Meta Quest 3 is a step into mainstream AR/VR TechCrunch is getting closer

However, that’s all It seems, 2023 will almost certainly be considered as a pivotal year for AR and VR. After years of waiting for the release of iPhones in this category, Apple finally unveiled the Vision Pro during WWDC in June. It’s everything we’ve come to expect from the company: big, loud and stylish, with big promises and a decent price.

After talking to most of the big dealers over the past year, everyone seemed to enjoy the arrival of this 500-pound gorilla. They imagined that they would be ships in the midst of a rising tide. Even more to the point, Apple’s entry into some kind of credibility may be years — or even decades — in the works.

Certainly, the upcoming Vision Pro has increased both the attention and the pressure that the competition is facing. I would guess that Magic Leap received more press coverage in the wake of Apple than it did in the days when it was a mysterious early-stage startup. I also imagine more people than ever will be following the recent Metas Connect event to see how the company responds.

Of course, roadmaps don’t work that way. MetaQuest was undoubtedly in the works before Vision Pro became official. With that in mind, you can’t point to anything specific about the new hardware that is a direct response to Apple. However, the flip side is that Meta has been in this business for a while. March marks a decade since the company acquired Oculus. From then on, he had to make his own way.

Image credit: Darrell Etherington

At this point in time, Meta and Apple are on opposite ends of the spectrum. While both are effectively mixed reality hardware, there is daylight between the prices. To the surprise of many analysts, Apple priced the Vision Pro even higher than the $3,500 Magic Leap 2. Meta Quest 3, on the other hand, is $3,000 less. In other words, Apple’s supply is 6 times the price of Metas.

While I don’t think anyone could plausibly argue that the Quest 3 is close to the Vision Pro in terms of hardware, the difference is pretty stark. It is also one that highlights broad differentiation in terms of audience. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t have to name the competition when he touted the Quest 3 as the first popular high-resolution color mixed reality headset.

(Zack took a stronger, more direct position shortly after the Vision Pros were unveiled, saying that, in contrast, any version that [Apple] It showed a person sitting alone on a sofa. I mean, that could be the vision of the future of computing, but it’s not what I want.

Mark Zuckerberg on stage at Meta Connect 2023

Image credit: Brian Hayter

Of course, there is no hard and fast definition of what constitutes mainstream, but the point is worth noting. I’d argue that $500 is still too high a price to call the system truly mainstream (the mind boggles at how many of these things the company sells for $200), but it’s a more reasonable ask for the vast majority. Is. Potential buyers

Perceived markets also play a big role in all of this. Along with acknowledging the difficulty of content, Magic Leaps’ pivot to the enterprise side is a direct result of the hardware’s asking price. There probably aren’t many consumers willing to pay $3,500 to play casual games with an augmented reality headset. But if you can convince businesses that they’ll save money on training, they’ll take a good, long look at your proposition.

That’s not to say Meta hasn’t embraced the company either. Last year it introduced the Quest Pro at twice the price of the Quest 3. While I’d argue that the new headset makes the pro version largely redundant for the vast majority of users, Meta Quest for Business reaffirms its commitment to the category. But the Quest 3 is still an entertainment-first device.

A close-up of the top of the Meta Quest 3 touch controller

Image credit: Darrell Etherington

While Magic Leap doesn’t see any immediate potential in gaming, Apple tried to highlight entertainment at WWDC. For Meta, gaming is largely the lifeblood of devices. The Meta Quest keynote was very reinforcing of this fact, as the new titles took up a significant portion of the stage time and only a passing mention was given to Quest for Business.

Like your definition of mainstream, metas success is relative. This company has maintained the first rank in terms of market share. Looking at some numbers released by IDC, the company had 84.6% of the AR/VR market in Q2 2022. The company’s 50.2% market share in the second quarter of 2023 somewhat refutes this situation. The sharp drop is due to the arrival of the PSVR 2s on the scene. The IDC disapproved of Sony to second place with 27.2%.

At the time of the arrival of the new PlayStation headset, Meta Quest 2 was very long. I’d predict Quest 3s with Meta taking an even bigger slice of the pie by the end of 2023. Note that we are not talking about smartphone numbers here. This analyst company has announced the total number of shipments at 8.5 million per year. This increase compared to 2017 is small compared to 2017. However, it sees significant growth for 2024 and predicts 30 million headsets by 2027.

Even this low prediction pales in comparison to other consumer electronics. In 2022, Nintendo sold 5.8 million switches. It was an impressive showing for a five-year-old console, and one that has seen sales declines for the past two years, when it sold like hotcakes during the pandemic. As of May, the Switch has sold more than 125 million units in its lifetime.

Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset resting on a surface with a blue pad

Image credit: Darrell Etherington

Metas’ successes with Quest 3 have been few and far between – but the least successful of their peers. Big fish, small ponds, especially when you consider that HTC, the maker of its closest hardware analog, had 2 percent of the total market in the third quarter. Meta has been successful relative to the market – and even more so, the company has invested heavily in the success of Quests and isn’t about to pull the strings.

