baseball cap-nature of the original Quest. The first immediate issue I encountered with this strap is that the strap uncomfortably covered the tops of my ears. It’s like the strap was made for one person at Oculus and wasn’t tested on anyone else. A top tip I found, though, is that by making the top strap tighter, it will reduce the depth of the strap and raise it above your ears, making it far more comfortable.
Speaking of comfort, the strap is surprisingly comfortable and due to the reduced weight, it sits on your head very well. The headset is still front-heavy, but not as much as the original Quest. After a long session of Beat Saber and Pistol Whip, it still felt comfortable and I didn’t need to adjust the headset on my face as often as I would have done with the Quest. It’s amazing what shaving off 68-grams can do. The elasticity of the cloth strap isn’t great for fast action or games that might involve jumping or running, so you might want to consider buying it’s easy to install and more ridged Elite Strap accessory instead for a mere $49 extra.
The facial interface and foam cover is another cost-cutting feature. Its texture feels much coarser than the stock cover on Quest, and it’s denser material reminds me of the foam materials that start to chip off when worn down with regular use or as the material ages over time. I will certainly be keeping an eye on all the alternative covers for the Quest 2, the additional light that leaks around the sides of my nose too could also do with a nose cover to help improve total immersion inside the headset. But at times I do find it helpful to peek through this game to get my current location in the room I am playing in.
I found the change of orientation, its location and the smaller size of the power button hard to get used to at first, and I have not missed the secondary audio jack or IPD slider. This is mostly thanks to my IPD being 63, which is the second of three lens settings that is bang on in the middle for my eyes. The quality of the protruding lenses is the same as on Quest, with similar god rays as before on darker scenes. I also found the Field of View (FOV) to be ever so slightly reduced, but this may improve with different facial interfaces and foam padding covers.
The headset’s internal audio (that’s still located in the side arms of the headset strap) felt more present than on Quest, with higher treble, a deeper sounding bass, and a slightly louder overall volume. But still, for total immersion, you’ll want to connect a pair of headphones or earbuds into the Quest 2’s single 3.5mm audio port that’s located on the left side. Bluetooth audio remains slightly laggy in certain applications, as it does on Quest, so you still need a pair of wired headphones for the best audio on this headset. I found my Bose QC35 and SteelSeries Arctis 3 Bluetooth headset to work and feel great alongside the cloth head strap, using a 30cm (6-inch) 3.5mm audio cable to connect the Arctis 3 to the Quest 2.
The new Touch controllers are now slightly bigger, with an improved wider grip button. There is a new resting place (and sensor) for your thumb, and the Oculus menu and home buttons are now off-centre and recessed. This is likely to reduce accidental presses of them and also easier to tell them apart from the protruding face buttons. The revised battery compartment will no longer come flying off with any fast movement, and looking inside the battery compartment, the connecting springs have been replaced with a better plunging connector. The rather thin and cheap-looking wrist strap attaches to the controller in a much better way, and I look forward to all the third-party Quest 2 knuckle-straps that I hope will utilise this new strap attachment feature.
The last of the cost-cutting features on the Quest 2 is the charging cable that comes bundled with it. Measuring just 1-metre in length, this cable is shockingly short, it’s length almost makes it impractical for general charging off a nearby table and its certainly too short for use with Oculus Link. It is however just long enough for connecting the Quest 2 to a power-bank that’s stowed in a trouser pocket, but it’s far too short for anything else, and I am sure Oculus knew that, but hey, it’s $299 for a VR headset!
The Quest 2 comes pre-charged with enough battery charge to get you logged into your (now required) Facebook account, fire up the tutorial, and download a few games from either your original Quest library (should you be upgrading) or download a couple of recommended Quest 2 games if you’re new to the Oculus Quest platform.
When I booted up the Quest 2 for the first time it was immediate that it’s single LED panel doesn’t quite match the same quality of black levels found with the OLED panel of the Quest. This is another cost-cutting feature from Oculus, but it due to LED technology it also is a better performer than the Quest. It’s new high-resolution display pretty much abolishes the screen-door effect (unless you really look for it). Games that have their resolution and textures increased really makes a world of difference. Text is greatly improved, both in-game and menus, and the reduced screen-door effect makes watching movies on YouTube or BigScreen a much bigger spectacle than it already was on Quest.
Quest 2 Enhanced games are slowly releasing on the Oculus Store, with some developers making considerable visual improvements over their original Quest release. Utilising the SnapDragon XR2 chip, updated games will see real-time lighting, extra physics, baby smooth 90Hz frame rates, higher resolution and textures, along with added geometry. This all makes the Quest 2 inch even closer to its PCVR domain. It’s going to be interesting to see what developers can really do with this headset over the coming years.
If you have yet to jump into VR, and this is your first headset, picking up the Quest 2 is the best thing you can buy right now. It’s an incredible price for what you get, but what I would say though, is if you think you will be downloading and playing a lot of content over the next 1-2 years, you should buy the 256GB version, because these newer games will just get better and bigger, and without any storage expandability, the filespace on the headset will get used up pretty fast.
If you’re thinking about upgrading from a Quest, right now, I don’t think there is enough improvement here to justify an upgrade. If money is tight, my advice would be to wait until more enhanced or exclusive Quest 2 games are released. If you are a Quest enthusiast, or you use your Quest to consume video media, the Quest 2 is a worthy upgrade thanks to its higher resolution display, soft head strap, lighter weight and compact size. Upgrading from a 64GB Quest to a 256GB Quest 2 is comforting also.
Oculus has certainly listened to and addressed many of the flaws, issues and feedback given by the Quest community over the past 1.5 years. The Quest 2 is a fantastic side-step forward in standalone VR, it may not be a giant leap right now for upgraders, but over time, once developers harness its power, I am sure it will sing and dance to the tune that we all wanted the Oculus Quest 2 to be.