Oculus Quest review – the best standalone VR headset

Oculus Quest was released on May 21, 2019, a year after Oculus Go, which is another standalone VR headset developed by the same company. A big difference between these headsets is Oculus Quest has the six-degree of freedom (6DoF) tracking. The 6DoF tracking technology has been already existing for years in other headsets such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift, but the Quest is the first and currently the only standalone VR headset with 6DoF.

image of oculus quest

What’s in the box

  • Oculus Quest headset
  • Touch Controller (L), (R)
  • 15W power adapter
  • USB-C cable
  • Spacer for a user with eyeglasses
  • AA batteries
image of oculus quest whats in the box

Design

The Quest looks so compact and is lightweight. A front plate is black plastic, and there are four tracking cameras around each corner. A power button is on the right, and USB-C port for charging is on the left. The rest of the body of the headset is coated by a fabric. There are two 3.5 mm headphone jacks on both sides. The volume buttons and IPD (inter-pupil distance) adjustment slider are on the bottom.

A head strap is made of soft and flexible rubber. It keeps its shape like a helmet all the time. Velcros are attached on the top and both sides to fit and secure the headset on your head. The straps on the sides go through brackets. The brackets have built-in speakers. 3D spatial audio comes out from the slits on the ends of the brackets.

The head strap is ergonomic, sleek, and functional. But, when I play games required a lot of movement such as Beat Saber, the head strap never seems tight enough. I guess a headband that is used Rift S or PSVR is more suitable for gaming VR headsets. The reason the Quest has a head strap is that the company wants to emphasize its portability. A VR headset with a headband is too bulky to carry around. That is why the Rift S has a headband. The Rift S has to be tethered to a gaming computer, and it’s not meant to be portable.

A face pad made of form and cloth attached to a plastic frame. You can remove it from the headset to wash. It’s relatively comfortable. But, I feel a pressure on the cheekbones and have marks there for a while every after the usage.

Controllers

Two Touch controllers are included. They are similar with the ones for Oculus Rift and exactly the same as ones for Rift S. Each one has a clickable thumbstick, two buttons, home button, trigger, and grip button.

image of oculus touch controller

It’s powered by an AA battery. A battery door slides open and close. Built-in magnet keeps the door close without a latch or screws. Wrist straps prevent you from throwing the controller accidentally during gameplay. The strap is detachable. You can remove it by opening the battery door and sliding it upward.

After setting up, you will take a tutorial lesson called First Steps. In the lesson, you learn how to pick up an object, put it down, throw it, or hit it with the other object. You have the opportunity to learn and use the full capability of the controllers in First Steps.

Display

The Quest has dual OLED, 1440 x 1600 per eye resolution displays.
It’s better than the Oculus Rift 1080 x 1200 per-eye resolution, and the Oculus Go and Rift S 1280 x 1440 per-eye resolutions. Thanks to dual displays, the Quest can adjust IPD (inter pupil distance) by a slider on the bottom.

Oculus Insight

Inside out tracking system called Oculus Insight offers the 6DoF. It allows you to move in a virtual world. Built-in tracking cameras makes Oculus Insight work without a need for external cameras. The same kind of tracking system is used in the Rift S.

image of oculus insight

Oculus Insight keeps tracking on the controllers, too. Not only the position of the controllers the system can keep tracking, but it can also tell the angles and directions of them. Oculus Insight successfully offers the 6DoF on both the headset and the controllers.

Oculus Guardian

Oculus Guardian is a safety system set up before you play games. The system creates a virtual wall on a boundary line you draw where you can move freely with no obstacles in your room. The virtual wall is a green grid. It appears when you get close to the boundary. When you get really close to it, that part of the green grid turns red to get your more attention.

If you use the Quest in the same place, you don’t have to set up the boundary every time. The Quest remembers the boundary you set up last time, and somehow it can tell where that is. So, all you have to do is turn on the headset and start playing. If you play in a new place, you have to set up a new boundary, and the Quest will forget the old one. The boundary setup is way too easy, anyway. Just draw a virtual line on a floor with the controller. That’s it. It doesn’t even take a minute.

Passthrough

When you get out of the boundary or stick out your head through the virtual wall, you can see a real world in black and white. The built-in tracking cameras are now used as lenses for you to see a real world without taking off the headset. This feature is called Passthrough.

Battery

The headset has a built-in rechargeable battery. You can charge it via an included USB-C cable and a wall adapter. According to Oculus, battery life is about 2 to 3 hours. For me, it’s more than enough. I can’t just play VR continuously for hours.

Games and Apps

50 titles were launched along with Oculus Quest. You can purchase and download with the headset or through the Oculus mobile app. The Oculus mobile app is shared with GO and Rift. Make sure to select “Oculus Quest” from a drop-down and then look for games and apps.

Here are some popular games and apps. Beat Saber is a unique rhythm game. You have a lightsaber in each hand and cut cubes coming at you with the music. There should be a demo version. You should try. I played and purchased and got addicted to it.

Superhot VR is an action shooting game. Shoot, grab, throw, you can experience the full capability of Touch controllers in this game. The standalone, untethered VR headset allows you to turn around and around without worrying tripping over wires or cables.

Wander is a world travel app. It uses data from Google StreetView to show you 360-degree images and Wikipedia for you to learn about historic places.

Vader Immortal Episode 1 is an adventure game of Star Wars experience from LucasFilm. You are the main character in the story. You can learn how to handle a lightsaber, and there are many other interactions inside the story. I’m longing for the next episode.

Price

Oculus Quest costs $399 for 64GB, and $499 for 128GB. Unfortunately, there is no memory card slot to expand a storage.

For a comparison, Oculus Go cost $199 for 32GB, and $249 for 64GB. Oculus Rift S costs the same $399. However, the Rift S needs a gaming computer.

