Oculus Quest 2 Review: Advanced All-In-One Virtual Reality Headset

Less than a year and a half after the first Oculus Quest, Facebook is already launching the second iteration of its 6-degree-of-freedom, stand-alone, and wireless VR headset. Sufficient time to propose a real generational leap? It turns out yes.

Presentation

You would have guessed it, the Oculus Quest 2 succeeds the first Quest of the name, released in spring 2019, which was in its time the first autonomous virtual reality headset with 6 degrees of freedom from Oculus and Facebook. Understand by this that this is a headset that can work wirelessly, without a PC, without a console or a smartphone, but still capable of providing a complete virtual reality experience at room-scale, with movement detection in a space that can reach 5 x 5 m.

Compared to its predecessor, the Oculus Quest 2 Specs has evolved not only in terms of its design and ergonomics but also of course in terms of its technical sheet. The Snapdragon 835 chipset that powered the first generation Quest has given way to a Snapdragon XR2 – that is to say in essence a modified Snapdragon 865, optimized especially for virtual and augmented reality applications – supported by 6 GB of memory lively. The other major development is on the display side, for which Oled PenTile screens with a definition of 1,440 x 1,600 px per eye are replaced by RGB LCD panels at 1,832 x 1,920 px per eye.

Despite all this, it is not strictly speaking a “new generation” headset – at least, not in the sense that one would understand it in the world of gaming consoles. Indeed, the two Quest share a Common application library: all games and applications released on Quest 1 so far are usable on Oculus Quest 2 – with technical improvements -, and all apps to be released on Oculus Quest 2 will also be available on Quest 1.

The Oculus Quest 2 replaces the Quest 1 on the market, the production of which has already been stopped at the time of this test. But that’s not all: eventually, it will also take over from the Oculus Rift S , which should gradually disappear from stores in the coming months. Indeed, the Oculus Quest 2 benefits from the Oculus Link functionality which allows it to be used on a PC by means of a cable – we will come back to this later. It will then become the one and only helmet remaining in the Oculus catalog.

Oculus Quest 2

Image Source: amazon.com

Oculus Quest 2 Specs

Ergonomics

Out of the box, the Oculus Quest 2 immediately gives the impression of being noticeably more compact than its predecessor. Is it an illusion caused by her new white dress? No doubt in part, because in truth, the dimensions of the two models differ only by a few millimeters. Much more concrete, however, is their weight difference: with its 500 grams on the scale, the Oculus Quest 2 has been lightened by just over 80 grams.

This difference obviously has a very positive impact on the comfort of the helmet, which has a significantly less tendency to lean forward and weigh on the nose. It is also thanks to this that the Oculus Quest 2 can afford to be delivered with a fully flexible headband which, in addition to being obviously very beneficial for the portability of the helmet, proves to be sufficient to ensure stability. very suitable.

What’s more, the most demanding users will be able to turn to the rigid Elite Strap headband sold as an accessory, which rebalances the weight, reduces the pressure of the visor on the face, and simply transforms the Oculus Quest 2 into a virtual reality headset. the most comfortable on the market. It then becomes quite possible to wear it for several hours in a row without feeling any real discomfort.

Regarding the visor, eyeglass wearers should be advised that the foam that comes with the Oculus Quest 2 is quite narrow, measuring only 13.5cm wide (almost 1cm shorter than that of the Quest 1). It, therefore, runs the risk of preventing putting on over large frames. Here again, Oculus offers a solution as an accessory, with a ” fit pack ” which includes both a narrower foam – which can be used in particular for children – and a wider foam. However, it would have been appreciated if these foams were supplied as standard rather than requiring an additional expense.

On the left side of the headset is the USB-C port used not only for charging but also for using the headset on a PC in Oculus Link mode. It should be noted, however, that the cable supplied with the headset cannot be used for this second use case: not only is its length of 1.20 m much too short, but it is also only compatible with transfers to speeds of the USB 2.0 standard, while Oculus Link mode requires a USB 3.0 compatible cable.

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The two Oculus Touch controllers supplied with the Oculus Quest 2 also feature a new design, located halfway between the first generation Touch and those that accompanied the Quest 1. We thus find a significantly enlarged front panel, allowing you to rest your thumb without position it on a stick or a button, and therefore to avoid involuntary pressure; unexpected pauses in the middle of a frenzied beat Saber game should therefore be much rarer.

Oculus Quest 2 Battery Life

The battery covers have also been slightly reworked, and are now held by mechanical lugs rather than by magnetism. This should solve the concerns of some Quest 1 users, who complained about the tendency of magnetic covers to come off during use. But the main evolution of these new controllers is on the side of autonomy: with a single AA battery each, they are now able to operate for more than 30 hours, instead of a dozen hours for the controllers of the Quest 1.

Point of evolution, however, on the side of the autonomy of the headset itself, which always oscillates between 2 and 3 hours depending on the gluttony of the application used – and can even drop below an hour when we use the Chromecast function to broadcast the images of his game on a compatible television.

