HTC Hopes Its Long-Awaited 5K Vive Pro 2 Headset Won’t Make You Sick

Illustration for article titled HTC Hopes Its Long-Awaited 5K Vive Pro 2 Headset Won't Make You Sick

Image: HTC Vive

We haven’t seen a new HTC Vive virtual reality headset in a minute, but today, the company announced two new devices, including the Vive Pro 2.

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The second-gen Vive Pro looks a lot like its predecessor, but nearly every core spec has been upgraded in some way. HTC’s latest high-end consumer VR headset sports a 5K resolution (2.5K to each eye), a wider 120-degree field of view, and a faster 120Hz refresh rate, all of which combines to prevent the motion sickness that people sometimes encounter on less sophisticated head-mounted displays, HTC said. The company also said it moved over to a new display with fast-switching RGB sub-pixels, so in addition to more resolution, graphics on the Vive Pro 2 should look extra sharp and colorful.

In a first for a VR headset, HTC said it worked with both Nvidia and AMD to add support for Display Stream Compression via DisplayPort 1.2, which is a visual compression technique used to reduce the amount of bandwidth needed to output video with practically no loss in image quality. And in a somewhat pleasant surprise, HTC said the Vive Pro 2’s minimum hardware requirements only include an Nvidia RTX 2080 GPU or a Radeon 5000-series card, which is good news for anyone who has had trouble getting their hands on a current-gen graphics card (which is pretty much everyone).

Illustration for article titled HTC Hopes Its Long-Awaited 5K Vive Pro 2 Headset Won't Make You Sick

Image: HTC Vive

The Vive Pro 2 features a handy knob for adjusting IPD (interpupillary distance) and built-in speakers that support 3D spatial audio, along with a revamped headband that delivers a more comfortable fit and a 50-50 weight balance.

One thing I was hoping to see that didn’t make the cut on the Vive Pro 2 is native wireless tethering for receiving video from a nearby PC. This means you still need a physical video cable unless you opt for Vive’s Wireless Adapter, which is compatible with both the original Vive Pro and the new Vive Pro 2.

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The other small bummer is that with a starting price of $800 for just the headset, the Vive Pro 2 is still rather expensive compared to something like the Oculus Quest 2. That said, the Quest 2 does have a lower resolution display and a narrower FOV, so the old adage that you get for what you pay for still applies. Also, for people who might not already have base stations or controllers to pair with the Vive Pro 2, the headset will also be available as a kit with two Base Station 2.0 and two Vive controllers for $1,400.

The other new HTC Vive headset, the Vive Focus 3, is intended primarily for enterprise and large corporations, and in some respects, it’s actually the more interesting gadget of the two.

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Powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 chip, the Vive Focus 3 is many ways like the Quest 2 but with even better optics. Not only does it have a 5K display similar to what you get in the Vive Pro 2 (but with a 90Hz refresh rate instead of 120Hz), it supports both standalone operation (no need for a nearby PC) and a wired mode, so you can get that full wireless experience or higher fidelity graphics from a tethered PC depending on your needs.

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The Focus 3 also features new controllers and a chassis featuring a magnesium alloy frame that HTC said is 20% lighter and 500% stronger than typical plastic. You also get inside-out tracking thanks to the four cameras on the outside of the headset, front and rear gaskets that can be changed out for easy cleaning, built-in speakers, and even a special audio privacy mode to prevent people from eavesdropping on you while you’re in a meeting. In a nod toward enterprise use, the Focus 3 comes with a swappable battery system that lets you slap on a fresh power pack in just a few seconds.

The Vive Focus 3 will cost $1,300 and includes a two-year enterprise warranty, in addition to a whole suite of new business-focused software support and apps to help companies more easily transition from traditional office collaboration to working in VR.

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Now technically, anyone can pay $1,300 for a Focus 3 if what they want is essentially a Quest 2 with better specs, but unfortunately, the Focus doesn’t come with the same kind of software and support the average consumer wants, so unless you’re planning on tinkering around on your own, the Vive Pro 2 is likely the better option.

