If you’re in the business of selling VR or mixed reality headsets, the time to announce your new product is … now. Especially if you’re Meta.
Earlier this morning, the company showed off the Meta Quest 3, which is 40 percent thinner than the previous headset and contains twice the processing power thanks to a new Snapdragon chipset from Qualcomm. The hand controllers have also been redesigned to improve their ergonomics. The new headset will go on sale “this fall” starting at $500. In a blog post, the company teased that more details about the Quest 3 would be revealed at Meta Connect on September 27.
The Meta Quest 3 follows—and effectively replaces—the Meta Quest 2, which first became available in the fall of 2020. It’s been received well in the VR headset market, as a relatively inexpensive ($400) standalone VR headset with a high-resolution display and what’s known as “inside-out” tracking. The Quest 2’s price will drop to $300 on June 4, and the older headset will get a small performance bump along with the price drop.
Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman scooped Meta’s news earlier this week, after he was able to get his hands on a prototype of the new Meta Quest 3. The Bloomberg report highlighted the headset’s improved video pass-through capabilities, which uses external cameras on the headset to show wearers what’s going on in the real world (versus using clear lenses with some digital imagery overlayed, which is more often described as augmented reality). Gurman also noted that the device, which had been codenamed Eureka, is “far thinner and lighter than the existing Quest 2 from 2020.”
Meta’s headset news comes ahead of Apple’s WWDC software event next week, where the company will reportedly reveal a years-in-the-making face computer of its own. Apple has been meeting with app developers in recent months to entice them to build experiences for what the company considers a new platform. This would be the first major launch of a new hardware product line for Apple since it introduced the Apple Watch in 2015. (Apple also introduced the HomePod speaker in 2017, but that wasn’t an entirely new platform for apps.)
Anticipation for Apple’s new product is so heightened that other companies are scrambling to position their wares ahead of next week. Earlier this week PC maker Lenovo said its enterprise-focused ThinkReality VRX headset is now shipping, at $1,299. Magic Leap, which has been working on augmented reality technology since 2010 and holds thousands of patents around both optical technology and AR/VR manufacturing processes, has been meeting with press to demonstrate its Magic Leap 2 headset. The headset is thinner and lighter, with improved optics, than its predecessor, the Magic Leap One; like the Lenovo headset, it’s aimed squarely at enterprise customers.
The Meta Quest 3, on the other hand, is more of a consumer-friendly device. The headset was announced just hours before the company’s Meta Quest Gaming Showcase, an online event which shows off the library of games and experiences available for Meta’s platform.