On Wednesday, Meta unveiled Quest 3, the third generation of the best-selling VR headset of all time, at the annual Meta Connect event.
The headset, which was first announced at the Meta Quest Gaming Showcase during the summer, was fully revealed by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his Meta Connect keynote address.
Meta Unveils The Quest 3 Mixed Reality Headset
While the Quest 3 looks more or less like last year’s Meta Quest 2, it is a major overhaul over its predecessor. Starting at $499, the VR headset is also $200 more expensive than the Quest 2. You will find out why in a moment.
Meta claims that it redesigned the Quest 3 from the inside out, featuring a more powerful chipset, a higher resolution display, better audio, video, and graphics performance, and a thinner design to justify its price point.
Up until this year, Meta was the dominant player in the VR market. But with Apple’s Vision Pro VR headset right around the corner, things will change drastically in the augmented and virtual reality sector. With the release of Quest 3, the company is trying to gain as much market share as possible before Apple crashes the party.
“Passthrough” Allows Quest Users To Stay Connected With The Outside World
The talk of the town at Meta Connect was “Passthrough”, a stand-out feature that allows Quest 3 users to be connected to the outside world while using the device so that they won’t feel isolated. Users can simply double-tap any part of the headset to activate “passthrough” mode and they will be brought out of the virtual games or apps they are in.
Quest 3 sports a 4K+ “Infinite Display Resolution” LCD panel that offers 2064×2208 pixels per eye and has an “experimental” 120Hz refresh rate for specific games. Meta says the new 90Hz display is a 30% improvement over the Quest 2. The headset also borrows the “pancake” lenses from the $1,499 Quest Pro that will support the higher resolution and make images shown on the display feel much sharper.
It is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen-2 chipset, which is an ARM-based processor that is closer in power and efficiency to smartphones. Meta says the chipset is mainly being used to amp up Quest 3’s higher-definition display, also claiming that the new processor offers twice the graphical performance of Quest 2 and supports “fast-action gaming and seamless full-color, and high-resolution passthrough”.
Meta Quest 3 is also powered by spacial audio and has a 40 percent louder volume range than its predecessor, improving the overall audio experience.
Battery life remains a point of doubt for the device as it has not improved much from last year. Quest 3 can last up to 2 hours and 20 minutes on battery power. Meta does not include an external battery pack in the box.
RGB Cameras And Depth Projector Make Quest 3 A True Mixed-Reality Headset
Quest 3 also added two RGB cameras with 10x better resolution than the Quest 2 and a depth projector that works in tandem with “Passthrough”, helping users experience VR while also staying connected to the outside world.
For instance, the cameras record and display live feeds from outside on the headset’s screen while also showing you windows and other graphics in an augmented reality (AR) holographic overlay. Quest 3 scans the room and your surroundings to warn you if you are about to bump into any object.
Passthrough also allows users to interact with the outside without having to pause what they are doing in VR and take their headsets off. This is seen as a major improvement over last year’s Quest 3, which was limited to VR.
All New Touch Plus Controllers And Hands-Free Mode
Meta’s latest AR/VR headset comes with all-new Touch Plus controllers that the company says will serve as a “natural extension” of the hands. The controller replaces the tracking ring from Quest 2 with haptic sensors that use computer vision and machine learning to follow hand gestures.
Quest 3 can also be used hands-free with the Direct Touch feature, where users’ hand movements are tracked by the headset’s externally mounted cameras. The feature will be supported by some games and apps at launch.
The headset weighs in at 515 grams and is slightly heavier than the Quest 2, which is understandable since the device packs more hardware than last year’s model. However, Quest 3, with its slimmer profile, is much more comfortable to wear. Its soft and adjustable strap holds steady on the head while the facial interface can be adjusted to improve comfort and field of view.
Other features include 8GB of RAM, 128 and 512 GB of internal storage, WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 support, an LED to indicate to people nearby that the headset is being used, and backward compatibility to PCs with the Meta Quest Link Cable or Air Link.
Meta Quest 3 Pricing
The Meta Quest 3 is currently available for pre-order and will be shipped starting October 10. The headset is priced at $499 for the 128 GB model and $649 for the 512 GB variant. Customers also get a six-month Meta Quest Plus subscription and a free VR game when opting for the larger storage size model.
All Quest 2 games will be supported by Quest 3, and the mixed reality headset is slated to get 100 new or upgraded apps by the end of the year.