Facebook is making a bold move with the Quest 2 VR headset announced today. Surprised by the original Oculus Quest’s success, which we considered the best VR headset for most enthusiasts, Facebook is doubling down with Quest 2.
Starting at $299 (available for pre-order now and purchase on October 13), this new VR headset is the key to Facebook's vision of the future. Come 2021, Oculus will abandon headsets that require a PC connection, phasing out the Oculus Rift S and making the Quest 2 Facebook’s only VR headset. The Quest 2 ends the era of Rift, but is it worthy?
WIth its standalone form factor, it doesn't require a PC or smartphone connection, making it easier for newcomers to adopt. It's a more accessible and more powerful VR device that Facebook sees as the catalyst for mass adoption of VR. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, we tend to agree. It's not perfect, but it's really good!
Oculus Quest 2 Specs
|SoC||Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 (Snapdragon 865)|
|Display||Fast-switch LCD: 1832 x 1920 resolution per eye, 72 Hz or 90 Hz refresh rate|
|IPD Setting||3 mechanical pre-sets (58mm, 633mm, 68mm)|
|Storage||64GB or 256GB of internal flash storage|
|Audio||Integrated speakers and microphone, single 3.5 mm audio jack, third-party accessories available|
|Battery||Built-in Lithium Ion battery (mAh undisclosed); 2-3 hours estimated runtime, 2.5 hour charge time|
|Facial Interface and Strap Material||Knit Mesh foam cushion, flexible fabric head strap|
|Tracking Technology||Oculus Insight inside-out camera-based 6-DoF tracking with motion controllers|
|Input||3rd-generation Oculus Touch controllers|
|Play Space Requirements||Stationary or room-scale; Room-scale requires a minimum of 6.5 x 6.5 feet (2m x 2m) of obstruction-free floor space|
|Dimensions||7.5 x 4 x 5.6 inches (191.5 x 102 x 142.5mm)|
|Weight||1.1 pounds (503g)|
|Price||64GB: $299; 256GB: $399|
The original Quest headset included a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC that was a few generations old at the time. The Quest 2 is equipped with the latest XR chipset, the Snapdragon XR2. The new headset also includes 50% more RAM than the first Quest, giving developers a full 6GB to exploit. In the short term, the extra memory likely won't have much benefit, but developers may take advantage of the extra RAM to add features to upcoming titles.
Resolution and Framerate Bumps
The Quest 2 runs at a significantly higher resolution than the previous generation. The original Quest's panels offer a very respectable 1440 x 1600 resolution per eye. That’s higher than the Oculus Rift and on par with the HTC Vive Pro and Valve Index -- all of which require a PC connection. The Quest 2 kicks things up a notch or two with a per-eye resolution of 1832 x 1920. That's a 50% increase in pixels over the first Quest. The difference is subtle, but the crisper image is a welcome treat, especially if you're concerned about the screen door effect.
Facebook’s new VR headset can also run at up to a 90 Hz refresh rate; whereas, the original Quest is locked in at 72 Hz. So, you're getting a framerate increase, along with the resolution bump. BUt keep in mind that the Quest’2s 90 Hz mode is not yet enabled and not something you can choose to run. It will be up to developers to allow 90 Hz within their games.
Industrial Design Changes
The Quest 2 is much more performant than the previous model, but that's just scratching the surface of the changes introduced on this new headset. Facebook learned a lot from the first Quest and Oculus Go budget standalone headset about what works for standalone VR and what doesn't. The Quest 2 is the culmination of Facebook's best insights into making a great VR headset—for consumers and Facebook.
Facebook’s Quest 2 is 10% lighter than the last one, partly due to its size decrease. Quest 2 is slightly narrower and shorter than the Quest, and the visor isn't as deep either. Facebook even installed smaller tracking cameras on the front of the headset to help reduce the device's size and weight.
Quest 2's material construction also helps reduce weight. Gone is the fancy fabric exterior in favor of a simple plastic housing, which weighs less and, more importantly, is easier to clean. Facebook recommends using non-abrasive anti-bacterial wipes to keep the exterior sanitized.
Keeping the HMD clean is important for the usual obvious reasons, but also because the Quest is white, not black like other Oculus headsets. White makes it look nice at first, but any dirt or stain will show up immediately, so you will need to clean it regularly. Depending on how you look at it, that could be a good or a bad thing.
