If you ignore the price, the just announced Meta Quest Pro (opens in new tab) might be the new best VR headset. It's the long-teased high-end version of the Meta Quest 2 aimed at professionals: Meta is promoting it with visions of headset-wearing creatives meeting in VR or standing in unfurnished office buildings pointing at mixed-reality schematics. Personally, I'd just play games on the thing. The only problem is that it's $1,500.
That's not too expensive compared to Microsoft's HoloLens, which is also aimed at businesses and starts at $3,500, but it's a lot more expensive than most VR gaming systems. The $999 Valve Index is already pricey.
The Quest Pro sure looks sleek, though. It uses what Meta calls "patented pancake lens" technology—I love a straightforward name—which the company says results in a 40% thinner "optical stack" than the Quest 2. It's not quite the VR glasses we might hope the tech eventually arrives at, but much closer than most headsets. At the same time, the images produced by the Quest Pro are supposed to be significantly improved: The 1832x1920 per-eye resolution and 90Hz refresh rate are the same as the Quest 2, but Meta promises higher contrast, a sharper image, and 1.3 times the color range.
The Quest headsets are all-in-one devices, so they don't have to be hooked up to a PC unless you're trying to play a graphically demanding game like Half-Life Alyx. Even at PC Gamer, we have to admit that wireless VR is ideal. The Quest 2 contains 6GB RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 CPU and GPU to run games like SuperHot VR and Beat Saber. The upgraded Quest Pro uses 12GB RAM and a new Snapdragon XR2 Plus platform, which Meta says provides "50% more power." I don't expect to run Half-Life Alyx on the thing, but I'm curious to see what it can do.
The Quest Pro also features a better view of your real surroundings for mixed reality (four times the resolution compared to the Quest 2, plus color), facial expression tracking ("smiles, eye-brow raises, winks and all"), and new self-tracking Touch Pro Controllers (meaning you can put them behind your back without the headset losing track of them). The controllers will also be sold separately (opens in new tab) later this year for $300, if you want to use them with a Quest 2.
If it all works as advertised—our friends at Tom's Guide were impressed (opens in new tab) with their demo—it sounds like a great headset, but likely too expensive to recommend for gaming. Aside from its all-in-oneness, price is one of the main reasons we've recommended the Quest 2. Compared to the $800 HTC Vive Pro 2 or Valve's $999 Index, which uses wires and external sensors, the Quest 2 has obviously been the more practical, affordable choice, and that remained true even after Meta increased the prices of both Quest 2 models by $100. The 128GB Quest 2 is currently $399 and the 256GB model is $499.
There are a couple of other downsides. The Quest Pro battery life is shorter than the Quest 2 battery life: just one to two hours, says Tom's Guide, although you can use it while it's plugged in. The Quest Pro also lets peripheral light in so that you can see where you're going, a feature which reflects its office productivity orientation. "Partial light blocker" attachments are included, but "full light blocker" attachments will be sold separately later this year.
At $1,500, the Quest Pro may succeed or fail depending on whether architects and engineers actually find it useful to hang out in empty lofts projecting diagrams into the space between them. It was built to serve the vision behind Facebook's "metaverse" rebrand, not for playing Bonelab (opens in new tab), and I suspect the only gamers who'll be buying them are those who already spend thousands of dollars on custom F1 race car simulation rigs. And probably a few Star Citizen players. For everyone else, a $1,500 gaming PC would be a lot more exciting than an enterprise-grade VR headset, given that the much cheaper Meta Quest 2 provides a good experience if you're going to hook it up to your PC to play Half-Life Alyx anyway.
The Quest Pro is available to pre-order (opens in new tab) now, and Meta says they'll start shipping later this month.