Conclusion

Oculus Quest successfully introduced new technology and opened the door of the VR industry to more people. Some people have been interested in VR but hesitant about buying it because of an expensive startup cost, uneasy setup, or having to be tethered all the time. Oculus Quest solved these problems. The price $399, considering you don’t need anything else to start VR, is reasonable.

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Chromecast Generations and Variations Comparison

Chromcast is a digital media streaming device developed by Google. The device allows you to play streaming audio or video contents on your home audio system or TV through apps on a mobile device and computer. At the time of writing, Google has released three generations and two variations, Chromecast Audio and Chromecast Ultra. Here is the post about Chromecast generations and variations.

1st Generation ($35)

The 1st generation Chromecast was released in 2013, introducing Google Cast technology, which allows you to watch contents with your mobile device on a big screen TV. It uses your home WiFi to connect between Chromecast and mobile devices. There are two different methods to cast contents to your TV.

For Chromecast-enabled apps, such as Youtube, Hulu, and Netflix, once you cast, the app can be running on a background so you can do other things with your mobile device or computer.

You can still cast unsupported apps to your TV by using the mirroring feature. With this feature, whatever is displaying on your mobile device or computer also displays on TV, and sound comes out from TV. As compared with casting Chromecast-enable apps, the mirroring feature has a little lag and may experience sluggish motions.

Both methods need a mobile device or computer to control contents to pause, resume, skip, and so on. They are all features of Chromecast, as well as 2nd gen, 3rd gen, and Ultra. It may seem a few, but the possibility is endless. Since the debut of the 1st gen, software updates have been improving the performance of Chromecast, and more and more third-party apps are getting supported.

2nd Generation ($35)

The 2nd generation Chomecast was released in 2015. It completely changed the design. While the 1st gen is stick-shaped, the 2nd gen is disc-shaped with a short HDMI cable attached. A disc-shaped body has a built-in magnet so you can stick it to the back of your TV. The same design continues on newer models and variations, including the 3rd gen, Ultra, and Audio.

3rd Generation ($35)

image of the 3rd generation of chromecast

The 3rd generation Chomecast was released in 2018. It has almost the same same size as the 2nd gen and slightly a different design on its body. It supports 1080-pixel at 60 frame per second.

Chromecast Ultra ($69)

Chromecast Ultra was released in 2016. It has the same disc-shaped body, but slightly larger than 2nd and 3rd gens. It supports 4K UltraHD and high-dynamic range through HDR10 and Dolby Vision formats.

image of chromecast ultra

Unlike the other models, Chromecast Ultra needs a power supply from a wall outlet, not from a USB port on the TV. Thus, an included power adapter is one piece: a power cable is not separate from a wall adapter. And, this adapter has an Ethernet port, so you have an option to use Ethernet cable to connect to the internet instead of WiFi.

If your home WiFi system is not stable or reliable, you may have a benefit to using this adapter with Ethernet cable. And, this power adapter is compatible with all other models. You can purchase the Ethernet power adapter separately.

Chromecast Audio ($35)

Chromecast Audio was released in 2015 at the same time as the 2nd generation of Chromecast. It’s the disc-shaped body with micro USB port for power and 3.5mm jack on the other. An included 3.5mm Aux cable plus into the jack, and the other end is plugged into an aux jack of your home speakers.

It works in the same way as regular Chromecast, but it’s just audio version. When you use multiple Chromecast Audio devices connecting to multiple speakers and group them. And you can play the same music across multiple speakers. Back then, the concept was appealing. However, with the advent of smart speakers like Google Home mini and Amazon Echo Dot, the features of Chromecast Audio became useless.

Instead of buying multiple Chromecast Audios, you can buy multiple smart speakers, which is the same price range or even lower prices, and group them. You may also connect them to your home speakers with Aux cables. They just work the same for the same or maybe lower investment, plus you will get voice assistance feature. As a result, Chromecast Audio has discontinued in January 2019.

Which one should you buy?

At the time of writing, the 3rd gen Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra are being manufactured. The other models are discontinued. If you have 4K TV, Chromecast Ultra is the one that is capable of streaming contents with the same resolution. If you don’t have 4K TV or not planning to buy one anytime soon, the half price, 3rd gen Chromecast will be enough.

Should you upgrade from older generations?

Not necessarily unless you need the 4K support Chromecast Ultra. There have been many improvements since its debut, but it’s on the software side, not the devices. All generations of Chromecast has the features of “Cast” and “Mirror.” That’s all. And, that has been the same from the 1st to the 3rd. Unless you want to stream 4K contents, I don’t think you need to upgrade from the 1st or the 2nd to the 3rd gen.

Product
(Model#)
Chromecast
1st Generation
(H2G2-42)
Chromecast
2nd Generation
(NC2-6A5)
Chromecast
3rd Generation
(GA00439)
Chromecast
Audio
(RUX-J42)
Chromecast
Ultra
(GA3A00403A14)
Released Year20132105201820152016
Regular Price$35$35$35$35$69
Dimension2.83" x 1.38" x 0.47"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.53"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.54"2.04" x 2.04" x 0.53"2.29" x 2.29" x 0.54"
Weight1.2 oz1.38 oz1.4 oz1.08 oz1.66 oz
Display1080p1080p@30fps
or
720p@60fps
1080p@60fpsn/a4K Ultra HD
High dynamic range (HDR10, Dolby Vision)
Included AccessoriesUSB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
USB cable
Wall adapter
3.5mm audio cable
USB Ethernet power adapter

Ways to connect SiriusXM Satellite Radio to vehicle’s audio

SiriusXM satellite radio unit needs to connect your vehicle’s audio system. Most SiriusXM satellite radios has several options for that. The company describes each option as either Best, Better, or Good to present sound quality through each option. Here are four different connecting options.

