Oculus Quest 2 Hands On: Solid Performance With Some Cut Corners

More bang, less bucks

Key Takeaways

  • The Oculus Quest 2 VR headset is better in many ways than the first.
  • The cost-cutting measures impact the strap and pack-in power options.
  • The good ultimately outweighs the bad for a fantastic VR device at a friendly price.
Oculus Quest 2, controllers, and charging cable on a table
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre 

I bought an Oculus Quest in August, mostly for the fitness apps I’d seen around my social feeds. See, the pandemic had me hunkering down at home and I needed something besides Zoom yoga to keep my body in motion.

It was a huge hit with everyone in my household. Supernatural and Beat Saber kept us all moving, and the ability to escape our tiny house into expansive worlds like Moss and Shadow Point made for a much nicer quarantine six months in. 

Then I found out about the Quest 2, only a month after I’d purchased the original Quest. It was supposed to be lighter, brighter, and have a higher resolution. It promised better controllers and a lower price. I pre-ordered it, because that’s the kind of gear head I am.

I’ve had the new Oculus Quest 2 in my hot little hands for about a week now and it’s exactly as good as I thought it’d be, with a few caveats.

The Good

The original Quest has dual OLED screens at 1600x1440 resolution with a 72Hz refresh rate. The Quest 2 has a single LCD that switches between eyes at 1832X1920 pixels per eye. It also supports a 72Hz refresh rate, with the potential to bump that up in the future to 90Hz. For comparison, VR systems that connect to a PC, like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, have a 90Hz refresh rate, while the PSVR has a refresh rate of 120Hz.

Both headsets have six degrees of freedom tracking (6DOF), which lets you move freely within a virtual environment. They both can track your hands or the Oculus Touch controllers while you play.

Top down view of the Oculus Quest 2, controllers, and charger
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre

What all these specs mean is that the Quest 2 displays a little brighter and crisper than the original Oculus. 

The Quest 2 headset is definitely lighter, too, coming in at 18 ounces (the original is 20.6 ounces on my kitchen scale), but the controllers are a little heavier (5.3 ounces vs. the original’s 4.6).

The speakers also seem to have gotten an upgrade. They sound louder to my ear, with a deeper bass response and clarity that isn't quite in the first Oculus. I’ve found myself using headphones less and less (though having a headphone jack on the side is a plus when you’re playing games and don’t want to disturb your family.

I can pop into VR with minimal effort, sliding the visor onto my eyes and getting started in no time.

The Bad

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it does feel like Oculus cut some corners when putting this new headset out, possibly to make sure they could sell it at $299, beating the original Quest’s price by $100. 

First off, the head strap is just terrible. It shoves the headset onto my face in a pretty uncomfortable way, and if I wear my glasses (using the included visor spacer), it can feel like a headache coming on. You can, of course, buy the “Elite Strap” from Oculus for the price of $50—half the difference between the old and new headsets.

The original Oculus Quest had the ability to set the interpupillary distance (IPD) in small increments using a slider. The Quest 2 only has three locked-in positions (clicking the actual eye screens with your fingers) to set IPD. The clarity of the images in VR depend on matching your IPD to that of the headset, so you’d better hope they work for your eyes. I’m not sure if any of the three are exactly what I need, but in fairness, the middle slot seems to be best for me. 

Another cost cutting measure? The included USB-C cable is super short, unlike the long one that came with the first Quest. That one allows for plugged-in play while standing. You can still buy a battery pack for the Quest 2 and clip it to the back of your head strap, but that’s extra weight and extra cost.

The Middle Way

Honestly, though? I’m still enjoying the Quest 2. The lighter headset doesn’t need quite as much counterbalance as the first one did, and I’m still able to use the strap with some generous loosening of the sides and top while being meticulous about propping it on my face. I did, however, order an elite strap in hopes of not messing with it quite as much.

Oculus Quest 2 and wireless touch controllers resting on an amp
Lifewire / Rob LeFebvre 

The wireless aspect of the Quest 2, just like the original unit, makes this a game changer device. I can pop into VR with minimal effort, sliding the visor onto my eyes and getting started in no time.

Exercising with a face mask is not a problem at all, as much as I thought it would be weird to do so at first. While I wouldn’t want to try any inverted yoga poses with any VR headset on, dancing around the living room and slicing moving targets to music on a daily basis definitely helps my fitness and general mood.

I’ve had the new Oculus Quest 2 in my hot little hands for about a week now and it’s exactly as good as I thought it’d be.

Battery life is the same as the original Quest (about 2.5 hours), which is great considering the visual, audio, and processor upgrades. You can’t play more power-intensive games like Minecraft, No Man’s Sky, or Star Wars: Squadrons with this headset (yet), but developers still have yet to truly take advantage of the Quest 2’s Snapdragon XR2 (the original Quest runs a less-capable Snapdragon 835). 

Bottom line, I’ve got no regrets picking up the Oculus 2. It’s got more power, better resolution, and it runs all the same games and apps that the original one does, which in my house means two VR consoles to play multiplayer games like Beat Saber and zombie-shooter Arizona Sunshine. All that for $299 (plus that darn $50 strap still coming in the mail), and you’ve got quite a fun little VR device to change your (virtual) surroundings with ease.

Update 10/19/20: 5:50 pm ET: The original price of the Oculus Quest was $399, not $349 as stated. We've updated the article to reflect this.

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