At Meta Connect 2022, Meta announced the Quest Pro, their flagship VR headset designed for the workplace. With state of the art features, including mixed reality capabilities, the Quest Pro is impressive. In the middle of the presentation, I preordered the Quest Pro but after watching the entire presentation, I canceled it. Here’s why. UPDATE: here is an incredible demo of the Quest 3!
Quest and Quest 2 have already become the most successful VR products ever and have become household names. Now, Meta wants Quest to become not just an entertainment device but a ubiquitous part of our lives by making VR a tool for the workplace.
It’s not a new strategy. Microsoft has focused on industrial and commercial use for its Hololens augmented reality headset. But whereas augmented reality headsets have a very limited field of view (similar to a floating window the size of a postage stamp in front of your eyes), the Quest Pro uses a color passthrough display to enable virtual objects to be projected anywhere in the user’s view.
Quest Pro was also designed for collaboration. It has eye-tracking and face-tracking to make it possible for users to interact more naturally with eye contact and natural facial expressions.
Thus far, the most significant criticism against the Quest Pro is the $1500 price. The price reflects the underlying technology as much as the fact that the Quest Pro wasn’t designed for consumers but for work.
Why I canceled my Quest Pro order
Although the Quest Pro’s price is very high, it is not completely unreasonable. The Quest Pro’s capabilities are somewhat similar to those of the Varjo Aero, which costs $2000. Moreover, unlike the Varjo Aero, the Quest Pro can also be used as a standalone VR headset, not just as a desktop VR headset.
Ultimately, however, I decided to cancel my Quest Pro because of what I believe is Meta’s product strategy.
I was hoping that Quest Pro costs $1500 but can use not just Quest software but also its own apps with advanced graphics. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Quest Pro uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2+ chip. Although it’s described by Qualcomm as a “premium-tier platform” that is supposedly 50% more powerful than the XR2 chip used in the Quest 2, it is fundamentally still a processor for mobile devices. I interpret this to mean that Quest Pro will have a software library that is similar to that of the Quest 2.
I’m sure there will be software that utilize the Quest Pro’s mixed reality capabilities in ways that aren’t possible for the Quest 2. However, there was a recent leak of the Quest 3 (update: Quest 3 revealed here), which will be a consumer device and will have mixed reality capabilities, just like the Quest Pro.
Quest 3 might not have eye-tracking or face-tracking capabilities and might not benefit from foveated rendering. But given Meta’s decision to use a mobile processor for the Quest Pro, it would seem that the Quest 3 is likely to be able to use the same library as the Quest Pro.
OK but surely the eye-tracking and face-tracking capabilities could facilitate collaboration in VR? I’m sure they would. The only problem is that I don’t know how often I’ll end up collaborating with people in VR. I’ve been using VR since 2016 and although I’ve played some online games with other people, I haven’t used it much for meeting people in VR. I’m fine using the Quest 3 for its mixed reality capabilities and as a virtual monitor. But I don’t think I really need it for collaboration, as much as Mark Zuckerberg would have me believe otherwise. I can count the number of times I’ve had a need to meet people in VR other than to test software. And I have a feeling many other VR users feel the same way. Even those who do want to use the Quest Pro for collaboration might find difficulty finding people to collaborate with (unless your workplace issues Quest Pro headsets to its staff).
Because I think Quest 3 is eventually going to be available with most of the Quest Pro’s capabilities, and with a similar software library, and because I don’t have enough of a need for VR collaboration to justify the Quest Pro’s price premium, I’ve decided that it’s better for me to wait for Quest 3. What do you think of Quest Pro? Let me know in the comments!