I think it’s fair to say that the Quest 2 is a fantastic device. Offering a complete stand-alone VR experience straight out of the box, it was until very recently in a class of its own.
But, as anyone who has spent even a small amount of time in the headset will tell you, the off-the-shelf version is ostensibly incomplete and there is at least one accessory that is an absolute necessity. By this, of course, I mean the strap that comes with the base Quest 2 unit, which is quite frankly an abomination. A cheap, flimsy stop-gap solution, no doubt designed to keep product costs down and encourage add-on sales.
Well, that tactic has certainly worked, and it is broadly understood that all but the most casual players will need to invest in a new strap quickly, or risk giving up on VR due to significant comfort issues.
With a range of third-party options available, the choice in style and brand can be daunting. To that end, the team at GeekVR have sent us a review unit of their new halo-design Q2 Pro Battery Head Strap and as the first installment in head-strap accessory reviews, we take it for a spin to see if this could be the answer to your comfort-related concerns.
FALLEN ONE (I HAVE NO HALO)
It’s worth noting that as soon as I bought my Quest 2 I invested in the Meta-branded Elite Battery strap. Although there were a great many concerns around durability for this product, it has served me flawlessly for the past 2 years. So much so that I have never felt the need to try a different style until now. As such, I don’t have a basis for comparison in the world of halo straps, so this review will be conducted primarily in isolation.
That said, Omar is currently reviewing the Bobo VR M2 Plus, so after giving my opinions on this strap, we thought it might be a good idea to get together (virtually) and compare the products. That video will show up soon on your 6DOF Reviews YouTube Channel. Until we get to that, let’s just talk about the GeekVR Q2 Pro Battery Head Strap on its own merits, shall we?
The head strap comes neatly packaged, including the strap itself and a single external battery. The packaging and presentation of the product are sleek and modern and feel reminiscent of the actual Quest2 packaging.
Installation is quick and easy, with the side pieces of the headset sliding easily onto the mounting on the headset without needing to be forced or overly manipulated. If you’re new to these types of head straps, it’s worth having a quick look at the easy-to-understand instructions to see where the final position of the strap should be.
I rather foolishly rushed into the experience and tried to force the strap into a position it was clearly not designed to go, and as such nearly bent the side arms before even getting started. It’s worth noting that this is a criticism of my own ineptitude, not the product, as the instructions clearly show how to install it.
IS THIS HOW ANGELS PLAY VR?
Once set up, the experience of using a halo design is incredibly easy to get used to. The halo design itself is constructed to more evenly distribute the weight of the headset and remove pressure from the face, giving greater balance and a longer-lasting comfort option.
The Q2 Pro strap has a good quality adjustment knob at the back to allow players to get the right fit, and I had no problems finding a position in the headset that gave me a good visual sweet spot and a comfortable wearing experience. There will of course a good deal of subjectivity here, as strap style and comfort options are quite personal and there are definitely some people who just don’t gel with the halo-style strap.
It was also MUCH easier to adjust the fit than the Elite strap while entertaining and trialing VR to people. I used the strap to show VR to about 6 people (including children) at a party, and this head strap was so much easier to transition from one person to the next and easily find the optimum position.
I will say though that the halo design did see the headset move around a little during my more vigorous play sessions. I would probably switch back over to my Elite strap for a workout or a particularly active game, but for 95% of titles out there the design was comfortable and more than adequate.
The padding at the front and rear of the strap is both firm and yielding. It gives decent support to stop the headset from moving at the same time as providing ample cushioning so that the weight of the headset is barely noticeable. The PU leather material that surrounds the padding is again of good quality, making the entire experience comfortable and easy to clean.
Compared to the Elite strap though, the support arms did feel a little thin and flimsy, but that is possibly just a cosmetic observation. After about 20 hours of use, I haven’t had any issues that indicate this will form the basis of an ongoing problem.
The review unit that I was sent includes a single additional, rear-mounted battery that significantly increases playtime by allowing new batteries to be “hot swapped” while still in-game. The battery is a sleek design that clips magnetically into place in between the rear padding and the adjustment knob and once in place will begin to charge the headset’s internal battery. The concept as a whole is, without falling into the prerequisite hyperbole of the industry, game-changing.
While the concept is exceptional, the actual delivery was just short of the same mark. The magnetic interface between the battery and strap is actually one of my only real complaints with the Q2 Pro Head Strap, as attaching it while in the headset was an unfortunately finicky process.
There was no tactile guidance at the back to help you find the right spot while “flying blind”, nor were there any satisfying audio cues of the magnets clicking into place to indicate that you had succeeded. In fact, the only assurance that you get that the battery has actually been connected is an obnoxiously loud BEEP that seems almost deliberately intent on rampaging through your in-game immersion.
Because it is difficult to reach behind your head and sightlessly get that perfect connection, I found on a number of occasions the battery would just disconnect and then reconnect while I was moving about. This of course ushered in that horrific BEEP again until I was forced to take the headset off and made sure I had it fitted correctly.
Keep in mind that if I had just taken my headset off in the first place, this never would have happened, but I would think that the ability to easily switch batteries while in-game would be one of the core features of the product.
As I was only sent one battery (SAD FACE EMOJI) I can’t confirm that having two batteries would give the “unlimited battery life” that the GeekVR website claims. What I can say is that with the aid of a single hot-swappable battery I was able to significantly increase my play time to a level that was around the same as my elite strap. I can imagine that with multiple batteries that can be swapped without taking the headset off, a player might be able to stay in-game for a near-unlimited time. While the head strap as a whole is definitely comfortable, this functionality is the real selling.
THE PRICE OF DIVINITY
At $60 for the strap and $40 for an additional battery, there is some decent value to be had here if you compare the unit to the Meta Elite strap. The unit is comfortable over longer play sessions, easy to clean, and has the ability to provide a significant increase in playtime. As an alternative to the standard head strap and the Elite head strap, it is fairly easy to recommend the Q2 Pro halo strap with an additional battery.
That said, there are other products out there that offer a similar experience, and it is worth looking at your options (for more information about the Bobo VR M2 Plus halo strap check out Omar’s review or our virtual comparison video).
Although this is the only halo design strap that I’ve personally used, my experience with the GeekVR Q2 Pro has been good enough, that on the basis of this product, I have completely switched to the halo as my daily driver.