Jun 15, 2019 | Updated: 11:54 AM EDT

Facebook’s New Virtual Reality Headset is a Game Changer

May 24, 2019 09:46 AM EDT

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The Oculus Quest is a mobile VR headset that requires no tether to a PC and runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 chipset. The headset uses built-in sensors to track the user's position in the room-it needs no external sensors to locate the user and map the room. The user uses one of the newly designed Oculus Touch controllers to establish a perimeter for gameplay in the room. The user sees a green grid around them within in the headset view, and if they exceed it the headset uses an external camera to show a "passthrough" view of the world outside the headset. The Quest can also "cast" the user's VR view to a smartphone screen so others can see what's happening in virtual space. The headset uses the local Wi-Fi network to facilitate the cast, and the smartphone must be running the Oculus app. In some games, the smartphone user can play along. Quest can also cast to a TV monitor.

Of course, Oculus has had to make sacrifices to create this independent VR headset. The Quest isn't capable of running GPU-intensive games at a high resolution, so you've little chance of exploring photo-realistic open worlds here. That said, when given the choice between a high-performance headset and the Quest's ready-to-play convenience, there should be little hesitation in picking the latter.

With pick-up-and-play convenience coupled with the affordability of an all-in-one system, the Oculus Quest is probably the very best virtual reality headset you can buy. If VR is ever going to hit the mainstream, this is the headset to pull in the masses.

The Quest comes preloaded with five demos, including the hand-eye coordination game Beat Saber, the boxing game Creed, the fantasy fighting game Journey of the Gods, the droid-fighting game Space Pirate Trainer, and the comic sports game Sports Scramble. And, importantly, Facebook announced that the new Star Wars game Vader Immortal will be available on the Quest.

However, VR still needs developers to create more games and experiences to make the Quest something you'd use a lot for a long time. Because most developers prefer to build mobile apps for billions of phones instead of virtual reality apps for millions of headsets, that content problem might not be solved anytime soon. But after just a few years, Oculus has delivered VR hardware that's good enough to feel like VR but simple enough to feel like an iPod. That alone is remarkable.

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