The Oculus Quest is a new VR headset available in the second quarter of 2019. It features six degrees of freedom (6DOF) while being completely cordless, with full motion tracking. The Oculus Video app allows users to watch videos on a virtual movie theater screen or their own personal theater.
The Oculus Video app displays movies on a large, cubic movie theater screen that spans beyond your line of vision when you look up at it. Customizable lighting effects include light sneaking in from around the edges of the screen and soft arena-like lighting for watching movies at night time; each effect can be adjusted between bright and dim settings. These lighting effects are more than just aesthetics; they’re also useful for playing horror games like Face Your Fears 2 and watching movies like The Conjuring 2. Choosing between a movie theater and personal theater effects may not seem like much of a feature, but many people would prefer to watch horror movies in their own home without the lights off; others might want that immersive experience when watching a TV show or trying out comedy videos such as “Ramble Tamble.”
You can also manually adjust the screen size, so if you want to feel bigger than life while watching Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! on your personal theater, you might make it 200 ft wide and look up at it- or shrink it down and sit closer to it for a more intimate viewing experience. Of course, there are no prerequisites for how large or small you should set the screen. As you’ll see in the next section, there are some videos that benefit from having a gigantic screen size to watch them on.
The Oculus Video app also allows for users to save local video files onto their Quest headsets and play them back on the virtual theater’s screens. If you ripped your DVDs to create .mkv or .mp4 files instead of just watching them directly off your hard drive, then this is great news for you. It means that if you want to watch movies not available on Netflix or Hulu (such as “Mystery Science Theater 3000” episodes), all you have to do is save it locally, open up the Oculus Video app, select ‘Local Videos,’ start playing it, and watch it on the big screen.
The Oculus Video app also supports 3D movies, with the ability to view them on either a virtual movie theater or personal home theater screen. That means that watching Avatar in 3D on your Quest is possible, as long as it’s saved onto your headset first (which you can do by using the ‘Convert’ option). Whether or not you like watching 3D movies is up to you; I personally don’t like wearing glasses over my VR headset and experiencing double vision (especially since I’m playing games while watching videos), but some people really enjoy it. If you’re one of those people who love showing off their 3D Blu-rays, then be sure to get yourself an Oculus Quest once they become available for purchase.
Lastly, the Oculus Video app allows for video watching in different languages. If you’re bilingual like me and enjoy listening to foreign films without subtitles on (especially cheesy movies like “Surf Nazis Must Die”), then this is great news. No need to download dubs of your favorite movies; the ‘Language’ option will be there for you whenever you want to watch or play videos with alternate audio tracks! This feature also applies to tv shows, allowing users who prefer dubbed anime over subbed anime, or vice versa, to have it their way
The bad thing about the Oculus Video app is that it can’t be used outside VR mode. That means if you just want to watch a 2D movie on your virtual theater screen, you have to go through the hassle of putting your headset on, strapping it tight so it doesn’t fall off, put in your headphones so that you can hear the movie, making sure your neck strap is long enough so that your head isn’t hyper-extended at 90 degrees looking down, then finally playing the video (and if its one of those videos with multiple episodes, repeat this process for every episode).
And if you want subtitles while watching 2D movies or TV shows? You can forget about it; there’s no way to view them on the Oculus Video app. If subtitles are important to you and you’re an Oculus user (especially an Oculus Go owner), don’t buy a Quest right away unless subtitles become available later on. You might also want to check Facebook’s video player because it has subtitles, but I haven’t tried it yet and can’t vouch for how well they work (or if there are multiple subtitle options when compared to the Oculus Video app).
In addition, when watching videos in VR mode from within the Oculus Video app, you’re forced to stay seated in your chair instead of being able to lie down on a couch or bed like you would with an Xbox One or Playstation 4 hooked up to your TV. If you have a large enough room where you won’t accidentally bump into anything while playing VR games or watching VR movies, this shouldn’t be a problem since you’ll probably play in a spot where there’s enough space for you to lie down and play comfortably. But if you’re like the majority of VR players and don’t have enough space, then this might pose a problem for those who want to watch movies while relaxing on their couch.
However, the Oculus Video app has an ace up its sleeve: theater mode! Unlike watching videos in VR mode where you’re forced to sit down with your headset strapped tight so it doesn’t fall off (which could lead to losing your balance), theater mode allows you to watch 2D / 3D videos/tv shows from a much more comfortable position, which includes lying flat on your back or using any other type of furniture that’s at your disposal. Theater mode even saves battery life because it no longer requires a connection between the smartphone and the headset, so it would be wise to switch back and forth between VR mode and theater mode once in a while if you’re running low on battery.
One thing I noticed when watching 3D videos in theater mode is that the video becomes slightly blurry every few seconds for about 1 second or less. It’s not too noticeable, but it might be something that bothers anyone using this feature frequently (although I suspect this could be fixed through software updates).
Lastly, when compared to other VR platforms like the Samsung Gear VR (before the new model was released), there are no exclusive Oculus Video apps available. While apps like Netflix, Hulu+, Facebook 360 aren’t available on any other VR platform except for Oculus Go / Quest (for now), you’re free to watch them on your Oculus Go, Gear VR, and Playstation VR. This is something that might come in handy if you already own a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and don’t want to buy the new Oculus Go / Quest just for watching Netflix or Hulu+.
However, due to the lack of subtitles on most videos available on the Oculus Video app (unless they were downloaded before), I still find myself using my Playstation VR more often than not because most of its content has subtitles, and it also allows me to lie down comfortably instead of having to sit up straight. It’s also nice that my PSVR can be used wirelessly while being plugged into the console so it doesn’t run out of battery while playing games.
There are a lot of things to consider when buying a VR device, so don’t just go ahead and buy one because it’s becoming really popular. Make sure you have enough knowledge about the platform you’re going to choose in order to ease your transition into VR, especially if you want to enjoy VR movies or TV shows that aren’t available on the Oculus Video app. In addition, don’t forget that you can always check IGN’s Best VR Headset page for help in making up your mind when choosing which VR platform is right for you!