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In January 2022, Meta renamed the Oculus Quest 2 headset to the Meta Quest 2. The hardware itself, reviewed here, remains the same.
The Oculus Quest 2 is one of the best VR headsets available for both beginners and seasoned VR veterans alike. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s a must-have device if you’re looking for a top-tier VR system that doesn’t require the additional wires, huge expense or added fuss of a PC-based VR setup, like the HTC Vive or now-discontinued Oculus Rift S.
- Oculus (Meta) Quest 2 at Meta Quest for $299 (opens in new tab)
But for how long will it remain top of the VR pile? Facebook (now called Meta) announced its latest VR headset – dubbed Project Cambria – at the Connect event last October. At the time the company explained that this new device will be home to groundbreaking technology that aims to help establish the earliest days of its ambitious ‘metaverse’.
It’s due to arrive sometime this year, but for now, Meta’s Quest 2 VR device continues to rule the roost.
For starters, the standalone Quest 2 brings you easy access to everything that makes virtual reality special and well worth your time, delivering high-quality virtual reality experiences at a fair price to your front room with minimal set-up.
The Quest 2 allows you to (almost literally) step inside gaming worlds, as well as access 360-degree video content and apps covering all genres. This is a truly immersive gadget that even the most tech-shy members of your family can have a blast with – once they’ve eased themselves into it, that is (VR-induced motion sickness is real).
The Oculus Quest 2 VR headset is the second version of the Quest headset range. It’s similar to the original Oculus Quest in that it’s a battery-powered, standalone headset that allows you to freely roam around your physical and digital play spaces without fear of tripping over a wire.
But there are some significant changes that would make an upgrade well worth it if you currently already have the original Quest and you’re considering the Quest 2. The new model offers a more responsive experience overall, thanks to improved RAM and chip specs. It also has a higher resolution display, which is a whole 50% sharper than its predecessor. Combined, these upgrades make the Oculus Quest 2 experience even more seamless and immersive.
What’s more, where the Quest 2 is concerned developers now have the option to make their games run at 90Hz and even 120Hz (this is important for increased comfort and even more realism while playing), and the headset itself is noticeably lighter than before, with double the battery life in the controllers.
Hand tracking – which arrived on the original Quest via a firmware update, but is baked into the Quest 2 from the off – is also highly impressive, though can feel a little like a work in progress at times.
There are hundreds of separately-sold Oculus Quest games – and some free ones too – available to play with the headset, including everything from shooters to puzzle games, fitness titles to meditation apps, there truly is something for everyone, even if levels of quality – and comfort – can vary depending on what you’re watching and playing.
The Oculus Quest 2 also offers a social experience. Though some will shudder at the Facebook account requirement (more on this below) the Oculus Quest 2 is superb when playing with friends. Whether you choose to do that through online avatars, or in the same physical room thanks to the option to Google Cast whatever you’re viewing within your headset to a nearby TV.
And yet, while Quest 2 is the most accessible and feature-rich VR headset we’ve tested to date, it still falls foul of some of the same pitfalls that virtual reality as a whole suffers from. There’s still the chance you’ll experience a degree of motion sickness, depending on your constitution, which is unavoidable on most headsets – even those that claim to have solved these problems – and might require you to introduce yourself to VR more gradually to avoid the telltale signs.
What’s more, getting a good, tight fit to ensure the screen appears as clear as possible can be claustrophobic and a little uncomfortable. These base-level issues remain unsolved; for a new generation of hardware, we’d have liked to have seen a wider array of brand-new software to go with it, too.
Having said that, we are expecting more and more upgrades to the Quest 2 that might not address every niggling issue but could improve the VR experience even more. For example, the addition of 120Hz gaming for some titles didn’t just make for smoother gaming but can reduce the chance you’ll experience VR-induced motion sickness.
Oculus Quest 2 isn’t perfect, then – but it’s as close to perfect as VR has come so far and well worth your time, money, and energy if you’ve been looking for an excuse to swap reality for virtual reality. Until we see a Quest 3, this is the VR headset you want.
Oculus Quest 2: price and availability
Following a few price changes the Oculus Quest 2 now comes in two variants: a model with 128GB of storage, priced at $400 / £400 / AU$630, and a 256GB version for $500 / £500 / AU$790.
While this is cheaper than the original entry-level Oculus Quest model launched it’s more expensive than the Quest 2 has been previously. Before Meta brought in a price increase (caused by inflation and production costs going up) the 128GB model cost £299 / $299 / AU$479, and the 256GB version sold for £399 / $399 / AU$639.
