Oculus Quest Hands-On: The New King of Mobile VR

SAN JOSE, CA - During my time at Oculus Connect 5, I've had a number of demos showing off the power and potential of Oculus Quest, which combines the high graphic quality of the Rift with the lightweight, cordless freedom of the Go.

So far, it's been an exercise in carefree exploration that shows if nothing else, that virtual reality isn't dead.

Update 3/6/2019 @ 4:54 PM EST: While we await the impending launch of Oculus Quest, it looks like Oculus has something else brewing. Rumors are swirling around another headset dubbed the Rift S, the company's next-generation headset. The new device will utilize integrated cameras for tracking, but might still rely on an external tether similar to the original Rift. In addition, there are reports that the company is working on enterprise versions of both the Quest and the Oculus Go. Stay tuned for more details.

Credit: Sherri L. Smith/Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Sherri L. Smith/Tom's Guide)

Out of all the VR headsets out there, the Quest is one of the best-looking so far. The device is all smooth, rounded corners with a thick, yet comfortable set of headstraps. The four wide-angle sensors are small and sit inconspicuously in the corners along the front of the device. I did have to do a bit of hair maneuvering to get the headset to accommodate nearly 20 years of locs, but for right now it's the price of admission for folks with big hair. Le sigh.

Similar to the Touch controllers, the Quest's bundled controllers are made out a mix of glossy and matte plastics. Since I didn't have a pair of the Touch controllers with me, I can't tell you how they stack up weight-wise to the Quest. However, I did notice that the Quest controllers were missing the comfy thumb rest that the Touch controllers provide. They're still pretty darn comfortable, but I do like those thumb rests.

Oculus is being pretty tight-lipped on specs for now, but here's what we do know, the standalone headset will have a display resolution of 1600 x 1440 per eye with an OLED panel. The company thoughtfully included a lens spacer so Quest wearers will have a more comfortable viewing experience.

MORE: The $399 Oculus Quest Offers Premium Standalone VR (and Darth Vader)

In demos, the Quest is hitting all the right notes. The integrated audio is rich and engaging as I found out to creepy effect during Face Your Fears 2. I was quickly unnerved by the creaking doors, hapless screams and gentle skittering of legions of deadly spiders threatening to feast on my corpse. The Screen Door effect is minimal, especially when compared to the original Rift.

But it's the unfettered freedom to explore that really sells the Quest. Thanks to the sensors and Oculus Insight tech, I never felt like I was in any danger of running into a wall or tripping over any furniture. Best of all, I didn't have to worry about accidentally yanking a cord out of the connected desktop or laptop or worse, tipping them over. That meant I was free to duck, dodge, kick and punch in Superhot VR and I could run around the court in a VR tennis game to get that perfect backhand return.

It's the unfettered freedom to explore that really sells the Quest.

Since it's a standalone system, Quest has to have onboard storage. And it does, but it only offers 64GB of space. It's a double the storage on the base model of the Oculus Go, but it's still not enough. And throughout all my demos, I have yet to notice an expandable microSD slot.

Credit: Oculus

(Image credit: Oculus)

I get that a lot of VR games and apps don't take up a lot of space, but some, like Arizona Sunshine, take up 18.2GB of storage. And the fact that Quest is shipping with three games: Moss (11.7GB), Robo Recall (9.3GB) and The Climb (10.9GB) and it won't be long before the Quest is full and you have to start deleting things. I'm hoping this time around Oculus will offer several storage options that at least go up to 256GB -- either that or add the microSD slot. (FYI, I prefer the slot.)

Still, all these demos are in a fairly controlled environment. I definitely want to try out Insight's multi-room functionality and see how it responses to mapping different rooms. If it lives up to the hype, Oculus Quest could potentially make a serious get for mainstream gamers.

It's portable, with high-quality graphics, offers loads of content and is fairly attainable at $399. But the ball is definitely in Oculus' court to make the case yet again for why consumers should jump on the VR bandwagon.

Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith has been cranking out product reviews for Laptopmag.com since 2011. In that time, she's reviewed more than her share of laptops, tablets, smartphones and everything in between. The resident gamer and audio junkie, Sherri was previously a managing editor for Black Web 2.0 and contributed to BET.Com and Popgadget.