Oculus Quest and Rift S available for preorder, both at $399, shipping May 21
Next-generation headsets from Facebook's Oculus VR division are coming.
Ian SherrContributor and Former Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. As an editor at large at CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
The Oculus Quest is self-contained, working without a computer to power it or any extra sensors set up around a room to track where you're moving. The Rift S, meanwhile, offers better visuals while still connected by wire to a computer, but it also ditches sensors around a room.
"Now, getting into VR is as easy as
on a console," Facebook said in a statement.
Whether the new devices will draw users is anyone's guess. A recent survey from industry tracker IDC, which was sponsored by
, found that headset sales in the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan rose 60% in 2018 to 3.9 million headsets, up from 2.4 million in 2017. But that's still small compared with the hundreds of millions of video
Sony, Microsoft and
have sold since 2013.
Oculus says the Rift S will offer more-detailed and sharper-looking visuals than the original Oculus Rift, which shipped in 2016.
But the real change is to the cameras mounted on its sides. There are two in the front, one on each side, and one on the top, all designed to track the outside world using a technology called "Oculus Insight," so that the headset knows when you're leaning one direction or another or suddenly duck to avoid something. Those cameras work in concert with the company's hand controllers too.
Whereas the Rift and Rift S rely on an outside computer connected by a wire to power the virtual world you see, and the $199
is designed to be a wire-free self-contained entry-level VR device, the Oculus Quest is meant to be somewhere in the middle.
At its heart, the Quest is meant to offer higher-end games designed to work with the Oculus hand controllers, like the music rhythm game Beat Saber and the boxing game Creed: Rise to Glory. But it's also self-contained, running a powerful, yet small, computer in the headset.
To pull off that trick, developers say, the Oculus Quest isn't as capable as its beefier cousin, the Rift S. Its screen doesn't show as many details, it's not able to pack as many characters on the screen at a time, and apps made for it can't assume they'll always be connected to the internet. (Sometimes people might take this on a train or on vacation).
The Quest still uses the same controllers as the Rift S
Though the Quest and Rift S won't always be able to play the same games, the Quest will have the same controllers. That's a step up from the entry-level Oculus Go, which had a simpler, wandlike controller that wasn't capable of doing as much as the more full-fledged hand controllers Oculus offers.
They're both $399, go on preorder Tuesday and ship May 21
If you're already convinced, you can preorder the devices on the Oculus website, at Amazon and elsewhere. Full preorder info is available here, or you can just use the buttons below (note that CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products).