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John Lam's Blog


I went to Best Buy this afternoon and bought an Oculus Quest 2 because I wanted to spend some time this holiday seeing how real Ben Thompson's take on the Metaverse was. I'm pretty amazed at what they were able to cram into a $299 device. To quote:

My personal experience with Workrooms didn’t involve any dancing or fitness; it was simply a conversation with the folks that built Workrooms. The sense of presence, though, was tangible. Voices came from the right place, thanks to Workrooms’ spatial audio, and hand gestures and viewing directions really made it feel like the three of us were in the same room. What was particularly compelling was the way that Workrooms’ virtual reality space seamlessly interfaced with the real world:

People joining a meeting without a headset appear on a TV as if they are video conferencing; it feels completely natural. Here is a photo from Facebook’s PR pack (which honestly, given the size of the group, seems less immersive; my demo had one person on video, and one person in the room with me):

I'm writing this back on my PC after spending about 30 minutes in a Horizon Workroom by myself. So here's a really quick take on what I liked and didn't like about the experience:

The immersive feeling is real. I really like how, with Horizon Remote desktop installed on my PC, I could interact with and type on my PC.

The experience with the whiteboard was ... interesting. I get that this is using $299 worth of consumer-level hardware, so I'm not expecting a whole lot. You can write on the whiteboard using one of the controllers flipped around so that you're using the bottom like a pen. This was ... OK, but clearly not as good as it could be with better hardware. However I am holding my arm out in space vs. bracing it against a real whiteboard so I'm not sure how better hardware can help in this regard.

The latency while using my keyboard and mouse was pretty jarring. Now I totally respect that I can actually do things with this, but this is very early adopter territory. Oculus Remote Desktop is pretty confused with multi-monitor setups though (Aero snap on Windows doesn't do what I would expect), and I need to take off my headset and manually move windows to my primary monitor to get it to work correctly. It is usable though. I wonder if it's any better with USB tethering to my PC?

The resolution is limiting. I get that this will get better over time but it likely needs to be a LOT better. I'm looking at two 27" 4K monitors right now and that's my ideal experience. I would imagine 25MP per eye will get us pretty close to the experience I have already, but that's 7x more pixels than I'm seeing right now at 1832x1920 per eye, which is still quite amazing considering it's a $299 device!

Even though I wouldn't call the Quest heavy, it does have a noticeable heft on my head. I wonder how well this will hold out during a meeting (I have one scheduled for later this week with a friend to see how well this works).

I'd really like the device to do a better job tracking where my hands are and letting me see them as I type on my keyboard. I hit keys like F10/F11 all the time and I can't really touch type those keys as it's quite a reach from the home position (try it yourself to see what I mean). I'd also like to see my mouse as well - I would imagine that this will get much better in the future.

But back to the latency - this is probably the biggest technical issue that I see with the hardware right now. But there's promise here. It feels very Christensen disruptive (if the collaborative room experience is as good as Ben claims).

I'll try it again later tonight. But this does feel like the future. But we're definitely not there right now.