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Best VR Headset: Quest 3

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Meta Quest 3

The Meta Quest 3 is the gold standard for standalone VR headsets thanks to its swift processor, high resolution, and color pass-through cameras that enable high-quality augmented reality.

PROS

  • Color pass-through cameras allow you to clearly see your surroundings
  • High-resolution picture
  • Powerful processor
  • Comfortable design

CONS

  • Short battery life
  • Lacks eye-tracking tech

Overview

Meta’s latest VR headset, the Quest 3, represents a significant leap forward from its predecessor, the Quest 2. Primarily, it boasts a higher-resolution display and a swifter processor, enhancing both the visual and operational experiences. Notably, its color pass-through cameras enable immersive augmented reality applications, allowing users to engage in high-quality work and play within their surroundings. Priced at $499.99, the Quest 3 comes at a $200 premium compared to the Quest 2, yet it outperforms the $999.99 Quest Pro in terms of hardware capabilities. These advancements solidify the Meta Quest 3 as our new top pick for VR headsets, earning the title of Editors’ Choice.

Design

Weighing in at 18.2 ounces, the Quest 3 is slightly heavier than the Quest 2 (which weighs 17.7 ounces), but it boasts a noticeably sleeker profile. Excluding the headband, the headset measures just 2.2 inches in depth from the front to the top of the face mask padding, a reduction from the previous 2.6 inches. The white-gray chassis features more rounded sides, contributing to an impression of even greater compactness compared to the flatter design of the Quest 2. Overall, it presents a much more streamlined and compact look and feel.

The curved front of the Quest 3 showcases four cameras arranged in two vertical stacks, separated by an infrared emitter. Among these, two cameras serve the purpose of spatial tracking, scanning the environment for AR content and establishing play area boundaries. The remaining two cameras enable RGB pass-through, providing a color view of your surroundings. Additionally, two more spatial tracking cameras are positioned along the bottom edge of the headset.

Hardware

The Quest 3 is powered by a Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 processor (with an Adreno GPU) from Qualcomm, boasting a claimed 2.5 times performance increase over the Quest 2’s Snapdragon XR2 Gen 1. Notably, the Quest 3 surpasses the Quest Pro in technical prowess, as the latter employs the Snapdragon XR2+ based on the Gen 1 platform.

With 8GB of RAM, the Quest 3 exceeds the Quest 2’s 6GB but falls short of the Quest Pro’s 12GB. It is offered in storage capacities of 128GB ($499) and 512GB ($649).

Visually, the Quest 3 outperforms both the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro. It showcases a resolution of 2,064 by 2,208 pixels per eye, surpassing the Quest 2’s 1,832 by 1,920 and the Quest Pro’s 1,920 by 1,800.

The Quest 3 incorporates color pass-through cameras that offer a more detailed and natural view of your surroundings compared to the Quest 2’s fuzzy black-and-white cameras. This color-enhanced perspective significantly reduces disorientation, providing a more immersive experience for environmental awareness. It enables augmented reality that convincingly projects virtual images into the real world. While the resulting environment may not match the crispness or realism of viewing it directly with the naked eye or transparent lenses, it represents a substantial improvement over the Quest 2.

Video Quality: Sharpness Counts

The improved resolution of the Quest 3 stands out as sharper compared to both the Quest 2 and the Quest Pro. However, while not the sharpest among headsets, such as the tethered HTC Vive Pro 2 with its 2,448 by 2,448 pixels per eye, the Quest 3’s display quality remains commendable for a $500 standalone headset. Displaying a bright and vibrant picture, it boasts strong contrast and reasonably immersive black levels, aided by the face mask’s foam that effectively blocks out most light.

Zenni Optical provides $49.99 prescription lenses tailored for the Quest 3, which were sent to me with my specific prescription for evaluation purposes. These lenses notably enhanced the visual clarity of the headset. Resembling the headset’s lenses in shape, they are straightforward in design, featuring plastic rings around them. They easily attach onto the built-in lenses, improving picture focus, and can be removed just as effortlessly. Additionally, they come with a convenient flip-top case that includes a microfiber cleaning cloth. I highly recommend them for individuals with imperfect vision.

In my experience, I found the Quest 3 more comfortable and intuitive to use within my apartment compared to the Quest 2, largely due to the headset’s color pass-through cameras. These cameras enabled me to navigate beyond the designated play area I initially set up, offering a clear view of my physical space. Although the camera images appeared slightly less sharp than real-life vision, the improvement over the Quest 2’s monochrome view was substantial.