The Vive Focus 2 is available for pre-order today and officially starts shipping on June 4. The Vive Focus 3 arrives June 27.

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Facebook VP Says There Aren’t Any Plans to Release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 in 2021

Illustration for article titled Facebook VP Says There Aren't Any Plans to Release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 in 2021

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Despite dropping hints that Facebook could be working on a new more powerful VR headset, Facebook VP Andrew Bosworth made it clear recently that the company doesn’t have any plans to release a Quest Pro or Quest 3 headset anytime this year.

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The subject of a new headset from Facebook came up recently during a podcast (recorded by UploadVR here) hosted by Facebook Reality Labs vice president Andrew Bosworth and Oculus CTO John Carmack where Bosworth admitted that even though he had previously mentioned the possibility of a more sophisticated Quest Pro headset, he wanted to make it clear that no such device is coming anytime soon.

When asked about future headsets from Facebook, Bosworth said “People are also asking about the Quest 3, which doesn’t exist yet, and everyone who is listening to us who is a reporter there isn’t a Quest 3, there’s only a Quest 2, but I did hint at an AMA earlier this year about Quest Pro because we do have a lot of things in development where we want to introduce new functionality to the headset along the kinds that people theorize that we would want to introduce, and that’s a little ways off still. It’s still not gonna happen this year.”

Bosworth then capped off the podcast by saying “For those who are curious, Quest 2 is going to be in the market for a while – for a long while, and it’s gonna be, you know, I think the best bet for the most accessible way to get into VR and have a great experience.”

Renewed speculation about Facebook’s plans for future VR hardware has recently been spurred on by the release of the Resident Evil 4 VR remake, which doesn’t run on the original Quest and is the first new title made exclusively for the Oculus Quest 2. This caused a small panic among Quest 2 owners regarding Facebook’s long-term support of its current flagship VR headset, which originally came out back in the fall of 2020.

So far, both Facebook and Oculus developers have been rather slow to begin pulling support for the original Quest, with Bosworth claiming that there are over a million people still using Facebook’s last-gen headset. However, with Facebook having designated both the original Quest and the Rift S as products that have reached end-of-life, it’s pretty clear that the Quest 2 is Facebook’s flagship headset for both mobile and desktop VR experiences for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully—with Oculus having recently announced new features for the Quest 2 including support for native wireless VR streaming (called Oculus Air Link), improved productivity features, and faster 120Hz refresh rates—it seems there’s plenty of room to continue improving Facebook’s current VR goggles without the need for all-new hardware.

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And when it comes to what is still a relatively new branch of tech, updated components and more powerful hardware are always nice, but there’s something to be said about focusing on the stability of your platform too, which is what Facebook seems to be doing with the Quest 2.

Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset Might Be Light AF

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Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP (Getty Images)

Apple prognosticator Ming-Chi Kuo is not done dispensing rumors about the company’s long-rumored mixed reality headset. This time, per 9to5Mac, Kuo has details on the headset’s weight: reportedly less than 150 grams thanks to the use of hybrid ultra-short focal length lenses.

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If you struggle with metric conversions, 150 grams is absurdly light. It’s the equivalent of about five ounces. You know what else weighs five ounces? According to Weight of Stuff, that’s roughly equivalent to a baseball, half a deck of cards, a checkbook, a medium-sized apple, and a small bottle of glue. As far as smartphones go, that would be lighter than the iPhone 12, which weighs 164 grams, or 5.78 ounces.

Holy guacamole, Batman, that’s a game-changer when it comes to mixed reality headsets. Most are relatively bulky and are significantly heavier. The Oculus Quest 2, for instance, weighs 503 grams, or 17.7 ounces. Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 is even heavier at 566 grams, or close to 20 ounces. That’s 1.1 and 1.2 pounds, respectively. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not outrageously heavy—but it does start to weigh on you if you’re trying to wear a headset for an extended period of time. Plus, there’s no two ways about it—you look stupid in a bulky headset no matter how cool the tech is.

