The Oculus Go is a Virtual Reality headset that may just be the best inflight entertainment device a passenger can bring on an airplane. But that doesn’t mean you will want to use it.
What Is Oculus Go?
Originally based on the Oculus Rift headset, this version has is a low-cost mass-market version that places a virtual reality headset into consumers hands for $199-249 depending on the size of the onboard hard drive. Facebook bought the company after a very successful Kickstarter campaign and has released additional models for sale.
Why Is the Oculus Go the Perfect IFE Device?
While there is Virtual Reality three-dimensional content and games, that’s not the most satisfying experience with the device. Watching movies is a revelatory experience on the device. Due to the proximity of the viewing screens in relation to your eyes, the equivalent size of the screen is something closer to a 226” television screen. It’s like watching having a movie screen on your face that only you can see.
Privacy is helpful for you and for your seatmates. From the seat of an E-175 as I type this very sentence, the person in the row opposite is rather conspicuously watching his seatmate’s iPad. That’s awkward to me, especially during objectionable scenes as Matthew has covered before.
The Oculus Go has both external speakers and a headphone port. Assuming passengers use headphones (perhaps not a perfect assumption), the Oculus Go won’t disturb others around you, even less than if you were watching installed IFE screens in the headrest. There is no light to keep your seatmates awake, it is perhaps the most courteous way to view entertainment on a plane.
If you take your Oculus Go with you, remember to download the content in advance. Streaming from the airplane won’t work. You’ll also want a fully charged device and a power source for longer flights. Battery life for viewing is about two hours.
But You Look Like An Idiot
There’s no denying that the Oculus Go does not look cool in public. I brought mine out on a recent business trip and didn’t even take it out of my backpack to get a selfie for this post. Just because you won’t be grasping for 3-D objects that you know aren’t there, doesn’t mean that you don’t look like an idiot wearing one on a plane.
Additionally, wearing the Oculus Go means that you won’t be able to see anyone else around you. It could be a safety issue, but it’s also a social annoying activity. It’s both a blessing and a curse that Oculus Go wearers won’t be able to see the gestures made by those seated around them. They can remain blissfully unaware while they catch up on Narcos.
What’s the Verdict?
Incidentally, the time in which I would be most likely to use the device is on a flight where I wouldn’t really need it. I could see myself using it on a long-haul international flight, lying fully flat, watching a movie with some privacy where not many other passengers would see me.
Where I find the Oculus Go to be most useful is in the opposite situation, seated in a crowded coach seat on a long flight surrounded by many people that I wish to ignore or forget. For the first time in my life, I was trapped in a window seat by a passenger that was very large. That’s not to say solely obese, I am not a skinny many myself and this person did not need a belt extender. Rather, he was very tall as well. In Economy Plus (36″ seat pitch) his knees still touched the seat in front of him despite splitting into both my space and the passenger at the aisle.
I had never before felt claustrophobic on a flight and considered getting off the plane to take a later flight. Instead, I put my headset on, despite how ridiculous it looks in public, and calmed myself down escaping into a private world of my own. If he hadn’t slumped over sleeping on me, I would have forgotten he was there.
Ultimately, I still can’t tell whether I would be brave enough to wear the Oculus Go on a plane again, but that doesn’t mean it’s not the best possible solution for inflight entertainment – it most certainly is.
What do you think? Would you wear an Oculus Go on an airplane? Would it matter where you were seated?