Tech: Mainstreamed VR: Oculus Go - Reviewed

For the last couple decades we've all imagined the day that virtual reality would become a household entertainment experience that wouldn't break the bank. It's finally here in the form of Facebook's Oculus Go. With some obvious limitations that we'd fully expect from a $200 item, VR is finally revolutionized for the public at large. 

Over the course of a few years we've seen the technology advance at a breakneck pace that is finally allowing gamers, movie fans, and techies to experience VR the way that it's meant to be done. Although we've seen numerous formats and different types of viewers at all different price points, up until now the best have potentially been the PSVR and the Oculus Rift. Sadly enough, the cost has still kept the general public away from investing in one of the higher end devices. From $10 cardboard sets to the upper echelon of the Rift, there have been marketing challenges from the start. But now everyone can get a phenomenal entry level product in the Oculus Go. 

Having only tried VR once or twice in the past, I had no idea how far it had come. A year or so back I picked up a cheap set at Best Buy that I could use with my iPhone 7 Plus. Needless to say, they were returned the next day. The next time I tried it out was at SXSW 2018 at a tech exhibit. Sure, a Terrence Malick film in virtual reality was beautiful. But still, my impression was that it had not come far enough and that most consumers would be best off leaving these products alone until there were more major advancements. Well, low and behold, last month saw the release of the most friendly and inviting product to ever enter the market. At a retail price that won't break the bank, the Oculus Go is here to change everything. 

Entering the gaming and media foray is a simple device that comes in 32gb and 64gb models. The lower end version is a measly $199 while the upgrade with the higher storage capacity is still only $249. While neither will allow you to store tons of data or movies, it features built in media streaming software that will let you connect to your local network or cloud storage device for playing your downloaded videos, personal videos, or any other content you may have stored on a personal computer, Mac, or external drive(s). While the visual quality is not perfect (it's nowhere near 4k), it's still a major breakthrough that we believe will be the one to set the bar for any other companies looking to break into retail VR. 

There are also other apps like Samsung VR, Plex VR or Skybox that will allow you to stream your stored content via UPnP or DLNA and watch on a virtually massive theater screen. Interestingly enough, the IMAX scenes of Interstellar or The Dark Knight can be viewed in their proper format, something which cannot be done in even the best home theater. With stunning audio that's pumped through a tiny set of ear monitors, you simply cannot go wrong with the Go. And of course there's a headphone jack so you can completely close yourself off from the real world if you so desire. 

Gamers might be disappointed at the limited amount of titles for the Go that are currently available, but it seems like new titles are being rolled out daily. Considering this isn't centered on gaming like the PSVR, the initial titles are enough to get you by and there are several packs that are always on sale in the browser. You're not going to get the same level of experience as on the mainstream consoles, but this is still a level up from all the cheapies and readily available cell phone sets that are found at pharmacies and toy stores. Honestly, this will probably end up being one of the hottest items come Christmas 2018. This little VR package packs a punch that barely touches the wallet. 

The one major shortcoming with the unit is the battery life. When charged to 100 percent, you'll only get 2.5 hours of usage. This means no deep digging into games or no binge watching your favorite Netflix shows on the Oculus Go. Either  way, this is an excellent way to enter the worlds of virtual reality with a system that gives you plenty of options for technology that's still evolving. 

The Oculus Go can be purchased via Amazon in 32gb or 64gb units.
We tested it on the 32gb model.