Redesigned Head Strap
The original Quest featured a semi-rigid rubber strap that didn't conform well to your head and was easily the biggest con of the Quest's design. The Quest 2 has a fabric strap, like the one found on the Oculus Go headset, which we find much more comfortable than the older model's firm strap. The fabric here is made of an elastic that holds the tension on your head. The head strap has a simple adjustment in the back that doesn't require any Velcro. There is an overhead strap that does have a Velcro adjustment.
The Quest 2's head strap isn’t permanently affixed. Facebook created a custom snap-fit system that allows you to remove the strap for easy cleaning. You can hand wash the strap with mild detergent and hang it up to air dry. Again, a removable, washable strap is a welcome addition to the design not just because of the current global situation, but also because the strap is an off-white color that is sure to get dirty over time.
Additionally, the head strap is removable because you can buy upgrades for it. More on that later.
Simplified IPD Adjustment
Interpupillary distance adjustment (IPD) is somewhat of a hot-button topic in the VR headset market. Oculus was crucified by its fan base when it launched the Rift S without a mechanicalIPD adjustment that allows wearers to change the distance between the two lenses to align with the distance between their pupils. The original Quest adopted the original Rift CV1's fabric-covered lens calibration system, which is absent from the Quest 2's plastic shell. Images of the new Quest leaked in July, which made it seem like the lenses may be affixed in place. We're happy to say that's not the case, but IPD adjustment still isn't what you may be accustomed to.
Facebook saved money on the Quest 2's IPD solution by reducing it from a linear adjustment to three pre-established placements. The Quest 2 supports 58mm, 63mm and 68mm placements, conveniently labelled 1, 2 and 3 on the headset. To adjust the lens placement, you grab hold of the lens housing and slide it to the desired location. There are no switches or buttons to press.
Quest 2 doesn't have a software calibration to fine-tune the IPD adjustment further, so you may have trouble finding the perfect alignment, but the offered range should suffice for most people. We prefer a more precise adjustment solution, but that would probably increase the overall price and weight of the Quest 2, so it's, perhaps, a worthy concession.
Among other slight changes, the Quest 2 dropped one of the two headphone jacks found on the Quest, and features a relocated power button. Facebook also relocated and reoriented the charge port to a position that would work great with a 90-degree USB-C cable. Ironically, the original Quest included a 90-degree cable, but the Quest 2 package contains a standard straight-ended USB-C cable. Worse yet, it’s only 3-feet long;whereas, the original Quest had a 10-foot long charge cable, so you didn't need to put it on the floor when you plug it in.
Oculus Quest 2 Touch Controllers: A Step Backward
Oculus controllers have evolved over the years. When the Rift first launched, the input device of choice was an Xbox One controller. Soon after, Oculus released the highly praised, first-generation Touch controllers. Those controllers offered capacitive touch sensors, two face buttons, a menu button, a thumbstick and a thumb rest, plus a trigger and grip buttons.
The second-generation Touch controllers were a small iterative change from the original controllers, which were altered mostly for compatibility with the Quest and Rift S' inside-out tracking system. The new controllers were slightly smaller than the first-gen Touch controllers, but Facebook did away with the thumb rest, which, according to the vendor, was a sore spot for many fans.
As such, the Quest 2 includes newly redesigned controllers that bring the thumb rest back. The Quest 2's Touch controllers look like a cross between the first two generations.
Unfortunately, the new controllers are a step in the wrong direction. Their bulky shape does not lend well to a comfortable experience. The controllers' top is quite bulbous, which makes it difficult to get a good grip on the controller. My index finger must be extended quite far to reach the trigger with the tip of my finger. That forces my hand to sit in a more open position than it does with the previous versions of Touch.
The result is a much less balanced controller. Despite balance being one of the main points that Palmer Luckey highlighted when he first revealed Touch to the world, it feels like the designers of these next-gen Touch controllers put no consideration into balance at all.
To make matters worse, because of the extended index position, my thumb rides up pretty far on the controller's face. The placement of the A, B, Y and X buttons and the thumbsticks works fine, but I struggle to find the menu button when I want to, and my thumb doesn’t rest naturally on the thumb rest.
Facebook said it designed the new Touch controllers in response to customer feedback complaining about the lack of thumb rest. However, the added thumb rests make the controllers’ shape too bulky, which negatively affected my ability to hold the controller securely.
