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(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

OUR VERDICT

The Oculus Quest 2 has excellent performance, striking visuals and is lighter than the old version. It has its shortcomings, such as uncomfortable controllers, but the HMD’s a worthy replacement for the original Quest and as Facebook’s sole VR headset.

FOR

  • Amazing resolution
  • Lightweight, compact and portable
  • Much more powerful than original Quest
  • Great price

AGAINST

  • White picks up dirt and grime
  • Poor controller ergonomics
  • No Oculus Link cable in the box
  • IPD adjustment could be more precise

Facebook is making a bold move with the Quest 2 VR headset announced today. Surprised by the original Oculus Quest’s success, which we considered the best VR headset for most enthusiasts, Facebook is doubling down with Quest 2.

Starting at $299 available for pre-order now and purchase on October 13, this new VR headset is the key to Facebook’s vision of the future. Come 2021, Oculus will abandon headsets that require a PC connection, phasing out the Oculus Rift S and making the Quest 2 Facebook’s only VR headset. The Quest 2 ends the era of Rift, but is it worthy?

WIth its standalone form factor, it doesn’t require a PC or smartphone connection, making it easier for newcomers to adopt. It’s a more accessible and more powerful VR device that Facebook sees as the catalyst for mass adoption of VR. After playing with it for a couple of weeks, we tend to agree. It’s not perfect, but it’s really good!

Oculus Quest 2 Specs

SoC Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 (Snapdragon 865)
Display Fast-switch LCD: 1832 x 1920 resolution per eye, 72 Hz or 90 Hz refresh rate
IPD Setting 3 mechanical pre-sets (58mm, 633mm, 68mm)
Storage 64GB or 256GB of internal flash storage
Audio Integrated speakers and microphone, single 3.5 mm audio jack, third-party accessories available
RAM 6GB
Battery Built-in Lithium Ion battery (mAh undisclosed); 2-3 hours estimated runtime, 2.5 hour charge time
Facial Interface and Strap Material Knit Mesh foam cushion, flexible fabric head strap
Tracking Technology Oculus Insight inside-out camera-based 6-DoF tracking with motion controllers
Input 3rd-generation Oculus Touch controllers
Play Space Requirements Stationary or room-scale;  Room-scale requires a minimum of 6.5 x 6.5 feet (2m x 2m) of obstruction-free floor space
Dimensions 7.5 x 4 x 5.6 inches (191.5 x 102 x 142.5mm)
Weight 1.1 pounds (503g)
Price 64GB: $299; 256GB: $399

The original Quest headset included a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC that was a few generations old at the time. The Quest 2 is equipped with the latest XR chipset, the Snapdragon XR2 5G. The new headset also includes 50% more RAM than the first Quest, giving developers a full 6GB to exploit. In the short term, the extra memory likely won’t have much benefit, but developers may take advantage of the extra RAM to add features to upcoming titles.

The Quest 2 runs at a significantly higher resolution than the previous generation. The original Quest’s panels offer a very respectable 1440 x 1600 resolution per eye. That’s higher than the Oculus Rift and on par with the HTC Vive Pro and Valve Index — all of which require a PC connection. The Quest 2 kicks things up a notch or two with a per-eye resolution of 1832 x 1920. That’s a 50% increase in pixels over the first Quest. The difference is subtle, but the crisper image is a welcome treat, especially if you’re concerned about the screen door effect.

Facebook’s new VR headset can also run at up to a 90 Hz refresh rate; whereas, the original Quest is locked in at 72 Hz. So, you’re getting a framerate increase, along with the resolution bump. BUt keep in mind that the Quest’2s 90 Hz mode is not yet enabled and not something you can choose to run. It will be up to developers to allow 90 Hz within their games.

Industrial Design Changes

The Quest 2 is much more performant than the previous model, but that’s just scratching the surface of the changes introduced on this new headset. Facebook learned a lot from the first Quest and Oculus Go budget standalone headset about what works for standalone VR and what doesn’t. The Quest 2 is the culmination of Facebook’s best insights into making a great VR headset—for consumers and Facebook.

Facebook’s Quest 2 is 10% lighter than the last one, partly due to its size decrease. Quest 2 is slightly narrower and shorter than the Quest, and the visor isn’t as deep either. Facebook even installed smaller tracking cameras on the front of the headset to help reduce the device’s size and weight.