Now, let’s take a closer look at Undeniable 4.0’s build. Since it’s polyester-made, you can expect that it has good wrinkle and abrasion resistance. It also won’t stretch or get heavier when in contact with water since it doesn’t absorb moisture. Plus, this sports bag comes with US’s Storm technology-the fabric was DWR-treated to amp up its water resistance.

Water beads and rolls off as soon as it touches the fabric. However, it’s worth noting that it’s not waterproof. Your stuff will stay dry for a short time under light showers but not for long exposure under torrential rain. You might want to check out waterproof alternatives like Canway Sports Gym Bag, Thule Chasm Duffel, and King Kong Heavy Duty Duffel. Or, you might as well opt for a waterproof backpack.

The stitching seems durable. There are rare complaints about the seams coming off, but we haven’t had that issue. Undeniable 4.0’s zippers feel flimsy, so you might need extra caution when using them. The 2-way zipper at the main compartment also allows you to carry your sports bag from either shoulder.

Overall, this gym bag from Under Armour offers a decent build. Besides, you can choose from various designs and pick one that speaks out for your personality.

Another Trip to the Metaverse

When I previously tested Meta Horizon Worlds while reviewing the Meta Quest Pro last year, I encountered minimal online activity. Even with the Quest 3, after loading the same software, there wasn’t a significant increase in user engagement. The user numbers for the featured experiences remained quite low, often not surpassing double digits.

During the Halloween season, I explored NBCUniversal’s Halloween Horror Nights, an extension of the popular Universal Studios event, only to find it completely empty. There was no content available, and the lone other user I encountered (possibly a six-year-old based on their voice) mentioned that the experience wasn’t prepared—a mere two weeks before Halloween. In Action Island, a first-person shooter with 18 users, I unexpectedly found myself listening to a middle-aged man discussing frustrations with his health coverage.

In stark contrast, VRChat boasted multiple trending worlds teeming with hundreds or even thousands of users. The influx of people necessitated numerous instances, each accommodating approximately 20 to 80 users. I ventured into a screening room world where individuals gathered to watch YouTube videos, and the virtual theater was bustling with participants.

Games: Rhythm and Doom

The Meta Quest software library has expanded significantly, offering a diverse range of immersive games, fitness programs, and productivity software. Moreover, users have the option to access SteamVR games by utilizing the optional $79.99 Link Cable for a tethered connection to their PC. While testing several native games on the Quest 3, I was impressed by the performance delivered by the Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 processor.

One of the standout titles, Amid Evil, developed by New Blood Interactive, falls under the category of “boomer shooters,” reminiscent of early 3D first-person shooters. It pays homage to the fantasy-horror setting of Heretic, casting players as a warrior-wizard on a mission to save surreal worlds from demons. The VR adaptation mirrors the non-VR version, offering a lengthy campaign involving exploration and combat in a nostalgically blocky environment. Gameplay with the touch controllers delivers a comfortable experience similar to playing an FPS with a gamepad, although it may not be as ideal for precise aiming as using a mouse and keyboard.

Another notable title, Operation Wolf Returns: First Mission VR, takes inspiration from an even earlier game, the 1987 original. It retains the rail-shooter style but updates the controls and graphics for a more modern experience. In contrast to Amid Evil, Operation Wolf Returns requires players to physically aim their weapons by manipulating the motion controllers. One controller acts as the trigger hand, while the other assists in stabilizing and adjusting aim. It presents an engaging and challenging shooting experience, keeping players alert as enemies can attack from any direction, not just from the front.

The Best VR Headset

Priced at $499, the Meta Quest 3 emerges as a remarkable standalone VR headset, securing our Editors’ Choice accolade. Despite being nearly twice the cost of the Quest 2, its inclusion of color pass-through cameras, enhanced resolution, faster processor, and sleeker design make its price point justifiable. It outshines the $999 Meta Quest Pro in almost every aspect except for the less widespread implementation of eye-tracking technology, which doesn’t substantiate the higher price tag.

For those hesitant about investing $500 in VR, the Quest 2 remains an outstanding choice at $299, albeit with slightly less defined monochrome cameras. Alternatively, PlayStation 5 owners seeking eye-tracking technology can explore the $549 PlayStation VR2, which is half the cost of the Quest Pro. However, when it comes to standalone AR and VR experiences, the Meta Quest 3 stands as the leading headset in the market.

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