Oculus Rift S is being retired in Spring, and Facebook tells us it won’t be releasing any new PC-only VR headsets.
The just-announced Oculus Quest 2, like the original Quest, supports Oculus Link- it can act as a PC VR headset via a USB cable.
In Link mode tracking, boundary system, controller input, TimeWarp and other core functionality is handled by the headset. If something goes wrong with your PC, you’re returned to your Quest’s virtual home environment. And with this core functionality running on external hardware, motherboard compatibility issues should be less prevalent.
Eliminating PC-only headsets from its lineup should allow Facebook to converge on this Android system software, no longer needing to maintain and feature-match a separate Windows version of tracking, Guardian, the menu, Home, and potential future features such as keyboard and couch tracking. It also means all new Oculus buyers can access Facebook’s Android-only offerings like live events and movie rentals.
Facebook says it’s “doubling down” on the Oculus Link strategy. Quest 2 has a 90 Hz display, which Link is slated to get support for later this year. The company’s engineers will also be “tackling compression” soon after launch. Unlike “real” PC headsets, Link sends a compressed video stream, but the Snapdragon XR2 is capable of decoding higher bitrates than before.
The original Quest’s Link mode was received fairly well, but it arrived six months after launch. Quest launched alongside Rift S- a dedicated PC-only product. Also priced at $399, Rift S sports a slightly higher refresh rate (80Hz vs 72Hz), wider controller tracking volume, and a far less front-heavy halo strap design.
With improved resolution, refresh rate, and comfort- alongside those planned Link software updates- Facebook claims Quest 2 could be “the best PC VR experience”.
Facebook’s goal won’t go without competition. This year’s hot new “real” PC VR headset, HP’s Reverb G2, opened preorders last month and should be shipping in October. The $599 price may seem steep in the face of a 64GB $299 Quest 2, but if you add the Elite Strap, Logitech Audio and Link Cable needed for a comparable experience Quest 2 actually clocks in at $526.
But say you already have 3.5mm headphones (that fit) and a thin long USB cable. In that case, you could pick up a Quest 2 with Elite Strap for $348 and jump straight into PC VR.
Quest 1, although not ideal for PC VR, already represents 1 in 10 VR headsets used on Steam. Thanks to the Steam Hardware Survey, we should be able to track Quest’s 2 adoption for PC VR to see if this hybrid strategy really works.
Given the Link improvements are planned for soon after Quest 2’s launch, it’s not clear why Rift S remains on the market. We asked if the headset’s price is getting cut and were told it remains $399. Given its two year anniversary lands in Spring 2021, it’s possible this concludes an agreement with Lenovo (the product’s manufacturer and design partner). We’re not sure why anyone would still buy it though.
Will 90 Hz and higher bitrates, will Quest 2 really feel like a native PC headset? We’ll bring you our thoughts as soon as we get a chance to try that- but by ditching the Rift line Facebook is making a confident bet that it will.