Meta’s new Quest Pro is a glimpse into the near-term future of augmented and virtual reality. It’s a thinner headset, with a faster Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1 chip, more precise controllers, and viable mixed reality features. The only real problem is that it costs $1,500.
At Meta Connect, the Quest Pro was specifically designed as a productivity device, one that Meta says could be sold to enterprise customers who could certainly afford it, if partnerships with Microsoft and Accenture are any indication. But when you consider how the Quest Pro could actually fit into your life and work, the thought of Meta starts to seem less ridiculous.
A desk replacement
Thanks to the core features of the Quest Pro and the apps Microsoft will bring to both Quest headsets next year, Meta could theoretically replace multiple monitors, your laptop (well, maybe a Chromebook), graphics tablets, and maybe even a game console. Consider the price breakdown:
That’s a total of $1,995. And that’s not even including the creative applications and experiences that are only possible in VR.
There are way too many unknowns for anyone to recommend dropping over $1,000 on a new headset (that’s what reviews are for). There’s also the question of whether the Quest Pro is actually up to the task of replacing all that hardware in a satisfying and useful way.
Early hands-on previews with the Quest Pro have confirmed that this is absolutely a better VR headset, more comfortable to wear and use than the quest 2, but they also revealed some potentially troubling performance issues. For instance, Tech Crunch reports the battery life of Meta’s new headset is only about 1-2 hours. It’s not exactly a full day’s work in my book, as much as I’d like.
Cheaper than the competition
The primary focus of Quest Pro’s new features is mixed reality, where VR elements can be superimposed on a color view of the world around you (thanks to a new camera passthrough) to replicate AR experiences without having to discover fancy new display technologies.
With the utility that Meta envisions – like drawing in 3D and examining models placed in the real world – the Quest Pro lines up quite favorably with Microsoft’s AR headsets or magic jump. Technically, both devices from these companies use much more advanced display technology to project holograms into the world around you, but they’re also geared toward enterprise and development uses.
The big hitch? current from microsoft Holo Lens 2 costs $3,500 and the new magic jump 2 costs $3,299. Not to mention that both of these headsets are for developers; the Quest Pro will be sold to consumers (corporate or not). Considering the Quest platform is already far bigger than the development stages for these two niche headsets, the Quest Pro already has a big head start.
Probably still sold at a loss
The Quest 2 was a bargain when it sold for $299. It’s a polished VR headset with access to a great selection of games and a fairly steady stream of new software features. This became a little less true when Meta recently raised the price to $399but it is still accessible for the average person.
Mark Zuckerberg is pretty clear that he’s comfortable selling hardware at a loss if it gets people to use VR more, and it seems the strategy still holds true with the Quest Pro. Here is what he said in an interview with The edge after introducing Quest Pro:
I think the overall strategy is not to make money on the hardware but to make sure it can help grow the ecosystem… Our whole approach as a company is to bring the more people as possible to access these tools, and then, over time, you build a better ecosystem that way.
Now, should any normal person care about Meta burning R&D money to ship a cutting-edge VR headset? No, but it’s worth bearing in mind which version of that hardware makes financial sense as a product is still many years away. It’s a glimpse of the future. One with plenty of big questions yet to be answered, but an exciting one despite the arid, productivity-focused focus.