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Oculus Link

Hands-on With Oculus Link: Is this the end for Oculus Rift?

Does a standalone headset need to connect to a PC?

Oculus Quest virtually dominated the keynote address at Oculus Connect 6 (OC6), from the sales figures and the impressive hand tracking to Oculus Link, an update which will enable the device to tether to a PC for improved Oculus Rift style graphics. This last one was particularly interesting due to the fact that it means the standalone headset is an even greater rival to its purely PC-based sibling Oculus Rift S. Could this mean Facebook is solely focused on Quest going forward, and do you get the same quality?

Oculus Link

VRFocus tried Oculus Link at OC6 and even after the demo wasn’t entirely convinced Oculus Rift S owners have anything to worry about just yet. On test was Insomniac Games’ to be released Stormland, an impressive-looking title at the best of times and one that would probably never make it to Oculus Quest.

Having played Stormland earlier in the day on Oculus Rift S it was a nice easy comparison to make. While the title played fine as both headsets use the same controller mechanics, the visuals were another matter – and one of the main reasons for Oculus Link obviously. The quality was good yet definitely lagged behind Rift S in terms of detail and sharpness. It was more than acceptable – especially as the title isn’t native to the headset – yet there is a difference.

That’s more than expected when considering the signal is being run through a USB-C cable, adding extra steps in the process from the graphics card instead of a direct connection. New virtual reality (VR) devices are striving for better clarity and therefore immersion, which wasn’t exactly proven in this case. It does look like Oculus has tried to keep things nice and tidy with a couple of clips attached around the head strap which presumably will come with the premium Oculus-branded cable the company announced. Details haven’t been released regarding cable length or cost but you can use a third-party one – which will probably be cheaper.

Oculus Link

Sure it’s great that Oculus Quest owners will be able to play Rift S videogames on the portable headset, making it even better value for money. However, one of the other factors to immersion is that freedom of being able to wander freely around a virtual world untethered, untethered, surely that means Oculus Quest would be taking a step backwards by connecting to a PC.

Oculus Quest’s biggest draw is its ease of use, essentially charge up, put it on your head and away you go, play almost anywhere you like. Oculus Link, while useful if you have a PC, isn’t even on the same level as the hand tracking announcement (which didn’t include Rift S) – which could have massive potential across a range of applications.

If Oculus Link could provide exactly the same experience on Quest as Rift S then it would be a no brainer, you’d always plump for Oculus Quest. Enjoy the big PC VR titles via cable then Quest’s slightly more curated store the rest of the time. That’s not the case (currently anyway), so for the very best Oculus VR experience, it would still be the Rift S.

Oculus Link

As the OC6 keynote proved Oculus Quest is very much the company’s golden child, and more time, money and effort is going to be put into getting the device into consumers hands than Oculus’ other headsets. Oculus Link doesn’t make Oculus Rift S a pointless purchase at the moment, they’re both good VR devices. In the next year, however, the Oculus ecosystem may not need all these competing headsets.

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