When you think of Virtual Reality, some might think about the games and experiences and how it can just take you away to become whomever and go wherever you want. But as the technology behind VR continues to evolve, so do its headsets. Virtual Reality headsets have been around for decades with such, from the first The Sword of Debacles in 1968 to Sega’s own VR headset, the Sega VR that was never released to Nintendo’s own Virtual Boy, which launched in 1993 to even PlayStation’s latest and greatest, which is a year old this November, the PlayStation VR2, the technology and the headsets do continue to become more impressive over time. But with Meta’s latest and greatest, is it the new standard and is it something that everyone can learn from? Let’s find out with the Meta Quest 3.
Back in 2019, Oculus, who would be later sold to Meta, launched the Oculus Quest. used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 with 4 GB of RAM with an individual resolution of 1440 × 1600 and a refresh rate of 72Hz, and with an introductory price tag of $399 for the 64 GB version and $499, for the 128 GB version. Then, in the Fall of 2020, the Oculus Quest 2 came out, which was later changed to the Meta Quest 2 used the Snapdragon XR2 that was designed for VR and augmented reality. It had 6 GB of RAM, which was an increase of 2 GB over the Quest 1. As players were anticipating the next hopeful budget-friendly innovation of the next headset, Meta answered in 2022, with the Meta Quest Pro at an asking price of $1,499.99. It used high-resolution color cameras, as opposed to the lower-resolution, grayscale cameras on the Quest. Internal sensors in the headset which was used for eye and face tracking and used the Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 that included 12 GB of RAM. Thanks to the Snapdragon XR2 chip, Meta claimed that the Meta Quest Pro is 50% more powerful than the Quest 2.
Over time both the Quest 1, Quest 2, and Quest Pro became better improved and just a little more powerful in what they could accomplish thanks to the updates they received. Sure, the Quest 2 and Quest Pro players, were able to play PCVR games thanks to Air Link and the Link Cable along with a compatible VR-Ready PC. But this left out the Quest 1 players who were either left to upgrade or search for other options (keep in mind that the Oculus Rift and Rift S still work to this day). But with the improvements came better hand-tracking, we could draw our boundaries, and most importantly, play anywhere we wanted to thanks to the headsets being cable-free.
But as history has taught us, things can only get better as the tech, the games, and the experiences can only get better…
This now brings us to the latest and greatest from Meta, the Meta Quest 3. Unveiled on June 1, 2023, with a release date of October 10, 2023, we are now four years later since the launch of the Quest 1 and wow, things have changed not only from the Quest 1 but the Quest 2 with some interesting things borrowed from the Quest Pro.
The Quest 3 is a lot better than the previous generations, but that is not to say that each previous version of the Quest doesn’t have its own reasons why they are not great in their own right. First, we have to look at the specs of the Quest 3 that we can all look at and see, at least in the writing, why the Quest 3 is better:
The unboxing of the Quest 3 has the look of the headset with the three lenses in front and somehow is just staring at you into your soul. Also, remember that there are two versions for storage, the 128GB and 512GB.
Opening the box, we see that we have the headset, the new Touch Plus Controllers, and the diagram of how to put on the headset.
The complete contents of the box are the headset, controllers with batteries, power adapter, charging cable, and two documents for your reading enjoyment.
Another thing that you will notice that is different compared to the Quest and Quest 2, is the new Touch Plus Controllers. There is no longer the ring where the controllers were being tracked previously, but the new controllers have the sensors built into the controllers themselves.
One thing I noticed about the new Touch Plus controllers is the battery compartment covers. I know with the Quest 2 for example, the battery compartment covers are pretty easy to remove to get to the battery, but with the new controllers, you cannot just slide them off as you have to push the button that has the minus sign in order for the covers to come off. But what I thought was a nice touch is the minus sign that is on the button, which is the same way the batteries are inserted.
When looking at Quest 3 next to the Quest 2, you can see that the Quest 3 is smaller. Not only is it smaller, but when wearing the Quest 3, even though it’s a little heavier at 515 grams vs the Quest 2’s 503 grams, it is pretty comfortable right out of the box even with the default headstrap.
Another thing that you will notice with the Quest 3, mainly if you have used the Quest 2, is the cameras. With the Quest 2, there are four outside cameras for tracking. With the Quest 3, you have front cameras. The two outside pills contain four cameras, two of which are black and white along with the two bottom side cameras that are used for tracking along with the two RGB color cameras, and in the center, the two depth sensors for the pass-through that are not only will help with your surroundings, but also with Mixed Reality.
The Quest 3 uses pancake lenses, and I will say that the visual improvement is so much appreciated. Just looking at the home environment, within the Quest 3 brought a smile to my face, plus it’s nice to see my avatar having legs. When looking at the lenses of the headset, there are depth adjustment buttons on the outside of the lenses, which can easily be adjusted whether you just want the lenses closer to or further away from your face or for those who wear glasses.
On the left strap on the outside, we have the USB C port and the power button. Underneath, the longer button is for volume control, next to that are three dots for charger accessories, and on the other side is the IPD (Inter Pupillary Distance) wheel.
Speaking of accessories, KIWI design will be releasing new Quest 3 accessories in Q4! They have also developed an upgrade kit of the KIWI design Quest 2 Comfort Head Strap series users that should be coming out before December.
Now that we have pretty much gone over what the Meta Quest 3 has, what about the software and the experience (keep in mind you will be able to use the Quest 3 as a PCVR headset thanks to the Link Cable and Air Link)? When I turned on the Quest 3 and saw the Meta symbol for the first time on this headset, it was so clear. Now, keep in mind you will need your phone with the setup process which was really easy and took no time to pair the headset to the Meta Quest app.
The headset then needed to scan my area which if you have a PlayStation VR2, is a familiar process. After scanning my area including the ceiling fan, it was that familiar home setting, but clearer than the Quest 2. I was interested to see how Mixed Reality would work with the Quest 3, I tried First Encounters. Now, keep in mind when I first scanned my area, I had a trash bag from when I was cleaning up earlier and that was scanned as part of my area. So when I started First Encounters, it started by having a ship coming through my ceiling, and it lowered so it could land. There were three landing legs, two of which were as flat as can be on the floor, but the third one adjusted itself based on the shape of the trash bag. That just put a smile on my face and intrigued me. Using the new Touch Plus Controllers, they feel good in my hands. Not only that but having the included haptics that allow you to feel the action is a very nice touch.
That’s when those pesky space puffians started to come through my area. My walls and ceiling started to break and crumble as I was trying to catch them. The shots I made and missed added to what was once my area into a space-filled planet. That made me want to keep trying to get the highest score and keep playing.
There are plans for games to receive a graphical and performance upgrade thanks to the Quest 3. Which is one of the reasons I went with the bigger storage. Keep in mind with those upgrades, the games are going to need a little more space. But with either storage option, you won’t be disappointed. From those who pre-ordered to those who will hopefully be getting the Quest 3 for the holidays, there is a special promotion. Both models include Asgard’s Wrath II when it becomes available in the Winter of 2023, but the offer ends on January 27, 2024. Those who are getting the bigger 512 GB version also get 6 months of Meta Quest+, which is not a bad deal at all.
So would I recommend the Quest 3 to others? Yes, I would without hesitation. Even though the price is higher than the Quest 2, you are getting some impressive tech that includes Mixed Reality and those new Touch Plus Controllers are pretty awesome. Using the Meta Quest 3 has me excited with the continuous evolution of Virtual Reality and It just makes me wonder what’s to come and how accessory makers and developers will add their own special and unique touch going forward.