It’s not looking great for Zuckerberg. Meta’s stock price fell 24% this morning (down 70% YTD) after an underwhelming Q3 Earnings Report. In particular, their metaverse division (Reality Labs) posted 49% lower revenue from this quarter last year due to poor sales of the Quest 2. It’s clear that the market isn’t nearly as bought into his long-term vision for the metaverse. He’s on the cusp of a fall-from-grace moment like Steve Jobs went through in the early 80s.
There’s one thing that could save him or at least slow down the fall, and that’s the Quest Pro headset they just launched. (Details on Meta’s 2023 plans and how the Quest Pro fits into that vision.)
I just received my Quest Pro headset in the mail today and will share my first hands-on experience with the device at the end of this note. But first, I’d like to share what the consensus among other online reviews is thus far.
The Consensus Opinion
First and foremost, I want to preface that there are plenty of techies that aren’t into the vision of the metaverse. Linus (famed tech YouTuber) is overall bearish on the metaverse and doesn’t believe the tech needed to bring high-fidelity augmented reality won’t be here for another lifetime. This apathy toward the metaverse is shared by many people like Tim Cook, Jason Spiegel, and Mark Cuban. Back to the device, though.
Out of the box, the overall feel of the Quest Pro is improved. It sits on the head more balanced, almost floating in front of the eyes, and has less strain on the nose/cheeks. HotshotTek pointed out that the front window is plastic and prone to scratching. This is a bummer because tempered glass would’ve upped the quality. Overall, it’s a more comfortable headset to wear.
BMFVR reviewed the mixed-reality capabilities of the Quest Pro, also known as “passthrough,” where visuals are overlaid in the real-world environment. He tested the I Expect You To Die mixed-reality escape room game, which showcased a big improvement on the passthrough from the Quest 2. He was able to walk throughout the room without too much caution needed. The colors were a little off and odd.
Furthermore, the Quest Pro screen recording needs a lot of work. The crispness seen in the headset doesn’t translate to the recording at all. This is a huge bummer because user-generated content is a huge marketing feature for this headset. Overall, the mixed-reality of the Quest Pro was not mind-blowing.
Interface Improvements & Business Apps
Adam Savage Tested did an in-depth review and shared his sentiments on the interface improvements. With their new pancake lenses, periphery visuals aren’t stretched and morphed. Additionally, the new face-tracking features made his avatar’s facial expressions far more familiar and immersive. And the hand movements are noticeably more fluid and accurate because of the cameras in the controllers. Those were the three clear positives.
Unfortunately, the headset comes with very few first-party widgets or apps made for their productivity suite. There’s no native calculator or calendar, for example. This is a major failure on Meta’s part to ship a device aimed at the productivity market but offers no new tools to use for work. They’re depending on third-party apps like Virtual Desktop to bring the innovation.
Although the Quest Pro is meant to cater to business use cases, it doesn’t change the fact that gamers are major consumers of immersive technology. Hugh Hou gave a quality review on the Quest Pro for gaming.
Both of them played Red Matter 2, which is the first and only game to support the Meta Quest Pro’s eye-tracked foveated rendering tech.
Foveated rendering uses eye-tracking tech in the headset to keep the center of vision higher resolution than the peripheral view. Developer Vertical Robot says it was able to boost resolution by 30% because of this new feature. – Android Central
The foveated rendering tech basically creates ultra-clarity graphics wherever you are looking and it really shows. This leads to less lagging because computing resources are conserved. A side-by-side comparison by BMFVR shows the difference between the Quest 2 and Quest Pro. Crisper, clearer graphics and words. The LED-backlit feature creates better contrast between dark and light colors.
The upgrade to visuals likely isn’t enough to convince gamers to buy this $1,500 headset, especially since only one game supports the new tech. Not to mention, the Oculus 3 is most likely going to have the same rendering tech at a more reasonable price.
I share all of the same opinions as those stated above by other tech reviewers. As it is presented to me today, I’m disappointed by the Quest Pro.
Here are my brief takeaways:
- The headset looks super futuristic.
- The fidelity is much better. No image lag that strains the eyes. Eye-tracking works well. Overall the visuals are the winning feature.
- The color passthrough (mixed reality feature) was very buggy. Better than Quest 2, but not enough to make mixed reality enticing.
- The depth wheel is cool, which allows you to change the depth perception of the environment.
- Controllers are heavier, sturdier, and feel more tactical. Also, hand tracking is much improved.
- No case or accessories was lame, especially given how much the headset cost.
- The most disappointing thing was that there was no passthrough recording.
Overall, it’s hard to justify spending this much money on a piece of tech that isn’t offering me anything world-changing from its predecessor (Apple already mastered that playbook). Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy with the minor improvements. But it’s not enough to tell people to buy this over the Quest 2.
If Meta can figure out the passthrough recording, then it’s a winning first-gen device. I believe it’s the most important feature because it’s what will allow us to bring metaverse experiences to people that don’t have headsets. Whether it’s putting VR game highlights on social media or sharing an immersive model in a corporate meeting, it starts with the screen recording. User-generated content from inside the Quest can be a major marketing lever for Meta. But not if they don’t improve the in-headset recording.