Facebook’s Oculus is planning to put out a standalone VR headset sometime next year with a price tag of only $200, according to an anonymous source that contacted Bloomberg regarding the matter. The headset will reportedly be revealed to the public later this year, and Facebook is said to be confident that this headset will be what finally brings VR into the mainstream. Since the entire hardware stack for the headset will be self-contained, the idea is to create a compelling and portable VR experience that’s distinctly separate from a user’s phone. Neither Facebook or the anonymous source let out many details about the headset itself, so what kind of power it may pack, the resolution, or what fixes for things like VR sickness it may incorporate in the final design are all a mystery at this point.
The upcoming headset’s codename is “Pacific,” and it is supposed to be similar to the current Oculus Rift, but more compact, despite containing everything a user needs to power what will presumably be a fairly premium VR experience. The headset is also said to be lighter than Samsung’s Gear VR with a phone inside it, which means that it could end up being portable enough to put in a pocket, or close to it. Currently, those looking for a VR experience that they can take with them without a bag have to resort to folding up a Google Cardboard headset, or invest in a specialized pocket VR system made specifically for portability. Both scenarios have their obvious compromises; even with a strap, most Cardboard headsets can become uncomfortable, and most pocket VR headsets tend to be somewhat flimsy, and don’t box in the user’s phone, so they end up being less immersive than other alternatives.
While there are standalone VR headsets out there that can run on a battery, none of them have Oculus’ official blessing, which means that they cannot run Oculus software. Currently, the only mobile VR system able to tie into the Oculus ecosystem is Samsung’s Gear VR, though it obviously cannot run some of the more power-hungry VR games out there, or most ports from PC and HTC Vive. While the mobile VR ecosystem as a whole is being pushed in a more premium direction by Google’s Daydream and other options, the demand for a full-featured, premium VR experience on the go is still there.
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