When it comes to standalone VR headsets, thehas been in a class of its own for some time. That could change, however, if the new Pico 4 VR headset, which will hit European and Asian markets later this year, is any indicator of what’s to come. The Pico 4 opts for a similar type of standalone VR experience as the Quest 2, with a similar price tag. But while Meta has its own hills to climb if it wants the public’s trust, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, isn’t exactly better off.
The Pico 4 looks like a better product on paper than the Quest 2 when it comes to hardware design. The standalone headset uses a similarto power its games and apps like the Quest 2 and also comes with either 128GB or 256GB of storage, the display and controllers sound like an upgrade.
The price is competitive
The Pico 4 is priced at €429 for the 128GB model and €499 for the 256GB version. It won’t be available in the US, but the starting price converts to around $425, £375 or 640 AU$. This undercuts the Meta Quest 2, which starts at $400 (or 450 euros) for the same storage options. The headset, which is available from October 18, is coming to 13 European countries and Japan and Korea first. ByteDance has no plans to release the Pico 4 in the US in the future, opting instead for a pro-level professional version with eye tracking which will arrive next year.
Display looks like an upgrade over Quest 2
The Pico 4 uses a thinner “pancake optics” system that slims down the goggle portion of the helmet, a feature that Meta will soonprofessional-level VR headset should adopt. Features of the Pico 4, better than Quest 2, include a 105 degree field of view, 2160 x 2160 pixel resolution per LCD screen and a multi-level motorized way to adjust the eye distance (IPD or interpupillary distance ) with greater range. There’s also a color passthrough camera that lets you see the outside world while wearing the headset, unlike the Quest 2’s black and white passthrough camera.
Controllers promise extra haptics
The controllers, which resemble those of Meta Quest 2, promise better vibrating haptics. I haven’t tried them, but the range of vibration effects could be much more advanced than the Quest 2. (Compare them with the excellentthat remains to be seen.)
Fitness band extras, wireless dongles for PC play
The Pico 4 has a few additional benefits: a set of fitness tracking bands with three-degree motion sensors are designed to combine with fitness apps and games, tracking a person’s hands or feet. way that resembles that of HTC.. It’s unclear how many apps and games will use these trackers, which are expected in 2023 with a wireless dongle to deliver dedicated wireless gaming on PC via SteamVR.
The Pico VR operating system has its own fitness tracking app similar to the one, and some fitness apps already on the platform. The idea of additional body-tracking bands sounds interesting, though, and it’s something Meta has surprisingly not embraced yet.
The Pico Store: Familiar games and fitness apps, but is that enough?
The Pico 4, like the Quest 2, has its own proprietary app store, although it can also be used with a PC to play SteamVR games. Fitness games and apps available on Pico include some of Quest 2’s greatest hits, including, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners and Les Mills BodyCombat. However, Meta has acquired a number of studios behind the most popular Quest 2 games, so Beat Saber and others are not available.
The avatar-based social world promised by Pico, called Pico World, won’t arrive until next year, but it’s hard to say how it will be better than what Meta has promised with. The popular Roblox-like metaverse app will however be ported to the Pico 4.
Is this the start of other VR headsets to come?
Pico has been a chip partner with Qualcomm for years, but the Pico 4’s price and design seem to suggest that what Meta did with the Quest 2 could be replicated. Will 2023 see more VR headsets coming to compete with the Quest 2? Right now, the Pico 4 is the closest standalone competitor. But maybe, just maybe, it could also be a sign of the beginning of more.
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