  1. Aux in cable (Best)
  2. Cassette adapter (Better)
  3. PowerConnect (Good)
  4. FM Direct Adapter (Best)
image of siriusxm satellite radio with vehicle kit

1. Aux in cable (Best)

If you buy a satellite radio with vehicle kit, a 3.5mm aux cable for this connection should be included. How to connect is straightforward. Plug one end to aux jack on the dock of satellite radio and the other end to aux jack on your car stereo.

image of siriusxm aux in cable

Please note that the location of the aux jack varies by the models of vehicle. While most of them are located on the faceplate of car stereo, it can be somewhere distant from the car stereo. It may be hidden in a glove compartment or center console.

Keep in mind that older vehicles may not have the jack in the first place. So, if you can’t find the jack on common places, you’d better refer to the owner manual to save you time.

2. Cassette Adapter (Better)

If your car stereo has a cassette player, you have an option to use Cassette Adapter. A cassette adapter looks like a cassette tape with a cord attached on the side. And, the end of the cord is a 3.5mm plug. Plug it into aux jack on the dock and insert the cassette to the car stereo.

image of siriusxm cassette adapter

It works in almost the same way as Aux in cable. However, since electricity has to go through the adapter and then a cassette player, sound quality should be reduced as compared with Aux in cable.

None of SiriusXM satellite radio includes a cassette adapter. It’s not that expensive. The price ranges from $10 to $20. Just choose one with good reviews like this one. And, it’s important to not confuse with Bluetooth cassette adapters. They also look like a cassette tape with a cord. But, the end of the cord is not a 3.5mm plug but a button (which may answer, call, and control a connected cell phone.) Bluetooth cassette adapters just don’t work with SiriusXM satellite radios.

3. PowerConnect (Good)

PowerConnect is basically an FM transmitter. All devices are built into most SiriusXM statellite radios with Vehicle kit. It consists of a power adapter, the dock, and the tuner. You don’t need extra accessories to use this option.

image of siriusxm powerconnect

PowerConnect uses FM channels that are not being used by local FM stations. Once you find ones, match up, check the sound quality, and configure the setting on the satellite radio. The configuration procedure varies by model of SiriusXM satellite radio. Please see the instruction manual of your satellite radio.

PowerConnect transmits FM signal to the air and your car stereo tunes to it. So, you can say that it’s just another FM channel in terms of sound quality. SiriusXM describes this option as “Good,” but it’s the lowest quality of all.

4. FM Direct Adapter (Best)

FM Direct Adapter (FMDA) connects a satellite radio to an FM antenna port of a car stereo. Unlike PowerConnect, audio doesn’t go through the air. So, it’s virtually static-free. An existing FM antenna is also connected to the FMDA so you can listen to local FM radio stations when a satellite radio turns off.

image of siriusxm fm direct adapter

To install the FMDA, you have to open up the panel and pull out the car stereo to access to the FM antenna. And you may still need an adapter for antenna for certain vehicles.

Please note that most SiriusXM satellite radios don’t include an FM Direct Adapter.

Conclusion

As you can see, physical connections (Aux in cable, Cassette adapter, FM Direct Adapter) provide better sound quality than FM transmitter (PowerConnect.) And, a cassette adapter and FM Direct Adapter are not usually included in SiriusXM satellite radio with Vehicle kit. Thus, it may be better to stick to Aux in cable for the easiest installation and the best sound quality.

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SiriusXM Satellite Radio for car comparison

Satellite Radio technology has been around for many years, and there are many satellite radios on the market. Here is a comparison of popular SiriusXM satellite radio for car.

SiriusXM SXPL1V1 Onyx Plus

Onyx Plus has a color display, which can show not only a title of song, album, artist name, but also album art or channel’s logo. Onyx Plus offers many features, such as TuneStart, TuneMix, and TuneScan. TuneStart is the feature that starts songs from the beginning when tuning to your favorite channels. TuneMix shuffle songs from the channels you select. TuneScan plays samples of songs of the first 10 seconds each from the channels you saved as the favorite. If you like it, you can press a button to continue playing the full song. Above all, what’s the most favorable and handy feature is that you can pause, rewind, and replay on your saved channels for up to 30 minutes.

image of siriusxm onyx plus

There are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Color display
  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • Pause, rewind, and replay a song
  • TuneStart
  • TuneMix
  • TuneScan
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • Relatively inexpensive

SiriusXM Commander Touch

Commander Touch has a full-color display with touchscreen feature. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, album title, and album art or channel’s logo. TuneStart automatically starts a song from the beginning when you tune into your favorite channels. You can listen to a mix of songs from your favorite channels with TuneMix. You can also pause, rewind, and replay up to 30 minutes from your favorite channels.

image of siriusxm commander touch

Commander Touch is different from the other radios in this post. One of the main characteristics of Commander Touch is that you can hide cables and wire as much as possible. Unlike the other radios, a tuner is separate from the display. By using FM Direct Adapter (included), you can hide everything but the display behind the dash.

There are two drawbacks because of this characteristic. First, the installation is not easy. You have to open the panel of your vehicle to pull out a car stereo to install the devices. And, you have to find electrical wires for power, accessory, ground, and illumination and splice them.

image of siriusxm commander touch wire installation

Second, it’s not portable or compatible with an accessory like SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock. All devices, cables, and wires except for the display are designed to be placed behind the dash. So, it’s not intended or designed for portable use at all.

Commander Touch can be updated manually via micro USB cable when available.

