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From the Desk of our Dev: A Review of the New Meta Quest 3

Dev testing Meta Quest 3

I’ve been testing out Meta’s new Quest 3 VR headset on a daily basis for around a month now, and this review contains my honest thoughts. Before my Quest 3, I had been using its predecessor, the Quest 2, nearly every day at Lobaki since it was first released in October 2020. It was a workhorse of a headset, but I started to encounter problems with controller and environment tracking, display glitches, and Link computer connection stability. I was hopeful that a new headset would not only fix these problems, but also impress me with the upgraded specs that Meta had promised. Specifically, I was excited to test the improved processing power, the slimmer profile, the improved resolution and lenses, and the full color pass-through.

From the moment I put on the headset, I could tell how big of a game-changer the Quest 3's pass-through would be. The initial setup screen was overlaid on a full-color display of my surroundings, and I was able to comfortably walk around the office while in pass-through. I could clearly make out the details of a business card on a nearby desk, which offered a remarkable improvement over even the Quest Pro’s full-color cameras. Check out the side-by-side comparison of reading text through the Quest 3 and Quest Pro pass-through in the images below.

When Meta first touted the Quest 3 as a fully capable mixed reality headset, I was skeptical, assuming that its pass-through wouldn’t meet the capabilities of their Pro headset they were selling at twice the price. But I was very happy to be proven wrong. The other significant graphics-based improvement I noticed right away was the headset’s ability to render text. Not only were the menus and labels sharper than ever, but they continued to be legible even as I backed away from them up to 10 feet. The pancake lenses allow the screen to be closer to the wearer’s eyes, which improves the depth and clarity substantially. The Quest 3 felt like it wasn’t straining my eyes, and it would be comfortable to wear for several hours if I needed to. The colors felt more vibrant, and the second-generation Snapdragon XR2 processor made almost everything run a remarkably smooth 90 FPS.

I wanted to put these new specs to the test with some of our own Lobaki experiences. First, I visited Nefertiti in our Ancient Egypt experience to see how well the headset could handle full-body character animation, a detailed environment, and real-time light rendering. The headset maintained its impressive 88-90 FPS throughout. Next up, I wanted to compare the color vibrance of the Quest 3 with its predecessor by playing with the colorful flashlights in our Light Lab experience. Check out the side-by-side comparison to see for yourself how the Quest 3 improves its saturation, contrast, and color vibrance.

Finally, I wanted to put the mixed reality features to the test with some highly recommended apps from both the Quest App Store and App Labs. I started with Cubism, a satisfying puzzle game where you must arrange Tetris-like pieces to fit perfectly into a 3D box. I had already enjoyed this game for its smoothly simple game play and its impressive hand tracking capabilities, but the augmented reality added a new layer of enjoyment. The Quest 3 can automatically scan your physical environment and map out your room, simply by tracking its surroundings as you look around and move throughout your space. Mixed reality apps like Cubism can access this spatial data and use it to place puzzles directly onto your desk, even remembering where in your environment you last played with the puzzles. The next experience I tried was Wooorld, a Google Earth-style XR app that lets you view 3D imagery of anywhere in the world, visit famous landmarks, and even collaborate with other remote users. You can spawn a 3D map and place it right on your desk, then seamlessly transition from the real world around you into fully immersive photo spheres and Street View imagery. This app has the potential to be an amazing teaching tool in the classroom, especially if a teacher and students can synchronously interact with the same 3D models right in their own classrooms. The final app I tried was CoasterMania, available for early release on App Labs. As an avid fan of Line Rider in my childhood, I was blown away by the thought of building mini roller coasters of my own designs to surround my desk. You can generate new tracks instantaneously, twisting and turning the rails for the mini crash test dummies to ride. This is an app I could spend hours in. