Oculus is targeting Q1 2019 to launch its upcoming higher-end standalone VR headset, currently known by the code-name Santa Cruz. Multiple independent sources have said that Oculus has shared a Q1 timeline for wide release.
The headset is designed to function on its own without the need for a PC, similar to Oculus Go, but with cameras added for inside-out tracking of 6DOF head movement and two Oculus Touch-style controllers. The last time we went hands-on with Santa Cruz was at the Oculus Connect 4 conference last year. The release window lines up with the two year anniversary of the original Rift’s launch at the end of Q1 2016, March 28th.
When we asked Oculus for a comment on the release window, a spokesperson replied: “We can’t comment on future plans or announcements, but I can tell you that OC5 will be really exciting.”
That’s about all we expected them to say at this point. Oculus Connect 5 (OC5) is right around the corner on September 26th and 27th. and we expect official information then. One of the major topics up for discussion is porting Rift content to the Santa Cruz headset — which is something we’ve heard from multiple sources is a big focus for Oculus’ launch lineup on the new headset.
The porting process sounds like it is easier said than done because Santa Cruz running on its own wouldn’t be as graphically powerful as a Rift plugged into a high-end gaming PC. We haven’t seen specifications yet, but it’s safe to assume its capabilities as a standalone to be like a middle-ground between Go and Rift. That will likely help keep the cost down. We haven’t heard anything about a price range yet, but we hope the whole system together comes in under the $600 price of the original Rift headset alone.
We’ve also been told Santa Cruz works in a wide-range of environments, including outdoors, similar to Lenovo’s Mirage Solo headset. We recorded an outdoor video while wearing the Mirage Solo and it sounds like Santa Cruz will have the ability to enable a similarly “boundless” tracking system through its inside-out cameras as well.
We expect Oculus to publicly confirm the targeted release window as well as officially name the headset and talk about launch partners at next month’s Oculus Connect 5 conference in San Jose, CA.