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Lifewire / Emily Ramirez
Comfortable, quality materials and beautiful design
Intuitive software and hardware interface
Clear, balanced speakers
Truly wireless and standalone
Supports voice commands
Battery only lasts two hours
Three degrees of freedom
Not as powerful as Windows Mixed Reality or Oculus Rift
The Oculus Go Standalone VR headset is an affordable foray into virtual reality for those who want a simple, immersive experience without cables.
We purchased the Oculus Go Standalone VR Headset so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.
As fun as roaming in Skyrim VR can be, sometimes we want to sit back and have a more relaxed VR experience. Oculus tries to fill this gap with the Oculus Go, a standalone, cable-free headset that has more power than a smartphone but doesn’t quite try to compete with the PC VR market. Its app store is as unique as the headset, filled with many experimental works that aim to distill fun into simple mechanics that work wonderfully with the Go’s pointer-style controller.
The Oculus Go takes a lot of design cues from the older Oculus Rift, with a sleek round chassis that belongs in a futuristic utopia. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor and is harnessed with thick velcro straps. While it does slide ever so slightly down the nose, we were quite impressed with how balanced and weightless the headset feels.
On the headset, you have a volume control, a power button, a micro USB charging port, and a 3.5mm audio jack for headphones. However, you don’t need headphones because Oculus has hidden speakers into the base of the velcro straps so you can listen to your VR world without extra peripherals.
The Go comes with a small AA battery-powered pointer controller. The controller is smooth and easy to hold, fitting in your palm. There is a trackpad, a trigger, a Home button, and a back button, making the controller feel like a stripped down version of a Rift Touch or a Vive wand controller. It is so easy to use that it makes us wish PC VR controllers were this simple.
For $200 MSRP, Oculus sells a comfortable standalone headset with good customer service and a great operating system.
The only concerns with the headset kit come in adjustment and material choice. The Oculus Go comes equipped with a gorgeous Fast-Switching LCD screen that’s somehow crisper than a Vive Pro, but you cannot adjust the interpupillary distance or the focal distance. If you don’t natively have an IPD near the US national average of 64mm, you may find its fixed IPD can cause major eye strain.
As far as materials are concerned, everything feels comfortable and luxurious, but the top part of the Go’s pointer is a shiny plastic that acts as a fingerprint magnet. Otherwise, both the headset and the remote are not only comfortable but also beautiful and sturdy.
Setting up the Oculus Go headset is generally quite easy, however, there is one hitch to the controller—the wrist “strap” is an untied piece of string. You have to tie the string into the loop, and if you would like a beautiful, practical knot, we recommend tying a blood knot, a very common type of fishing knot.
Once your headset is charged and your controller is ready to go, you can set up your Oculus Go. Turn the headset on (it will have an LED light indicator), put it on, and follow the in-headset instructions. You’ll need to download the Oculus App on your smartphone or tablet, sign into an Oculus account (you can use your Facebook account) and then you will pair to your Go via Bluetooth. Now you can download and/or purchase games and apps to your delight. You won’t need to charge your headset again for two or three hours.
It’s shockingly comfortable for using basic velcro straps, and that’s thanks to how lightweight the Go is. There are no vents to disperse humidity, so users with big noses may experience some fogging. The controller is incredibly ergonomic, so you may soon forget you’re holding it. All you have to do is point, press, and occasionally swipe to do anything in Go’s virtual worlds. Your fingers barely have to move to accomplish everything.
The 2560 x 1440 pixel Dual Switch LCD Screen is much crisper than the Oculus Rift’s 2100 x 1400 OLED screen and frankly almost as good as the Vive Pro’s 2880 x 1600p OLED screen. Its resolution may not be as high as the Vive Pro’s, but fast switching and intelligent design make it efficient at avoiding screen door effect, graininess, and blurriness.
It’s a much more impressive innovation than simply shoving more pixels into a headset, since it increases the display quality without compromising the performance of the Go’s processors. The experience would be even better if it refreshed at 90Hz instead of 72Hz, but the lower frame rate isn’t too noticeable unless you’re playing something fast paced.
While the Go functions fantastically for its Qualcomm processor, it is still more delicate to overheating than, say, an Intel i7 CPU would be. When the Go overheats, it stutters, as most computers do. Otherwise, it is a great experience. We didn’t have any tracking issues with the controller, but should the controller be misaligned with the headset, Oculus built-in semi-automatic realignment to solve this issue.
The Oculus store for the Go is as wonderfully simple to use as it is for the Rift.