Pros

  • Color display
  • Touchscreen
  • Pause, rewind, replay a song
  • TuneStart
  • TuneMix
  • Hide all devices, cables and wires except the display behind the dash
  • FM Direct Adapter included
  • Software update

Cons

  • Installation is not easy
  • Not compatible with home kit or portable speaker dock

SiriusXM SXEZR1V1 Onyx EZR

Onyx EZR has a large, easy-to-read, 3.2″ high-resolution display. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, the title of album or channel information at the same time. You can choose two display options: white text on a black background or black text on a white background. The split screen mode allows you to see what’s playing on other channels you saved as the favorites while listening to a current channel.

image of siriusxm onyx ezr

There are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It also has the feature of TuneMix to play songs in a unique mix from the music channels you have saved. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Large display
  • Two display option
  • Split screen mode
  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • TuneMix
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • Not many features

SiriusXM- XEZ1V1 Onyx EZ

Onyx EZ has a blue back-lit display. It can show an artist name, the title of the song, and album or channel information at the same time. The relatively large display allows you to browse channels easily, and there are ten buttons to pre-set your favorite channels for one-touch access. It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

image of siriusxm onyx ez

Pros

  • 10 pre-set buttons
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • No fancy features

SiriusXM Stratus 7

Stratus 7has a easy-to-read blue back-lit display. The 3-line display can show artist name, the title of the song, and album or channel information at the same time. There are no fancy features, but it’s one of the most inexpensive satellite radios for a car. It supports A La Carte subscription package, which allows you to select 50 channels with a reduced monthly subscription fee.

image of siriusxm stratus 7

It’s compatible with accessories like SiriusXM SXSD2 Portable Speaker Dock for home, office, and outdoor use.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Small
  • Supports A La Carte subscription package
  • Compatible with a home kit and portable speaker dock

Cons

  • No fancy features
ProductOnyx PlusCommander TouchOnyx EZROnyx EZStratus 7
Dimension (of head unit)4.5" x 2.4" x 0.7"4.1" x 1.69" x 0.48"5.0" x 2.7" x 0.72"4.5" x 2.4" x 0.7"4.5" x 1.9" x 0.7"
Weight (of head unit)3.4 oz3.88 oz3.9 oz3.4 oz2.3 oz
Color DisplayYYNNN
TouchscreenNYNNN
Pause, Rewind, ReplayYYNNN
Other Features10 pre-set buttons
TuneStart
TuneMix
TuneScan
TuneStart
TuneMix
Software Update
10 pre-set buttons
Split screen mode
TuneMix
10 pre-set buttonsSupports A La Carte package
Included Accessories (for audio connection)3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
FM Direct Adapter
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
3.5mm AUX cable
PowerConnect(FM Transmitter)
Compatibility with home kit or speaker dockYNYYY
Price*$99.99*$129.99*$79.99*$69.99*$79.99*

*Regular Prices shown. Click the prices to see the latest prices.

A simply guide to Satellite Radio for your car

Satellite radio has been around for quite a while, but it’s not widely used or even understood. SiriusXM is the only company of satellite radio in the U.S. and offers a variety of subscription packages. For new customers, they offer a free trial for a few months, which you may want to take and evaluate. But first, let’s see the basis of satellite radio.

How does satellite radio work?

Satellite radio is a radio service that uses satellites orbiting the Earth to broadcast programs. A radio signal from broadcast station travels to satellites and then transmit to special antennas on your home, car, or portable device.

image of satellites moon and earth

The benefit of satellite radio

One of the benefits of satellite radio is the signal can cover a much larger area than the traditional radio. A few satellites can cover the entire continent continuously 24/7. So, you don’t have to switch the stations even when you drive a car from coast to coast.

Most stations are commercial-free. That’s because satellite radio is subscription based service. There are much more stations and wider variety of programs than traditional radio.

The sound quality of satellite radio varies from station to station. Some stations have near CD quality audio. Most stations have better sound quality than AM or FM radio stations.

Satellite radio company in the U.S.

There used to be two satellite radio companies in the U.S., Sirius and XM. In 2008, the two companies merged and became SiriusXM.

How to add satellite radio to your car

The automotive industry is one of the major target markets of satellite radio. Automakers likely install a car stereo equipping satellite radio tuner and antenna on their newer models. If so, all you need is subscription, and you don’t need any physical items.

image of siriusxm ready logo on head unit

Some aftermarket car stereo have the feature of SiriusXM-Ready. If you see the logo as in the picture above on your car stereo, you have the one. However, it’s important to know that you still need a kit (SiriusXM SXV300V1) which includes a tuner and antenna. To install it, you will have to pull out the aftermarket car stereo to connect the antenna to a port on the back. The tuner can be placed and hidden behind the car stereo. After installation, the only extra item you have on the dash is the antenna. Run the antenna cable neatly and hide it as much as possible. Of course, you also need a subscription.

image of siriusxm sxv300v1 connect vehicle tuner kit

If your car doesn’t have neither of the above, you can buy the whole satellite radio unit, which includes a tuner, antenna, receiver, and mounting kits. Unlike installing SiriusXM SXV300V1, you don’t have to open panel on the dash to access to the antenna port of aftermarket car stereo. You just place the receiver with mounting kit and connect the antenna and power cable. The receiver and car stereo are connected with 3.5mm audio cable so sound come out from car’s speakers. If there is no 3.5mm audio input on your car stereo, you have options to use a cassette adapter or FM transmitter (PowerConnect). You have to bear with many extra items on the dash. They are the receiver, antenna cable, power adapter, and audio cable (or cassette adapter.)

image of siriusxm sxpl1v1 onyx plus statellite radio with vehicle kit

There are some advantages of SiriusXM satellite radio units over SiriusXM-Ready aftermarket car stereo with SiriusXM SXV300V1. First, the total cost would be much cheaper. Second, the installation is easier. And, the last, the receiver is detachable, and you can use it anywhere with some gadgets such as a dock station.

