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The Oculus Quest is the most amazing gadget I've used in years

Oculus Quest looking up
Oculus Quest looking up (Image credit: Android Central)

"I want to buy something."

I said this to my wife a couple of weeks ago when we were relaxing at home after we both got off of work. Being the self-proclaimed tech enthusiast that I am, I often get an itch to play with a new piece of technology to keep myself engaged with what's going on in the industry.

Thankfully with the nature of the job that I have, this usually isn't an issue. I get to use the Galaxy S10 as my main Android phone, have an iPhone XS to stay on top of the enemy, and regularly get to check out new headphones, smart home gadgets, etc. It's an incredible privilege and one I don't take lightly, and while it usually calms my need to run out and buy a new toy, I've been getting a little antsy lately.

All of these new smartphones are sleek and powerful, but it often feels like we're just getting minor refreshes of the same thing over and over again. Smart home tech is wickedly cool, but when my Roomba hits the same wall ten times in a row or my Google Nest Hub (opens in new tab) starts talking on its own, I'm reminded the tech has plenty of room to mature.

Because of things like this, I can sometimes feel that spark of excitement I used to get with every gadget release slowly fading out. The technology around us is awesome, but so much of it feels so familiar to what we had the year before.

Which brings us back to what I said above — "I want to buy something."

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On May 21, I found myself browsing through the Best Buy app just to see what was out there. Right when I was about to give up, I remembered that the Oculus Quest had just come out. After a lot of encouragement from my wife to Treat. Yo. Self., I caved in and bought a 128GB Quest. I figured I'd try it for a few days, see if it was really worth the money, and probably ultimately return it. But after my first battle in Robo Recall and inaugural Beat Saber song, I knew that spark was back.

VR has been around for a few years now, but unless all you care about is watching YouTube or playing small arcade games with devices like the Oculus Go (opens in new tab), good VR experiences require not only the headset itself but a console/PC for it to be tethered to and some sort of external tracking camera or sensor. That's a big barrier of entry, and in my experience with the PSVR (opens in new tab), often results in inconsistent controls and tracking if everything's not set up 100% correctly.

The Oculus Quest isn't the first standalone VR headset we've seen, but what's so damn cool about it is that it gives you a similar experience of using an Oculus Rift or PSVR without the need for any wires or tethering of any kind. And at least in my experience, it works almost flawlessly.

Writing that the Quest works well is an easy thing to do, but when you stop and think about what the headset is doing without needing to be connected to any external source of power or tracking, it's astonishing what Oculus was able to achieve here. You can walk around in a virtual world, move freely without tripping over cables, and fully interact with what's around you with Oculus's Touch controllers that go as far to track minute finger movements.

Furthermore, the games you can play are on the same level as what was previously limited to much more expensive and clunky headsets. From Moss, Beat Saber, Vader Immortal, SUPERHOT VR, and plenty more, the content that's being offered is about as good as it gets.

I haven't been this excited about a piece of technology in years.

That's all amazing from a technical standpoint, but in the real world, you don't stop to think about all of the intricacies going on to make the headset work. Instead, you're just focused on whatever game you're in because of how well everything comes together when it's time to play.

Whether I'm in my office or the living room, I can strap on the Quest without having to move any furniture, launch a game, and get instantly transported to a new world for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour, or however long I decide to stay strapped in.

And when I am playing a game, the feeling is almost magical. It can be easy to become jaded and cynical in the world that we live in, so having a device that allows you to escape and ignore the real world around you for a little while is an enticing proposition. Other VR headsets have been doing that for a while, but with the Quest, you don't have to think about getting anything set up to go explore. Just throw it on your head and you're done.

There's been a lot of criticism surrounding VR, and understandably so, but I think the Quest has the potential to really make it a mainstream thing. Just like a PlayStation 4 (opens in new tab) or Nintendo Switch (opens in new tab), this is a standalone game console. But unlike those other systems, the Quest makes you a part of whatever game you're playing, and — if you're going through Beat Saber songs on Expert — can net you a pretty nice workout, too.

There's nothing else quite like the Quest out there, and I'm beyond excited that this thing exists. It's something completely new that we haven't seen before — at least not to this extent — and works far better than it has any right to.

That might sound awfully fangirlish, but trust me on this one. If you don't already own a Quest, see if you can try one out at your local Best Buy. Once you do, I promise you'll be just as enthralled as I am.

