Oculus GO is a game changer for virtual reality

Oculus GO is a game changer for virtual reality
Photo: Mali Maeder, Pexels

Facebook recently released the Oculus GO to consumers, showcasing their first release of stand alone VR. If you don’t know what stand alone VR is, we’ll get to that in a moment. Whilst the GO can’t be classed as ‘Generation 2’ VR, it definitely changes a lot for Virtual Reality.

When purchasing the Oculus Go, there are two different models to choose from. There is a 32GB Version for $239 USD, or a 64 GB Version for $289 USD. Unfortunately, this headset doesn’t have an SD Card, so doesn’t offer any expandable storage which is a major inconvenience for some.

If you don’t plan to store a lot of TV Shows or Movies, getting the lower memory device really shouldn’t be an issue. The GO can be purchased in Australia from the Oculus Store.

A look at stand alone VR

Let’s get back to ‘Stand alone VR’. The Oculus GO isn’t a 2nd Generation VR device and can’t really be compared to the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. These headsets connect to your PC, and get games and content from there.

Where as the Oculus GO is considered as Mobile VR, and has it’s own App Store. It doesn’t require any external hardware at all, other than a mobile phone to install the Oculus App and complete the initial setup. This device isn’t revolutionary by any means, as Mobile VR has been around for a long time with the most known being Gear VR.

What makes Facebook’s new headset unique though is that it already has a screen and all the necessary components installed. You won’t need to put your phone inside it.

Basic specifications of the GO

As we mentioned before, two variations of the GO currently exist. The only difference being the amount of internal storage offered (32GB or 64GB). Provided with the GO is a single controller, which features 2 buttons, a trigger and track-pad.

Looking at the screen, it offers 538 pixels per inch and a total resolution of 2650×1440, making it Facebooks highest resolution headset yet at a great price point. If you have ever used an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive before, the difference is immediately noticeable. These other headsets suffer from some severe SDE (screen door effect).

Just like it sounds, when looking through the Rift or Vive, it feels like your looking through a screen door. This is the fine lines between pixels on the screen, which are completely visible and ruin most of the immersion gained in Virtual Reality. For the first time, I can completely forget about the SDE when wearing the Oculus GO. Whilst it’s still there, it’s gotten to the point that it’s almost invisible and is only noticeable when you actually look for it.

Audio wise, the GO offers integrated spatial sound and a microphone. Two speakers are built into the head-strap, one on each side. The audio quality is actually quite impressive, as the audio is directly output towards your ears.

It’s important to note that the GO offers 3 DOF, or degrees of freedom. What this means is that when wearing it, you can look around in all directions, but physically moving does nothing. It’s a bit of a downgrade compared to PC VR, but Facebook have you covered. The Oculus Santa Cruz is expected to release possibly late this year or next year. Santa Cruz will also be stand alone and feature 6 DOF.

Apps and games

With talking about the Oculus GO only having 3 DOF, games feel like much of a downgrade coming from PC VR. You won’t be able to experience games like realistic Ping Pong, Beat Saber or SUPERHOT. This doesn’t suggest that the games are necessarily bad, it’s just no where near the level of what’s available. Maybe the release of Santa Cruz will make some of these games playable.

An app that is great on PC VR would be Google Earth. You can explore the streets using built in Street View and feel like your actually standing somewhere else. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t created a Google Earth App on the GO yet, and it’s uncertain whether they will. Google is expected to make their own debut into Stand Alone VR, and they could be saving for that. Until then, there are workarounds to getting Google Street View on Oculus GO.

If you’re an avid movie watcher, then this is exactly where this VR device shines. With the lowered SDE, higher resolution and increased comfort, it’s safe to say that the Oculus GO is by far the best experience for watching media. From the App Store, you can download apps such as Netflix, where you’ll be sitting on a virtual sofa watching movies on a massive screen. If you’re in bed, you can switch over to the Void Theatre where you can position the screen nicely on the ceiling.

Where as in BigScreen Beta, you can join friends or strangers in watching movies, TV shows or games from all over the world. It’s a great way to make VR more sociable, and even more perfect for long distant friendships and relationships. If you’re looking to make an entrance into VR for a cheap price, the Oculus GO is definitely a good choice.