Report: Oculus to announce $200 standalone VR headset this year

VR in Murder She Wrote

Facebook is planning to unveil a $200 (£150-odd) wireless Oculus VR headset later this year that you can use without connecting to either a PC or a phone, according to a Bloomberg report.

The new headset, codename “Pacific”, will be a fully standalone product. So you’ll be able to take it out of the box, strap it on your head, and start playing games and watching videos. That means it will have some kind of built-in display, which would be a first in the space.

Bloomberg are quoting “people familiar with its development” for the story, and say the new device will aim to bridge the gap between the Oculus Rift – which still requires a beefy PC to run – and the Samsung Gear VR, which you slot your phone into. It will be like a “more compact version” of the Rift, Bloomberg says.

It will be out next year, but some of the features are apparently still being decided. Facebook has begun briefing developers about the product, Bloomberg reports, in order to have games ready to go when it launches. It won’t have position-tracking technology, which means it won’t be good for moving around virtual spaces – just turning your head.

It’s not wholly unexpected: last year Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said there was a “sweet spot” for a device that sits between the Gear VR and Rift.

There’s still a lot of unanswered questions (will you be able to separately hook it up to your PC to play games, for example?), but it is interesting that Facebook are making a move into a new part of the VR market.

27 Comments

  1. Vandelay says:

    Not sure when it was announced, but HTC are already working on this too. link to vive.com

    I question how comparable these will be to the Vive/Rift or even PSVR. I would expect that these will be closer to VR’s implementation on phones than something that is hooked up to a more powerful machine.

    • Sakkura says:

      It lacks positional tracking, and uses a Snapdragon processor. So yes, it’s much more comparable to mobile VR than PC VR.

  2. Ricc says:

    “That means it will have some kind of built-in display, which would be a first in the space.”

    You meant built-in _processor_, not display, right? Sorry, if I’m confusing things.

  3. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    Seems to me the goal is to create a lower barrier to entry for VR, and get people into the concept enough to drive some of them to the higher-end equipment. Given the rather tepid response to phone-based VR, which this essentially is, I’m not confident that it will work out for them. It might actually turn away people who may have otherwise been interested in the high-end rigs. For my money, VR without the haptics, tracked controllers, and movement just wasn’t very interesting.

  4. Girfuy says:

    Considering the discounted Oculus last week was priced at $399 / £399, stating £150-odd for $200 is extremely optimistic. It’ll likely be priced the same as the US version with just the currency changed, albeit the GBP price will include taxes.

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    Fallingbadgers says:

    So an Android tablet mounted in a face mask… Given the saturation and subsequent collapse of the tablet market the production costs should be cheap but it is hard to imagine this being any more successful than the Nintendo Virtual Boy. It smacks a bit of Facebook trying to find a reason for having spent all that money on Oculus. The obvious market would be as a toy but given the issues with motion sensitivity and parental concern that feels like a hard mountain to climb.

  6. Jayseki says:

    **rushes to Google**
    Oh, awesome, Angela Lansbury is still with us! 91!

  7. jeremyalexander says:

    I got to try VR and I l loved it, but I can’t justify the purchase at those prices, when I will have to upgrade my graphics card to use VR. However, a VIVE at 200 dollars is an instant purchase for me. An Oculus at any price is a no go for me because of their exclusives and because they are thieves.

  8. geldonyetich says:

    Just in time for me to have shelled out for the current model: a much cheaper model is coming down the pipe! You’re welcome.

    It’s a good idea, really. Getting your hardware out there into the hands of a potential audience means developers will consider it that much more viable to make software for it. (Note how careful I am to avoid guarenteeing it: we’ve had multicore CPUs for quite some time, but software still doesn’t leverage it often.)

    That said, these half-price models better not offer a crappy experience. That would only make people decide VR is crappy. Essentially sabotaging their entire VR venture.

  9. Jason Lefkowitz says:

    The big question for me is, will it run VR apps/games/etc. that were written for the Rift? Or will this device have a completely separate library of software?

    My guess is that it’s the latter, since a standalone device by necessity will have much less computing horsepower than a device tethered to a beefy PC. But that feels like a real limitation, since a separate library means it’ll suffer from the same relative paucity of available experiences that the GearVR does.

    • AngusPrune says:

      I think that’ll be the big sticking point. All the current VR games are targeted at x86 with beefy GPUs. We’ve seen from the Ouya that even when the hardware basically runs an existing processing architecture and operating system that games are produced for, building it is not enough for them to come.

      Even if this thing comes out with day one support from the big 3D engines like Unity and Unreal, it’s not going to be just a simple recompile to get most existing VR apps on to the hardware. The catalogue is going to start from zero, which is going to limit the appeal.

  10. Premium User Badge

    syllopsium says:

    It’s going to be shit, isn’t it? A Samsung Gear VR needs a 300 quid or over piece of tech to work in it.

    How on earth is this going to be possible for 150 quid?

    Like a commentator says above, it’ll be an Android tablet strapped to your head, but to expand further – it won’t be a good tablet.

  11. Synesthesia says:

    I just wanted to say, fuck Palmer Luckey.

  12. fragmonkey says:

    This is just going to be another one of those phone-based VR devices with the phone integrated, much like Google Daydream. Nothing to get excited about. No positional tracking or controllers either

  13. Enko says:

    Its great and all, but while its owned by Zuckerberg, I will not touch it.

  14. TotallyUseless says:

    Interested on this just because of Elite Dangerous.

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