At the Oculus Connect 6 conference, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a slew of major new feature coming to the standalone Oculus Quest VR headset. First up is hand-tracking technology, set to debut in 2020 and allowing you to interact with VR naturally and without needing controllers in your hand.
While waiting for that, Oculus Link will arrive in November, letting owners simply plug the Quest headset into a PC via USB-C and use it as though it were a tethered headset like the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive.
This is a major development in VR circles, breaking down the divide between standalone and tethered VR headsets and giving buyers the best of both worlds. The Oculus Quest is a standalone device, built around mobile hardware and with inside-out tracking to place you in VR and keep tabs on your two Touch controllers. It’s able to play a broad library of games, but the constraints of the system mean that they can’t push the kinds of visual fidelity that PC VR systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are able to. With Oculus Link, the Quest will now be able to do both.
This makes the $399/£399 Quest an even more compelling device for prospective VR gamers, but it diminishes the appeal of the Oculus Rift S, which Facebook introduced earlier this year to a muted response. That tethered VR headset, replacing the original Oculus Rift, shifted to inside-out tracking and features an incrementally higher resolution over the original headset at 1280×1440 per eye, but shifted to an LCD screen, dropped hardware interpupillary distance (IPD) adjustment, and reduced the refresh rate from 90Hz to 80Hz. By comparison, the Oculus Quest has two OLED screens with hardware IPD adjustment at 1440×1600 per eye and a refresh rate of 72Hz. Since the Rift S is the same £399/$399 price, there were already question marks about value before the announcement of Oculus Link.