Part of how Kuo believes Apple will do this is by adopting a hybrid Fresnel lens design. More specifically, AppleInsider quotes Kuo as saying that each Fresnel lens “comprises three stacked Fresnel lenses.”

If you’re unfamiliar with Fresnel lenses, they’re basically lenses with a lot of concentric grooves etched into the material. There’s a lot of fancy optics involved, but the gist is that you can focus light in a way that’s similar to (or potentially better than) a conventional curved lens. The bonus is that you can use plastic instead of glass, thereby reducing weight, and Fresnel lenses can be much thinner than conventional lenses. They were initially used in lighthouses, but these days you can find them in VR headsets like the HTC Vive because they can help users focus on an image at an extremely close distance—all while reducing weight. That said, these lenses aren’t perfect. While they can improve your field of vision in a VR headset, they can cause distortion and unwanted light rings.

On that front, Kuo says Apple’s Fresnel lenses will have “customized material and coating” and that “light transmission is not lower than glass.” The downside is that while Fresnel lenses are generally cost-effective, the way Apple seems to want to use them will be expensive. Perhaps that’s one reason why the rumored cost for this headset is so damn high.

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Again, this is also just the newest rumor we’ve heard about this headset. Just a few days ago, Kuo also said the mixed reality headset could potentially forego hand controllers for eye tracking and iris recognition. Other rumors say the headset might sport 8K displays, an M1 chip, and more than a dozen cameras. If you’ve lost track of them all, I’m sorry to say that you’ll likely have to gear up for at least another year of leaks and speculation. Kuo’s latest timeline puts the mixed reality headset launching in 2022, with AR glasses to follow in 2025. The rumors will only grow more intense the closer we get to a launch date—so buckle up.

Sony’s Next-Gen VR Controllers Are Packing Some Major Upgrades

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Image: Sony

Even though Sony has already said its upcoming VR headset won’t be available until sometime next year, the company is already showing off teasers of its new controllers. Based on what we’ve seen so far, the next version of Sony’s PS VR tech looks to be packing some serious upgrades.

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Unlike the old PlayStation Move controllers (which are basically holdovers from back when console makers thought standalone motion controls were going to be the next “big thing”), Sony’s new VR controllers have an orb-like design that’s supposed to make them easier and more natural to hold while also supporting better motion tracking.

Illustration for article titled Sony's Next-Gen VR Controllers Are Packing Some Major Upgrades

Sony says its new headset will have built-in motion tracking, instead of requiring a camera, that will detect a “tracking ring” positioned on the bottom of the controllers, so motion tracking should be more accurate and easier to set up with one less component to worry about.

On top of that, Sony is borrowing some tech from the current DualSense controller for use in virtual reality, with its VR controller also getting adaptive triggers that can change their tension on the fly and more sensitive haptic feedback. And Sony is also adding support for finger touch detection that lets you make gestures and commands simply by touching parts of the controller’s grip.

Illustration for article titled Sony's Next-Gen VR Controllers Are Packing Some Major Upgrades

Image: Sony

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And because it wouldn’t be a PlayStation controller without Sony’s classic face button, you also get circle and x buttons on the right controller along with an analog stick, a grip button, and a shoulder button, while the left gets a mirrored setup with triangle and square face buttons instead.

In a lot of ways, it seems like Sony has been taking notes and learning from the designs of other VR controllers, most notably the Valve Index’s finger-sensing controller and the Oculus Quest 2‘s controller, which is similarly shaped though has a slightly more minimalist design.

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Image: Sony

Unfortunately, because Sony has already announced that its new VR headset won’t be arriving this year, at least for now, we’re going to have to be content with this slow drip of teases while we wait for more concrete info in the future.

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However, Sony’s VR controller does appear to be off to a promising start, and if Sony can nail the optics on its accompanying headset, PS5 owners should be in for a treat when the devices officially launch sometime in 2022.

