Recently I purchased an Oculus Quest 2, a Virtual Reality Headset (VR wearable device) from Facebook. This review is my initial reaction after using it for a couple of hours.
Disclosure: I write reviews about products that I have bought for my usage and paid in full. There were no sponsorship or advertisement or commission of any sort involved in this post.
I have a Google Daydream VR that I connect with my Google Pixel 2 phone. I don’t play video games so the novelty of a VR wears off quickly. In the last two years, I have used it only for 4 or 5 times. The problem with Daydream was the limited catalogue of apps for the platform. I expected Oculus to be different, as it is the popular choice out there in VR.
So I asked a friend returning from the USA to get me one from there. The Oculus Quest 2 in the USA cost US$325 (INR 24,000) for the 64GB model inclusive of taxes, and a friend carried it for me from there. The same is listed in Amazon India for Rs.42,490 (USD 575). And below is what I got.
The box had an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset (this one doesn’t require a connection to a PC), two controllers (left and right), a power charger, and, a glasses spacer for people with spectacles like me.
Setting it up was a bit cumbersome, but not difficult:
- Fix the facial-interface foam firmly on the headset, mine had come loose in the shipping
- Charge the device using the USB-C charger
- Remove the battery-safe seal in the two controllers
- Install the mobile app and then create an Oculus account for yourself, it does require a Facebook account and connects the two
- Switch on the headset (it is a tiny invisible button on the bottom) and then follow the on-screen instructions
- Remember beforehand your Wi-Fi password, you need to manually enter it, the device doesn’t sync it from your mobile app. So is with apps, for example, you need to enter the Netflix password manually. For YouTube VR, it shows a code that you need to then enter from the mobile app on your phone.
There is a step-by-step instruction from Oculus support here and a YouTube video here.
The first few minutes felt a little queasy, but I got over it easily. Using it for 30 minutes was tiring. Getting the thing correctly fitted for my head and spectacles took a lot of time – I am worried about repeating it every time after my son adjusts it for him.
The first time I used the device, I didn’t notice the “First-Steps” app in VR. The second time I saw it and used it. It teaches you how to orient yourself, hold the controllers, press the buttons and so on. I learned the grip gesture (middle finger and the button behind the controller) and the pointing gesture (freehand pressing of index finger). It also has a super-easy shooting game (you have to insert the second cartridge when prompted to play it) that was loads of fun.
Moving around the space takes a bit of time. I found the controllers to be easy to use, except for the Oculus button which takes you to the home screen, it is placed below the three-dimensional control and was difficult to reach. The device allows you to cast what you are screen on to a Chrome-Cast enabled TV for your friends to see what you are seeing,
I am yet to it out, but in the third session I tried it out and works well – it was easy to set it from the mobile app before you put on the headset. I liked the guardian feature, which allows you to draw a virtual wall around you, like a geo-fence, anytime you move beyond it you will see grid lines and further away the front camera switches ON to show you the real-world objects. This is useful to prevent you from banging on objects or falling off.
So far, I have tried the Rebuilding Notre Dame, a three-dimensional experience of the Paris cathedral, YouTube VR, Netflix, and, a walkthrough of The Sainsbury Wing in the National Gallery, UK (this one was through the inbuilt browser). I enjoyed the Notre Dame and YouTube VR. The Netflix experience was not good, the resolution and the screen size were poor, we will have a far better experience with a 4K TV and the idea of wearing a heavy headset for 2 hours is not appealing. The Gallery walkthrough was good, but the resolution was less as I couldn’t read the description of the paintings, without which I was not able to understand what I was looking at.
So far, I am NOT finding Quest 2 to be vastly better than the cheap Daydream headset unless you are planning to use it regularly. After the third session after I used the first-steps app and familiarised myself I can see that Oculus is certainly an improvement over Google Daydream.
Any VR headset is largely useful depending on the apps you have; I plan to explore more apps in the coming weeks.
Update 8th Dec 2020:
After a week I tried out a few others and I should say the experience is getting better. Quest 2 VR is still not a must-have gadget, but if you have it is starting to feel fun.
The apps I tried in the last two days were:
- “Rec Room” which is a multi-player presence where you & your FB friends can play games, since none of my friends had Quest, I explored the room all to myself, which was fun, but the app was buggy a bit. A basketball that I picked up with my right hand and was dropping in the basket, kept stuck to my hand all the time!
- “Within“, this app was a lot of fun for me. I tried a VR tour of Hong Kong in highspeed taken during the New Year 2018 and it fooled me for a few seconds of actually being there.
- “Oculus First Contact“, is Facebook’s first-party app that lets you be inside a lab where you can play with old computers, insert a floppy run a program, grab remote controls and throw them, print various 3D objects in a virtual 3D printer and start using them. I was able to go down under the counter, walk around and so on.
- “Quill Theater”, is a TV app in VR that has curated content. I was watching a stand-up comedy in a bar, where I got to be seated in the first row and enjoy the comedian. Interesting experience.
Update 5th April 2021:
After a few months, today I picked up my Oculus Quest 2 VR and spent a few hours with it.
The first hour went with changing new batteries for the controllers, doing firmware & app updates, reorienting the ground area, and installing the apps I had bought recently. This time around my experience was better and I was able to like it a bit.
I tried the Venues app that allows you to enter into virtual spaces and hang out with people there – you can move around, talk to them and hear others talking in the hallway. The sound effects were surreal – in an aquarium that you can visit, you hear people standing there in the front talking, their voices getting louder as you move closer.
Extroverts will love the app as it allows you to meet people and talk. I am an introvert and not comfortable when strangers come closer to me and talk especially in unknown environments – the same feeling I felt in the VR world as well. Twice I heard my screen name being called, the first time it was addressed directly to me, the other time in a sentence that had somewhere the word “racism” – I got uncomfortable and left. To be clear, I am not sure if the word ‘racism’ was about me or was in a conversation they were already having.
If the venues are curated, there is an orientation on how to present yourself, and some introduction about the others present, I can see myself liking the app – the concept has tremendous potential. I can see why Facebook will love this idea and see a huge future for their revenues. People can live their entire lives on this.
Update 18th May 2022:
Today, I used the Anne Frank VR App in #OculusQuest2 to visit the world-famous hideout of World War 2, and it was a wonderful experience. This app was not the best VR walkthrough out there, but reading the story of the young girl and her quotes impacts you.