Early in 2020, after extensive research, I took the plunge and bought my first VR headset, the Oculus Quest. My wife said that I looked like a kid on Christmas when it arrived. Fast forward half a year, I had enjoyed my time with the Quest so much that when the Oculus Quest 2 was announced, I pre-ordered one almost immediately. The new specifications had improvements that I was specifically looking for in the Quest. These included an improved refresh rate, increased resolution, better CPU, and redesigned controllers. But is the Quest 2 a good option for those looking to upgrade their VR experience or for those just getting into VR?
- MSRP: $299 US (64 GB)/$399 US (256GB) (Oculus Store, Amazon)
- CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Platform
- Memory: 6GB
- Panel Type: Single Fast-Switch LCD, 1832x1920px per eye
- Refresh Rate: 72Hz (Default)/90Hz
- 1x USB-C
- Tracking: Inside out, 6DOF
- Audio: Integrated, in-strap (Plus Audio Jack for Headphones)
- 3 preset IPD adjustments
When first looking at VR headsets there are a few questions you need to ask yourself. What is your budget? Do you have a gaming PC readily at hand? Would you prefer to use inside-out tracking or outside-in? If this is your first venture into VR the MSRP for the base version of the Quest 2 is $299 US with 64 GB of onboard storage, it is a great value for the hardware. This headset is also a standalone product that doesn’t require a powerful personal computer, though if you want to play PC VR games you will still need one. It also uses inside-out tracking which means no setting up base stations and you can easily set up multiple play (guardian) spaces around your house or quickly set one up if visiting friends/family.
The onscreen setup process is one of the easiest I have experience for almost any hardware I have used. In a few steps, it gets your Facebook account linked or created and you are quickly able to get into the demo experience. The demo itself is amazing for getting a user introduced to VR. For those who are Quest users, you will quickly notice the reduced screen door effect because of the new LCD screen and improved resolution. The original Quest panel was a Dual OLED 1600x1440 per eye and while I am a bit disappointed with the loss of those deep blacks changing to an LCD was well worth it for the increase in visual quality.
One of the announced improvements that I found most appealing was the increased refresh rate of 90Hz, unfortunately, at release the Quest 2 only supported 72Hz. Thankfully in November 2020 Oculus released the v23 update that supported the increased refresh rate and included latency reduction improvements to help counter motion sickness in VR some users experience. The now supported 90 Hz makes a real difference for PC VR games and those native apps supported by developers. It also improves the perceived responsiveness of the Quest 2 menus. Speaking of performance improvements, the new Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 CPU and 6 GB of ram (vs the Quest 4GB) makes a noticeable difference as you scroll through menus and when launching/running native apps.
The Quest 2 is lighter than the Quest (1.1 lbs vs 1.26 lbs) which I found does make a noticeable difference during long play sessions. There is not as much weight on the front of the headset, so it doesn’t strain the neck and shoulders quite as much. Unfortunately, the reduced size did also cause me some issues when using my glasses with the Quest 2. With the Quest, I had no issues fitting my glasses inside the facial interface, but I had to squeeze them past the Quest 2 spongy default face pad.
Also improved was the default head strap, while still not that great, was a huge improvement over the Quest head strap that never fit well no matter how much I adjusted it. The controllers were also redesigned to improve gesture tracking and hand fit. I found them a bit uncomfortable at first but adjusted quickly, they feel a bit more substantial and the button placements are a bit different, Quest users may also find it a bit of an adjustment but new VR user should have no issues. I was pleased to see that the AA battery cover for each controller was also changed so they are more secure, with the quest there was a chance of the cover sliding off when swinging the controller back and forth. To top it all off the Quest/Quest 2 also supports hand tracking without the use of controllers, which is rather limited at this time, and I am really looking forward to seeing what developers do with it moving forward. There are a few apps that already make use of hand tracking, but they are few and far between.
Oculus continues to improve the Quest 2 as well with each update. The most recent update has now enabled App Labs, allowing users to download apps that previously could only be accessed through sideloading via a PC. A great addition for developers and users which will further increase the quests library.
Not everything is sunshine and rainbows for the Quest 2. I was disappointed that Oculus decided to remove the IPD (inter-pupillary distance) slider in favor of 3 preset IPD adjustments (1 – 58 mm, 2 – 63mm, 3 – 68 mm). While one of these settings will serve most users quite well if you are someone like me then you may find yourself between settings 2 and 3. I have managed to adjust the switch so that it sits between the two settings but Oculus doesn’t recommend doing this. Also, if you use setting 3 some users have reported noticing the corner edge of the LCD screen.
The other big controversy that needs to be addressed is that with the Quest 2 you must link your existing Oculus account with a Facebook account or link your new Quest 2 directly to a Facebook account. This can be a deal-breaker for some users due to Facebook’s past privacy issues which is completely understandable. If you are someone who absolutely refuses to use Facebook then new Oculus products unfortunately are not available for you to use. Some folks are hoping this will change in the future, but it is unlikely as Facebook seems to be consolidating all of its gaming hardware/content into the one platform. So far, this push seems to be working as they have now captured a large percentage of the VR market with the Quest 2 release and developers are reporting increased sales from apps on the headset. My best advice is that if you decide to buy a Quest 2 but still have concerns over using a Facebook account make sure to go over your privacy setting with a fine-tooth comb.
A few other minor nitpicks I noticed included that the headset plastic finishes felt a bit cheaper compared to the Quest, battery life is only 2-3 hours without a backup/elite strap, the default storage is 64 GB, minor inside-out tracking issues, and the need for accessories for a completely enjoyable VR experience. For most users, 64 GB will be more than enough right now, but larger games are beginning to emerge that will eat up that space very quickly and they will only continue to grow in size over the next couple of years as more AAA developers start releasing VR titles. I noticed as well during gameplay that when reaching over my shoulder to store items the inside-out tracking did not always track my hand properly, I expect it would fine with a headset using base stations since the Quest 2 has no way of tracking behind the user’s head. I also highly recommend keeping in mind that if you want your Quest 2 to be a great experience you may interested in picking up a few accessories that could cost between $100 and $200 total. For example, I found that prescription lenses were a must since they eliminated my need to wear glasses in VR and also avoided any chance of scratching the Quest 2 lenses with my frames.
The Oculus Quest 2 is an amazing VR headset for the price and doesn’t require you to have a gaming PC to enjoy VR. However, if you do want to play PC VR games, you can connect the headset to your gaming PC using a compatible cable. If you are willing to go through a few additional steps you can also connect to your PC using a local WIFI (Guides can be easily found online). The other big benefit of the Quest 2 is that it is an untethered experience and very portable so it is great for sharing a VR experience with friends/family. Playing in VR and not being tied to a cable is amazing, especially if you have a large play space (Oculus recommends at least a 6.5 FT x 6.5 FT space). The headset is easy to use and easy to set up for first time VR users. Along with the hardware improvements, it is a decent step up from the original Quest. While the new IPD settings may not work for a small number of users, though they can try to tweak it somewhat if it's uncomfortable, one of the setting should be fine. Unfortunately, the real deal-breaker for some is the required use of a Facebook account. If you can get by the Facebook account requirement, I highly recommend the Oculus Quest 2 and with Oculus's history of update releases it is only going to improve further over time.
The product described in this article was purchased by the author at retail.