The Oculus Quest Will Now Let You Mark Your Real Couch

Illustration for article titled The Oculus Quest Will Now Let You Mark Your Real Couch

Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Virtual reality has come a long way, but tripping over your couch while mid-game is still one of the more annoying things about the format. But, good news for Oculus Quest owners. A new experimental update will now let you mark your actual couch as an object in your virtual space.

The update, which was first spotted by UploadVR, is part of the v26 Oculus Quest software. It works as part of the Oculus Guardian system, which lets you draw boundaries that appear mid-game when you get too close. According to UploadVR, you can draw your couch via the camera passthrough mode. Once you do that, you’ll see the sofa rendered as a 3D model in Oculus Home. In games or apps, it’ll appear as a blue rectangle when you approach it. And since the couch position can be saved, you don’t have to re-draw it every time you want to use the Oculus Quest.

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As pointed out by the Verge, this is the first time that the Guardian system has been known to accommodate real-life objects like this. Previously, if you wanted to block off your couch, you had to draw around it as if it were a physical wall. This feature will also allow you to designate your sofa as a separate, seated playing area that exists either in or outside your Guardian boundary. Per UploadVR, if you decide to sit down on the couch, a system notification pops up asking if you what to switch to “Couch mode.”

If you want to enable the feature, you can head over to the Experimental Features menu in Settings to find it. That said, you might have to be patient as the update hasn’t rolled out to everyone just yet. You should also keep in mind that it seems like you can only add one couch per Guardian area—so if you’re lucky enough to have two in an area, you might have to get a little creative. And speaking for my fellow klutzes in cramped spaces, it would be neat if eventually, you could add other pieces of furniture like armchairs, coffee tables, beds, or even a floor lamp. Just saying, some of us are more hazardous in VR than others.

Get a Refurbished Oculus Quest VR Headset for Just $199

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Image: Oculus

Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

Oculus Quest (Refurbished) | $199 | Oculus

The Oculus Quest is the best VR headset for the vast majority of people, offering a fully self-contained, wireless experience with solid performance and great games and apps, all for an affordable price. It’s really that simple—and shockingly good for the price tag.

Right now, you can snag the original Quest model refurbished direct from Oculus for just $199, which is half-off the original new price. That gets you the headset itself and the Oculus Touch motion controllers, all cleaned and tested to act like new. This is a fantastic deal if you’re looking to dabble in VR, and again, you don’t need to hook it up to a gaming PC or console or even slot in a smartphone. It’s like a portable game console, albeit one you strap to your head.

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Note that the Oculus Quest 2 came out last fall at $299, and it brings both enhancements and a couple of compromises. It’s cheaper and lighter than the original, and benefits from the tandem of better screens and improved performance. The downside, however, is that the new straps aren’t nearly as good at keeping the headset in place and the less-precise IPD (interpupillary distance) settings might result in lower-quality experiences for some users.

Overall, the Quest 2 is a worthwhile upgrade for most prospective buyers—but at half-price, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend buying a refurbished Oculus Quest while supplies last.


11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Image: Oculus

The Oculus Quest 2 has finally given us what we want from virtual reality headsets: simplicity in its standalone operation, affordability in its $300 starting price, and a selection of decent games that’s wide enough to actually make it worth buying the headset. If you already own or are planning to buy an Oculus Quest 2, these are the games we think that are most worth your time.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Jurassic World Aftermath

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1. Jurassic World Aftermath

The Jurassic Park/World franchise has seen some steadily diminishing returns since the classic movie based on the Michael Crichton book started it all back in 1993. But this virtual reality stealth game is worth a look for fans of the movies. It’s a slow and occasionally frustrating game, but it also has plenty of points to count in its favor.

Set between the two Jurassic World movies to date, and featuring an impressive voice cast that includes Jeff Goldblum, the goal is to win a game of tense hide-and-seek against velociraptors that can be alerted by the tiniest sound. It’s simple but effective, and comes with beautifully drawn visuals that keep you right in the experience.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Beat Saber

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2. Beat Saber

Beat Saber has been around for a while now, but it remains one of the better titles for showcasing how VR can create a different but still very compelling gaming experience. Your challenge is to chop through the neon blocks that are hurtling towards you, using what look very much like lightsabers, all the while sticking to the rhythm of the beat.

