I attended a press event in London and got to try out the Quest 3 for about 45 minutes. What can Meta’s new VR/AR headset do and is it worth buying?
Last week, Meta invited me to a press event in London. I had the opportunity to try out the new Quest 3 VR/AR headset. At two stations, I was able to check out the new mixed reality features and some VR games, including the highly anticipated Assassin’s Creed Nexus (Hands-on).
I will now describe what I liked and what I disliked. I will focus on the most important points.
Disclaimer: Short hands-on sessions can only give a first impression. A complete review, in which first impressions can be verified, is necessary for a final purchase decision. Our Quest 3 review will probably be published on October 10, 2023.
Quest 3: The image is clear and sharp to the edges, but …
You can find all the information about the specifications in our Quest 3 info article. Now, I will just talk about how the picture looked to me in my short demo session.
The pancake lens image is wonderfully clear and sharp. This goes all the way to the edges: As with the Quest Pro, the so-called edge-to-edge clarity is impressively good and distortion-free. I did not notice any Mura or chromatic aberrations during my session.
While playing the visual stunner Red Matter 2, I could admire the remarkable performance of the new XR2 Gen2 chip: Looking at a glossy photo, I was able to see photorealistic fingerprints and other marks at the right angle. I believe that savvy development studios will do miracles with this VR headset.
I was told that the pancake lenses on the Quest 3 are not the same as those on the Quest Pro. The latter were perfect from my experience. The fact that they are not installed in the Quest 3 explains the big disappointment of the built-in lenses: In high-contrast scenes, they show significant ghosting, i.e., reflections of bright objects such as white lettering on a black background. It is too early to tell how annoying this really is. The Pico 4 had the same problem, which caused a permanently blurred image. However, I only noticed the Quest 3’s ghosting on loading screens and menus while playing.
Quest 3: How good is the Mixed Reality?
The Quest 3’s pass-through, which can be toggled as usual by double-tapping the headset, is a significant improvement over the Quest Pro. The image is still not completely sharp with its 18 PPD, the pixel density displayed, but I was able to read my smartphone’s display. The fact that the color is no longer overlaid on a monochrome camera image is also very noticeable.
A small tabletop game in which two developers played with me locally also showed the power of the new VR/AR headset: rich colors, clear image, firm anchoring of the playing field in reality, no jittering.
There are only slight distortions around the hands in pass-through, for example when I move them back and forth in front of the headset. However, I never noticed this in the two MR games I played.
Annoying is the lag of the virtual hands, gloves or similar representations of my real hands. As soon as I move my hands, the virtual images drag significantly.
Quest 3: Familiar good handling with a new highlight
If you had the Quest 2, you will feel right at home with the Quest 3 because the menu hasn’t changed – at least not in my demo version. The hand tracking seems to be even better, especially more precise, but I’ll have to verify that in my review.
What I can say is that the new ringless VR controllers, called Touch Plus, are great. They fit perfectly in my hands and feel very natural. They are definitely lighter than the Touch Pro Controllers, but I can’t say yet if they are also lighter than the Quest 2 Controllers.
There have been rumors that the Touch Plus controllers could work together with hand tracking. With the excellent ergonomics, I can easily imagine tapping a button with an outstretched index finger.
Does tracking work properly without the tracking rings? Well, I’ll have to try Beat Saber & Co. with them, but I had perfect tracking throughout the entire play session.
Quest 3: Comfort after 45 minutes
The demo was run with an Elite Strap, which is available as an accessory for the Quest 3. As all Quest 2 veterans know, the Elite Strap fits perfectly on the back of the head.
The Quest 3 felt a little lighter than I remembered the Quest 2, and with the foam face mask, it was very comfortable on my face. I didn’t feel any pressure points after the 45 minutes, and it stayed snug on my head the entire time. My glasses also fit under the headset. I also had the option of adjusting the distance of the lenses from my glasses.
After the gaming session, however, I had the typical pressure marks of the face mask on my face. This suggests that it can get a bit uncomfortable over time. No wonder, since it is not much lighter than Quest 2.
Quest 3 Hands-On Conclusion: Buy it or not?
The Quest 3 is at $550 for the smallest version (128 GB) pricier than the Quest 2, whose 128 GB version costs only $350. The question is: Is it worth it?
If you want to be sure, you should definitely wait for the reviews. We will probably be able to review it soon and have a detailed review with a final verdict on 10.10.2023.
After trying it out, my current opinion of the Quest 3 is that it is so much better and more powerful that this evolutionary leap justifies a purchase. The image is so much better than the old Fresnel lenses, the chip is much more powerful. The passthrough, combined with the Augments, will make many XR applications worthwhile in the coming months and years, I believe.
But the new Touch Plus controllers also seem like an excellent upgrade, especially because they feel so natural.
What I don’t like is that all the Quest 3 accessories are so expensive. The Elite Strap will be needed again to make the Quest 3 well-equipped, the controller straps are needed for fitness, and a charging station would also be nice. All in all, this makes the Quest 3 quite expensive and thus less attractive for many VR enthusiasts.
However, I think that for the next two years at least, there will be no way around the Quest 3. The Apple Vision Pro is clearly too expensive and hardly supports VR games, and whether Pico will really release new VR headsets next year is just wishful thinking at the moment.
So if you want what might be the best standalone VR/AR headset with a decent lifespan, you’ll have to invest and buy the Quest 3. Everyone else can hope for the budget version next year if there is one.
Buy Quest 3, Accessories & Prescription Lenses
Quest 3 Accessories