Standalone VR glasses Oculus Go tested: Is the purchase worth it?
The sales argument the Oculus Go wants to clear up on the market for mobile VR: Users only need the smartphone for configuration, then the VR glasses can be used alone. The headset contains a complete tablet for this purpose. This hardware comes from the Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, the operating system is Android 7.1.
Scope of delivery
In addition to the headset itself, the white box also contains accessories: Each buyer receives a wireless controller with three buttons and a touchpad, a matching wrist strap, a spacer for spectacle wearers, a USB cable, the battery for the controller, and a cleaning cloth. There’s no charger for Europe, but the Go works with any classic USB charger.
The Oculus Go comes in grey, the front part is made of hard plastic. The carrying area is made of fabric, grey outside, black inside. At the front is the on/off switch and a rocker for the volume. The Micro-USB connector and a 3.5 mm jack plug for headphones are located on the side. The fabric straps keep the glasses taut on the head and can be easily fixed or moved further. The Oculus Go weighs 471 grams, in the test the headset could be worn longer comfortably.
The controller fits well in the hand. The index finger rests on the trigger button, which is responsible for the selection or confirmation. With the thumb you reach the touchpad as well as the other two keys well. The upper button stands for “step back”, the lower one leads into the Oculus home environment or recalibrates the viewing direction and the controller when pressed for a long time.
Dizziness and nausea
We rarely had any dizziness on the test, even when watching porn it seems not to occur according to a test of VRpornstream. If they did, it was mainly in the 360-degree videos on YouTube, less in the games. This is probably also due to the frame rate: developers can choose between 60 and 72 Hertz frame rate for the Go. Other VR headsets go much higher, the Rift offers about 90 Hertz. The low frequency can cause nausea and discomfort. If you tend to, you should rather use slow content. Oculus itself has a rating system for all content, the so-called comfort levels. These range from green (pleasant) to orange (moderate) to red (sophisticated). This is a good orientation.
According to the manufacturer, the 2600 mAh battery built into the Oculus Go lasts between two and two and a half hours, depending on use. We can confirm this, videos can be played a little longer, complex games like Gunjack suck the battery faster.
The Go is charged in one and a half to two hours. Since the VR glasses are basically a normal smartphone, they can easily be charged with a power bank, so you get enough juice on the go.
At the time of testing (08.05.2018) the Oculus Go will only be distributed via the official Oculus Store. On this page you can buy the 32-GByte- and 64-GByte-Version for 219 Euro and 269 Euro including VAT. Since the glasses are already distributed in the USA by Amazon and big electronics chains like BestBuy, it’s only a matter of time until the Oculus Go will be available in retail stores in this country as well.
That’s why we’ve decided to include our price comparison now, even if it currently shows overpriced offers. As soon as the VR glasses are available in specialist shops, our price comparison is automatically updated.
Setup and first start
Before use, the Oculus Go must be coupled with the Oculus App for Android or iOS. This is done quickly, but an Oculus account is mandatory. Alternatively, you can use your Facebook login directly, but you can’t do it without registration. The wizard then guides you through the first steps. It couples the headset with the mobile phone, sets up access to the WLAN and the controller. The only annoyance is that you can’t skip the warnings, but have to watch short videos.
Then the headset continues. The Oculus Go guides the user in an understandable tutorial through the basic operation, such as how to use the controller. This is also well recognized without external sensors. It emits a white dot with which the user selects buttons. Pressing the trigger confirms the selection. This works very well in the test, we quickly got used to the operation.
But there are also some hooks: The Oculus app absolutely wants the GPS location to be able to locate the Go. Why Bluetooth is not enough is unclear. This ensures that we were able to connect to the glasses on the mobile phone, but with a tablet without GPS, the Go would not connect at all. Another negative point is the integration into Facebook. In the test, the connection only worked with an installed Facebook app, pure access via the browser is not enough. Linking to Facebook is a prerequisite for some apps, which could be better solved.