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There are hundreds of levels for you to work through, and despite the rather simple mechanic underpinning the gameplay, Beat Saber never gets boring. The game launched with an original soundtrack, but there are now a host of musical add-on packs that you can buy and import to make sure that you’re playing with beats that you actually like.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: The Climb

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3. The Climb

One for those who prefer their VR games to be a bit more about the overall experience than actual gameplay, The Climb takes you to a variety of stunning locations and some dizzying heights (this game is not for those with vertigo) covering the Alps, southeast Asia, and the American Southwest in beautifully rendered settings.

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You take on the role of a solo climber looking for the best ways to navigate the cliff faces and caves that you come up against, and you can very much go at your own pace and take in the gorgeous surroundings as you go. At the time of writing the new and improved The Climb 2 is still “coming soon, ” so you’ve got time to finish the first game.


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Screenshot: Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

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4. Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners

This VR entry in the seemingly endless Walking Dead franchise has been earning plenty of plaudits, and it’s easy to see why—as long your stomach and your nerves can take such an immersive journey into a world overrun by the undead. It can be brutal at times, as you would expect, so be sure that you’re ready to put your senses through this before buying.

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New Orleans has been taken over by walkers, and your aim is to survive and make it to the comparative safety of a military bunker. The game impresses in just about every area, from the detail and richness of the visuals to the effectiveness of the melee combat methods. You might just actually believe you’re fighting off zombies one by one.


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Screenshot: Topgolf with Pro Putt

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5. Topgolf with Pro Putt

Sports aren’t easy to replicate in VR, but golf lends itself to the format quite well, and Topgolf with Pro Putt is proof. It’s not the most realistic golfing experience, and it’s focused largely on putting, but it’s a lot of fun to play through, thanks partly to the multiplayer aspect of the title, which means you can easily get out on the course with friends.

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The visuals are cartoonish but do the job, while the control system hits the sweet spot between realism and accessibility. A lot of work has been put into the social aspect of the game, especially the VR lounge section, and because there’s minimal movement involved during gameplay, it’s suitable for those who might experience VR motion sickness too.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Superhot

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6. Superhot

Without a doubt one of the biggest VR gaming hits so far, Superhot can be hard to explain to those who haven’t played it. The basic premise is this: Time slows down unless you’re moving or shooting. That might not sound all that appealing at first, but it’s actually a really engaging game mechanic that can lead to some mesmerizing action sequences.

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The game also cleverly takes advantage of both the possibilities and limitations of VR, because you can stand in one place while waves of enemies press upon you. It’s up to you to choose the best mode of defense and attack, and you can quickly feel like Neo, John Wick, or any other character played by Keanu Reeves as you battle in slow motion.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Robo Recall

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7. Robo Recall

Sometimes you just want some robot-based mayhem from your gaming, and Robo Recall delivers plenty of it. It’s a first-person shooter with attitude, tasking you with bringing rogue robots under control, and while it’s now one of the older titles on the store, it still has enough in the way of frenetic gameplay and high-fidelity visuals to be of interest.

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Robo Recall remains one of the more impressive games on the Oculus Store in terms of graphics and audio, if not variety—once you’ve got the hang of blasting robots into oblivion, it’s pretty much just more of the same. The game is designed to be fast and fun above anything else, and you’ll get a lot of satisfaction from the high-speed gunfire.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Population: One

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8. Population: One

Fans of the battle royale genre will be naturally attracted to Population: One, which is one of the best last-person-standing titles available in virtual reality right now. The PUBG, Fortnite, Overwatch, and other influences are plain to see, but the game is enjoyable and frenetic enough to keep you coming back for some more free-roaming gaming action.

