Oculus Go Standalone VR Headset Review: Convenient VR For The Masses

Living With The Oculus Go Headset

Setup Process

The initial setup process of the Oculus Go is simple, but it requires an Android or iOS device with a companion app to configure. When you first run the Oculus app, the software will pair with your headset via Bluetooth and then ask you to enter the credentials for your Wi-Fi network so the device can download updates. It also has you configure the controller for left or right-handed use.

 

Sit, Don't Stand

Once you've got the Go paired and you're ready to start playing, pick a nice chair for yourself and stay seated. Unlike the Rift and other spatially-tracked VR systems, the Go doesn’t include internal or external sensors to track headset position. You aren't meant to walk around with it on and could hurt yourself if you do.

Not For Young Children

For kids under 13, this device should be called the "No Go." Like other VR makers, Oculus advises against putting the headset on children who are 12 or younger, fearing that it could affect their development.

Extensive App Library

The Oculus Go headset is surprisingly capable, and there is a large library of content available for it. On launch day, the new headset will adopt the entire library of Gear VR content, which has more than 1000 games and apps. Whether you wish to be transported to fantasy land, or seek to learn about the universe, there should be something in the Oculus store for everyone from teenagers to seniors.

A TV Screen Replacement

If you don't have a large screen TV in every room of your house (and who does), the Oculus Go could give you a large canvas for movie-viewing. While earlier VR headsets lacked the clarity required to replace your TV, Oculus Go, with its new lenses and improved display panels, is the first VR device that you can use for long Netflix sessions.

Netflix and Hulu offer apps for the Oculus Go, and you can access YouTube content through the native web browser. I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed consuming video content on the Go. I tried watching TV on Netflix with our GearVR, and while it certainly worked, I found that one episode of a show was enough time in the headset. While testing the Go, I spent multiple hours in the headset and ran the headset’s battery to the warning point.

Cross-Platform Multiplayer Experiences

The Oculus Go and Gear VR share the same development platform and multiplayer games that run on the Gear VR will automatically run on the Oculus Go. Developers can also enable cross-play with gamers using Rift headsets.

Earlier this year, at GDC, we had a chance to try a short demo of Settlers on Oculus Go in an online match with Oculus Rift players. And Settlers isn’t an anomaly. Many of the games that you can find one the Oculus Store are single-player titles, but Oculus is encouraging developers to make multiplayer games for the platform. The company also encourages devs to make their games compatible across all Oculus VR platforms when applicable.

Bottom Line

The Go is, by far, the most comfortable mobile VR headset that I’ve ever tried. In fact, it’s more comfortable than most high-end, VR headsets that I've tried. I would rather spend two hours with a Go on my face than just about any other head-mounted display.

The headset lacks spatial tracking, which limits the types of experiences that you can enjoy with it.  But most people would be more than satisfied to sit on their couch or lay in their bed, and play a stationary game or watch a movie. 

If you want the best VR experience money can buy, consider the HTC Vive, Vive Pro or Oculus Rift, all of which offer a more immersive experience. And, if you have a compatible phone and want to save the money, Samsung's Gear VR is a great value. However, the Oculus Go offers the best balance between price and user experience of any headset you can buy.

MORE: Best Virtual Reality Headsets

MORE: All Virtual Reality Content

MORE: Virtual Reality Basics

18 comments
    Your comment
  • David_326
    One think you need to Mention is this is not really designed for Gaming since there is no real controllers like the Touch that will work with it.
  • TheDane
    No spatial tracking is a totally no-buy for me. You won't feel really immersed without this feature.
  • Sakkura
    2254178 said:
    One think you need to Mention is this is not really designed for Gaming since there is no real controllers like the Touch that will work with it.


    It comes with a 3DOF controller as the review explains. It's fine for some types of games.

    137344 said:
    No spatial tracking is a totally no-buy for me. You won't feel really immersed without this feature.


    It is a big downside. Santa Cruz is coming later with that feature, but will cost more. The Oculus Go is more of a media device and needs to be affordable.
  • kcarbotte
    137344 said:
    No spatial tracking is a totally no-buy for me. You won't feel really immersed without this feature.


