Oculus Announces New Headset Go at Oculus Connect 4 Conference

At their Connect 4 conference in San Jose, Oculus announced an new VR headset as well as some other news. The new headset is called Oculus Go and is an untethered headset that does not rely on an inserted smartphone for processing power or display functionality. This standalone headset has everything included and is expected to ship in the beginning of 2018. The kicker of this announcement is the expected sales price of $199 for the headset and controller.

While the headset was announced at the Connect 4 conference, the device is now also live on the Oculus website, confirming the price, but with no other details. There was very little detail available from Oculus other than some high gloss pictures. The headset is untethered , which means that there is no cord going to the PC and there is actually no end PC required to use the headset. As reported by many other news outlets as well, there was no test model available for viewing at the event.

New Oculus Go untethered headset

As reported by Tom’s, there were some news snippets available at the conference in regards to the display as well as the processor used. The rumor is that the unit will run on the Snapdragon 821 SOC and will be using a fast switching LCD with a resolution of WQHD (2560×1440). The same sources indicate that the expected “project Santa Cruz” headset will be using a Snapdragon 835, similar to other upcoming headsets from HTC and Lenovo.

The optics are based on fresnel lenses as can be seen in some images on the website.

Oculus Go LensOculus Go Lens is based on Fresnel optics

It seems that this new Oculus Go is aimed at the bargain buyer, being the lowest cost untethered and standalone VR headset so far. At this price point the use of smartphone based headsets like the Samsung Gear VR may see a drastic drop in demand, if the headset quality is at least equal or even better.

Other news from the conference include:

  • The price for the Oculus Rift headset is now permanently lowered to $399.
  • Oculus Dash is a display monitor application that allows for 360º virtual monitor. The unit will ship in December 2017 with Oculus Core.
  • Oculus for Business is a $900 Oculus Rift bundled with customer support.
  • Facebook will launch Facebook Venues in 2018 that allow the user to watch various experiences.

Analyst Comment

The most interesting part of the Oculus Go announcement for me is the rumor that it will use a fast switching LCD. Oculus has made a big deal about the fact that LCDs are just not fast enough to avoid the dreaded nauseating effect that VR has on some people. Using LCD in the Go would indicate that this older statement is not entirely true anymore or they have learned how to minimize nausea through other ways of driving the display and preparing the content. One of the arguments reported by Tom’s Hardware was that LCDs have a better fill factor, which eliminates or at least minimizes the screen door effect in the headset. This was always the biggest complaint for me with the Oculus Rift. (NH)

One of my take-aways from the event is that there is a new version of the Core software, Core 2.0, that has a new feature, Oculus Dash, which allows the use of desktop apps in VR headsets using ‘virtual monitors’. The update is due in December. See the video below for a brief idea of the app. Of course, the reality is that there is simply nowhere near enough resolution available yet in VR to make this a realistic concept for most desktop apps, although it could allow the development of special apps. (BR)