Over the years I’ve had a love-hate relationship with virtual reality headsets. I love the idea, I’ve tested and love high-end “proper” VR headsets but man do I hate the “insert your phone” version that most of us have been stuck using at home. Every phone seems to provide a different experience and it always seems to be too much work for the reward. That is changing. Finally, real VR headsets are finally affordable. The Oculus Quest 2 is easily the most popular one available right now. I took it for a test!
Out of the box the Oculus Quest 2 includes the headset and the two Oculus controllers. The hardware feels study and built really well. It feels like you’re getting a high-quality headset and high-quality controllers.
The headset has adjustable elastic straps that wrap around the sides and top of your head. The adjustments are typical pull to tighten straps and it is a bit of an annoyance adjusting this from person to person. There is a power button and volume buttons as well as 4 little cameras that the headset uses to track your surroundings. A USB-C port on the side is used to charge up the headset. Otherwise it’s a pretty simple headset. The magic, of course, is inside where the Oculus Quest 2 has 2 screens to provide that 3D experience.
The controllers feel futuristic! They’re used to control gaming with the buttons and joysticks but also track the movement of your hands. The button placement felt natural and the controllers were super simple to use. What’s more impressive is how well the games track your hand movement.
The unique thing about the Quest headset is that it doesn’t need to be connected to a phone or computer. It runs Android on a Snapdragon processor so it’s a 100% standalone experience. This is important because it removes much of the complication from other headsets. In my testing, the software seemed snappy and the experience felt like it just worked. Loading up games and apps was as simple as pointing and click with the controllers and I never felt like I was waiting for things to respond.
The Oculus Experience
The important part of the “Oculus experience” is the software that runs on the headset. It’s actually pretty simple. You get a floating main menu that gives you quick access to those apps and games and an easy way to jump into settings menus. Navigating those menus is done with the controllers (or even your bare hands) and was a simple process. The most important section will be the built in app store where you’ll find a pretty large selection of games for the Quest 2. An important thing to know is that most games are priced in the $20+ range. There aren’t a ton of free games so you should factor the cost of games into the price tag of the Quest. You’re buying a gaming system (think Switch, Xbox, PS5) not a smartphone and pricing will be in line with that mindset.
This thing is a blast to play!
The most important thing about the Oculus Quest 2 is the fun factor. In this case, Oculus nailed it. The technology doesn’t get in the way. It’s a blast to play games on this VR headset! In fact, you almost forget that you’re wearing a fancy headset with screens inside of it. You forget that there is so much cool technology going on to make this happen. I found myself absorbed into the world ofwhichever game I was playing. This is exactly how it should be.
So – should you but it?
The price is right. At $300 (64GB) model this is a deal for a headset that would easily cost $1,000 just a handful of years ago. They packed a ton of tech into the Quest 2 and still managed to keep it affordable. With so many screens, sensors, controllers and cameras… it sounds complicated! It’s not. It just works. You put on that headset and you’re transformed into a different world. It’s an experience that I found to be a ton of fun and my kids kept asking to play again and again. I think you will too.
Keep in mind that games aren’t cheap and the good ones can easily cost $30+. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker but it’s something that you’ll want to keep in mind when factoring in the cost of the Quest.
Overall, the Oculus Quest 2 nails it. It’s the perfect VR headset at the perfect price. It’s the VR that we’ve all been waiting for without having to jam our phones into an awkward headset.
Oculus Quest 2 is available at most major stores and directly from Oculus.com.