While playing Pistol Whip, I frequently thought I was going to drop the controller. The problem wasn’t as prominent in Beat Saber because the triggers aren’t needed. The combination of swinging the controllers and needing the trigger button makes for a cumbersome controller experience. After playing for about an hour while compensating for the controller's inferior balance, my hand cramped up.
Unfortunately, there's no going back. The new headset is not backwards compatible with the Quest and Rift S’ Touch controllers. That is incredibly disappointing for all the third-party companies that make accessories for Quest and those who already bought accessories but want the Quest 2. Not carrying over support for the old controllers is a massive oversight and missed opportunity for more choice for the customer.
No More Magnets
The new Touch controllers still employ disposable batteries stashed inside the handle. The original Touch controllers had a novel magnetic battery cover, which carried over to the second-generation model. For the third iteration of Touch controllers, Facebook discarded the neodymium in favor of a plastic,pressure-fit mechanism. The move likely saved a few grams of weight and a few dollars in manufacturing cost, but it's a slick feature that I’ll miss.
The design of the new Touch controllers isn't all bad. Facebook managed to improve efficiency so the controller lasts four times as long on a set of batteries compared to last gen. The construction of the controllers also feels more robust than the previous iteration.
Facebook also said it upgraded the haptics system, but we didn't notice much of a difference.
Oculus Quest 2 Accessories
One of the most exciting features of the Quest 2 is its support for accessories to customize the headset to your tastes. Facebook is offering both first-party accessories and has partnered with third-parties to develop additional Quest 2 specific upgrades.
For starters, Facebook developed two optional rigid head straps that look a lot like the PSVR's mechanical strap. The Elite Hard Strap ($49) provides a dial to adjust the size and tension of the fitment. Facebook also offers a deluxe option called the Elite Hard Strap With Battery ($129) that doubles the Quest 2's battery life. The battery fits in the rear of the strap to help balance the weight distribution. We have not yet tested the upgraded strap options, so comfort levels are unknown.
Facebook is also offering a facial interface pack, which includes one wider and one narrower face cushion and a light-block accessory that covers the nose opening to reduce light-bleed.
As for third-party accessories, Facebook partnered with VRCover to develop a PU leather cushion replacement, which should be available in time for the Quest 2's launch. Logitech is also working with Facebook to provide headphone and earbud options, including the $50 G333 in-ear headphones, with short cables suitable for Quest 2.
So, What About Content?
The Oculus Quest is a lot like a game console for VR, so you may be wondering about the content available for Quest 2. Often when a new console comes out, old games aren’t playable on it. Fortunately, that is not the case with the Quest 2. The headset is compatible with the entire back catalogue of Quest content.
Facebook wants to grow its user base as much as possible, and the quickest way to sabotage that to split the content library into segments for each headset. Everything you can play on Quest, including the library of ported Go software, will work on Quest 2. We may even see some older titles get an update to support the 90 Hz display mode in the future.
Quest 2 is also compatible with the entire Rift software library, thanks to Facebook's USB tethering solution called Oculus Link.
One of the most impressive features about the first-generation Quest was its ability to double as a standalone headset and a PC-VR headset via a separate Oculus Link cable, killing two birds with one stone.
Quest 2 also supports Oculus Link, but it’s sold separately for $79. That’s the future of Facebook's VR offerings. With the launch of Quest 2, Facebook is making the full transition to standalone VR. The company will phase out the Rift S in the spring of 2021, after which the Quest 2 will become Facebook's sole VR headset option. From that point on, every Oculus VR device will give you the options of taking it on the go or plugging it into a gaming PC.
That is perhaps the biggest reason that we're disappointed with the bundled charge cable. Oculus wants you to spend extra money for the privilege of using the Quest 2 on your PC. And while that's not explicitly unfair, it leaves a bit of a sour taste in one's mouth. A better solution would have been a longer bundled cable, with an upgrade option for the better quality optical Oculus Link cable.
Oculus Link on Quest 2 works the same way as it does on Quest. Just plug your Quest 2 into a gaming computer with the Oculus software installed and enable the Oculus Link option in the setting menu on the headset. It should ask you to confirm that you want to enable Oculus Link, at which case you'll see the Rift home screen and content library. SteamVR is also supported, but you'll need to launch games from the desktop.