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Alleged Oculus Quest S image reveals streamlined design, strap changes

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Facebook’s Oculus Quest all-in-one VR headset has only been in stores for a little over a year, but reports of a new version — an “S” style revision akin to the Oculus Rift S — have been circulating for months. Today, an image of what appears to be the new model leaked on Twitter, and it lines up with the early reports, showing a streamlined design with a host of small changes to both the headset and its included controllers.

There’s no question that the purported new design represents an effort to clean up rather than fully rethink the standalone Quest, which has frequently been out of stock since release due to both demand apparent production challenges. The new design notably moves the USB-C charging port off the front faceplate onto the side, reflecting a change to the internal electronics, and removes the manual inter-pupillary distance (IPD) slider found on the headset’s bottom. These changes likely contribute to a reported 10-15% decrease in volume that would make the new Quest more comfortable to wear for extended periods, enabling it to fall from 1.25 pounds to roughly a pound in weight.

Horizontal head strap adjustments have seemingly been moved from the wearer’s temples to the back, as part of an updated design for headset stability. The new strap does not appear to have the head-molded shape found in the original Quest, instead using straight vertical and horizontal bands, while differing somewhat from Facebook’s Oculus Go, Rift, and Rift S designs. However, the positions of the first Quest’s inside-out tracking cameras appear to be virtually identical on the new design.

Another conspicuous tweak involves the body material, which has apparently shifted from Quest’s canvas-like fabric to a smooth plastic. The image depicts a largely white chassis from front to back, interrupted by a black foam material for the eye box, which traditionally benefits from use of the darkest possible material around the wearer’s field of vision. Updated controllers mix largely white frames with black control surfaces, seemingly with repositioned finger grip buttons, and may be easier for the headset’s tracking cameras to see in dark rooms. Reports have suggested that Facebook has also refined the controllers’ battery compartments, but still doesn’t plan to include rechargeable batteries, an ongoing Quest (and Rift S) annoyance.

Notably, the new design is not expected to represent a major or truly sequel-worthy change to the original Quest in hardware performance. While the new model will likely offer a faster refresh rate, with support for up to 90Hz rather than 72Hz display updates, other fundamentals such as resolution and polygon performance are believed to be similar between the original and redesigned models. Because of the similarities, the new model could fully replace the Quest, or sit alongside it as a simpler, cheaper version that replaces the recently discontinued Oculus Go. Facebook previously offered the Go as a $149 model with limited 3 Degree of Freedom (3DoF) tracking, so there’s space between there and the currently $399-$499 Quest for a new entry-level alternative.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review, the new Quest is scheduled to enter mass production at the end of this month, which would enable it to be available in time for the 2020 holiday shopping season. Unlike the original model, which faced 2019 holiday season backorders and continued to sell out as fast as Facebook could restock it, the new version is likely to be more widely available, as Nikkei suggests that two million units will be manufactured by year’s end — 50% more than the prior year’s total output.

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