During Facebook’s F8 developer conference today, human CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the availability of the Oculus Go, the company’s latest VR headset and its first standalone device for virtual reality that doesn’t require a PC or smartphone.
While smartphone-free VR has been in the works for some time, a fully functional VR headset for $US239 ($319) – the cost of the less expensive Oculus Go, including shipping to Australia – might be just the thing the platform needs in order to take off. Of course, it could deliver a VR experience that isn’t worth the price of admission.
The Go is available in 32GB and 64GB models, for $US239 ($319) and $US289 ($386), respectively, and you can purchase the headset from the company’s store. It ditches the need to use your smartphone as your VR screen, but you’ll still need one to get it up and running. It includes a controller that lets you navigate your virtual environment, similar to Google’s Daydream headset. Also, it’s only available in the boring grey fabric colour.
One of the more interesting improvements is the availability of $106 prescription lens inserts for your headset. Oculus says you can wear your glasses when using the Go, but the option to purchase dedicated lenses for the device could help when it comes to comfort during longer play sessions.
Inside, the Go has a 2560 x 1440 LCD screen and built-in speakers so you don’t need headphones. It also uses the outdated Micro-USB port as opposed to the reversible, newer USB-C port.
In terms of app support, the Oculus Go has a catalogue of over 1000 available apps and is compatible with the same apps that run on the Samsung Gear VR (made in partnership with Oculus). The Oculus Go, contrary to what we had hoped for, lacks support for Oculus Rift apps. It does, however, have a few new services in the form of Oculus TV, Oculus Rooms and Oculus Venues.
Oculus Venues grants users access to live concerts and performances. Oculus Rooms, previously available on Oculus’ Gear VR, is a social app you can use to engage in VR activities with friends (think games, music and movies, but with your friends in VR). Oculus TV will let up to four people watch live or on-demand content from various partners. Both Venues and TV will be available later this month.