VR is not new, but it’s technically not… old, either. My first ever “VR” device was a $30 dollar headset from Amazon where I could insert my phone and play about 3 “VR” games downloaded from the App Store. But hey, it was fun.
It’s expensive. Plus, once you buy your device, you’re expected to shell out more and more money for all these different apps you’d like installed.
For the longest time, the Oculus Rift (now known as Meta Quest) has been one of the names people think of when thinking VR. Then came the Meta Quest 2, allowing for multiplayer games, productivity apps, and 360 video capability. Of course, I’m choosing to omit the rest of the tech specs because this article is not about that. That being said, on July 26th (2022), Meta announced a price increase for the Meta Quest 2 – asking for $100 more for each storage option. The 128GB to cost $399.99, and the 256GB to be $499.99. To sweeten the deal for you, they’re even throwing in the famous Beat Saber game for free (side note- this is one of the most fun games I’ve ever played).
Why the price increase? Meta claimed it was to aid their costs in making and shipping these products. People (me) weren’t too happy with this increase, but fine. We move.
October 11, 2022. Introducing: The Meta Quest Pro. Feel free to assume why they’ve come out with a “Pro” version – because who isn’t these days. P.S. Keep an eye out for IFLSG Pro coming soon! Unrelated news.
Available for purchase starting October 25th, the Meta Quest Pro will cost a whopping $1,499.99 USD. Of course, the Pro version will feature improvements from the Meta Quest 2, including eye tracking, natural facial expressions, sharper visuals, better screens, a new design, yada yada yada. Unfortunately, this blog post isn’t about describing the Meta Quest Pro either. I’m here to talk about why it works, and why it definitely doesn’t.
As you might have seen online in the past year, Meta has been strongly pushing their Ready-Player-One-esque virtual lifestyle – with the Metaverse.
Image credit: WSJ
For those unaware, let me bring you up to speed.
The Metaverse is Mark Zuckerberg’s vision into enhancing a virtual world and disconnecting from the real one, essentially. It uses a mixture of virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and the likes. In layman’s terms: you put on a pair of heavy goggles, and you’re immersed into a digital life. By life, I literally mean… life. Ideally, you’d make friends in this universe, you’d work, you’d live, you’d invest in property, you’d “live in a 3D world focused on social connection“. Or that’s the plan, anyway.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I read the book and I watched the movie, and Ready Player One was amazing in both versions. I’m a big fan. Living in a digital world? Are you kidding me? I’d never have to leave my house again! Put on a pair of Ant Man visors or really expensive solar eclipse sunglasses and I can have a digital avatar? Bananas! But how close are we to getting there? Will spending $1,500 on a VR headset get me immersed in my new digital reality?
Will Meta take us there?
Now keep in mind. $1,500 is no small amount. It’s rent, it’s 2 mid-level iPhones, it’s a laptop that will last you 6 years, it’s food for a year (for some, not me). If the Metaverse is to be a universe that everyone will be a part of some day, the cost of entry sure is steep. CNET wrote a great article on everything you could buy instead of the Meta Quest Pro. It’s funny. P.S. yes, the Quest Pro 2 will still function with this Metaverse, but the goal of the latter isn’t to play games – it’s to completely switch your attention from real world to fake world, and that involves people taking this seriously, which is why the Quest Pro is not marketed to the just-for-fun user.
Now, it’s important to remember that Meta hasn’t always (and… still isn’t) the landmark of privacy. I don’t have to tell you about it. Instead, I can show you. The Quest Pro features 5 inward-facing cameras that track your eye movements and facial expressions, so that your digital avatar can react the same way you react. There are microphones, digital ads, body tracking, photo apps, digital tracking, and a list of other things that will slowly expose you more and more. Even the controllers have cameras, which (though I understand why) isn’t comforting when I’m already convinced that Alexa knows my deepest and darkest secrets.
We’re nowhere close to being immersed in digital reality, specially not with Social Media Detox on the rise. Yet Mark’s vision is for people to upgrade to a Meta Quest Pro instead of buying a new computer; for us to have Meta Quest Pros sitting on our work desks instead of using it just for fun. That being said, this VR headset has a reported battery life of up to 1-2 hours. Which is great if you’re a baby (or hate your job).
Now I know I’ve spoken about the cost a lot, but that might be because it’s way out of my budget. All things considered, $1,500 is not crazy when Meta’s VR competitors are launching products for over $3,000. But does the $1,500 justify not purchasing a $400 Quest 2 when there’s barely any feature that stands out? This device seems to be targeting the enterprise world, not the ordinary user. But are companies any closer to buying their entire staff a line of $1,500 goggles instead of new computers? (or raises? please. I desperately need one).
I’m not sure which way I’m heading. This blog post is mostly just a rant with no actual opinion. VR is great, the metaverse sounds fun. Is Meta the company to get us there? Considering most users use the Quest line of products to play Beat Saber and maybe watch a movie or two, I can’t see companies pulling the trigger on multiple Meta Quest Pros, or even replacing computers in 2022 (or 2025) when we’re still so far away from being immersed in a virtual ream. CNBC even reported that Meta is losing $10 billion a year pushing the metaverse – so if their Meta Quest Pro tanks because we’re still so far out, will that inevitable transition ever even make its way to us?
If it’s any consolation, the Meta Quest Pro includes a cleaning cloth.