    You would be surprised at how good it without spatial tracking.
    Until I played with it, I wasn't a believer either. But having put a few hours into using it, I'm confident most people don't need spatial tracking to enjoy VR.
    That said, spatial tracking is superior, but it will come at a higher price.
  • bit_user
    I think it's just a little bit sad that Nintendo wasn't the first to offer such a product. Over the past 30 years, they've been a trailblazer on most of the enabling technologies (stereoscopic, mobile gaming, 3D graphics, controller tracking, and even dabbling in AR):

    1987 - Famicom 3D System
    1989 - Gameboy
    1995 - Virtual Boy
    1996 - Nintendo 64 (original code named "Project Reality")
    2006 - Wii
    2011 - 3DS

    This would've been the next logical step, for them. Risky, sure, but they've traditionally been more willing to take risks in the realm of format and user interaction. Perhaps they will simply become a software developer & publisher, if they're now too afraid to take such risks.
  • bit_user
    1943658 said:
    ...

    Thanks for the prompt review.

    Looking forward to coverage of the Lenovo Mirage Solo (launching in mere days? weeks?). I should probably go ahead and preorder one, in anticipation of them getting withdrawn after the inevitable injury reports and corresponding lawsuits.

    IMO, they should really do something about the charging limitations - especially that you can't use an external battery pack to extend its runtime.
  • dx_houle
    Products like this are gonna set VR back. When I ask people if they've tried VR and they say "ya" with an unimpressed facial expression, I know they're talking about mobile VR. It's too bad that the general public will see mobile VR and roomscale VR as pretty much the same thing...until they try roomscale VR obviously.
  • bit_user
    Wow, lenovo.com claims Mirage Solo is already shipping (B&H says May 7th).

    https://www3.lenovo.com/us/en/virtual-reality-and-smart-devices/virtual-and-augmented-reality/lenovo-mirage-solo/Mirage-Solo/p/ZA3C0003US

    Quote:
    Ships same business day if your order is processed before 3 pm EST
  • cryoburner
    1943658 said:
    ...no smartphone or PC required.

    Except for the one required to set it up. >_> Why is that a requirement anyway? I don't see any reason they couldn't have the configuration built in, using the motion controller and menus in the HMD to set everything up. And what permissions does that companion app require? It seems like a convenient way to harvest data off people's phones.

    From what I've read here, this doesn't quite sound like a 10/10 device to me. Sure, for the price it may be a very compelling product, but there are just too many caveats for a perfect score. The list of "cons" seems to leave out a lot of other important details that I could gather from this review. In addition to the lack of spatial tracking and relatively long charge time, it might also be worth highlighting the lack of IPD adjustment, the low refresh rate, and the device's limited storage.

    And why does it cost an extra $50 to add another 32GB of storage? 32GB MicroSD cards are readily available for around $12, 64GB for $20, and 128GB for under $40. I doubt it would have cost them even a dollar to add a MicroSD slot to the thing. Supposedly USB storage support will be coming sometime post-launch, but since the port is MicroUSB, you'll likely need adapters or cables to make external storage work. The only reason I can see for them to not add a MicroSD slot is to try to encourage people to get the version that adds additional storage at a premium.

    I also get the impression that it might not be all that long before this device feels a bit outdated. Not just because of the limited processing capability, but perhaps more importantly the lack of spatial tracking. While Windows Mixed Reality headsets might not have onboard processing, within a similar price range they do manage to provide self-contained room-scale tracking for both the headset and controllers. While a $200 price point probably isn't realistic for a device that incorporates both of these feature-sets at this time, I imagine it could be done for around $300.

    328798 said:
    Wow, lenovo.com claims Mirage Solo is already shipping (B&H says May 7th).

    Actually, that seems more along along the lines of what I was describing, though considering the launch price, it still seems to fall a bit short. At that price level, I would expect an IPD adjustment, and something better than a simple 3DOF controller, which seems like a bit of a waste considering the 6DOF headset tracking. It does have slightly nicer specs compared to the Oculus Go, but I have a hard time seeing many people spending twice as much for one of those to run pretty much the same software. I kind of think it's going to be a bit like the Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and we'll see a price drop down to around $300 before the year is through.

