In Meta’s ongoing quest to turn the nebulous “metaverse” into virtual reality, it has now released two of the most amazing all-in-one, untethered VR headsets we’ve ever seen. Now meet the Meta Quest Pro, a next-level headset with no expense spared.
Unconfirmed rumours It’s widely rumored that Apple, the world’s richest company, is planning a full-frontal assault on the consumer VR/AR market with a set of ultra-expensive Apple Glasses expected to arrive in 2023. But for now, the space belongs to one man , who more or less tried to Leeroy Jenkins virtual reality in the salons of the unwashed tables. Mark Zuckerberg, through his acquisition of Oculus, has had an impressive standalone VR headset on the market for several years now, along with a growing—if still somewhat overwhelming—library of content and experiences.
The Meta (née Oculus) Quest 2 is still a super neat all-in-one standalone VR experience on a budget, even after recent price spikes. But Zuckerberg has pushed most of his Facebook nest to the center of the table, reorienting and even renaming the company according to his metauniverse aspirations. Meta has been working tirelessly to maintain its position at the top of the spear, as evidenced by all the VR headset prototypes it showed off earlier this year.
And now it has released its next product: Meta Quest Pro. At nearly four times the price of the Quest 2, this thing includes many of the innovations we saw in those prototypes back in June. The “holocake” pancake optical system makes a huge difference to the overall size of the headphones, making them slimmer and sleeker than ever. The Quest Pro isn’t much bigger than a set of ski goggles, although the back strap is bulkier since that’s where the battery now lives to keep the thing balanced on your leg.
Meta says visuals are significantly sharper, clearer and more colorful, with a 37% increase in pixel density, resulting in 1800 x 1920 (3.5-megapixel) displays for each eye. The field of view is reportedly significantly wider both vertically and horizontally, at 106° H x 96° V, compared to the Quest 2’s ~89° H x 93° V, and this will make it significantly more a fascinating headset.
The external cameras get a massive 4X jump in resolution because Meta is committed to making the Quest Pro a full-color, high-definition augmented reality headset featuring real-world vision. After experiencing how natural it feels to walk around the house in the massive, black-and-white camera vision provided by the Quest and Quest 2, I have no doubt that this will work beautifully. The new headset also leaves your outer visual periphery open to the outside world, which will help you stop standing on your dog’s tail while taking a serious hit. You can block this with a magnetic snap screen if Rover asks for trouble.
The cameras are also pointed back at you; a new system will track your eye movement to enable foveal imaging, which will render things toward the center of your vision with higher accuracy and fall toward the periphery to reduce processing power without making a noticeable visual difference. Another will track your facial expressions with high accuracy, so your avatar in the metaverse can be much more animated and realistic. These features will be turned off by default – after all, the amount of highly personal information that can be gleaned from your eye movements is absolutely staggering. Meta swears it has no interest in using this or your facial images against you, and the data for these features, when enabled, will be processed locally on the headset, deleted immediately, and never sent to the company or any other third party.
To go with all this improved equipment, the Quest 2 gets a processor upgrade in the form of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+, which promises to handle heat better while delivering more than 50% more processing power. The RAM has been increased to 12 GB, and the built-in memory to 256 GB. Even the handheld controllers get an upgrade too; they’re significantly larger, with their own built-in Snapdragon processors and independent visual systems so they can track in 3D space regardless of the direction you’re looking. That is if you use them; Quest 2 is now capable of incredibly impressive hand tracking for controller-less use.
Meta Quest Pro: New ways to work
As you can see in the video above, Meta is pushing the Quest Pro to be used in collaborative business and productivity applications, and its advanced AR capabilities are sure to bring the idea of virtual desktop screens closer to reality, as you’ll be able to see the real your environment and even the keys of a real keyboard while you work. But it will also play anything that will work on Quest 2.
Meta says the regular Quest series headphones aren’t going anywhere and will remain the company’s consumer-level line, while the Pro headphones will give early adopters access to new features that will eventually filter down to the cheaper gear if people use them enough.
At $1,499, it’s a pretty solid investment in what’s still the early days of VR/AR, but it looks like a pretty big upgrade. Either way, rumor has it that Apple will charge even more, and that certainly seems to be Apple’s way. Meta Quest Pro will be available from October 25th. Check out a video below.
Meta Quest Pro