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Meta Quest Pro is all work and no play (for now)

Meta took the wraps off its Meta Quest Pro headset, revealing a device that's geared more towards pleasing chief technology officers than VR gamers.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer on
Meta Quest Pro being used on a virtual whiteboard

The revamped controller's stylus function in action, creating virtual writing on a real whiteboard

Meta

Meta's hotly anticipated Meta Quest Pro headset has made its official debut. The device we finally got to see in detail matches the teased Project Cambria prototypes Meta had shown off in the past, as well as the leaked Meta Quest Pro prototype that was left at a hotel some weeks back. While the hardware fulfilled expectations, Meta's goals for it may come as a surprise to some. 

The company is clearly aiming the Quest Pro, especially in its early days, squarely at business and enterprise users. Meta's ambitions revolve around "collaboration and productivity," with the Quest Pro's new full-color AR capabilities powering a massive shift toward virtual workspaces, conference rooms, and collaborative design projects. To expand this effort, the company is bringing in Microsoft, Accenture, and others to create instant integration with well-known productivity solutions like Microsoft Teams

More: The 4 best VR headsets: For gaming, the metaverse, and beyond

While this leaves the home VR user and gamer out in the cold for now, the technology on display here could just as easily power their entertainment as it could an executive's next board meeting. So, let's look at what Meta has included in its most "Pro" headset yet to see what's ahead for business users in the short term and VR gamers somewhere down the road. 

The Meta Quest Pro being used to design a project in 3D space

Shareable, 3D projects are at the heart of the Quest Pro's collaboration and design ambitions

Meta

Quest Pro hardware

The new device's hardware is at the heart of its expanded capabilities and Meta's goals for its metaverse as a whole. While just about every aspect of the headset got an upgrade from the hardware found in the Quest 2, some components are more important than others. We're going to highlight the most pivotal below. 

A look inside the Meta Quest Pro headset

The new pancake optics are what make it possible for the headset's front portion to be so much thinner than the Quest 2's

Meta

Pancake optics

This new visual hardware uses a completely new visual stack. Unlike the thick, heavier Fresnel lenses and displays in the Quest 2, these slimmer optics provide 75% more contrast, 33% more pixels per inch in resolution, and a 40% slimmer profile. This reduces headset thickness and weight, while also removing unwanted visual effects like "god rays," or unintentional beams of light caused by optics, while also making text and details clearer. This last point is extremely important as Meta begins trying to convince the world that VR headsets really are a viable way of getting work done. 

Meta Quest Pro being used in Meta's new Magic Room collaboration space

Meta's new Magic Room collaboration space will work across multiple platforms, including the Quest Pro

Meta

Full-color mixed reality

Speaking of getting work done, the Quest Pro is designed to work much better with AR (Augmented Reality) titles by way of its full-color pass through cameras that capture four times as many pixels as the Quest 2's. These allow you to do everything from running an entire virtual workspace that overlays your real-world desk, to collaborating with others by interacting with a virtual prototype you can all see, to navigating virtual exhibits in a real space. 

More: ZDNET's AR + VR coverage

Eye and facial expression tracking

This is a new feature that tracks not only the user's eyes, but also their facial expressions. The former makes VR more comfortable by allowing the headset to naturally integrate your gaze into what you see in the headset, making it feel closer to real life. On the other hand, expression tracking lets your social experiences step a bit further out of the uncanny valley by matching your avatar's facial expressions and reactions to yours. Meta hopes this will make its Horizon Worlds and other social experiences more natural.

The Meta Quest Pro and its controllers in their docking station

The included dock provides a quick way to charge the headset and both controller by just dropping then in place

Meta

Charging dock

This one's pretty simple, but might be the biggest convenience upgrade. The Quest Pro now supports a new charging dock that will top up not only the headset itself, but also its controllers as well. 

Modular, open design

Most headsets, the Quest 2 included, attempted to block out as much light as possible. The Quest Pro steps away from that for certain use cases by keeping your peripheral vision open during AR experiences. But, if you're doing something that needs full immersion, you can also use the "magnetic partial light blockers" included in the box to get your focus dialed in. 

More: Lenovo's new ThinkReality VRX headset is an all-in-one gateway to the enterprise Metaverse

A closeup look at Meta Quest Pro's controllers

The new, slimmer design is full self-tracked

Meta

New controllers 

The new controllers included with the Quest Pro were redesigned to be more balanced and ergonomic, while employing smaller sensors and gaining self-tracking of 360-degrees of motion. For the VR collaborator, the controllers now also include a modular stylus tip at the bottom that works like a virtual marker in compatible virtual spaces. This will like you write on a virtual whiteboard, draw in space, or perform other interactive activities. 

Pricing and availability

The Quest Pro is launching as a tool for professionals, and it shows in its pricing. The headset will retail for $1,499. Pre-orders are open today, and are expected to begin shipping out to customers on October 25. 

Meta Quest Pro being used to operate a virtual workstation

Meta wants VR headsets to eventually be portable, fully-functional workstations that are accessible in AR

Meta

What's ahead?

The Quest Pro is launching for, as Meta put it, "people like architects, engineers, builders, creators, and designers." Of course, much of the technology we now use on a daily basis began as something meant for enterprises, professionals, and even the military. Specialized tech has a way of trickling down to the general public, and I wouldn't expect the technology in the Quest Pro to take very long to make that transition. 

It's possible that Meta could just shift its marketing strategy, drop the price a bit, and plop the same headset down as a fully-realized consumer VR solution. Or, Mark Zuckerberg's choice to refer to the Quest Pro as the "first in a new line of advanced headsets" could mean we won't have very long to wait before an entirely new, gamer-centric model comes around with similar hardware. 

In either case, VR companies like Pico continue expanding across the globe. Meta might feel comfortable now sitting on its laurels in the US. But, it's only a matter of time before its perch is threatened by hardware like the Pico 4. The competing headset includes some of the same hardware as the Quest Pro (and sells for under $500) while being aimed at gamers from the get-go. We'll have to wait and see how Meta reacts, and whether it will continue focusing on the enterprise, on gamers, or split its attention to both. 

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