We tested the Oculus Go
Autonomous, cheap and fun, the latest Oculus model sets a new standard when it comes to virtual reality headsets.
So far best known for its Rift virtual reality headset, Oculus is changing its shotgun and launching a standalone headset that works without being connected to a PC or a game console and without needing the screen of a smartphone. All the electronics are integrated into the headset, which only needs to be recharged to work. It will still have to be configured from a smartphone, if only to connect it to the Wi-Fi network and to feed it with content. The operation is done quickly: once the Oculus app is launched (for Android and iOS), simply log in to your Oculus or Facebook account, and choose the games or virtual reality videos to transfer to the headset’s built-in memory (32 GB). Some of these contents are paid, between 0.99 and 9.99 euros, others free. Oculus claims that a thousand apps, games and videos are already available, including those for the Gear VR. You can also view the photos stored on the mobile with the headset and take the opportunity to invite friends to join us in the virtual universe accessible with the Oculus Go. By the way, this is the real good idea of this model, as we will see. The other good surprise is the price of the product: 219 euros.
An elegant look
Physically, the Oculus Go is rather attractive with its minimalist design and pleasant-to-the-touch gray coating. Elastic straps allow it to be held on the head. It will be necessary to take care of adjusting them well so that the immersion effect is perfect without compressing the face. The weight being shifted forward, we can quickly end up with marks on the face. But the headset is quite light (467 g), and a comfortable foam softens the pressure around the eyes. A good point in comparison with competitors, provided that you do not wear it for too long. “We followed the advice of sports specialists to choose the skin-contact materials,” says Madhu Muthukumar, Oculus Go Product Manager. And we provide an adapter for glasses wearers”. To control the device, a wireless controller is supplied as standard. Small downside: the headphone battery only ensures a battery life of 2 hours, 2h30 maximum.
The Oculus Go adopts a minimalist design. Oculus
A simple interface
As soon as you put it on, the Oculus Go displays a remarkably simple interface. On a wallpaper depicting a 360-degree landscape, we discover panels representing the contents: games, videos, panoramic photos, etc. Just point at one of them with the controller, which draws a light beam, and press the trigger to access it. At the bottom there is an icon bar for accessing the virtual house and the app store, connecting with friends and customizing settings.
A pleasant display
Let’s move on to practice. A little disappointment with the 360-degree demo videos: more or less blurred images, rough contrast … The result is better with home videos shot using a 360 ° camera. But it is especially remarkable with games. By switching from one application to another, we find ourselves exploring the planets of the solar system, walking through a virtual maze (with a funny feeling of moving forward without moving), practicing aerial acrobatics or dodging monster attacks on a roller coaster … And all these experiences, which are overall very fun, finally do justice to the Oculus Go. With a definition of 2560 x 1440 points, the image is very sharp, much better than with a Gear VR and more accurate than that of the Rift. According to Madhu Muthukumar, “the lenses are more evolved than on the Rift”. It is hardly if we see, on the sides, a few green or red pixels that slightly overflow the contours of the objects without really hindering. Another good point: the image is very stable, without any latency between the movements of the head and their impact on the display. As for the sound, it comes from two small speakers aimed at the ears. The stereo effect is good, and this system makes it possible to stay tuned to the real environment. However, you can connect an audio headset to the mini-jack of the headset if you want to isolate yourself completely.
Two is better!
The real good idea of the headset is the ability to share images with friends who also own an Oculus Go or a Gear VR and find them in a virtual home. The system works perfectly. Once in the Home application, we find ourselves in an interior whose decoration we can (moderately) choose by changing the paint, the floor coverings or the images to hang on the wall. You then customize your avatar by choosing from a (modest) collection of hairstyles, masks and clothes. It remains only to invite a friend. I sent a request to Julien, who is also testing the Oculus Go, to join me in my virtual living room. His avatar then appears to my left, and he greets me with a small wave of the hand (the one in which he holds the controller). I can hear his voice distinctly in my left ear. We decide to create a musical atmosphere by choosing a web radio that broadcasts rather “lounge” sounds. With a click, we then find ourselves on the terrace around a game table. First we are experimenting with a kind of Memory, in which each player must find pairs among the cards spread out on the table. The joystick allows us to point the cards and flip them. Julien is fighting me but I haven’t said my last word. After giving up checkers and chess, we decide to compete in a version of Simon, where each player must reproduce a sequence of sounds associated with a color surface. This time, it’s me who wins. The final will pit us in a gun duel with the game Dead and Buried. Result: draw… due to lack of ammunition before the end of the game.
Relaxing sequence now. One click on an icon and here we are sitting in comfortable armchairs facing a curved screen. First I show my guest photos and videos of a 360-degree recorded vacation. The images are displayed on the virtual screen and I continue to chat with him by turning my head to his avatar. It’s time to watch a good movie: while we are physically miles apart, we are enjoying the same show, at the same time, and we can comment on the scenes as if we were watching TV in a sofa. One can easily imagine the interest of this process for a couple of fans of the same series separated by distance … The fact of being placed in a kind of cinema reinforces this impression. A full-screen display would lose the magic of the moment. As a bonus, we would lose image quality and the brain would be confused if we moved our head without the screen following. In addition to movies and series, including those from Netflix, the app gives you the opportunity to attend (without moving) shows, concerts and sports events.
The Oculus Go marks a small revolution in the world of virtual reality. It is easy to use, inexpensive and does not require any connection with a computer or game console. Its good display quality and responsiveness make it an accessory of choice for VR games and discovery apps, the number of which is steadily increasing. But it is above all its ability to share content and enjoy it with others, remotely, that seems to us the decisive argument of the product. It will be noted by the way that despite the fact that Oculus belongs to Facebook, it is quite possible to use the Go without even being a member of the social network. In short, a whole series of good points that should ensure him a good success.
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