There aren’t any intense, graphically ground-breaking experiences on Oculus Go, but there are many enjoyable ones. VR film viewers will be especially pleased with this headset, which feels like it was made to watch a beautiful 3D documentary before going to bed. We also enjoyed several puzzle and action games on the Go, such as Daedalus, Angest, Eclipse: Edge of Light, Dead and Buried, and Pet Lab. Guided Meditation VR is perfect for ending the day.
The Go is still a young product, so we expect many more quality apps to arrive on the store. Oculus is heavily investing into VR devs right now, and while they haven’t yet produced that console-selling exclusive, it’s only a matter of time before they do.
The Oculus Go’s speakers sound like they’re in our heads. The sound quality is astounding, especially for such a relatively affordable headset. It’s better than the Rift’s audio, and if you prefer your own headphones, you can plug them into the included 3.5mm audio jack. Either way, the sound fills the space and gives VR experiences a 360-degree feel.
Frankly, battery is disappointing. Oculus claims the Go should get about two hours of play on its full 2600mAh battery, and that’s about right according to our daily use testing. However, the Go takes about three hours to charge, and it is easy to accidentally drain its battery in standby mode. From standby mode, it turns on when there is something about a half an inch away from the proximity sensor between the lenses.
Unfortunately the Go’s straps tend to sink right to the sensor’s proximity range when the headset is just laying on a table. When you charge the Go, the battery drains faster than it charges if you try to use it while charging. Finally, if it is powered off before charging, it will automatically turn back on once it’s nearly fully charged. You’ll have to turn it back off if you don’t intend to use it immediately afterward. Oculus could have spent more time engineering around these complications.
The Oculus store for the Go is as wonderfully simple to use as it is for the Rift. It’s fantastic for film viewing, social apps, and casual gaming. Some experiences we enjoyed playing with were Daedalus, Youtube VR, and Google Earth. Many games for the Go are Go-exclusive, since the Go runs on an Android-based OS.
There’s enough apps on the store you probably won’t run out of new ones to try, but it does fundamentally lack the key experience that customers would buy a headset for. The short experiences are fun, but not memorable. This is emblematic of the larger VR Space, where no platform has yet developed that console-selling experience. One small note, if you want to login as different users, you have to reset the headset every time.
For $199 MSRP for the 32GB model and $249 for the 64GB, Oculus sells a comfortable standalone headset with good customer service and a great operating system. It’s not a bad price, especially considering nothing like it exists on the market yet. If you want a standalone experience today, your other major option is a mobile VR headset, which isn’t really standalone since it needs a mobile phone.
The Go has an amazing screen that competes with the Vive Pro in quality, and it works with few flaws. However, it lacks IPD adjustability, which is rather jarring at this price point. With the relatively few apps available, it’s a little difficult to justify buying a Pro for several hundred dollars, since there are not a lot of time sinkers like Beat Saber on the platform.
The Oculus Go is not really competing with mobile or PC headsets. The only other major standalone headset available is the Lenovo Mirage Solo, stocked with a 2560 x 1440 LCD and a 110-degree field of view. While it has six degrees of freedom, it feels more like mobile VR in that it runs on Google Daydream’s app store, whose experiences are heavily catered to phone VR users.
Meanwhile, the Samsung Gear VR, which does run with a smartphone, uses the Oculus Go software platform and costs about $100 less than the Go itself. If you already own a compatible smartphone (Galaxy Note 9, S9, S9+, Note 8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, A8 Star, A8, A8+), you should consider skipping the Oculus Go and get yourself a Gear VR for a cheaper, equally good experience.
If you are willing to wait a year or two and have money to spare, several untethered PC and standalone VR headsets are hitting the market. Oculus is expecting to release the Oculus Quest for $399 MSRP, with the same lens solution and software platform as the Oculus Go, but with six degrees of freedom and updated Touch controllers.
Overall, the Quest will be a slightly more powerful and capable headset than the Go, aiming to capture the market between the Go and the upcoming Rift S. HTC also offers the Vive Focus for enterprise customers, so we can’t discard the possibility they will soon release a consumer-oriented version of the standalone Focus.
A great choice for untethered VR experiences.
While the Oculus Go has its kinks, such as poor battery life and a young app store, it is still a great product for those who love VR. At about $200, it is perhaps the best headset for VR film right now, and its games are a lot of fun. If you want to get a VR headset that offers fully immersive, full motion, PC quality experiences, you should save up and purchase a Rift or Rift S, but the Go is certainly a step up from Google’s VR platform.
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