Since May 1, the Oculus Go is a new, inexpensive pair of VR glasses on the market. I ordered the device from the Facebook subsidiary Oculus and took a close look at it. My test report. My first experience with virtual reality dates back to 2016 when I ordered the Gear VR headset from Samsung, into which I could plug my Samsung Galaxy S7. Although the setup gave a good first impression of virtual reality, after a short time the device mainly got dusty in the corner and was only used from time to time to give a visitor his first virtual reality experience.
After that, the topic was relatively uninteresting for myself, especially since there was only little content and some apps showed slight signs of motion sickness. Somehow the air was out relatively quickly.
During my last vacation in the USA I visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. There was a virtual reality simulator there that reawakened my interest in the technology. The virtual visit of a space station was so impressive that the desire to be VR-ready at home was manifested again.
What then fascinated me when the Oculus Go was announced was its appearance as a stand-alone system at a reasonable price. The annoying use of my smartphone was completely eliminated. There was also no need to have a PC or similar connected all the time. Since I find the technology itself very exciting, I ordered the Oculus Go the day after the show. The delivery took place only a few days later.
Virtual reality technology is developing successively. Prices are slowly going down. However, virtual reality has not yet achieved the major breakthrough. After initial euphoria, the medium is currently in a phase of self-discovery.
Since the purchase of Oculus by Facebook, there has not been a really gigantic takeover in the VR sector. Many game manufacturers have already withdrawn from the development of 360-degree titles because they cannot sell enough units.
There is actually no doubt: technology-loving experts have clearly overestimated the speed at which virtual reality is advancing to a mass product. Compared to the number of smartphones sold each year, the number of VR headsets sold to men and women looks downright puny.
Nevertheless, numerous headset suppliers are already vying for the attention of customers. The cheapest entry point is, for example, the Google Cardboard.
Meanwhile, the HTC Vive Pro forms the uppermost premium segment. Owners of a Playstation 4 can choose the Playstation VR. Besides the Google Cardboard, there are also some more comfortable headsets with smartphone slots, such as the Samsung Gear VR or Google Daydream.
The Oculus Go itself has a big brother called Oculus Rift. The selection is as rich as it is confusing.
Content and installation
After opening the carton, its contents are presented: In addition to the VR headset, Facebook includes a controller including battery, a carrying cord for the controller, a charging cable (without a socket part), an attachment for spectacle wearers, a cleaning cloth and operating instructions.
The term stand-alone device is actually a little misleading, as a smartphone is still required for operation at the beginning. The Oculus App is downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store*.
After logging in to Oculus, the app establishes the Wifi connection of the Oculus Go and a Bluetooth connection between headset and controller.
Once the setup is complete, the smartphone is generally no longer needed. However, it is still possible to access the Oculus App Store via the app and download new apps to the VR glasses.
This may be more comfortable for some people than within the immersive VR environment. The installation is very easy. However, I would have liked it better if the installation process could have been done without a smartphone. But coming to the hardware itself now.
The Oculus Go has a screen resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which is divided 50 percent horizontally to each eye (1,280 x 1,440 pixels).
This means that the resolution is even higher than that of the Oculus Rift. However, thanks to the OLED display, it offers better colors than the LCD display of the Oculus Go. Despite the higher resolution, the picture is also worse than its expensive brother. In some apps I could see visible staircase effects.
- Overall the picture is decent. The refresh rate is 60 or 72 Hertz, depending on the app.
- The processor used is a Snapdragon 821 processor from 2016. There are two different memory sizes available (not expandable via SD card): 32 and 64 gigabytes.
- These are all not outstanding components. However, they have been specially optimized for virtual reality use. In any case, the lenses of the glasses look more valuable than their Samsung Gear VR counterparts.
- The headset itself has two buttons on the top: one for switching on and off and a rocker switch for adjusting the volume. Alternatively, headphones can be connected to the 3.5 millimetre input on the left-hand side. There are no other inputs or switches.
The built-in loudspeakers work fine, but they are also nothing special. Those looking for full immersion will probably be happier with headphones.
According to the manufacturer, the Oculus Go’s battery should last about three hours before the device has to be plugged in again. (It can still be used while charging. However, this is not recommended in the user manual).
The charging process takes a few hours, so that a virtual reality session can sometimes be rudely interrupted by an empty battery. I have not yet reached a runtime of three hours myself. Usually, it ends after 2.5 hours. For me personally this is not a big problem, because I need a break after 30 minutes at the latest.
The Oculus Go comes with a single handheld controller that has three physical buttons in addition to a touchpad: A kind of pistol button on the front and a home and Oculus button on the top. The included target cord can be attached to the bottom of the controller.
The ergonomics of the controller is well done. The device can be held very well in the hand, even over longer periods of time. The controller is powered by an AA battery, which is included in the delivery. Technically the controller offers 3DOF (Three Degrees of Freedom). This means that it can recognize the movements and directions of the user. However, it is not able to detect whether the user is moving forward, backward, up, down or sideways.
These functions are reserved for devices with 6DOF, including the HTC Vive, Playstation VR or Oculus Rift.
So if you are looking for the complete virtual reality experience, where movement is possible throughout the room, you will have to resort to one of the more expensive devices. But the controller fulfils its other tasks easily and precisely.
With its weight of just under 450 grams, the foam edge and the buckles on the sides and top, the Oculus Go sits very comfortably at least on my head. It is also relatively comfortable over a longer period of time.
But I have also experienced that other people have had greater difficulty aligning the buckles so that the headset fits perfectly to their head. Here, everyone has to find out the best setting for themselves.
All in all, Oculus has done a good job of optimizing the wearing comfort for VR glasses in this price range. I personally find them better than, for example, Google Daydream.
The Oculus Store currently offers about 1,000 apps in the form of movies, games, pictures and other applications. Among them are, for example, social networks. The selection is thus more extensive than for example Google Daydream.
The game quality ranges from poor to very decent. Some of my previous highlights are Catan VR, Dead Buried, Lands End or Jurassic Park: Apatosaurus. But it remains to be mentioned that unfortunately most of the games are not free. Apart from that, I was very impressed by Netflix, where you can sit in a virtual living room and watch the offered program on a big TV.
Next VR is also very impressive. Here you can watch specially produced sports videos from the NBA, NFL, Real Madrid or World Wrestling Entertainment. So you can find yourself directly at the basket, the wrestling post or the goal post.
This is already very strong and shows in an impressive way what virtual reality can be. Personally, I am also attracted by the travel videos on offer. Especially in the evening I like to take a virtual trip to Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon.
Price and availability
The Oculus Go can be ordered on the Oculus website since 1 May 2018. There are two versions, which differ in their storage capacity. The cheaper version costs 219 euros and offers 32 gigabytes of internal memory, while the 64 gigabyte model costs 269 euros.
Compared to smartphone-driven headsets such as the Samsung Gear VR or the Google Daydream, the Oculus Go is not a groundbreaking technical improvement.
Its advantage is largely that it simply makes immersion in virtual worlds more comfortable. There is no need to tediously insert a smartphone and use its battery life, which users usually need for more important things.
The price of the Oculus Go is absolutely ok for the bidding. If you want to get started with virtual reality, you will probably be very happy with the Oculus Go.
Those who want to get the most out of their headset technologically will probably be happier with the HTC Vive Pro or the Oculus Rift. What is still missing from the topic of virtual reality as a whole is the one killer app that is itself capable of boosting hardware sales. Here it is still: wait and see. We’ll see if it will be available.