Meta has finally announced the Meta Quest Pro: a $1,499 virtual reality headset it’s been teasing for the past year. The Quest Pro is a new branch of the Quest VR headset lineup, featuring a new processor and screen, a dramatically redesigned body and controllers, inward-facing cameras for eye and face tracking, and a color video feed for mixed reality apps. Preorders open today in 22 countries, and devices will ship on October 25th.
The Quest Pro will sit alongside the $399 Quest 2, which Meta will continue selling as well. But where the Quest 2 user base favors fitness, games, and other entertainment, the Quest Pro is aimed at businesses and professionals who can afford its higher price tag.
The Quest Pro is effectively a heavily redesigned Quest 2 with extra features. Its body uses a thinner stack of lenses, which Meta says cuts its depth by 40 percent compared to the Quest 2. It fits on your head with a padded plastic ring (similar to the Quest 2’s optional Elite Strap) instead of cloth straps, and its battery has been shifted to the back of the headset, rebalancing it. That helps offset the 722-gram weight, which is quite a bit heavier than the Quest 2’s 503 grams, though the difference gets less dramatic with the separate 173-gram Elite Strap.
By default, the Quest Pro’s thinner lens system means you’ll see more peripheral vision and space under your headset. Optional face masks can block those openings, giving you an experience closer to the earlier Quest.
Now, your avatar can raise an eyebrow when you do
Meta is touting two major new features you won’t find on its older headsets. The first is a set of inward-facing cameras that track your eyes and face. These have several uses, on top of anything outside developers might do with them. They’re supposed to let the Quest Pro detect whether it’s fitted correctly and enable foveated rendering, which cuts down on processing requirements by only rendering fine detail where your eyes are pointed. They also power facial expressions on Meta’s avatars, which will be able to smile, wink, and raise an eyebrow when you do.
The second feature is full-color passthrough video — a midway step between VR and holographic augmented reality. The Quest Pro uses high-resolution outward-facing cameras to capture images of the world and render them inside the headset, which can then place virtual objects in the room with you. That means you can do something like pin a virtual picture on your real wall or (since this is a business-focused headset) use a set of virtual screens while still seeing the world around you.
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has emphasized the importance of eye tracking for future VR headsets, and the Quest 2 has blurry black-and-white passthrough mixed reality already. So, as the price of these options comes down, we might see them integrated into a cheaper consumer headset. But for now, they set Meta’s much pricier offering apart from its midrange sibling.
The Quest Pro uses Qualcomm’s newly announced Snapdragon XR2 Plus, which Meta claims delivers 50 percent more power than the Quest 2’s XR2, and it’s got 12GB of memory instead of 6GB. It comes with 256GB of storage; unlike the Quest 2, there’s no option for a cheaper 128GB model. It uses two LCD panels that give you 1800 x 1920 pixels per eye. That’s about the same as the Quest 2 on paper, but Meta promises the panel design will give users 75 percent more contrast and 10 percent more pixels per degree of sight, among other benefits. (You’re actually not seeing all those pixels on the Quest 2, although it’s not yet clear how different the Quest Pro design is.)
The Quest motion controllers have also gotten an overhaul. Where Meta’s old headset tracked its controllers with LED rings around the top, the new controllers are studded with cameras that track motion just like a headset. That makes them smaller and quite a bit less weird-looking. Meta has replaced the controllers’ AA batteries with built-in batteries that charge on a dock along with the headset.
Say goodbye to the controllers’ tracking rings
The Quest Pro is broadly a Quest 2 upgrade, but it’s getting one major downgrade: a battery that lasts one to two hours rather than the two to three the Quest 2 offers. The rechargeable controllers are supposed to last somewhat longer than the headset, but you won’t get the weeks of use you could stretch out of the Quest 2’s AA batteries.
Despite all the modifications, the button layout remains the same, so the controllers (and the entire Quest Pro headset system) are compatible with existing Quest 2 games and apps. You can even get a set of new controllers to use with a Quest 2, although at $299, they cost almost as much as the Quest 2 itself. The Quest 2 and Quest Pro will share a games and apps store, although some apps will be exclusive to the Quest Pro.
The Quest Pro will be available online through the Meta Store. It will also sell through retail partners in four countries: Best Buy and Amazon in the United States; Amazon, Argos, and Currys in the United Kingdom; Best Buy and Amazon in Canada; and Amazon, Fnac, and Boulanger in France.