Forward-looking: Facebook’s Oculus division is reportedly working on a new version of the Quest headset. It was initially slated to come out later this year, but problems with Oculus’ supply chain caused by the pandemic have pushed a launch into 2021.
A standalone VR device is something that many were looking forward to, and the Quest delivered that, for the most part. The chief complaints were that it was somewhat heavy and bulky, making it uncomfortable to wear for extended periods and that it was underpowered.
Being underpowered when compared to the Oculus Rift is understandable. As a self-contained unit, there is not much you can do to make it function as well as a tethered VR headset without weight becoming a serious issue. For this reason, Oculus seems to be focusing more on solving the size and weight problem with the second-generation Quest rather than trying to make it more powerful.
Bloomberg reports that although Facebook has not finalized a design, it is looking to reduce the size and weight by 10-15 percent. Prototypes in testing weigh about a pound. That’s about 4 ounces lighter than the first-generation Oculus Quest.
The new headset may end up with some hardware improvements in the end, especially since it is being delayed. However, the only performance upgrade currently being considered is the display, but even that is still up in the air. Sources say that Oculus is testing panels with 90Hz or 120Hz refresh rates. The improved screen should provide a smoother visual experience over the current model’s display, which runs at 60Hz for movies and 72Hz for VR.
Lacking any other hardware upgrades, the new Oculus Quest will be more like a mid-life refresh than a next-generational upgrade, but seriously, what can one expect?
The Quest only released just under a year ago. It feels strange calling it “mid-life,” let alone considering its successor was supposed to arrive this holiday season. Although improving the comfort alone might warrant pushing out a second-generation headset so fast. It might not attract those who already have a Quest, but it might lure those who were on the fence and decided the weight problem was a no-sale.
That said, keep in mind that Bloomberg’s sources were speaking anonymously. Oculus has not announced anything official, so anything can happen and anything said at this point should be treated as a rumor.