Read Also: SiriusXM Satellite Radio for car comparison

SiriusXM SXSD2 is a portable speaker dock station compatible with most models of SiriusXM satellite radio. Using the same receiver means that you don’t need a second subscription. SiriusXM SXSD2 is powered by wall outlet or 8 D batteries, and it comes with a remote.

image of siriusxm sxsd2 portable speaker dock

If you want to use the existing speakers in your home, SiriusXM SXDH3 would be enough. The kit includes the antenna, AC adaper, audio cable and remote. siriusXM SXDH3 is also compatible with most models of SiriusXM receiver.

image of siriusxm sxdh3 satellite radio home dock kit

How much is the subscription?

There are three main packages of monthly subscription plan.

  • XM Mostly Music ($10.99)
  • XM Select ($15.99)
  • XM All Access ($20.99)

Please visit SiriusXM website for full details and list of channels.

And there are several specialty packages. Please note that some of them require the specific receiver. That’s because SiriusXM used to be two different companies. Even after the merger, their satellites remain the same orbiting the Earth. Some channels remain the same communication with the specific satellite of either company. If you stick to the main packages above, you don’t have to worry about anything. But, if you are interested in packages below, please make sure if your hardware is compatible with the package.

  • Sirius News, Sports & Talk
  • Sirius Family Friendly
  • SiriusXM All-in-One
  • Sirius A La Carte
  • SiriusXM for Business

Please visit SiriusXM website for full details and list of channels.

How to set up Philips Hue Entertainment and recommended indirect lights

There have been some third party apps that offered Philip Hue light sync feature with music, movies, and so on. But, none of them are reliable. Now, Philips added a new feature called Philips Hue Entertainment and released Hue Sync app for Windows PC and Mac. This app connects to Hue Bridget and performs the light sync feature with music, video, and game.

First, here are what you need

  • Any Hue White and Color Ambiance light (aka multi-color or color, any type including bulb, lamp, and light strip)
  • Hue Bridge (2nd generation, square-shape)
  • Philips Hue mobile app
  • Philips Hue Sync app for Windows or Mac (free to download)

Here are the steps how to set up Hue Entertainment feature

Step 1: Set up Entertainment areas

  • Open your Philips Hue mobile app and “Settings”
  • Tap “Entertainment areas” and “Create entertainment area”
  • Select lights by checking boxes on the right of each light (Here you see a list of all color lights in your Philips Hue system)
  • Tap “Continue” and “Lights are ready”
  • Drag the icons that represent the lights you chose and place them on actual location in your room.
  • Tap “Test area”, and all icons and lights start flashing altogether with changing colors. Make sure they match and tap “Perfect match!”
  • Now, the icons and lights start blinking one by one. Make sure their positions are correct and tap “All good!”

Step 2: Set up Philips Hue Sync app on your PC or Mac

  • Download and install Philips Hue Sync app from here
  • Launch the app and click “Search for Bridge”
  • Check the box to accept term and conditions and click “Connect”
  • After that, you need to press the center button of your Hue Bridge
  • Choose the entertainment area that you created in Philips Hue mobile app.
  • All set! Now, you see the home screen of Philip Hue Sync app.

How to use Hue Sync app

You see the four icon: “Scene”, “Game”, “Music”, and “Video”. Above them, there is a slider to adjust the brightness and a toggle switch. You can change the entertainment areas (if you created multiple areas) by clicking this box.

Only “Scene” is not meant for light sync feature. You can use this just like a mobile app, such as changing scenes shades, etc.

Other three, “Games”, “Music”, and “Video” sync Philips Hue lights with the monitor or sound. To start, click “Start light sync”. You can choose one from “Subtle”, “Moderate”, “High”, “Intense” to adjust the volume of effect. You may adjust the brightness as well.

“Games” and “Video” simply match the colors the monitor is displaying. It means that you don’t have to play a game or video to start light syncing. So, when you play a game or video, go to the full screen so Hue Sync app won’t pick up any colors outside the window of game or video.

“Music” sync with sounds. So, you may want to choose range of colors in “Color Palette.” If you don’t like any of pre-set ones, you can create your own by clicking “+”, choose up to five colors, and “Save”.

To stop, click “Stop light sync.” Please note that the lights stay in colors and brightness at the moment you click the stop button. You can turn off, turn up with the slider, or click “Scene” and bring back to the scene you normally use.

How to sync Philips Hue lights with your TV

There is no direct way to sync your TV with Philips Hue lights. However, just hooking up the computer monitor with your TV by using an HDMI cable does the same job.

Recommended Philips Hue products for Hue Entertainment

With light sync feature, some people want to set up like a nightclub. Music syncs the lights using vivid colors with the highest intensity. Some people watch movies with the mild light sync effect, so it doesn’t much distract you from watching movies. If you are the latter, regular A19 or BR30 bulbs are a little too distracting regardless of the setting. Instead of using regular bulbs, using indirect lights will give you a relaxing, serene, and cool effect. Here are some recommend Philips Hue lights for Hue Entertainment.

  • Philips Hue White and Color Ambiance LightStrip Plus ($80) – 80-inch Flexible light strip can be cut to perfect fit or extended up to 33 feet by addicting 40-inch extensions. With included adhesive tape, it fits to any environment.
  • Philips Hue Play Base Kit ($70)10-inch light bar is mainly designed as a backlight for TV. Included mounting brackets allow you to place it horizontally or vertically, or stick it on the back of your TV. A base kit includes a power supply and one light. Each power supply can connect up to three lights.
  • Philips Hue Go ($80)It’s the only wireless and portable light among Philips Hue lights. A built-in rechargeable battery allows you to take anywhere and lasts up to 3 hours. Of course, you can keep connecting to power outlet without worrying about running out of battery. It’s a unique and versatile Philips Hue lamp.
  • Philips Hue Bloom ($60) –It’s a small, 5-inch round lamp with a metal base and fixed angle. When it’s placed near an object or wall, it lights them up beautifully and gives an accent to your room.

