The brand new Oculus Go headset, announced at Facebook’s F8 conference today, is a self-contained VR headset that doesn’t require computers or a separate phone to work.
The new headset marks a turning point for VR. So far, if you’ve wanted to try out the immersive reality experience that Oculus has been promising for years, you not only needed an expensive VR headset, but an expensive gaming PC to hook it up to. This was also true of the Oculus’s main competitor, the HTC Vive. On the other end of the spectrum, cheap headsets like the Google Daydream or Samsung Gear VR were empty headsets that you put your phone in to get a VR-like experience, but without all the complex motion tracking.
The Oculus Go meets somewhere in the middle. At $200, it’s more expensive than a Daydream or Gear VR headset, but it also contains all the hardware you need right out of the box. You don’t need a compatible smartphone to use it. It’s also considerably cheaper than the massive gaming rigs that you’d need for a full Oculus.
The headset touts a “wide quad, fast-switch LCD” display, which the company claims will help reduce the screen-door effect on other headsets. If you’ve never experienced this, it’s an effect that occurs from putting your eyes super close to a screen. The gaps between pixels can become more visible, creating the impression that you’re looking through a screen door. Whether this new display will actually solve that problem is something we’d have to confirm in a review, but it’s nice to know Oculus at least knows that it’s a problem.
The headset also comes with a set of built-in speakers, which offers a tangible improvement over most VR headsets on the market, regardless of price point. Phone-based VR systems just use the speakers on your phone, and most high-end headsets use external headphones. The fact that the Oculus Go includes its own speakers is a huge benefit.
Out of the box, the headset will come with the same Oculus Store that Gear VR users have access to. This means there will be over 1,000 apps and games you can play with, but it may not include some of the biggest games that you’d find on a full Oculus Rift, like the kind that you can get on Steam.
The Oculus Go comes in two flavors: $199 for a model with 32GB of onboard storage and $249 with 64GB. While it’s not the absolute cheapest way to get into VR—provided you already own a phone that works with Daydream or Gear VR headsets—it’s easily the cheapest self-contained system. If VR is going to take off, it’s going to need standalone systems like this.