As for the heating of the helmet, it is perfectly contained. After one hour of intensive use, the maximum temperature recorded on the outer casing only slightly exceeds 35 ° C; as for the inside of the helmet, it remains in all circumstances below this limit. For this, the Oculus Quest 2 uses active cooling, the fan of which dissipates heat through the gap between the faceplate and the frame of the helmet. Absolutely discreet, this fan is almost inaudible during use. The Oculus Quest 2, therefore, causes absolutely no heat-related inconvenience.

Oculus Quest 2 Resolution

The Oculus Quest 2 is equipped with optics almost identical in shape and size to its predecessor, ensuring a very respectable field of view, equivalent to that of most PC virtual reality headsets – and therefore significantly greater than that of the PlayStation VR, for reference. Behind these lenses take place LCD screens, as has become the standard on all recent helmets.

The benefits of these good old liquid crystals for VR are now known: we certainly lose the almost infinite contrast of the Oled panels of the Quest 1, but we gain in return an RGB pixel structure (3 subpixels per pixel, instead of 2 with the PenTile structure of the Quest 1) and a pixel-fill much higher, which increases the clarity of the image, and greatly reduces the grid effect – that impression of seeing the image through a mosquito net.

This is all the more true as the Oculus Quest 2 also achieves a spectacular leap in its display definition, which now stands at 1,832 x 1,920 px per eye. The accuracy it offers is not only superior to that of the Quest 1, it even rises significantly above high-end PC headsets like the Vive Cosmos and the Valve Index (1440 x 1700 and 1440 x 1600px per eye).

Only the HP Reverb and its future successor the Reverb G2 do better, with 2,160 x 2,160 px per eye. The optics also ensure performance perfectly worthy of screens: their resolving power is excellent, chromatic aberrations almost non-existent once the helmet is properly adjusted, and the effects of light halos (“”), although still existing due to the use of Fresnel lenses, are of a low enough intensity never to get in the way of the user’s immersion.

In use, these new screens are a real pleasure. Even when the rendering definition of games is lower than their native definition, their pixel density helps to minimize not only the grid effect, but also the tingling of the image, and thus significantly improve the feeling of presence.

What’s more, we have no doubt that this sensation will be even more convincing when Oculus will have activated the possibility of passing the refresh rate to 90 Hz. At the time of this writing, the refresh is still limited to 72 Hz, like on the Quest 1, but we are promised that this limit will be lifted in the wake of the public availability of the headset.

The operation of the headset, unfortunately, prevents us from carrying out our usual measurements of colorimetric accuracy of the screens. To the naked eye, however, there is absolutely no notable drift: the artistic direction of the games is perfectly respected.

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Finally, on the side of the pupillary distance adjustment, the Oculus Quest 2 no longer offers “fine” adjustment like the Quest 1, but simply proposes to place the optical units in 3 fixed positions, at 58, 63, or 68 mm. spacing. Purists will of course see a loss, but in truth, this rough adjustment is more than enough to ensure a completely satisfactory viewing experience for the vast majority of users.

The author of these lines can testify to it since his real pupillary distance is very exactly halfway between 63 and 68 mm; however, whether in one or the other of these positions, no geometric distortion or major loss of homogeneity taints the image.

Audio

Like its predecessor, the Oculus Quest 2 is equipped with two small directional speakers integrated into the branches of the headband, projecting their sound directly to the user’s ear canals. This system can obviously not work miracles in terms of sound reproduction quality, but we note all the same a very noticeable improvement since the Quest 1.

While we blame the latter for a very unnatural spatialization, the speaker’s Oculus Quest 2 manages to create a much wider stereophony and to truly reproduce the binaural soundstage of games and applications – an eminently critical element in virtual reality.

However, the power remains very limited, and the rendering is terribly lacking in punch and bass. To remedy this, the solution is of course to connect headphones or earphones to the mini-jack output. The latter provides a perfectly honorable signal quality, worthy of that of a good smartphone. The available power is more than enough to power any nomadic headset, and can even be suitable for a monitoring or hi-fi headset that is not too greedy.

User Experience

The operation of the Oculus Quest 2 is based on the same bases as the Quest 1, to which are added not only the benefits of the hardware evolutions of the headset but also all the software improvements made by the Oculus teams over the past year. and half.

We, therefore, find here an ” inside-out ” motion detection system using the four cameras placed at the corners of the helmet to find one’s way in space, without any external sensor or beacon. The initial configuration could not be more intuitive: when switched on for the first time, the headset automatically goes into the pass-through mode, allowing the user to see his surroundings.

The latter is then invited to draw on the ground, using one of the Oculus Touch, the limits of his available play space. Once this step is over, we are already ready to live real experiences at a room scale. Let us simply point out that for experiments of this type, the Oculus Quest 2, like its predecessor, requires at least an area of ​​1.5 x 1.5 m, and recommends at least 2 x 2 m.

If you do not have this space, rest assured, the vast majority of applications and games can also be used in “stationary” mode sitting or standing, and then only require you to clear a circle of one meter around you. of diameter.

A small detail that deserves to be underlined: the cameras of the helmet are no longer used only for tracking, but also allow the user to instantly reconnect to his environment. At any time, just double tap on the helmet to reactivate the pass-through mode, and to regain the view of the outside. What comfort!

