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Oculus Quest standalone VR coming spring 2019 for $399

Facebook's next VR headset promises full motion, no wires at all.

Facebook's newest VR headset, the Oculus Quest, is standalone and even more powerful.

Standalone VR is about to ramp up in a big way. Mark Zuckerberg, at the Oculus Connect keynote, announced on Wednesday that the Oculus Quest next-gen headset is coming next spring, for the aggressive price of $399. The headset, previously demoed as Project Santa Cruz, is a mobile device that adds full-room tracking and PC-like motion controls.

The Oculus Quest is a self-contained piece of hardware -- no PC or phone required -- much like the Oculus Go, the $199 mobile headset that debuted earlier this year. But, unlike the Go, the Quest looks to bridge the gap between mobile and PC VR, and bring a higher-end experience with more advanced controllers. Zuckerberg also promised that many PC-based VR games and apps will be ported to the Quest, possibly making the headset feel closer in spirit to the PC-based Oculus Rift. The $399 price includes 64GB of onboard storage.

The headset resolution is the same as Oculus Go: 1,600x1,440 pixels per eye. (The Go's resolution already looks fantastic for videos and web browsing, often surpassing the Rift.) It also has the same spatial audio as the Go, which pipes audio in through small holes in the headband. How graphically powerful the Oculus Quest will be remains to be seen. Will it be more like PC, more like mobile or something truly in-between?

Stepped-up controllers

The Oculus Quest has two motion touch controllers that can be tracked in space, giving players six degrees of freedom, and have analog sticks, physical buttons and triggers. This is a big step up compared to the Oculus Go, which only has a simple pointer-type one-hand controller and three-degrees-of-freedom motion controls. 

They're not exactly like the Oculus Touch controllers that are available with the PC-based Oculus Rift, but they look awfully close. "Full hand presence" is being promised in games, much like what Rift already offers.

Google's standalone VR headset, the Lenovo Mirage Solo, is adding experimental six-degree-of-freedom controls, but right now only ships with a three-degree-of-freedom controller in retail boxes.

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Full-room tracking

The Oculus Quest uses four wide-angle camera sensors at the edges of the headset, combining with accelerometer and gyroscope information to track spatial positions. The new tracking technology is called Oculus Insight, and it promises to work across much larger spaces than just rooms.

According to Facebook's Hugo Barra, the tracking has been tested indoors, on various surfaces, and could work up to 4,000 square feet (or more). The tracking will remember setups for different rooms previously made in Guardian, the full-room-sensing tool that sets up safety boundaries. That larger-scale potential could really set it apart from tethered VR in future location-based or arena gaming.

Games and apps sound promising

There will be 50 games available when it arrives next year, according to Oculus. That's not a ton, but some launch-window games have been announced: Robo Recall, The Climb and Moss, which are some really good PC and console VR games. There's also a Star Wars VR experience called Vader Immortal, the first episode of which comes out in spring 2019.

Attendees at Oculus Connect will be able to try the Oculus Quest: Stay tuned for impressions from the show.

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