Oculus Thrift: $200 standalone wireless VR headset reportedly due in 2018

Oculus is apparently working on a new virtual reality headset which will be a wireless, standalone piece of hardware with no need for a PC or phone. The device will reportedly be pitched at a more palatable price than the Oculus Rift – $200 (about £150, AU$260) – with the launch slated for next year.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Facebook (which owns Oculus) wants to produce a VR headset which sits in the middle ground between the cheap efforts that hook up to smartphones, and the expensive headsets that require a decently powerful PC to run them.

The device is code-named 'Pacific' and will be powered by its own Qualcomm Snapdragon processor (of the type typically used in mobile phones), and it will put a firm emphasis on portability.

Facebook claims that the finished hardware will be smaller than the Oculus Rift, and lighter than the Samsung Gear VR. Pacific will also offer more raw power for pushing pixels in VR games than the latter, too.

Positioning issues

So, what’s the catch? Well, unlike the big players of the VR headset world, this effort won’t make use of positional tracking – i.e. tracking your movements spatially – and that’s obviously a sizable limitation in terms of immersion and playing games. The report states that the headset will have a wireless remote as a controller, and run with a similar interface to the Gear VR.

Bloomberg does, however, throw in an extra piece of information from the usual 'person familiar with the plans' which claims that a future version of Pacific will support positional tracking. Although how much weight talk about the future version of a rumored upcoming product holds is obviously debatable at this point.

Note that this will be a separate product to the Santa Cruz headset which Oculus is currently prototyping and has been talking up in recent times. That will offer full wireless, room-scale virtual reality in a standalone headset that doesn’t need to be hooked up to a PC.

Santa Cruz’s little helper

It would seem that Oculus is planning to produce two standalone headsets: the Santa Cruz to offer the full Oculus Rift-style VR experience and Pacific, effectively a budget version with more limited virtual reality functionality.

What's not made any more clear by this report is which of these two standalone Oculus Rift devices will be positioned against HTC and Google's HTC Vive Standalone headset, as it's currently known as, much less the independent VR headset that Samsung is currently working on.

Bloomberg also reckons that Xiaomi will be involved in producing the headset and ensuring successful worldwide distribution, and there will be a version for China which will carry the Xiaomi brand name, rather than Oculus.

We will apparently hear something official on the product come October, so just a few months down the line. Until then, bear in mind the usual condiment-related warnings (pinches of salt, or perhaps some pepper for a bit of a change).