In-game, the quality of the motion tracking is simply impeccable. We were already impressed when Quest 1 was released, but Oculus has not rested on its laurels and has significantly improved its machine vision algorithms since then. In particular, controller tracking has made amazing progress: stalls have become absolutely rare, even when you pass the levers behind your back or position them one behind the other in front of the helmet – and when drift occurs, it is usually minimal, and corrected within a fraction of a second.

But these controllers are not the only way to interact with the Oculus Quest 2, since we of course find the function of tracking bare hands, which had already appeared a few months earlier on Quest 1. No need anymore. therefore to have the joysticks in hand to navigate the menus of the headset, control the playback of a video, or even play certain games.

Already extremely practical and pleasant on Quest 1, this functionality is even more so here, since it takes advantage of the computing power of the new chipset to ensure even more precise and responsive monitoring.

Besides, let’s talk about this new chipset. The Snapdragon XR2 platform promises performance doubled or tripled depending on the application compared to the Snapdragon 835 from Quest 1. And it goes without saying that the difference is obvious. By default, without any developer intervention, Oculus Quest 2 runs all Quest 1 apps at the significantly increased definition, to make the most of the new headset screens.

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The gain in detail and clarity is obvious and beneficial, in particular for games that made aggressive use of foveal rendering on Quest 1 (definition greater than the center of the image compared to the edges), such as the Vader Immortal trilogy. At the same time, titles that could suffer from some performance issues, such as pistol Whip, see their framerate very clearly stabilized.

Of course, developers also have the option of implementing Oculus Quest 2-specific optimizations in their applications. They can thus choose higher graphics settings, and this is obviously where the graphics prowess of Oculus Quest 2 is the most striking. While obviously remaining a good distance from what a PC could accomplish The high-end Oculus Quest 2 versions of these games are found visually strikingly close to their non-Pro PS4 counterparts.

Ultimately, as we said above, developers will also have the choice of using the computing power of Oculus Quest 2 to increase the frame rate of their games to 90 Hz instead of 72 Hz. however, it will be up to the developers to make this choice, and not to the user – this in order to guarantee the stability of the applications and the autonomy of the headset.

Last feature to mention, but not the least: the Oculus Link function, which allows the Oculus Quest 2 to be connected to a PC to be used as the Rift, and thus access not only the entire library of the Oculus Rift store, but also to third-party platforms like SteamVR, Viveport, etc. The only prerequisite for this is to purchase a USB-C cable compatible with the speeds of the USB 3.0 standard.

Oculus offers its own official cable at the indicative price, a high price which is justified by the fact that it is an optical fiber cable with electro-optical converters in each of the connectors, the only technical solution to ensure at the same time a length of 5 meters, a sufficient bandwidth, and flexibility adapted to the practice of the VR. However, it is also possible to

The operation of the Oculus Link mode was already very convincing on Quest 1, and it is still very much improved on Oculus Quest 2. Again thanks to the benefits of the XR2 chipset, the new headset uses a significantly more sophisticated video compression/decompression algorithm. and powerful, which means that the few visual artifacts that could be lamented on Quest 1 have almost entirely disappeared.

The case of Half-Life Alexis the most telling about it: While the Quest 1 was challenged by Valve’s dark, hazy in-game imagery, the Oculus Quest 2 renders it almost perfectly pristine. It is hardly without carefully scrutinizing the very dark shades of gray that we still manage to detect some tiny traces of tingling; once absorbed by the game, you no longer notice anything.

There is absolutely nothing to complain about either on the side of the latency of the controls, imperceptible, or the quality of the movement tracking, identical to what the headset offers with native applications. Let’s be clear: when viewed as a PC headset, the Oculus Quest 2 has nothing to envy of the Rift S – and in many ways, it’s even superior to it!

Strong Points of the Oculus Quest 2

  • Real “room-scale” experiences in a wireless and autonomous VR headset.
  • Lightweight, comfortable, well constructed, moderate heat.
  • Dramatic leap in computing power compared to Quest 1.
  • Impressive display fineness, no grid effect.
  • Very intuitive and easy to use.
  • High-performance motion tracking of the headset, controllers, and even bare hands.
  • Both standalone headset and PC headset thanks to the Oculus Link function.

Weak Points of the Oculus Quest 2

  • Low battery life – between 2 and 3 hours depending on the applications used.
  • No more fine adjustment of the interpupillary distance (but a 3-position adjustment is still present).
  • The narrow series facial foam may cause problems for wearers of large glasses.

Conclusion

Only a year and a half after an already insanely seductive first-generation Oculus Quest, the Oculus Quest 2 is having the effect of a real little bomb on the virtual reality headset market. Not content with bringing some very welcome ergonomic improvements to its predecessor, it also achieves a real generational leap from a technical point of view.

And as if that weren’t enough yet, it takes advantage of the immense improvements made to Oculus Link mode to establish itself not only as the best standalone VR headset ever released but also as an excellent headset for PC, in every way equivalent or better.

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