Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg kicked off the company’s Meta Connect conference today with expected, but still highly anticipated news: The company’s next virtual reality headset will be called the Meta Quest Pro, and will also be the first Quest product to offer a mixed reality experience, bringing the metaverse and the real world together.
As the name implies, the Meta Quest Pro isn’t going to be a replacement for the $400 Meta Quest 2, but a more advanced alternative that’s geared towards productivity and social applications in VR —instead of just fun, games, and unique 360-degree experiences— facilitated through significantly upgraded hardware.
The Meta Quest Pro looks sleeker than the Meta Quest 2—almost like a pair of ski goggles—for a couple of reasons. For starters, it now uses a curved cell battery situated on the back of the user’s head, integrated into the head strap, which should also provide a more balanced feel when worn. That’s a good thing, because the Pro is quite a bit heavier than its predecessor, at 722 grams compared to 503 grams.
The pancake lenses on the Quest Pro are also now 40% thinner than the lenses used on the Quest 2, and allow the wearer to physically see the room they’re standing in at all times, making the Pro better suited as a work tool in the office. Being thin isn’t always a benefit here, as it also allows more ambient light to sneak in, so Meta is including a set of magnetic blinders that make the experience feel more like it does on the Quest 2.
The headset’s Qualcomm’s Snapdragon XR2+ processor offers 50% more processing power with better thermal dissipation than the Quest 2, while the Quest Pro’s LCD display offers 37% more pixels per inch and 75% more contrast through the use of local dimming. For the first time, the Meta Quest Pro features a full color external-pointing RGB camera to bring real-life and real-time imagery of the user’s environment into the VR world they’re experiencing, which also facilitates mixed-reality experiences, like 3D avatars hanging out in your actual living room.
The Quest Pro also features inward facing cameras tracking a user’s eyes and face, which not only makes it easier to ensure the headset is properly fitted, but facilitates foveated rendering, where fine details only need to be drawn where a user’s eyes are actually looking. And because Meta is determined to make its 3D avatars as believable as possible (or at the least, less creepy), the face-tracking cameras can be used to translate IRL facial expressions to 3D characters.
The Quest Pro’s motion controllers have also gotten a major redesign. With the Quest 2, their motion was tracked using glowing LED rings, but the Pro’s controllers each feature multiple cameras capable of tracking their motion in 3D space all on their own, just like the headset does. This allows them to be smaller without the plastic halo of their predecessors. Internal AA batteries have been replaced with rechargeable batteries that, alongside the headset, can be all charged together at the same time on a new dock accessory.
The Meta Quest Pro is available for pre-order starting today in 22 countries for $1,499 and ships on October 25, but will only be available in a model that ships with 256GB of onboard storage—you can’t save a few bucks by opting for a model with less capacity that requires you to juggle content when you quickly fill out. Games and apps designed for the Meta Quest 2 are fully compatible with the Quest Pro, but the Pro will eventually feature some exclusive content that won’t be backwards compatible. However, you can order a set of the new Pro controllers for use with the Quest 2, but at $300, it’s a hefty upgrade.
Meta also teased a new pair of AR glasses made in collaboration with Rayban during the Connect presentation. Details are still pending.
This story is developing and will be updated as news unfolds.