Meta’s been questing around for a new vision for its VR, and it’s finally arrived. At Meta’s 2023 Connect conference, the company introduced the Meta Quest 3, a mixed-reality VR headset. It starts at $799 and you can pre-order it now, with devices shipping beginning Oct. 10. But before you do, let’s talk about how it stacks up against Apple’s big, expensive mixed reality device coming next year.
The Meta Quest 3 Has Full-Color AR
Meta’s big plan to compete against Apple’s $US3,500 Vision Pro is to keep its headsets relatively cheap while maximizing the augmented reality capabilities of its exterior sensors. The Quest 3 is a standalone, mixed-reality headset, which Meta says is the most powerful it’s ever shipped. It “allows you to blend physical and digital worlds together,” said Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta. The headset has two camera bars on the front panel, giving the device a real Sam Fisher Splinter Cell vibe. These sensors allow for full-colour passthrough so you can see your living room or wherever you are through the glasses with augmented reality layered on top.
The new headset sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 processor, which Meta claims offers “faster load times and more seamless gameplay” compared to its predecessor. The next-gen Quest will also see improved visuals with better resolution on its twin lens screens—Meta says the “4K+ Infinite Display with 25PPD and 1218 PPI brings the best resolution” to its Quest devices. The resolution is about 2064×2208 pixels per eye.
The Quest 3 controllers have also been redesigned. They’re now called Touch Plus controllers, as they use TruTouch haptics to offer force feedback akin to the PlayStation 5’s DualSense controller. During his presentation, Zuckerberg claimed that “hand tracking is getting really good” with the new controllers. We’ll be the judge of that.
How Does the Quest 3 Stack Up Against the Vision Pro?
Meta first showed off the Quest 3 earlier this year before Apple had a chance to debut its ultra-expensive headset at WWDC 2023. Now that we know what’s happening with Apple’s so-called “spatial computer,” Meta’s latest VR/AR device bears many of the same hallmarks of virtual reality tech we’ve had for the past several years. Where the Vision Pro only uses gesture controls, the Quest 3 has redesigned stick controllers that still seem mainly used for gaming.
The Vision Pro incorporates most apps that already exist for the iPad and iPhone, but Meta’s new device will continue to use what’s available in the Quest Store and out of its internal development teams. That should include more than 500 titles, including both games and apps. Meta is also adding support for Xbox Game Pass in December, a boon for gamers who use their headsets to “get into the game.”
Meta is planning for more AR capabilities in the future, as evidenced by a leaked roadmap earlier this year. The company plans to have real AR-capable glasses by 2027. Though tech years are like dog years, that feels like a long way off, considering the big, bulky headsets needed for AR.
Time will tell whether Meta can meet customers at the $799 mid-range price tag as it has with the loss-leading ultra-cheap models. At last year’s Meta Connect, the company revealed its $2,449.99 Quest Pro to capture the high-end VR market. That device had passthrough capabilities, though not in full colour. Meta cut the price of the Quest Pro’s asking price (down to $1,730) only five months after its reveal.
The company has not revealed sales data for the Quest, but during that leaked roadmap presentation, Meta claims it has sold close to 20 million Quest headsets. Most of those were likely the Quest 2, and according to reports earlier this year, Meta may cut production of the Quest Pro while continuing to sell it alongside the Quest 3. If Meta can offer direct competition for Apple’s upcoming device, and for 1/7 of the cost of the Vision Pro, it may be able to make a bigger solace than last year’s device.
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