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Philips Hue Bluetooth Light Bulbs work without Hub or Bridge

image of philips hue bluetooth a19 color

New additions to Philips Hue bulbs have built-in Bluetooth. This allows the bulbs to be controlled by a smartphone’s app without a hub. Although there have been some ways to control Philips Hue bulbs without Hue Bridge by using Amazon Echo or Google Assistant devices, you can change limited colors. A multicolor version of Philips Hue Bluetooth light bulbs can change millions of colors with Philips Hue Bluetooth app without Hue Bridge. That is one of the notable features of all Philips Hue color bulbs. However, it’s important to know that there are many downsides as compared with the complete system set up with Hue Bridge. Here are the details of Philip Hue Bluetooth light bulbs.

No hub or bridge required

You can directly controlled the lights with a smartphone app. You don’t need Hue Bridge, which costs around $50.

Change millions of colors and Create scenes

Even if you don’t have Hue Bridge, if you have newer Amazon Echo devices with a built-in smart home hub, non-Bluetooth Philips Hue color bulbs can be turned on/off and changed colors. However, the range of colors is minimal. Now that smartphone’s app can control Bluetooth bulbs, they can fully change millions of colors, and you can also create scenes.

Should be in range of Bluetooth

Just like many other Bluetooth gadgets such as headphones and speakers, lights should be in the range of Bluetooth, which is approximately 33 feet or 10 meters.

Not connected to the internet

Unlike the system with Hue Bridge, Bluetooth light bulb is not connected to the internet. So, you can’t control them away from home, create routines, or make IFTTT receipts with them.

No advanced features

You can change the full range of colors and create scenes, and that’s all you can do. Without Hue Bridge, you can’t use advanced features such as hue entertainment, which syncs the lights with music, game, video, and so on.

What’s more, you can’t even make groups with Philips Hue Bluetooth app. If you want to use light bulbs in different rooms, it’s very inconvenience to control them. You may have multiple apps with multiple accounts, but switching multiple accounts back and forth would be a hassle.

You may create scenes and use as a room assignment so you can control the lights in different rooms in a single app. For example, say Room A has light A1 and A2, and Room B has light B1 and B2. You create Scene A, which turns on A1&A2 and turns off B1&B2. You create another Scene B which turns on B1&B2 and turns off A1&A2. This example is just turning on/off. If you want to change scenes in each room individually, you have to create scenes for each room individually. That would also be a hassle, and your app would be likely filled with numerous scenes.

Up to 10 light bulbs

Philips Hue Bluetooth app can connect up to 10 Bluetooth light bulbs. If you want more, it’s recommended to buy Hue Bridge, and you can add up to 50 bulbs in total.

Voice Assistant compatibility

It works with Alexa. You can control the lights with your voice with newer Amazon Echo devices (3rd gen Echo Dot, Echo Plus, and 2nd Echo Show.) According to the company, additional Echo devices and Google Assistant devices will be compatible in the future. However, they are not compatible with Apple Homekit, so you can’t use Siri voice assistant to do anything at all. (Of course, you can download Philips Hue Bluetooth app from Apple App Store and control the lights with the app.)

Who’s Philips Hue Bluetooth for?

Philips Hue Bluetooth light bulbs are good for a starter and for those who first install smart lighting system into your room. Since you can’t make groups for multiple rooms, they are suitable for use in a single room.

Or, if you are interested in Philips Hue advance features and setups, but not yet sure of investing Hue Bridge and other accessories all at once, buy a couple of Bluetooth light bulbs to try. Whether or not, you buy Hue Bridge and other accessories in the future, Bluetooth light bulbs can be controlled as long as you have a smartphone. And after you buy Hue Bridge, you can add the bulbs to Hue Bridge and control them with the original Philips Hue app.

Or, if you already own Philips Hue Bridge and lights, and need more light bulbs, it doesn’t really matter which one you buy. However, Bluetooth bulbs have more value than the standard ones in case you no longer need some bulbs and give away to your friend or resell used ones. So, as long as the price is comparative, you may as well choose Bluetooth bulbs over standard bulbs.

Pros

  • No Hub or Bridge required
  • Also compatible with Hue Bridge
  • Change millions of colors (multicolor bulbs only)
  • Create scenes
  • Works with Alexa (3rd gen echo dot, echo plus, 2nd gen echo show, as of July 2019)
  • Google Home and Google Nest devices support coming soon

Cons

  • Only 10 light bulbs connected to the app
  • Works only in range of Bluetooth
  • No control away from home
  • No group and room setup
  • No routine (wake up, sleep, timer, etc)
  • No IFTTT
  • No entertainment features (sync with music, video, game, etc)
  • Not work with Siri (not compatible with Apple HomeKit)

Philips Hue Bluetooth Lineups

  • White and Color Ambiance A19 LED Smart Bulb
  • White A19 LED Smart Bulb
  • White Ambiance A19 LED Smart Bulb
  • White and Color Ambiance BR30 LED Smart Bulb
  • White BR30 LED Smart Bulb
  • White Ambiance BR30 LED Smart Bulb
  • Multi-pack A19 or BR30 to save money

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The Difference between Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest

Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest are new additions to the company’s lineup of VR headsets, which will be available in Spring 2019. Both headsets offer 6 degrees of freedom (6DoF) by using a new tracking system called Oculus Insight. It doesn’t require external hardware to track your movement. Instead, built-in cameras on the headset scan your surroundings all the time and update your position every millisecond. The main difference between Rift S and Quest is one needs to be tethered to PC, and the other is an all-in-one standalone device. Because of this big difference, they aren’t really comparable products. But, since they are planned to be released at the same time, let’s see the details and differences of these headsets here in the same post.

