Back in 2005, at the launch of the iPod Mini, Steve Jobs claimed that $199 was the ‘magic price point’. Essentially, Jobs believed that $199 was enough to make sure users knew they were getting a premium product. However, more importantly, it also wasn’t so expensive as to be off-putting.
With the iPhone X set to retail for $999, that ‘magic price point’ seems long gone.
Still, even if Apple is no longer cares for $199 tech, Mark Zuckerberg certainly is. In a recent event Zuckerberg revealed the Oculus Go, a new, budget VR headset from the Facebook-owned Oculus VR.
The division made headlines last year when it released the Oculus Rift. The headset was a top-of-the-line piece of technology which retailed for $399. It promised to revolutionize the way that people play and interact with their games. The trouble is, at its premium price-point and being a relatively untested technology, consumer interest wasn’t there. Oculus sold just 355,000 Oculus units in 2016.
However, with the Oculus Go offering a much more consumer-friendly price point, Zuckerberg is hoping it’ll entice people to give VR a go. Sure, the console isn’t as powerful as the Oculus Rift, but that might be to its benefit.
Why is Oculus Go so interesting?
Interestingly, Oculus Go is a self-contained system. That might sound like par for the course for traditional gaming systems, but it’s a step-forward for VR. Other major VR platforms such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require consumers to own a high-specification PC to stream content to the system. Even Samsung’s Gear VR requires users to own a Samsung phone. By making Oculus Go playable on its own straight out of the box, Facebook have turned it from an accessory into a platform of its own.
In addition, the reveal was paired with Zuckerberg’s announcement of Facebook Spaces, a new virtual reality social media platform. It seems that they’re trying to make the case that Oculus Go is for lifestyle, not just gaming.
Also, there’s already a wealth of content there for the Oculus Go to use. Samsung has been pouring its efforts into developing apps for its own VR tech, the Samsung Gear VR, all of which will be compatible with the Oculus Go. This means users will find plenty of uses for their new purchase from the moment they load it up.
What do you get for your money?
Oculus Go is obviously not going to be quite as fully featured as its big brother, the Oculus Rift. Still, that’s not to say consumers won’t get plenty for their $199.
In the box you’ll get the headset itself and a controller. You hold the controller in one hand and it has a trigger and a touchpad. This controller will only track one of your hands with a built-in accelerometer, and the headset can’t track your hand movement in space.
The headset itself is a new custom optical lens design, with WQHD 2,560 x 1,440 LCD lenses. All that’s to say, the picture quality will be gorgeous. There will be optimisation for 3D viewing. Finally, the fabric is supposed to be comfortable and breathable, so it shouldn’t be a pain to wear it for long periods at a time. Oh, and it’ll still work if you wear glasses too, so no need to worry about that!
The headset has built in speakers so you don’t need headphones or earbuds to listen to your game. The audio system can also allow others to listen to what you’re doing so they can have some insight into what you’re doing in virtual reality! But don’t worry, that’s optional; you don’t have to let anyone else into your little virtual reality world if you don’t want to!
When is Oculus Go out and where can you buy one?
Oculus Go doesn’t have a firm release-date just yet. In the announcement, Zuckerberg said it would be coming out in early 2018. That could mean ‘early 2018’ in normal people terms – January to March. Or it could mean ‘early 2018’ in gaming industry terms which usually means January – May.
If Oculus use a distribution model anything similar the the way they launched Oculus Rift, you’ll be able to pick one up from their official website. However, you will also be able to pick them up at most other technology and electronics stores including John Lewis’ technology section, Currys, and even Amazon.
As stated above, Oculus Go prices will start at $199. Presumably, like the Oculus Rift, additional controllers, special headphones and more will cost extra.