Oculus Quest review: A liberating VR experience you can take anywhere

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

26 Comments
  • I got one of these VR headsets when Samsung gave them away with the S7(?) and we played with it for maybe a total of an hour and gave up on it. It's got tossed in a drawer and we haven't used it since. I can't stand the isolation of VR and I have zero desire to invest $400 to do so. I still think VR will always be a sub niche of a sub niche, sort of like 3D TV was and will never become a mainstream device. Hard pass for me.
  • The phone VR devices aren't even the same ballpark as devices with hand presence like the Vive. The experience is totally different. VR together with AR IS NOT niche and one day will be as pervasive as smartphones
  • I highly doubt this will be at the level of smartphone adoption. Not by a long shot. It's a great novelty at best, and a pricey one at that. Just like 3D TV was.
  • You realize we are in year three of VR. The PlayStation VR sold millions. VR has been adopted and used for training. Your prediction is already wrong.
  • How many average everyday Joe Sixpacks and their families do you think own these? I'd venture to guess maybe 1-2% of the general public own and utilize one of these type of headsets.
  • You're right about the isolation factor, but comparing something like the Quest to Samsung's Gear VR isn't fair. At the very least, I'd try to find a local Best Buy near you that's offering a demo of it. It's a completely different experience.
  • But at the end of the day you are strapping a big isolating headset that shuts you off from human contact for possibly hours on end. I have no desire to wear such a device nor cut off human contact around me. I just don't know of anyone in my circle of friend or co-workers who talk about these let alone own one.
  • You don't have to use VR for hours, that's up to you, and you don't have to cut yourself off from human contact either. VR headsets are tremendous fun with friends and at parties, especially with a Chromecast. But being together and taking turns while laughing at the expressions and reactions of the one with the headset is fun in itself.
  • Sharing a sweaty or makeup covered headset doesn't sound too fun to me. :) Honestly it just doesn't sound that fun to me. But to each is own. If that's your thing, so be it.
  • You don't have the share the headset. You can stream what you see in the VR to other people's phones/tvs.
  • You're like the people back in the day that told Mr. Ford that cars were never going to be more mainstream than horses because they're mechanical witchcraft. Point being, technology doesn't mean you shut people out, in fact it can (and in many ways does) enhance human communication. For example, my PSVR and beat Saber are party favorites. When people play it for the first time, I can literally see the kid in then again and it's amazing. Just quit bashing things before you try it, or you'll get left in the dust riding a mule.
  • It's absolutely ridiculous that you think 720p VR on a phone without motion tracking is indicative of actual VR on a dedicated headset.
  • To say that you have tried vr after using a mobile headset on an outdated phone is the most ridiculous thing i have ever heard. I have one of these and a gear vr and you have to be pretty ignorant to even remotely think its the same
  • Comparing a free phone-based Samsung VR headset to an Oculus Quest is like comparing a 2000 Toyota Prius to a 2019 Tesla. The specs for both devices are insanely different.
  • This is comforting to know. So you can't even let sunshine touch this thing even when INDOORS!? https://www.androidcentral.com/how-keep-your-oculus-quest-safe-sunlight
  • Buy a case
  • When your doing porn on this thing, it's in the dark anyways, so no problem there.
  • Some of these comments are comical. Reminds me of the A/V world when folks would battle about how awesome 3D TV is and you didn't dare say anything negative about that tech. It was "best thing ever made" and "every household will have 3D in their house in next couple of years!" Look where it's at now... Sorry no, it was just like VR, a niche item that will never become the norm. Like someone said earlier, it's been around almost 3 years and sales are anemic at best. You just aren't going to convince families to invest $400+ for a device that is very fragile and only allows one person at a time to play it. I'm sure for those folks who enjoy this stuff (many probably aren't married with kids ) it's a fun new outlet for them. It's just not my thing and I still contend it won't be the "norm" anytime soon.
  • Considering I was looking the Oculus Quest up for my sons 13th birthday and there are none in stock (because they are sold out). I would say your opinion may be lacking in any facts. You come on this comment board and bash something you have not even tried yourself. I believe it is "comical" to see someone making statements based on their opinion with absolutely no foundation of "fact".
    In doing so your "opinions" and back and forth when you really have no clue about the product in discussion is irrelevant. Its very obvious when you compare this independent headset or "console" to a cheap $7 smartphone trinket, that you have absolutely no idea what you are talking about. Also its "comical" how you blindly throw out "2%" population using or buying this product. Is this something I can confirm through research or is it another opinion that you are trying to pass on as fact? How about you actually do some research and try out the product before bashing it. I believe that would be much wiser, and would give you some "facts" as opposed to the unfounded opinions you are so generously sharing here. I personally have not tried the product so I have no facts or opinions one way or another. However it really erks me when I try to research something, and I see ppl commenting with negative remarks about something they know NOTHING about.
  • Yep, we're all entitles to our opinions.
  • Most opinions are lacking in facts, that’s what makes them opinions. And you’re assuming it’s popular because they’re out of stock? Seems like you’re assuming a conclusion without evidence, just because that conclusion contradicts OP which you so desperately want to do.
  • I predict this comment is not gonna age very well... Gonna comeback to this article in 2021.
  • How’s the immersion factor with these? I tried the smartphone VR headsets too and my main gripe is that you have no peripheral vision, in that it’s just black on the sides and top of your viewing space. That combined with the weight and discomfort of the headset made it a poor experience IMO. Are those still issues?
  • Please don't compare smartphone VR to this. It's a completely different experience and I can tell from trying them both.
  • Well I’d like to understand the differences, comparing them seems like a good way to do that...
  • I tried one yesterday, there is no point in comparing them.