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Hayden Thorpe - Diviner Music Album Reviews

The former Wild Beasts singer embarks on a new direction on his soul-searching solo debut, stripping back his songwriting to a reverent hush.
The British singer-songwriter Hayden Thorpe released “Diviner” in late February 2019, just a year after the final performance of his band Wild Beasts. From its stark opening chords and breathy first line—“I’m a keeper of secrets, pray do tell”—the song sounded markedly personal. With little more than his stately countertenor and humble piano, Thorpe harnessed the energy of quiet solitude and proceeded to pitch that emotion skyward until the music felt bathed in a dim light. After more than a decade with Wild Beasts, “Diviner” pointed to a different direction for Thorpe.

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Oculus Quest Review

Somehow, the Oculus Quest manages to provide a high-end VR experience without external sensors or a gaming PC. The future of virtual reality is here.

Should I Buy The Oculus Quest?
With Oculus Insight and powerful onboard tech to provide a high-end gaming VR experience without the need for a PC, the Oculus Quest is the one to beat.

Price When Reviewed
  • 64GB $399 | 128GB $499
The Oculus Quest is the latest standalone VR headset on the market, and looks to offer a Rift-esque experience without the need for external tracking sensors or a high-end gaming PC to power it. Complete with Touch controllers, access to PC-tier VR titles and true 1:1 6DOF tracking, the Oculus Quest looks to be the ultimate all-in-one VR headset for consumers in 2019.

Is the future of VR finally here? It just might be – find out more in our Oculus Quest review.

Pricing And Availability
The Oculus Quest is available to buy around the world right now, and it’s cheaper than you might think too. It’s available in either 64- or 128GB capacities, and will set consumers back £399/$399 and £499/$499 respectively. It may be double the price of the Oculus Go, first revealed in 2018, but the Quest offers something way more high-end with inside-out tracking, Oculus Touch controllers and access to PC-level VR games.

Those interested in buying the Oculus Quest can do so from Oculus and Amazon in the UK, along with Oculus, Amazon and BestBuy in the US.

A Sleek Design
The Oculus Quest design is reminiscent of the first-gen Rift with a minimalist aesthetic, sporting a familiar black fabric and trio of headstraps, but there are some notable changes too. One of those is weight; with all the tech on offer from the Quest, it should come as no surprise that it’s heavier than previous Oculus headsets at 571g and although a tweaked strap design helps alleviate this somewhat, it can begin to become uncomfortable over longer periods of use.

On the bottom of the headset, you’ll find a FOV slider to adjust the difference between lenses for an optimal viewing experience – something that, rather oddly, the company ditched for the high-end Oculus Rift S. It’s also accommodating for glasses-wearers with plenty of space in the headset when worn, a complaint of earlier VR headsets.

The Quest also utilises the same invisible directional speakers as the Oculus Go and Oculus Rift S (instead of standard headphones on the original) and while these work well at high volume, they also leak sound incredibly loudly. It’s fine when you’re alone, but if you want to enjoy VR in a public area, you might want to plug a pair of earbuds into the included 3.5mm headphone port.
True Wireless Freedom
The design of the Quest is sleek, for the most part, because there are no annoying cables dangling from the back of it. That’s because the Oculus Quest is one of a new breed of truly wireless VR headsets that require no PC or smartphone for use, but unlike the £199 Oculus Go, the new headset offers true 1:1 tracking with six degrees of freedom (6DOF).

For the uninitiated, that means that in addition to tracking the movement of your head, the Oculus Quest can track your exact position in your environment. This allows you to move around and interact with the virtual world in a natural, comfortable way, providing a truly high-end VR experience.

The tech is dubbed Oculus Insight, and utilises a combination of computer vision algorithms and four ultra-wide-angle cameras on the front of the headset to track your exact position in real-time without the need for external sensors like those required by the first-gen Oculus Rift and the £1000+ HTC Vive Pro.

The Quest also features Guardian, the border tech from the Rift, so you shouldn’t be bumping into walls and cabinets during your wireless VR sessions – but more on that later.

Of course, the 6DOF tracking experience wouldn’t be complete without controllers that take advantage of the 1:1 tracking – and that’s what the Quest offers. The headset comes with two Touch controllers in the box, and although it’s a modified version of the 2016 variant, all controls and buttons are present and accounted for.

The analogue stick positioning has been tweaked to make room for an upward-facing tracking strip, and while it took us a few minutes to get used to the new layout after using the original Touch controllers for so long, it’s a minor gripe.

Simple Setup
As mentioned, traditional VR headsets like the original Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive require external sensors to provide 1:1 tracking. The issue is that they were annoying to set up, and had to be recalibrated if any of the sensors were moved – which is inconvenient, especially if you have it set up in a bedroom or living room.

Oculus Quest’s inside-out tracking ditches the need for base stations, allowing you to slip the headset on and enjoy the wonders of VR near-instantly.

When you put the headset on for the first time, you’ll be prompted to select the kind of experience you want – sitting/standing, or room-scale. If you select room-scale, you simply draw an outline of your play area with your controller to set virtual boundaries. This not only calibrates the VR experience, but helps you avoid crashing into objects in the real world when you inevitably forget that you’re in the real world and not on an alien planet shooting robots.

Once you’ve confirmed your play area, you’re free to begin browsing and playing the variety of apps and games available on the Quest. It’s that simple! It makes the Quest a versatile bit of kit, allowing you to use it anywhere without the hassle of a lengthy setup process.

What’s better is that the headset can recognise up to five previously set-up environments, so you don’t have to go through the setup every single time you put the headset on – only when you decide to move to a different environment.

The full Oculus experience
The standalone nature and inside-out tracking system of the headset are all well and good, but how does it perform? Simply put; like a dream. We were admittedly a little sceptical not only about the capabilities of Oculus Insight, but the headset’s ability to power a gaming-focused VR experience without the need for a high-end PC, but our scepticism was largely unwarranted.  

When you put the headset on, you’ll find yourself in your own Oculus Home. It’s a virtual environment where you can not only browse from a list of installed apps, but browse the Oculus Store for new content, surf the web in VR using the Oculus Browser or chat with other Oculus-donning friends. The UI is simple to navigate, and when used in conjunction with shortcuts on the controllers, it’s a breeze to get from one menu to another.
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The list of games on the Quest is growing by the day, and boasts a number of VR hits including Robo Recall, Beat Saber, Space Pirate Trainer and the highly-anticipated Star Wars: Vader Immortal, making it an ideal option for keen VR gamers that don’t have access to a high-end gaming PC.

Although there is a slight difference in quality when comparing Quest and Rift S games side-by-side, it’s not enough to put you off gaming on the Quest. Games like SUPERHOT are just as immersive and fun on the Quest as they are on the Rift, with near-perfect tracking and decent quality graphics.

In fact, we’re rather impressed by just how similar some Quest apps are to their Rift S equivalents, especially considering the lack of a high-end PC powering the experience.

Verdict
The Oculus Quest is an incredible bit of kit; considering the £399/$399 price tag, the standalone VR headset offers a lot. It’s versatile, comfortable, offers inside-out tracking with no need for external sensors or a PC to power it, and yet still manages to provide a gaming-focused VR experience comparable to that provided by the Oculus Rift S.

Of course, there are slight differences between the Rift S and the Quest, but if you’re a VR enthusiast without access to a high-end gaming PC, it’s the perfect entry into the world of virtual reality.


View my Flipboard Magazine.

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