The launch of Apple's AR/VR headset, the Reality Pro, is just days away: WWDC begins on the 5th of June. If the rumoured specs and $3,000 price tag are correct – and it's possible that the latter isn't; the iPad was rumoured to be much more expensive than it actually was – then Facebook's parent company Meta will be doing a happy dance. They too are working on a cutting edge AR/VR device, and it'll cost a lot less than Apple's one.
The story comes via Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who got an exclusive hands-on (heads-on?) of the Meta Quest 3. It isn't planned to launch until October, but Gurman reckons it could benefit from the Apple AR hype by providing an AR option for people who simply can't afford Apple's one.
What is the Meta Quest 3?
The device is codenamed Eureka and feels significantly lighter and thinner than the Meta Quest 2, Gurman reports. It has a wheel to adjust pupil distance, something that's currently clunky to do, and has much better performance as well as much better video pass-through. That latter is what makes augmented/mixed reality work by passing what your camera sees into your headset, and in this iteration of the Quest it's a whole lot better and more useful.
Gurman admits that, like everyone else, Meta hasn't yet found a killer app. But it does have a decent games library, and Meta appears to be pricing it just above the current Meta Quest 2 at just over $400, with the Quest 2 hanging around at a lower price. Interestingly, Meta doesn't appear to have any current plans for another Meta Quest Pro: as Gurman puts it, that one "bombed".
I've got a Meta Quest headset so I'm pretty familiar with Meta's interface design and software, and I think it's fair to say it doesn't have that Apple polish. But then, its headset won't have that Apple price tag either. As Gurman says, it's likely to cost about one-fifth of the Apple headset price and deliver an experience that's more than one-fifth as good. That may make it a "good enough" option for people who buy into the AR hype but can't afford to buy an Apple AR device.