Meta has finally revealed its Project Cambria headset, which we now know will officially be called Meta Quest Pro.
Unveiled at Meta Connect 2022, this successor to the hit Oculus Quest 2 – one of the best VR headsets we’ve used – this new headset looks set to deliver on Meta’s promise of a next-gen experience, albeit not necessarily in the way that fans expected.
In terms of specs, the Meta Quest Pro (mostly) outperforms the Quest 2 with its 12GB of RAM, a new Qualcomm XR2+ chip that can deliver 50% more power than the Quest 2’s chip, and new features like eye tracking and colors cross. Eye tracking, along with face tracking, will allow the headset to translate your emotions into VR, so developers can now create avatars as expressive as you are.
Color passing will help the headset deliver more immersive augmented and mixed reality experiences. As long as you’re wearing the headset, your cameras and screen will be able to see the world around you in color instead of the black and white that was all the Quest 2 could manage.
But it’s not all good news, unfortunately. Firstly, the device’s battery life is rather disappointing. Meta told us that it will last somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours; in comparison, the Oculus Quest 2 will last between two and three hours and can last longer if you use the official Elite Strap with battery add-on.
Meta also told us in a briefing ahead of the announcement that the Meta Quest Pro is “optimized for 90Hz”, but declined to give a straight answer on whether a 120Hz refresh rate will be available on the hardware. Higher refresh rates help make VR experiences less nausea-inducing; 90Hz is the recommended minimum and is currently the default setting on the Quest 2. However, the Quest 2 is set to have 120HZ as the default setting in the near future, so it will be a shame if the updated Quest Pro doesn’t follow Suit.
And then there’s the price. Coming in at $1,500/£1,500 (about AU$2,630), the Meta Quest Pro isn’t cheap – it’s roughly four times the price of the Oculus Quest 2, and while you’re getting some notable performance upgrades, you’re also getting the downgrades mentioned above from. However, if you consider the need for a relatively good PC, it’s about what you might expect to pay for a VR setup using the Valve Index (which costs $999 / £919 / around AU$1,425).
But the problem is that the Meta Quest Pro is not a VR headset.
Review: This is not a VR headset
The Meta Quest Pro shares many similarities with your typical VR headset. It’s attached to your face, with a screen that covers your eyes, and it can play many of the best VR games – all the Oculus Quest 2 can in fact. But Meta’s latest device is a mixed reality headset, not a virtual reality one.
That’s not inherently a bad thing. Based on our hands-on time with Meta Quest Pro, their mixed reality experiences felt more real than anything we’ve experienced in pure VR. But for people looking to escape reality as much as possible, the Meta Quest Pro might not be the headset for you.
This is because the headset doesn’t completely cover your eyes – it leaves a big space on the side and bottom, which means you can see the world around you. In mixed reality this is amazing as it helps to better blur the line between real and virtual – for example you will see your real arms and virtual hands perfectly aligned, leading you to think the fakes are more real than they are.
But in a more immersive VR experience – Resident Evil 4 VR, for example – the real world will visibly encroach on the virtual, which can make it difficult to feel like you’re actually exploring a spooky town in rural Spain. You can use optional attachments to block out your surroundings, but the full cap won’t come packaged with the Quest Pro headset as Meta told us – you’ll need to pay extra for that.
The Meta Quest Pro certainly seems to offer a premium experience and offers improvements in VR gaming compared to what the Oculus Quest 2 offers. Experiences as you may be, Meta’s latest premium headset may not be for you.
Instead, you may find that the Pico 4 is the Oculus Quest 2 rival you’ve been waiting for.