Quest 2’s material construction also helps reduce weight. Gone is the fancy fabric exterior in favor of a simple plastic housing, which weighs less and, more importantly, is easier to clean. Facebook recommends using non-abrasive anti-bacterial wipes to keep the exterior sanitized.

Keeping the HMD clean is important for the usual obvious reasons, but also because the Quest is white, not black like other Oculus headsets. White makes it look nice at first, but any dirt or stain will show up immediately, so you will need to clean it regularly. Depending on how you look at it, that could be a good or a bad thing.

(Image credit: Oculus)

The original Quest featured a semi-rigid rubber strap that didn’t conform well to your head and was easily the biggest con of the Quest’s design. The Quest 2 has a fabric strap, like the one found on the Oculus Go headset, which we find much more comfortable than the older model’s firm strap. The fabric here is made of an elastic that holds the tension on your head. The head strap has a simple adjustment in the back that doesn’t require any Velcro. There is an overhead strap that does have a Velcro adjustment.

The Quest 2’s head strap isn’t permanently affixed. Facebook created a custom snap-fit system that allows you to remove the strap for easy cleaning. You can hand wash the strap with mild detergent and hang it up to air dry. Again, a removable, washable strap is a welcome addition to the design not just because of the current global situation, but also because the strap is an off-white color that is sure to get dirty over time.

Additionally, the head strap is removable because you can buy upgrades for it. More on that later.

Oculus Quest 2 Touch Controllers: A Step Backward

Oculus controllers have evolved over the years. When the Rift first launched, the input device of choice was an Xbox One controller. Soon after, Oculus released the highly praised, first-generation Touch controllers. Those controllers offered capacitive touch sensors, two face buttons, a menu button, a thumbstick and a thumb rest, plus a trigger and grip buttons.

The second-generation Touch controllers were a small iterative change from the original controllers, which were altered mostly for compatibility with the Quest and Rift S’ inside-out tracking system. The new controllers were slightly smaller than the first-gen Touch controllers, but Facebook did away with the thumb rest, which, according to the vendor, was a sore spot for many fans.

As such, the Quest 2 includes newly redesigned controllers that bring the thumb rest back. The Quest 2’s Touch controllers look like a cross between the first two generations.

Unfortunately, the new controllers are a step in the wrong direction. Their bulky shape does not lend well to a comfortable experience. The controllers’ top is quite bulbous, which makes it difficult to get a good grip on the controller. My index finger must be extended quite far to reach the trigger with the tip of my finger. That forces my hand to sit in a more open position than it does with the previous versions of Touch.

The result is a much less balanced controller. Despite balance being one of the main points that Palmer Luckey highlighted when he first revealed Touch to the world, it feels like the designers of these next-gen Touch controllers put no consideration into balance at all.

To make matters worse, because of the extended index position, my thumb rides up pretty far on the controller’s face. The placement of the A, B, Y and X buttons and the thumbsticks works fine, but I struggle to find the menu button when I want to, and my thumb doesn’t rest naturally on the thumb rest.

Facebook said it designed the new Touch controllers in response to customer feedback complaining about the lack of thumb rest. However, the added thumb rests make the controllers’ shape too bulky, which negatively affected my ability to hold the controller securely.

While playing Pistol Whip, I frequently thought I was going to drop the controller. The problem wasn’t as prominent in Beat Saber because the triggers aren’t needed. The combination of swinging the controllers and needing the trigger button makes for a cumbersome controller experience. After playing for about an hour while compensating for the controller’s inferior balance, my hand cramped up.

Unfortunately, there’s no going back. The new headset is not backwards compatible with the Quest and Rift S’ Touch controllers. That is incredibly disappointing for all the third-party companies that make accessories for Quest and those who already bought accessories but want the Quest 2. Not carrying over support for the old controllers is a massive oversight and missed opportunity for more choice for the customer.

The new Touch controllers still employ disposable batteries stashed inside the handle. The original Touch controllers had a novel magnetic battery cover, which carried over to the second-generation model. For the third iteration of Touch controllers, Facebook discarded the neodymium in favor of a plastic,pressure-fit mechanism. The move likely saved a few grams of weight and a few dollars in manufacturing cost, but it’s a slick feature that I’ll miss.

The design of the new Touch controllers isn’t all bad. Facebook managed to improve efficiency so the controller lasts four times as long on a set of batteries compared to last gen. The construction of the controllers also feels more robust than the previous iteration.

Facebook also said it upgraded the haptics system, but we didn’t notice much of a difference.

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