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The gameplay map is nicely varied and plenty big enough, and one of the game’s key strengths is the ease with which you can fly and climb around—you can very much develop your own strategies for victory here. Proceed with caution if you tend to suffer from VR sickness though, because it’s a game with a lot of moving and turning around.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Onward

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9. Onward

If first-person shooters are your jam, then Onward is one of the best you’ll find on the Oculus Quest 2 (and other headsets), with combat mechanics and tactical teamplay that are just about as realistic as you can expect from a virtual reality device like this. If you’re ready for a step up from the more basic gaming VR experiences out there, it’s worth checking out.

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New maps and other upgrades are pushed out for the title on a regular basis, and you’ve got a variety of solo, co-op, and competitive game modes to pick from, so it’s going to be difficult to get bored with Onward. It’ll particularly appeal to fans of the military shooter, but thanks to an extensive training level, just about anyone can enjoy playing this.


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Screenshot: The Room VR

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10. The Room VR

Few games do puzzles as well as The Room series, and this virtual reality edition is perfectly ported to take advantage of VR’s extra capabilities. For fans of slow, immersive, thoughtful gaming, it’s one of the best options on the Oculus Quest 2 right now. If you’ve ever played a real life escape game, then you’ll have a good idea of what’s in store.

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The primary setting is the British Institute of Archaeology in London, the year is 1908, and you have to explore a variety of vintage gadgets and contraptions to make progress in an intriguing missing persons mystery. The developers have obviously put in plenty of effort to keep the gameplay varied and appealing, and it all adds up to a compelling experience.


Illustration for article titled 11 Games That Make the Oculus Quest 2 Worth Buying

Screenshot: Vanishing Grace

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11. Vanishing Grace

Visually stunning, narratively engaging, and built with a smart appreciation of what works best in a virtual reality game, Vanishing Grace is a treat for Oculus Quest 2 headset owners—especially if you like to dwell a little longer with stories and settings. The game is similar to Firewatch both in its overall aesthetic and the journey it takes you on.

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The game is set in the near future when a solar storm has dramatically changed life on Earth, and your challenge is to solve puzzles and follow the clues to track down a missing friend. While the pace will be too slow for some, it’s going to be perfect for others, and there are plenty of clever little touches added to the VR environment for you to discover.

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Stop Ruining Oculus, Facebook

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Photo: Sam Rutherford/Gizmodo

Facebook is now rolling out Messenger on Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets, and trust me, I’m cringing too.

Messenger will only be available to those who have already connected their Facebook accounts to their Quest or Quest 2 headset, so those who have been holding out on merging their separate Oculus account are safe for now. But if you’re one of those people who bought an Oculus headset after last October, you probably already know that Facebook requires you to log into your account first. It’s understandable if this announcement feels like a bigger attempt by Facebook to take over your gadget—and horde more of your data.

Adding Messenger to Oculus is completely contrary to the entire purpose of VR: immersion. Not only do I not want to read messages inside of the headset, how exactly is someone supposed to respond in Messenger while wearing a Quest? Facebook said in its press release that users can write messages by typing them out in VR, selecting something pre-written, or using its voice-to-text feature, and it didn’t give any details beyond that. Typing via controller thumbstick has never been fast nor convenient, not everyone can type without looking down at the keyboard, and voice-to-text isn’t 100% accurate. It doesn’t always account for regional dialects or speech disabilities.

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Image: Facebook

And, I mean, why would you want to chat with your friends on Messenger in VR when VRChat exists? Thank goodness Facebook is giving you the option to log out of Messenger on on your Oculus headset, which is for the best—the bigger issue here is Facebook’s propensity for data harvesting.

Requiring users to link their Oculus to their Facebook account means the social media already has access to your VR gaming habits, but Facebook collects data from its Messenger app, too.

Illustration for article titled Stop Ruining Oculus, Facebook

Screenshot: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

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When Apple released itsprivacy nutrition labels” for the App Store last year, it slapped a CVS-sized receipt on Facebook Messenger. First spotted by 9to5Mac, it turns out Facebook collects an absurd amount of data on its users, including: sensitive info for product personalization, analytics, and app functionality; financial info for third-party advertisers and a mysteriously labeled “other purposes” category; and device ID data.