    328798 said:
    IMO, they should really do something about the charging limitations - especially that you can't use an external battery pack to extend its runtime.

    They probably just want to minimize the chance of lawsuits resulting from a Lithium battery exploding in someone's face. It does seem like the headset could be run off the USB port without actually charging the internal battery at the same time though.

    328798 said:
    I think it's just a little bit sad that Nintendo wasn't the first to offer such a product.

    Well, the Virtual Boy did fail pretty hard, which may have made them them wary about jumping into a VR implementation that's not quite ready for prime time. I did get the impression that they might have been planning something similar for the Switch though. As it is, the device seems like it could be snapped into a smartphone-style headset, though it's perhaps a bit bulky for that, and the screen resolution a bit low. Those things could potentially be addressed in a "Switch Lite" half-generation update though.
  • Dosflores
    582021 said:
    I don't see any reason they couldn't have the configuration built in, using the motion controller and menus in the HMD to set everything up. And what permissions does that companion app require? It seems like a convenient way to harvest data off people's phones.


    You stated the reason yourself. I loved that screenshot of the companion app's setup process:

    "Location access is needed to discover and set up nearby headsets and more"

    :rofl:
  • gdmaclew
    This unit does not quite make it for me for several reasons.
    The battery specs are not up to snuff.
    The display could be better.
    I am looking for an HMD that connects to my PC so I can run the games I usually run but have the HMD replace my screen.
    I don't need a tracking device, just let me use my keyboard and have the HMD track my head movements.
    That would be a seller.
  • hannibal
    It is very hard to use keyboard when you don`t see it because you wear vr classes. In ar, the keyboard can be usefull, because you actually see it.
    Bit sure how well Logitech Virtual keyboard work. But I supose that it requires very accurate tracking and so needs very expensive devices...
  • computerguy72
    The Go has even less FOV than the Rift. They are way underestimating the value of FOV in VR.
  • gdmaclew
    60597 said:
    It is very hard to use keyboard when you don`t see it because you wear vr classes. In ar, the keyboard can be usefull, because you actually see it. Bit sure how well Logitech Virtual keyboard work. But I supose that it requires very accurate tracking and so needs very expensive devices...


    I understand that but my use of the keyboard is limited to the 4 cursor keys for movement so I would have no problem "finding them" so to speak.
    Thanks for the thought.
    VR still has a long way to go to satisfy the masses.
  • bit_user
    141101 said:
    I am looking for an HMD that connects to my PC so I can run the games I usually run but have the HMD replace my screen.

    Have you investigated the Windows Mixed Reality HMDs? They sound like pretty much what you're looking for.

    IMO, their biggest downside is the system requirements for using with Steam VR content. I know there's a Steam VR app for letting you play non-VR games with a HMD, but I don't know if anything like that exists as a native Windows MR app.
  • gdmaclew
    328798 said:
    141101 said:
    I am looking for an HMD that connects to my PC so I can run the games I usually run but have the HMD replace my screen.
    Have you investigated the Windows Mixed Reality HMDs? They sound like pretty much what you're looking for. IMO, their biggest downside is the system requirements for using with Steam VR content. I know there's a Steam VR app for letting you play non-VR games with a HMD, but I don't know if anything like that exists as a native Windows MR app.


    Thanks bit_user but I already have looked into them. They have controllers which I don't want.
  • Specter0420
    I am surprised I see so many complaints about not being able to see the keyboard from Toms users. We are users of Tomshardware, we don't need to see our keyboards to know where the keys are. F and J have little bumps on them, I suggest you look up why.
  • bit_user
    363290 said:
    we don't need to see our keyboards to know where the keys are.

    Yeah, I've seen complaints elsewhere about not being able to see the keyboard with HMD on. I assume most people can at least stumble their way through touch-typing, even if they normally cheat and don't maintain proper hand positioning...

    but, then I'm pre-smartphone (even pre-blackberry). Upon reflection, I guess there are probably a lot of folks out there who do most of their internet usage on a device without a querty keyboard.