Oculus for long, has been the poster boy of premium and next-gen virtual reality technology. On the other hand, companies like Google, Samsung and Microsoft broached the subject from a commercial standpoint focusing on making the product available for the mass market, albeit with quality compromises.
Facebook backed Oculus on the other hand, has always seemed to priortise the experience than being a mass-market player. That might the main reason while Google’s Cardboard and Samsung’s Gear are some of widely used products by first-adapters. This however, excludes gamers and programmers who were privy to the exclusive Vive and Rift releases in their early days.
But lags and huge difference in quality between the entry segment (Cardboard, Daydream, GearVR) and premium segment (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and PlayStationVR) has failed to invigorate general buyers with a move to VR.
In addition, new entrants like Dell, HP, Acer and Lenovo (powered by Microsoft’s Mixed Reality) are priced lower than Rift and Vive but offer same level of experience and require lower PC specifications.
Last week, Oculus announced on Twitter its new VR headset which is supposed to be a un-tethered version and cost only $199 and named it Oculus Go. Given the new price point and the experience that has come to be expected from Oculus, this move should see plenty of so-called non-techies move to VR and embrace the fruits of this new technology.
Oculus Go is the cheapest of the premium headsets and the closest competitor is PlayStationVR, which still costs $399. That’s double the price of Go. This product is what Hugo Barra had called “hands-down the easiest way to get into VR”.
The headset has new lenses, a 2560x1440 screen and unlike other budget VR headsets, it does not need headphones. The spatial audio feature, which comes built-in with the headset provides holistic audio experience.
The controller is also different than that of Rift. In fact, it finds similarity with GearVR. It comes with a wrist-strap, a haptic-thumb pad, a trigger, a start and the usual home button.
The company also stresses on its use of breathable fabrics which helps to use it on a consistent basis without causing irritation to the skin.
Even though the headset is untethered, it still focuses to provide a performance comparable with the Rift. In addition, it does not even need smartphones to function unlike its price segment competitors.
The product is expected to be out in “early 2018”, but whether or not it will be a mass success will depend on the quality. Given the number of changes in the controller, it is expected the experience will not be like-for-like with Rift. Additionally, the content that will be available with Go are also quite limited when compared with featured games and other content that is available for Rift.
You can still watch movies on Netflix and Hulu and also play games. But the Go’s controllers does not enjoy the full scale of functionality that is traditional available with Oculus controllers. As a result, games and content that work with the Rift controllers might not work with Go. But for those, who are looking to explore the full-scale, there’s still Rift.