It’s likely that if you use Messenger in your Oculus, Facebook is going to be collecting data from there, too; According to Apple’s privacy label, Facebook collects data on users’ gameplay content. When the company first announced it would require Oculus users to login with their Facebook accounts, it confirmed that would collect data on users’ “relevant content” on “Oculus activity,” and that data would be used to recommend Oculus events or VR apps.

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Oculus is another means for the company to collect more data on its users, and adding Messenger to the VR platform gives the company more chances to do that. Combine all that with Facebook’s abysmal privacy track record, and honestly, it’s taken all the joy out of VR gaming with an Oculus headset.

Apple’s Rumored VR Headset Might Have 8K Displays and Cost How Much??

Illustration for article titled Apples Rumored VR Headset Might Have 8K Displays and Cost How Much??

Photo: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

Last month, the Apple rumor mill was buzzing that the company’s long-whispered-about mixed-reality headset would be powered by the new M1 chip and, unsurprisingly, would have an outrageous price tag. A new report from the Information seems to corroborate those juicy tidbits, as well as reveal some new jaw-dropping morsels. The headset could cost as much as $3,000, sport 8K displays, and have more than a dozen cameras for hand-tracking.

The madness! The audacity! The incredible Apple-ness of it all!

Citing an unnamed source working on the project, the Information lends credence to an earlier Bloomberg report from noted Apple prognosticator Mark Gurman. The headset will purportedly have a “sleek curved visor” and will feature a type of mesh fabric. Another interesting tidbit is it might have swappable headbands, which the AirPods Max were rumored to before their launch.

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According to the report, Pegatron, a Taiwanese manufacturer that also makes iPads and iPhones, has been tapped to build the product.

Apple will purportedly use a “thimble-like device” on a user’s finger to interact with software, but it’s unclear whether that device will be included with the headset itself. The headset’s cameras are also supposed to “pass video of the real world through the visor and display it on screens” to the user, as well as track eye and hand movements. The report also claims that there will be an “outward-facing display” on the visor so users can show what they’re seeing to others.

Speaking of displays, the headset will supposedly include not one, but two 8K displays—which is mind-boggling and sounds like overkill considering most people don’t even have 8K TVs at home, not to mention the dearth of 8K content. An intriguing tidbit in the report notes that it’s possible Apple could use eye-tracking to only render the parts of the display that a user is currently looking at. Areas in a user’s peripheral vision would be rendered in lower resolutions.

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The combination of an M1 chip, two 8K displays, and more than a dozen cameras could very well result in a ridiculous $3,000 price tag. That would make this headset incredibly inaccessible to the average person, given that current VR headsets like the Oculus Quest 2 retail for $300. More expensive VR headsets are around $900-$1,000, which is a third of what Apple’s might cost.

A $3,000 price tag puts this thing in the realm of Microsoft’s HoloLens 2, which as of right now is mostly an enterprise device. It also contradicts Gurman’s assertion that Apple’s goal with the headset seems to be priming consumers (and developers) for an eventual pair of smart glasses. While it’s likely that Apple doesn’t care about this headset being a commercial hit—supposedly only 180,000-250,000 are expected to sell—at this price, hardly anyone is going to handle this thing, let alone get the chance to become more familiar with the potential of AR or VR.

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But, as with the Apple Car, we likely have years of rumors ahead of us. The augmented reality headset could drop next year, with AR glasses in 2023.

Apple Reportedly Making a VR Headset Few Will Actually Buy

Illustration for article titled Apple Reportedly Making a VR Headset Few Will Actually Buy

Photo: Ryan Anson/AFP (Getty Images)

It’s an open secret that Apple is working on some kind of augmented reality or virtual reality headset. Some, have been so bold as to predict sleek Steve Jobs-style smart glasses as soon as summer 2021. But now Bloomberg is reporting that before we get smart glasses, Apple is attempting a niche VR headset that will likely cost a metric crapton.