Display

Oculus Rift S has a single LCD with the total resolution of 2560 x 1440 which is the same as Oculus Go except for refresh rate. As compared with the old Rift, it’s slightly better. But old Rift has dual OLED with IPD adjustment. A single LCD can’t have physical adjustment. So, if your eyes aren’t in the common distance, it may be hard to get a perfect view through the headset.

Oculus Quest has a display with better resolution and lower refresh rate than Oculus Rift S. Dual OLED with the resolution of 2880 x 1600 has IPD adjustment to allow you to have a perfect view. Reportedly, both headsets have a less screen-door effect than older models.

 Oculus Rift SOculus QuestOculus RiftOculus Go
Weighta little heavier than Riftabout 100g heavier than Rift470g (1.04lb)468g (1.0lb)
Type of DisplaySingle LCDDual OLEDDual OLEDSingle LCD
Resolution2560 x 14402880 x 16002160 x 12002560 x 1440
Refresh Rate80Hz72Hz90Hz72Hz
Field of Viewslightly larger than Riftabout 100 degrees110 degrees101 degrees
IPD AdjustmentNYYN
TrackingOculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Oculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Constellation
(External sensors)
n/a
Number of Cameras542 or 3
external sensors necessary
n/a
Price$399$399$599$199

Design

Oculus Rift S has shifted the design from head straps to a headband. Its overall design is similar to PlayStation VR or Windows Mixed Reality headsets. Lenovo helped its design, and the logo is printed on the side of the headset. Unlike other headsets with a headband, Oculus Rift S still has a strap run on the top of your head to keep the headset from slipping down.

Oculus Quest sticks with the design with head straps, which have Velcro adjustment on both sides and the top. The head straps are stiffer than ones of Oculus Go because they are made with rubber and fabric, not only fabric. They are actually similar to ones of the old Rift except for the absence of bulky headphones.

Sound

Both headsets have built-in speakers either headband or head strap brackets. It offers 3D spatial audio. The sound can be heard by people nearby. For a complete immersion or privacy, you also have the option to use a pair of external headphones plugged into a 3.5mm audio jack on the side of headsets.

Processor

Oculus Rift S needs to be tethered to PC for processing. The cord length is 5 meter while the old Rift is 4 meter. The system requirements of old Rift and Rift S are almost the same except for the type of video port.

Oculus Quest is a standalone headset. The processor is built in the headset as well as all other components like display and lenses. The processor, Snapdragon 835 is also used in many smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S8, Note8, Google Pixel 2, etc. Obviously, it doesn’t provide the same performance as a gaming PC.

Tracking

Both headsets use the new tracking system called Oculus Insight. It no longer requires external sensors. Instead, built-in cameras see your surroundings all the time and update your positional data every millisecond.

Oculus Rift S has 5 built-in cameras, two facing to the front, two on each side, and one on the top of the headset. Oculus Quest has 4 built-in cameras, one in each corner of the front plate.

Controller

Both headsets come with a pair of Touch Controllers. There is no difference between the controllers of Rift S and Quest. But, the controllers are slightly different from the original come with old Rift. They are redesigned for better tracking and more intuitive gameplay. And Oculus Insight keeps tracking the controllers and offers 6DoF as well.

Conclusion

Oculus Rift S is for those who already own or plan to buy a powerful gaming PC. It has a lot of improvements over the old Rift. The new tracking system eliminates external cameras and offers a much easier setup and better tracking. But, it lacks IPD adjustment and still needs to be tethered to a PC.

Oculus Quest has more freedom. All-in-one standalone device doesn’t require any external devices. It lets the tracking environment expand and offers great portability without a hassle of setup. If you want to have VR experience with 6DoF, and don’t want to spend a thousand dollars for a gaming PC, it’s probably the best VR headset to start with.

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 Oculus Rift SOculus QuestOculus RiftOculus Go
Weighta little heavier than Riftabout 100g heavier than Rift470g (1.04lb)468g (1.0lb)
Type of DisplaySingle LCDDual OLEDDual OLEDSingle LCD
Resolution2560 x 14402880 x 16002160 x 12002560 x 1440
Refresh Rate80Hz72Hz90Hz72Hz
Field of Viewslightly larger than Riftabout 100 degrees110 degrees101 degrees
IPD AdjustmentNYYN
TrackingOculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Oculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Constellation
(External sensors)
n/a
Number of Cameras542 or 3
external sensors necessary
n/a
Price$399$399$599$199

Preview of Oculus Rift S – coming soon in Spring 2019 with Oculus Quest

Facebook announced that a new version of PC-tethered VR headset called Oculus Rift S. It would be released soon, along with the release of a new standalone headset, Oculus Quest, in Spring 2019. Interestingly, these two new devices will be released at the same time and at the same price. One thing in common is that they will be the Oculus’s first devices equipped with Inside-out tracking system called Oculus Insight.

Oculus Insight

One of the major differences between the original Oculus Rift and Oculus Rift S is the tracking system. A new version doesn’t need external sensors for tracking. Instead, the tracking sensors are built into the headset. This tracking system is called Oculus Insight. The same system is used for Oculus Quest, which will be released at the same time. There are 5 tracking sensors built into the Oculus Rift S, while 4 sensors are built into the Oculus Quest.

Design

Oculus Rift S uses a headband instead of a head strap. In general, a headband can be tightened more than a head strap. That’s why a headband is suitable for gaming involved a lot of movements. It is used for many Windows Mixed Reality headsets, PlayStation VR headset, and Lenovo Mirage Solo. Actually, Lenovo helped design and manufacture Oculus Rift S, and the logo of Lenovo is printed on the side of the headset.

