Meta’s new Meta Quest Pro has quickly moved from launch to a retailer near you. He only asks that you have deep pockets and perhaps a seriousness of purpose.
And that you are at least 13 years old.
I caught this little detail when I was reading the product details on BestBuy.com (opens in new tab) where among other places you can now buy the $1,499 / £1,500 / AU$2,450 headset and for some reason it tickled me. The range is certainly suitable for Meta Quest and Quest 2 VR headsets, which are primarily used for gaming and which cost somewhere in the range of your traditional gaming console. Children as young as eight years old will likely want one. It’s unlikely that any teenager is looking at Meta Quest Pro.
Unlike its VR ancestors, Meta Quest Pro is not just about experiences you can have in a virtual world. It literally combines a high-resolution view of your real world with one that is created in real-time and superimposed on top of it. Simply put, it has all the hardware and innovation to justify that eye-watering price tag. Among the main features:
- Has new LCDs with quantum dot technology
- Face and eye tracking
- Hand and gesture tracking on redesigned controllers
- Color external camera
- A custom Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ CPU
- 12 GB of memory
- 256 GB of built-in storage
- wireless charging dock
Put another way, this is a wearable computer that looks like it has a lot of potential. It also looks, at least to me, a little familiar.
In 2016, I was among the first to test Microsoft’s HoloLens (opens in new tab), another powerful, wearable computer with mixed reality aspirations. It’s true that Microsoft was slow to deliver the $3,000 headset into consumers’ hands. First the developers got it, then it was open to some consumers (I think they were called “explorers” 🤦♂️), but as far as I know it never sold in volume and is pretty much abandoned (Microsoft launched its support behind Meta Quest Pro ) and mainly a business tool.
Meta’s approach is, however, entirely different. It is available from the aforementioned Best Buy and from Amazon, Argos and Curry’s in the UK. There is also no waiting for developers to adopt and develop for the platform. Many of Quest 2’s most popular VR apps, such as Gravity Sketch and the ever-popular I Expect You to Die, already work in Meta Quest Pro. There’s even a desktop productivity app, Immersed, which uses visual headphone swipe technology to position multiple screens floating around you.
There are apps like Meta Horizons Workroom that supposedly Meta employees themselves don’t love (opens in new tab)that can take advantage of the Pro’s new facial expression recognition technology.
My point is, Meta and Meta Quest Pro customers don’t have to wait for useful apps, they can already be here.
The other big difference between Microsoft’s ill-fated efforts and the Meta Quest Pro is the pass-through technology. The HoloLens has a clear viewfinder so you can see your real world with a projection of what appears to be a big screen TV (75 inches or more) floating in front of you. It might seem expansive because naturally the viewport changed when you turned your head, but you can also look around, which broke the illusion.
Meta Quest Pro instead uses external cameras to get an HD view of your world and then combines it with VR elements. This means that no matter how or where you look, VR will be part of your environment. It can also make using Meta Quest Pro a little easier because VR screens don’t have to be, as they were on HoloLens, so close to your eyes.
a difficult fit
I’ve never found the HoloLens particularly comfortable or, with its dual headband system, easy to wear. The Meta Quest Pro’s headband system seems simpler, which is good news, and our reporter Hamish Hector found that the headset provides a “comfortable but secure fit”. However, the 772 grams (1.7 lb) headset is not lightweight. Even the original HoloLens weighed just 579 grams.
I’m excited about the redesigned controllers that eschew the Quest 2’s tracking gear and add some visual sensors to pick up on finger gestures. I still think for $1,499 the Meta Quest Pro should ship with tracking gloves.
It’s an auspicious time for a VR headset designed to be your new desktop and top-tier VR entertainment platform. At this price point, the latter seems unlikely, but companies that haven’t bothered to adopt HoloLens might be willing to pop into Best Buy or Currys and try the Meta Quest Pro.
If you’re looking for the best VR games to match your expensive new mixed reality investment, we’ve got your list here.