The news comes via Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, an Apple prognosticator with a reliable track record. Citing unnamed sources, Gurman contends that the headset has “confronted several development hurdles” and a more ambitious AR device will take a while to develop due to technological and logistical challenges.

This initial headset will likely be a “mostly virtual” gadget, with an “all-encompassing 3D digital environment” meant for games, videos, and chats. It’s meant to compete against Oculus, Playstation VR, and HTC Vive. AR capabilities, however, will be limited. We might see this headset as early as 2022, but the price will be much, much, much more expensive than any rival headsets. So expensive, that Gurman’s sources believe that Apple might only sell one headset a day at each of its retail stores.

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Why so expensive when a very good Oculus Quest 2 starts at just $300? Well, firstly, it’s Apple. Second, it would appear that Apple plans on stuffing the headset—which is currently in a late prototype stage—with beefier chips than are currently available in existing VR headsets. Some of the chips purportedly beat out Apple’s impressive M1 chip in performance. The headset also apparently removes some of the internal space usually reserved to accommodate users with eyeglasses. To make up for it, the system will purportedly allow for prescription lenses to be inserted into the headset over the VR screen itself. The device is also meant to be standalone, meaning no wires or the need to plug into another device (e.g., how PlayStation VR plugs into a PlayStation console).

So far this sounds reminiscent of the Oculus Quest 2, though the Bloomberg report notes Apple’s version will also include external cameras for limited AR features. It’s not clear exactly what those capabilities will be, but presumably the cameras will do more than the Quest 2’s, which are primarily for hand tracking and spatial awareness.

Lastly, this thing will likely be so dang expensive because Apple might not actually care about selling a ton of them. Instead of vying for a commercial hit, Bloomberg suggests that Apple’s goal is to prime developers and consumers for an eventual pair of smart glasses, which Bloomberg’s sources say are still in an early “architecture” stage. As in, Apple hasn’t yet figured out some of the tech to make it a viable product. If true, we probably won’t be seeing Apple smart glasses this year, next year, or possibly even the year after that.

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Previous reports have speculated that Apple smart glasses might arrive as early as 2023—but again this was in the pre-pandemic era. On top of logistical supply chain delays for the iPhone 12, Bloomberg reports lockdowns have also hampered progress in developing AR hardware, as Apple engineers are only able to work from the office on designated days. Those delays also extend to user testing and data collection.

This is all a bunch of ifs. AR and VR are still very much nascent technologies that will have to clear several hurdles before they can be as mainstream as a smartphone. Especially in the case of AR. Not only do you have to account for things like ambient light wrecking an AR overlay’s visibility, but you also have to get components that are small and powerful. Battery life and consistent wifi or cellular connectivity are huge obstacles that even the most advanced smart glasses we’ve seen so far have yet to solve in an elegant way. This isn’t even considering extra hurdles like prescription lenses—which might then involve regulatory oversight because technically, glasses are a medical device—or broader concerns such as style and societal concerns about privacy.

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Then on top of all that, there’s the content problem. Right now, there aren’t lots of applications for bulky VR headsets outside of gaming—though if you let a tech bro talk long enough, they’ll blather on about virtual concerts, workspaces, and video calls. There might be more obvious use cases for AR, but again, technological problems have to be addressed first.

None of these challenges has really stopped Big Tech from plowing forward with consumer smart glasses. That said, these first efforts are more audio-based than visual. Facebook’s teamed up with Ray-Ban but its first pair of “smart glasses” won’t include AR. Amazon’s Echo Frames also stuff Alexa into a pair of glasses, but again, no AR. Likewise, Bose shut down its AR division last year and have since refocused their connected glasses to be more open-ear audio headphones. Focals by North were a compelling pair of consumer AR glasses, but alas, Google bought the company and killed its glasses last year.

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There is a theme here. If and when we do eventually see whatever Apple’s been tinkering on all these years, it’ll have to solve a good number of these issues, provide a compelling use case for the average consumer, and differentiate itself from the competition. That’s a tall order, even for Apple.