Oculus was started as a PC-focused virtual reality platform before Facebook acquired the company, but it has since ventured into mobile VR with the Samsung Gear VR partnership. Now, Oculus is preparing its first all-in-one VR headset known as the Oculus Go. It’s coming to a face near you next year for a mere $ 199.
Oculus is positioning the Go as an easier way to get into VR, which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hopes can help the company reach the goal of 1 billion people in virtual reality. You don’t need to plug the headset into a computer like the Rift, nor do you have to dock a phone like the Gear VR. You just put on the headset and start playing around in VR. The headset itself is covered with a soft fabric material, not unlike Google’s Daydream View headset.
This headset includes some impressive specs for $ 200 including new wide-field lenses and integrated spatial audio speakers that can be used in place of headphones. However, the Oculus Go also skips some of the features of more expensive headsets to keep the price down. It lacks inside-out tracking, which allows a VR headset to monitor its position in a room. So, you’ll be able to look around in VR, but you can’t walk. The single motion controller is also tracked only with internal orientation sensors.
The Oculus Go will sport a built-in 2560×1440 display, but it’s LCD. The Rift and Samsung’s Gear VR-capable phones use OLED screens because of the faster refresh rate. That’s essential for blur-free VR. However, Oculus says the “fast-switch” technology used in this LCD makes it suitable for virtual reality.
Facebook VP of VR Hugo Barra says Oculus Go is the best way for developers to get into VR. They can target both Gear VR and Oculus Go at the same time, and Facebook confirms Oculus Go will be binary-compatible with Gear VR content. That seems to indicate the Oculus Go is running on some flavor of Android, but that’s unconfirmed right now. If it does run Android, that could open a whole world of possibilities.
When it launches next year, Oculus Go will be the cheapest way to get into VR. The Oculus Rift price is also coming down to $ 399, but you still need a high-end video card in addition to that. The latest Gear VR headset costs around $ 130, but you can only use that if you have a Samsung phone that costs $ 600-1,000.