Over the years, we’ve reviewed several different variations of the Gear VR, an Oculus-powered virtual reality headset that requires a Samsung smartphone to function and operate. If you’ve ever purchased a Samsung smartphone, you’ve probably received a free Gear VR and have played around with one.
Well, what we have here today is the new Oculus Go headset that offers wireless phone-free virtual reality. It’s a $200 piece of equipment that has everything needed for you to enter virtual reality and start playing games or consuming media.
If we rip off the plastic wrap and slide off the top of the box, we’ll get a glimpse at what is inside. Up front and center is the Oculus Go headset itself with fabric straps on the sides. It consists of a plastic construction and while it’s not too heavy, it does have considerably more weight to it than a standard Gear VR headset.
Behind the Oculus Go is a wireless three-axis motion controller. It too is constructed with plastic and it requires a single AA battery for power. There’s a touchpad, back button, and Oculus button up front with a trigger on the back. The butt of the controller features a slot to insert a wrist strap.
Last but not least is a box containing some other accessories. First we have a rubber eyeglass spacer that can be inserted into the headset to allow you to wear glasses while in virtual reality. There’s a US wall wart used for charging, some batteries, and a wrist strap for the controller. The other little compartment features a micro USB charging cable, a safety and warranty packet, and cleaning cloth.
What’s interesting is that you still do need a smartphone to install the Oculus app and set up the headset. Thankfully, the process is fairly painless and it just requires some Wi-Fi and Oculus account info and updates. The app does work for both iOS and Android.
Upon first impressions, the experience of the Oculus Go is actually not as bad as I imagined it would be given the price. So it features a 2560x1440 WQHD Fast Switch LCD display with a 538ppi index. You can certainly notice the pixels when you’re viewing content but I would argue that it’s easy to overlook them and still enjoy watching Netflix or enjoy playing games.
With that said, I can imagine it being harder to overlook if you’re coming from a high-end Oculus Rift headset or HTC Vive. I think it’s pretty clear that this is an entry-level headset. The results and experience of virtual reality is only going to get better the more money you shell out. If you buy an $800 Oculus Rift headset or HTC Vive, you’re going to get what you pay for. You’re going to have a better experience.
What truly makes this headset worthwhile though is its access to over 1000 games and experiences available via the Oculus app store. You just pick the content that you want from the Oculus app on your phone and it’ll sync over to the headset. It’s all very seamless and I don’t believe there’s a VR app store anywhere near as expansive as this one.
You do have 32GB of internal storage in the $199 base model, 64GB of storage in the $249 model. You probably should spring for the $249 model though because app sizes can be pretty large. The graphics are going to be on par with that of mobile games. In fact, the processor powering the Go headset is a Snapdragon 821 chipset with 3GB of RAM, which is similar to the power of the LG G6.
Now to get the best experience, you’ll probably want to throw on a nice pair of headphones. There’s a 3.5mm headphone jack on the side to do just that with volume controls and a power button up top of the headset. If you don’t want to get that immersed, you can opt in for the spatial audio drivers that are built into the headset that get output right by your ears, which is kind of nice. Once again, it’s nice to have an all-in-one solution to enjoy VR.
For $200, the Oculus Go could really be worth it if you’re new to virtual reality or just want to casually watch a movie or play a game in VR. The price really isn’t too much considering you do get a controller and everything you need to enter VR. You don’t have to buy an $800 Samsung smartphone and pop it into the back of this headset anymore.