Of course, this does not prevent evolution. Zack avoided using the word “metaverse” for the first 34 minutes of his keynote. That’s not to say the project is abandoned, but let’s just say it may not have legs—literally, of course.

I’ve been using the Meta Quest 3 for a few days now, but I think it’s important to mention two important things: First, I haven’t tried the Vision Pro yet, so I can’t directly compare them (although I’ve spent my time with the Quest Pro and the latest offerings from Magic Leap, HTC and Sony). Second, I’m currently injured, so I’ve spent time with countless fitness program systems.

That said, I have enjoyed my time with this product so far. After living with this system for a while, I’d say I’m the closest to pulling the headset trigger. If it wasn’t for $1000, I might say the same for the Quest Pro. I don’t think Meta has specified the exact price, but I suspect a $3,500 Vision Pro makes the idea of ​​a $500 headset a lot easier to come by.

The Quest Pro and Quest 3 are both positioned as XR — or mixed reality — devices due to the addition of passthrough technology. For the uninitiated, passthrough is a method that allows headsets to deliver a version of AR, despite sporting opaque coatings to preserve VR functionality (in contrast, Magic Leap is true AR). This system uses on-board cameras to create an image of the environment that overlays the graphics on it.

Passthrough gets better every year, but no one wearing the headset will be fooled into believing its clarity. Passthrough is darker and less realistic. There is a bit of lag and the image may sometimes appear flickery. However, your eyes and brain adjust fairly quickly, and the effect is a big improvement over standalone VR. This is significantly better for situational awareness, while the on-board depth sensors do a good job of identifying landmarks and obstacles for graphics compositing.

Surface mounted Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset with orange headband and face pad

Image credit: Darrell Etherington

First Encounter offers a compelling picture of how games can be integrated into an AR environment. In the game you are equipped with a pair of guns to blast the fuzzy Koosh ball aliens. These weapons can also explode into real walls around you, opening up more colorful environments. This is a fun game for a few minutes at a time. Think of it as an immersive mobile game. This points to a potential problem with Meta Quest as a platform. It is often at its best in fits and starts. If you’re looking for some serious gaming in headset form, take a good, long look at what Sony has to offer with the latest PSVR.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t longer titles. By the way, the headset ships with a free copy of Asgard’s Wrath 2. But the content, hardware and processing outside the device are in a different league than the PlayStation headset.

It’s not easy either, in fact, PSVR 2 keeps you locked in. Quest 3, on the other hand, is completely portable. At 515g, it’s slightly lighter than the PSVR 2 (560g) and significantly lighter than the Quest Pro (722g). It weighs just a hair more than the Quest 2s at 503g – although the new strap system makes it a bit more comfortable. The battery is located in the front for better weight distribution and the overall size has been reduced.

Side view of a man wearing a Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset and holding a controller.

A man wearing a Meta Quest 3 mixed reality headset and holding a controller, seen from the side. Image credit: Darrell Etherington

With a rating of 2.5 hours, battery life is about the same as the Quest 2 (app dependent, of course). I don’t think most users will have comfort issues using it as long as the battery lasts – although your mileage will vary with vigorous exercise.

The game’s Meta has greatly increased its resolution between Quest 2 and 3, from 1832 x 1920 per eye to 2065 x 2208. It’s a significant improvement, especially when using the 50 or so titles that have been or will be remastered for the new device. do. . Meanwhile, the controls have been simplified, ditching the loop design found in Quest 2. They are quite comfortable in the hand and don’t have much of a learning curve to get up and running.

This system is also suitable for hand tracking on the front. You can do a lot with just your hands, but when you’re gaming, it’s a good idea to pick up the controllers if you have them handy. I’ve always liked VR’s potential for concentration and a borderline psychedelic effect, although if you try to use most games in a dimly lit room (to completely eliminate light bleed around the nose), you’ll get an error that tells you He says it’s too dark. Tracking I’m probably the only person in the world who cares about this. who knows?

The Quest 3 is compatible with the Quest 2s content catalog, meaning you have over 500 apps at your disposal. Soon the list will include 50 remastered titles and another 50 titles designed specifically for Quest 3, including popular franchises like Ghostbusters, Stranger Things, and Assassins Creed. A wide range of quality can be found in the meta quest store, but that’s to be expected.

Meta Quest 3 Mixed Reality Headset that sits on the Meta Charging Dock

Image credit: Darrell Etherington

What’s more important is how the form factor helps innovate gameplay and new apps. The ultimate success of VR and AR is still up in the air, but there’s no doubt that it’s an exciting platform with endless potential for new experiences, from fast-paced shooters to meditation.

If you’ve been waiting for a good excuse to pull the trigger on your VR headset, Quest 3 makes a compelling case. It’s hard to say when the headset will become more available. Unless Quest 4 comes out a few years from now, there’s a pretty good chance it won’t.

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