Product Promotion Network


Oculus’ $199 Go headset feels pretty good so far

Oculus Go, the newest virtual reality headset from the Facebook-owned company, isn’t a flashy piece of hardware.

The £199 Go is Oculus’ third major product release, and it occupies a similar niche to the mobile Gear VR, which offers affordable but limited VR experiences. The Oculus Go’s big draw isn’t raw power or total immersion. Like the Gear VR, it doesn’t track a full range of movement, just the rotation of your head and a small remote control.

But instead of being a fusion of phone and plastic shell, it’s a single self-contained device — and Oculus is selling it by promising optimization, accessibility, and convenience.

The Oculus Go, built in partnership with Xiaomi, is aggressively nondescript. It’s a smooth gray headset with a couple of low-profile ports and buttons, as well as a soft gray head strap. The Go takes a few design cues from the Oculus Rift, like a plastic strip that makes tightening the strap easier.

It feels less flawlessly precision-engineered than the Rift, though. A prominent seam between its side and front panels makes the headset look a lot cheaper than it feels, and where the Rift was carefully balanced, the Go is still front-heavy — after all, there’s a whole computer on your face.

That said, the Go looks and feels exponentially better than the clunky Gear VR. It doesn’t need bulky plastic elements like phone clamps, and the new head strap — which is split in the back — distributes weight more comfortably. (It also creates space for a bun or ponytail, if you’ve got long hair.)

Oculus has removed the focus dial and the Gear VR’s side controls.

The latter makes it a little less convenient since the separate controller is now mandatory. But the controller itself is majorly improved. It has almost the same layout as the Gear VR: a molded plastic base with a front trigger, a top trackpad, and a pair of buttons.

But the trackpad is smoothly integrated into the body now, and both the trackpad and trigger feel nicely clicky, based on the half-hour I spent with them.

We still don’t know the Oculus Go’s internal specs, and it’s hard to test performance in a controlled demo environment. For now, the Go seems to look and work just fine with Gear VR games. It’s a little grainy and blinkered, like any VR headset, but it’s probably less prone to problems like getting dust and hair on the display because you’re not constantly removing the screen from the headset.

The Oculus Go’s hardware doesn’t throw up any red flags, and it has very clear improvements over the Gear VR, particularly the controller.

But that’s not what will really determine its success. Oculus has to explain why people should pay more money for experiences they could get on the cheaper Gear VR, even if Oculus is promising better performance in the all-in-one device. Since many Samsung owners have gotten the Gear VR for free, and VR apps still don’t have mass-market appeal, that’s a tough sell.

But Oculus Go can reach markets Gear VR can’t, primarily the massive base of iPhone users — who are currently inaccessible to both Oculus and its rival platform Google Daydream.

Even if the sticker price is higher, the Go is a lot cheaper than the combined cost of a Samsung phone and Gear VR. And the sticker price isn’t that much higher, since the Gear VR got a price bump from £99 to £129 last year.

Standalone VR also fixes some of mobile VR’s logistical issues. You aren’t effectively disabling your phone by putting it in a headset, draining battery you’ll need for something else or navigating the interface-within-an-interface of a VR launcher app.

None of these are huge barriers, but when VR doesn’t really have a “killer app” drawing people into headsets, any barrier is a real problem.

While this is the first time we’ve seen it, the Oculus Go is rumored to launch in just a couple of months at Facebook’s F8 conference.

So we’ll know soon enough whether the Go lives up to Oculus’ claims of greatness.

Photography by Adi Robertson / The Verge

Sharp’s full-screen phones look increasingly less special

Sharp launched the Aquos S3 Mini in China today, a budget smartphone with average specs and an edge-to-edge screen design that looks surprisingly commonplace.

This is essentially the same design Sharp has been using for years. A few months ago, this design stood out for its narrow bezels and a screen that took up almost the entire front face of the device. But Sharp hasn’t changed much about its design in the past couple years. Meanwhile, a parade of new smartphones have adopted this very look.