Oculus Rift S eliminated bulky headphones attached to the head strap of the original Oculus Rift. Just like Oculus Go and Oculus Quest, it has open-to-air speakers. The speakers are built into the headband offering a 3D spatial audio. The sounds from built-in speakers can be overheard by people nearby. If you need complete privacy, you need a pair of external headphones plugged into a 3.5mm audio output on the side of the headset.

The Controller

A pair of Touch Controllers are expected to come with Oculus Rift S. It’s slightly different from the original Touch Controllers come with the original Rift, and exactly the same as ones come with Oculus Quest.

Games

Oculus Rift S is compatible with all games and apps in the original Rift platform. However, the platform of Oculus Quest is different from the platform of Oculus Rift. It’s worth noting that some games and apps available on both platforms may support cross-buy and cross-play. It means that if you buy a game or app from one of the platforms, you don’t have to buy it from the other platform. However, it’s not strictly enforced, so developers always have the choice whether or not they make their games and apps cross-buy.

Prices

The price is $399 USD. It’s very interesting that It’s the same price as Oculus Quest.

Resolutions

  • Oculus Rift S: 1280 x 1440 per eye (2560 x 1440 total) 80Hz
  • Oculus Rift (original): 1080 x 1200 per eye (2160 x 1200 total) 90Hz
  • Oculus Quest: 1440 x 1600 per eye (2880 x 1600 total) 72Hz

Who is Oculus Rift S for?

Is Oculus Rift S worth upgrading for existing owners of original Oculus Rift? Ease of setup is not much benefit for them because they already set up old Oculus Rift. Both original and new Rifts need to be tethered to PC, anyway. So, they don’t make much use of Oculus Insight tracking system. The resolution is better, but not that shockingly improved.

What about a new user? Oculus Rift S and Oculus Quest are the same prices $399. But, Oculus Rift S needs a powerful gaming PC. I don’t think a new user wants to spend over a thousand dollars on starting VR experience when the other headset (Oculus Quest) allows you to do that for $399. And two new headsets are release at the same time. So honestly, I have no idea who Facebook wants to target at with Oculus Rift S.

Conclusion

It’s been saying that Oculus Quest will be a break-through for VR market. More and more people are expected to get into VR technology with the Oculus Quest. But, what about Oculus Rift S? Oculus Insight tracking technology eliminates external sensors. It gives users benefits of ease of setup and freedom of choice where you start playing VR to a certain degree. Unlike Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift S has to be still tethered to a gaming PC. Although it has built-in sensors, the VR environment is still in a room where there is a gaming PC and within the length of the wire to the PC.

Related Posts

 Oculus Rift SOculus QuestOculus RiftOculus Go
Weighta little heavier than Riftabout 100g heavier than Rift470g (1.04lb)468g (1.0lb)
Type of DisplaySingle LCDDual OLEDDual OLEDSingle LCD
Resolution2560 x 14402880 x 16002160 x 12002560 x 1440
Refresh Rate80Hz72Hz90Hz72Hz
Field of Viewslightly larger than Riftabout 100 degrees110 degrees101 degrees
IPD AdjustmentNYYN
TrackingOculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Oculus Insight
(Inside-out)
Constellation
(External sensors)
n/a
Number of Cameras542 or 3
external sensors necessary
n/a
Price$399$399$599$199

goTenna Plus in-app yearly subscription – Is it worth?

goTenna Plus is a yearly subscription that allows you to use some features in addition to basic features for goTenna Mesh devices in the goTenna App. You can subscribe through the app. It costs $29 per year with a free 30-day trial. (limited-time introductory of $9.99 per year now!) Let’s see all the features of goTenna Plus.

image of gotenna plus

SMS Relay

If a goTenna user who has a cellular service is within the range of your goTenna device, you can send a message to someone via SMS relay. In this case, the recipient doesn’t have to be a goTenna user.

image of gotenna plus sms network relay

This feature seems very useful, but it totally depends on how often you are in such a situation. The situation is kind of unique and specific. Only you are out of cellular service, and other goTenna users within the range have cellular service. And, a person to whom you send a message is outside of the range of your goTenna, but he or she has cellular service.

Location Tethering

This feature allows you to share your location with a desired recipient automatically. You can choose the frequency from every 1, 5, or 10 minutes and duration from 15, 30 minutes or any duration between 1 to 12 hours.

Download a Topographic Map

Topographic maps show more geographic detail than street maps. You need to download a map in advance where cellular or internet is available. Topographic maps may be useful for hiking, camping, or any other outdoor activities.

Google offline maps are useful in cities of foreign countries. But in a wilderness, without cellular or internet service, Google’s offline maps show only Default (street maps) not Satellite or Terrain. So, you can’t tell the elevation with Google’s offline maps.

However, I suggest you get a decent map with more details such names of trails, locations of facilities, etc. Topographic Map feature is better than nothing, but it doesn’t have much information.

Record Trips Statistics

You can record the route, distance, elevation, and time. This feature uses topographic maps which you need to download in advance.

Group Delivery Confirmation

This feature lets you know who within your group has received your message. The number available for a group is up to 6.

Conclusion

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to provide payment information to start a free trial. It means the subscription doesn’t automatically start when a free 30-day trial ends. If you like these features, you can subscribe through the goTenna app. Tap “goTenna plus” found on the bottom of the main menu and tap “SUBSCRIBE NOW.”

image of gotenna plus promotion

For some people, the features of goTenna Plus are useful. Just use them with a free 30-day trial, and you can determine whether or not it’s necessary for you. The price isn’t that high, anyway. It’s $29 per year. (limited-time introductory of $9.99 per year now!) The goTenna app is available at Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

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