Image quality & performance
The Oculus Go uses an LCD instead of an Oled screen. The display is continuous and has a pleasantly high resolution of 2560 × 1440 pixels for both eyes and a pixel density of 538 PPI. This puts the Go above the Rift (two screens, 1080 × 1200 per eye, 456 PPI). Thanks to the continuous screen, you don’t see a bridge in the middle. The mask closes well, only through the recess for the nose some light enters. That doesn’t bother in practical use.
- The image itself is focused by the lenses, but here you have to work with the head straps to achieve a really useful result. Fonts are a good example: there is a “sweet spot” where they are sharp.
- As soon as you get away from it, you can quickly see shadows and ghost images. We were helped by the supplied distance adapter for spectacle wearers. After we put it between the mask and the headset, it was much sharper. All in all, you have to say: Compared to other mobile VR solutions with classic smartphones, the Go’s display is much better.
- In terms of performance, the Go beats all the other solutions we have tested so far. You can see that the headset is optimized for VR. No software ballast, no Google account, no additional apps in the background. You don’t even notice the Android substructure. Programs and videos run smoothly, there is no jerking in the content, no excessively long waiting times.
The device recognizes the head movements very well, the transmission takes place without noticeable delay. The same applies to the controller. As long as you hold it in front of you, the Go recognizes it reliably. In the test we held it a little below the field of view, so that only the white dot was visible, but not the controller itself. Nevertheless, we were able to control it well. If the image and controller drift to the side (we had this when commuting in the subway, for example), a long press on the lower “o” button on the controller is enough to calibrate the field of view and the input device. This is so fast that a movie playback doesn’t interrupt. That’s how it has to be. Theoretically the Go should also work with Bluetooth gamepads, but in the test it didn’t work with the Xbox-One gamepad (test report) – which actually works with Android.
There’s surprisingly little to complain about when it comes to sound: it’s very good even without headphones. For longer use we recommend headphones, which can be plugged in via the jack. The Go doesn’t work with a Bluetooth headset – why is Oculus silent?
Like the Rift, the Go gets its content exclusively from the Oculus Store. It is now well filled. You can choose from apps, games and videos (360 degrees and 2D). Via the point “Gallery”, the Go not only accesses the internal memory, it can also retrieve data from the linked smartphone or a UPnP source in the network. Especially the streaming of content from a NAS worked surprisingly well in the test. Partly the device bids with single file formats, but there is the App Skybox VR Player. This player reproduced pretty much everything we presented to it. Practically also: The contents can be downloaded to the internal memory and played from there via the three dots under the respective files. NetflixVR is also available in the store, but the app does not yet support offline content. We hope for an update to be able to watch the series when commuting.
Oculus Rooms has been completely redesigned for the Go. The app gives each user a virtual home to invite friends to. To do this, you first use the app to create an avatar that represents your own digital self. It’s interesting that Rooms now also supports Samsung Gear users, so the circle of friends opens up a bit. In Oculus Venues you can now see live events such as concerts or sports events. At the moment nothing is running here, so we couldn’t test it. After all, Facebook delivers its own app with Facebook360, which is almost a YouTube for Facebook videos. As a user, you see all contributions from subscribed pages, and the app itself suggests its own 360-degree and other content.
The Oculus Go is a cleanly manufactured device with a good fit, clever design also for eyeglass wearers and a well functioning controller. Of course, it’s not comparable to headsets like the HTC Vive (test report), the Oculus Rift or Windows Mixed Reality glasses. The competition such as Samsung Gear VR, Google Daydream (test report) and the dozens of other mobile VR glasses put the Go loosely in their pockets. It comes with everything you need to get started with VR. No tinkering, no pushing around – switch on, put on, done. No other mobile VR solution can do that for the price, especially not in this quality.
- And yes, there are still problems, but fortunately especially with the software: The management app is bitchy, Bluetooth headsets are not supported and even gamepads cannot be coupled yet, although this was promised. But all these points can be controlled with updates.
- With the Go, Oculus has not only created inexpensive VR glasses, but also a potential ecosystem for virtual applications.
- For the first time, developers and service providers have created a precisely defined environment for mobile VR that unifies factors such as resolution, software and controller while at the same time being so affordable that it becomes interesting for the masses.
- Hopefully they’ll build on that, then it could be a good year for VR.