The higher price for the Oculus Quest 2 does come with one new benefit though, you’ll get a copy of one of the best Oculus Quest 2 games for free: Beat Saber. Buy a new Quest 2 before the end of 2022 and you’ll be eligible to get a copy of the game at no charge.
Oculus Quest 2: design
- Self-contained VR headset
- Improved resolution screen and processor
- Controllers have double battery life and thumb rest spaces
The Oculus Quest 2 is worn on the head, quite a bit like a scuba mask. Where a scuba mask’s window would be, you’ve instead got a padded cavity that houses a pair of goggle-like lenses that sit in front of a screen, giving you stereoscopic 3D visuals. Paired with motion sensors and accelerometers in the headset, you can move your head and see the motions reflected in real-time on the digital screen in front of you as if you were looking out and moving around in the real world.
It’s a similarly lightweight design to the first Oculus Quest (now available in white plastic rather than a dust-hugging, fabric-covered black) with its outer shell housing external cameras that help to track your positioning and that of the supplied controllers.
You tighten the headset with a velcro, slightly-elasticated fabric strap – a change (not necessarily for the better) from the more structured rubberized original.
The internal improvements between the Quest 2 and the original Quest headset are significant. Compared to the original Quest, the Quest 2 offers 6GB of RAM compared to 4GB, and there’s a much faster Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chipset running the show. This allows for greater fidelity in experiences shown on the Quest 2, as well as allowing for boosted resolutions and refresh rates.
The first Oculus Quest made use of dual 1440 x 1600 resolution OLED displays (one for each eye), but the Quest 2 opts for a single LCD panel, split so as to display an 1832 x 1920 pixel resolution per eye. That’s about 50 percent sharper than the original, and while we’d usually prefer the richness of an OLED display, we hardly missed it here. LCD also opens up an improved refresh rate of 90Hz to developers, compared to the original Quest’s 72Hz – with an experimental feature bumping it up to 120Hz. Where supported, it will be a notably smoother experience.
Note though that there’s a change to the Interpupillary distance (IPD, the gap between your pupils) slider on the Quest 2. Previously, you could make fine adjustments with a slider on the underside of the original Quest. Now you have to physically shift the goggles themselves over three pre-set distances, 58mm, 63mm, and 68mm. While most won’t notice any difference (the three settings cover the most common IPD ranges), it’s a shame that more delicate control has been lost.
The Quest 2 does all of this while still offering the same 2-3 hour battery life as the first Quest, depending on the application you’re using. That may not sound like much, but longer play sessions than that are unlikely to be comfortable anyway.
Oculus has managed this thanks to significant improvements to its tracking algorithms, which extend to the controllers too, now offering double the battery life (we’re talking weeks of constant play) compared to their predecessors.
The motion controllers themselves have seen some small improvements too. Now available in white, they offer more room to rest your thumb during play, making them easier to hold for longer sessions. Each has a baton-like handle, including triggers for your forefingers and grips, as well as facial buttons and movement sticks for your thumbs. A strap keeps the controllers from flying free from your hand, while a plastic ring surrounds your thumbs, housing the near-invisible LEDs that allow the headset to track your hands’ and arms’ movements.
Speakers are built into the headset’s strap supports, offering directional left and right stereo sound. They’re reasonably clear and loud enough to get across the drama and directional audio feedback of your games, while keeping your ears free in order to allow you some awareness of your physical surroundings. Note that if you’re playing in a room with a friend, they’re going to hear everything going on using the built-in speakers, but there’s also a 3.5mm jack if you want to connect your own headphones for a private session.
A microphone is built in too, again clear enough for communicating in multiplayer games and doing some voice searches in the various UI elements of apps that support it. Speech recognition is surprisingly accurate, too.
Oculus Quest 2: using it
- Intuitive set-up and safety system
- Impressive hand tracking features
- Chromecast-enabled screen sharing
Getting a VR headset set up can be a painful affair – there’s usually loads of wires to plug in, and external sensors to arrange. But because all the computing and motion tracking is done on the self-contained Oculus Quest 2 headset, getting into the action here take just 5-10 minutes.
You’ll turn on the headset after its first charge, and be showed a few safety clips, and a very short intro video that introduces you to controllers and how their wand like point-and-trigger system can be used to navigate menus. You’ll then be asked to set up what’s called a ‘Guardian’ – the first of many ‘wow’ moments the Oculus Quest offers.