And so what until recently was a standout design now ends up looking… average.

The Aquos S3 mini has a 5.5-inch curved glass display with (gasp) a notch and a somewhat measly 87.5 percent screen-to-body ratio with a slightly higher than 1080p resolution. It runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 630 processor and has 6GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and a 3,020mAh battery.

It’s a dual-SIM device with a USB Type-C port that is still running on Android 7.1 Nougat. It has a 16-megapixel rear camera and a 20-megapixel selfie cam with a portrait mode.

It also has facial recognition and a fingerprint sensor located below the screen.

Sharp claims either method can unlock the phone in 0.1 seconds.

It comes in black, blue, or gold, and it costs 1599 CNY (£252.80).

That’s conspicuously missing one color common among Asian phones — flame red — so at least Sharp remains different from others in that aspect.

New homeowners face costly fixes after moving in

37% of homebuyers find significant problems after moving into their new properties that they weren’t made aware of during the buying process. In December 2017, we surveyed 2,005 people who had bought new homes in the previous two years. Although 82% of recent homebuyers had paid for a survey, for many this didn’t guarantee peace of mind – in fact, a shocking 42% of the people who had surveys done went on to discover problems after the sale.

The three most common home improvement problems people find on moving in are plumbing issues, faulty fixtures and fittings, and damp – many instances of which should be picked up by a survey and can be costly and time-consuming to repair.

If you’re moving into a new house and need advice on repair work, head to our guides to home improvements[1], including advice on fitted kitchens[2], insulation[3], double glazing[4] and damp[5].

Paying for home improvements

Just about everybody moving into a new house finds budgets stretched and finances tight, so these kinds of repair jobs can be particularly frustrating – even more so if your survey hasn’t flagged costly problems in advance. During the sale process, buyers can negotiate deducting the costs of repairing major problems highlighted in surveys from the price of the house. However, once the sale has been completed this no longer applies, so you’ll be left to foot the repair bill yourself.

Structural problems and roof damage can be very expensive to fix, and damp treatment can cost anywhere up to GBP15,000 if your building’s structure has been affected, so these repairs come as an unwelcome surprise. Unfortunately, our study found that even after full structural surveys – intended to be a more detailed, ‘hands-on’ investigation – 39% of owners still found significant problems after moving in.

Homebuyer surveys

Most surveyors provide three main types of survey for homebuyers:

  • Condition reports An overview of the property’s condition, with a traffic light rating system for conditions of each area
  • HomeBuyer’s reports More detailed than a condition report; should highlight problems and give advice on necessary repairs
  • Building surveys – A full analysis of the structure and condition of the property, with advice on maintenance and optional projected costs and timings for repairs

It’s important to note that homebuyer’s reports are ‘surface-level’ which means that the surveyor will not look behind furniture or lift up flooring. Full structural surveys are ‘hands-on’ – if you opt for one of these your surveyor should move things around, lift floorboards and check the attic.

45% of our survey respondents had a homebuyer’s or condition report (45%), which should give an overall indication of the condition of the property. A full structural survey is more costly, but advisable for houses that are over 50 years old, in a poor condition, or if you are planning to renovate after moving in.

33% of the homebuyers we asked had one of these. For new-build homes, you’ll need a snagging survey, which checks the level of finish when building work is complete and should pick up problems with fixtures and fittings and incorrect plumbing.

4% of our survey respondents had one of these. For more information on what to look out for, and how much your survey should cost, head to our guide to house surveys[6]. Of course, the price of a survey is just one of many costs you’ll need to factor into your home-buying budget.

For a full run-down of what you’ll need to pay for, head to our guide to the cost of buying a house[7].


  1. ^ home improvements (
  2. ^ fitted kitchens (
  3. ^ insulation (
  4. ^ double glazing (
  5. ^ damp (
  6. ^ house surveys (
  7. ^ the cost of buying a house (

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