Oculus Quest for Work: First Impressions

After reading this, this and this and this, I’ve got Oculus Quest willing to try it for work. I am a software developer and spend 8-10 hours per day before the laptop. My main machine at the moment is Mac Book Pro, I also own Thinkpad with Linux.

This way, in terms of software, ImmersedVR seems to be the only contender and only compatible headsets are Oculus Go and Oculus Quest. I’ve go Quest as it has a higher resolution.

After reading all the posts above my expectations of the image quality were quite high, I was hoping to get something similar to what I have with regular physical computer screens. In (virtual) reality it appeared to be not that good. The text is crisp enough to read, but the overall image has some moving artifacts and general experience is somewhat close (I think) to what I’ve seen long ago on first 14-15 inch CRT monitors. The video in this post is pretty accurate - you can see these moving artifacts (should I call it moire? or distortion?), especially on the edges of screens. I don’t know if that is a resolution that is not high enough or a refresh rate not high enough, maybe both. There is eye strain too, after using it for 2-3 hours and taking the headset off, you can feel like your eyes begging to stay closed for a while to get some rest.

Anyway, this is a future of screens as I see and want it where you have a wearable (headset, glasses) that create a virtual screen or several screens of any size you want. It is way more compact and easier than having a physical setup. I also like to move often from place to place, work outside, sit, or stay, so I rarely use a stationary workplace that I have at home with 27-inch monitor. Usually, I just take the laptop and sit on a coach with it. Having a VR screen is a big addition to the portable setup that you can take anywhere with you.

Although the image quality is less than what I expected, it is not that bad, and I was able to work in VR for the most of the day, I am just saying that it is still not a perfect experience. I would say it is definitely something that I can use right now, at least for the part of the day, and I am looking forward to higher resolution devices that would improve the quality of the image.

Good parts:

  • Freedom and portability: you can sit (or lay or stay) wherever you want and position the screen anywhere, for example, I can lay in a deck chair like this with a big screen hanging above me in the air. This is something you can do physically, but that would be quite an effort (and you can not take it with you on a beach).
  • Easy to add more monitors (up to 5 virtual monitors in a paid version of ImmersedVR), again you can reposition them easily in a way that is hard to do or impossible in a physical setup.
  • Using oculus controller instead of the mouse is OK (better than I expected), you can scroll with the stick and click with a trigger or a button (this is where some training is needed to avoid moving the pointer up when you pull the trigger).
  • Nobody could say if you are working or watching a movie :)

Less good:

  • Image quality, as mentioned above, is not perfect.
  • It is not convenient to drink coffee, hope future headsets will be smaller and closer to glasses in size.
  • A bit of practice is needed to adjust both headset and the virtual screen to make it look sharp enough.

Regarding the headset adjustment, correct position on the head is very important. I also own PSVR and I must say it is way easier to put it on - there are no sticky straps, and it is very easy to adjust it properly.

Some specific notes about working in Quest:

  • Touch typing is essential, at least unless they implement virtual keyboard that works with hands tracking (this is not a problem for me, as I do touch typing).
  • The guardian system is very useful, and stationary area (vs roomscale area) is good for cases when you are sitting in place - it makes a circle around you, so no need to draw circles manually with the controller. Another good thing is that you move out of the guarded area, you start seeing the outside world through the external cameras.
  • The hole around the nose is useful to peek out of the headset to grab something or check where the keyboard is.
  • Headset weight, at least for me, this is not a big concern, I was worried it would be too heavy, but in fact, I was able to have the headset on for quite a long time without any problem.

And notes about ImmersedVR:

  • It looks better in 1440x900 resolution (on Mac: “scaled” display mode, “lager text” option).
  • Different virtual environments are good, although I ended up using “void” where everything is just dark around you.
  • Immersed settings can be invoked with stick click, this is also useful to check the headset battery level, there’s an indicator at the bottom bar.
  • The laptop screen sometimes goes dark after exiting immersed VR, increase/decrease brightness to fix it (fn + F1/F2 on Mac).
  • It is easier to use the side button on the controller to position the screen rather than the icons to move and scale. While holding the side button, you can move the screen and using the stick you can scale it.
  • If you messed up the screen position, open immersed settings (stick click) and select settings - monitors - reset, it will get back to the center of the view.
  • Besides Immersed VR, there are also Virtual Desktop and vSpatial, but both only support Windows, so software choice (Immersed VR) was out of the question.

One thing I didn’t find how to do (maybe it’s not possible) in Immersed VR is the ability to move the virtual screen horizontally (left / right) or vertically without rotation. It seems that I can only move it up and down or left-right, while it rotates around the point of view at the same time, while sometimes I just want to move it a bit left or right straight, without rotation.

What else would be cool to have:

  • A virtual keyboard that works with hands tracking
  • Some hotkey to enable external cameras, the same as in the guardian setup mode, or when you walk off the guardian area. Looks like this is not possible at the moment.
    • Update: this is possible with Oculus’s pass-through mode.

Besides work, it is an amazing gaming and entertainment platform. I like Beat Saber on PSVR a lot and immediately got a copy for Quest, others that look quite interesting are FitXR and eleven table tennis, as well as many other awesome games and apps (don’t forget netflix on a big screen).

Summarizing, I can say that I satisfied with the overall experience, even so, it didn’t match all of my expectations.

Also posted on reddit.

profile for Boris Serebrov on Stack Exchange, a network of free, community-driven Q&A sites
Tags: vr