Oculus Go: First thoughts

I purchased an Oculus Go on launch day, but due to other commitments I wasn't able to play with it until today. These are my initial uncensored thoughts. First off, for 200 bucks it's pretty good. You get a standalone device that boots up and lets you do things. It's preloaded with a few apps, and the catalog features a bunch of free demos, videos, and games. I haven't dug very far into the catalog yet, but so far I'm impressed.

Underneath the Go basically a flagship smartphone from a couple of years ago. It runs Android with a custom shell, plays Android games from the Oculus store, and has hardware acceleration for video. The controller and headset are only 3DOF (three degress of freedom), meaning it can track the angle of your body but not your position. However, in practice, this hasn't been a problem. It won't impress the gamers who use the Rift and Vive devices, but for casual entertainment it's amazing, and at a fraction of the price.

The web browser is awkward to use, but no one really knows how a 2D browser should work in VR yet (something my employer is working on). After using it for a few hours I can already tell that text entry is a big problem. Logging into my Youtube channel was a pain, and I'm pretty sure Google is serving me the mobile version of the website.

Jesse and I recorded our first 360 video with another new toy that I'll talk about tomorrow. Getting from the 2D webview into the 360 view was confusing and required several clicks. Ideally the webpage would recognize you are in a 360 capable device and show you an alternative interface. This *should* be possible with existing APIs. I'll have to dig deeper, though.

In the meantime, being able to make VR webcontent that just works is pretty awesome. The only thing that doesn't quite work yet is AFrame support for the Oculus Go's controller, but I'm sure we'll see that coming soon.

I don't mean this to be too much of a glowing review. I'm just impressed with the quality for 200$. It certainly has problems, not least of which is battery life and processing speed, but that's just a few cranks of Moore's law away.

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Posted May 8th, 2018

Tagged: vr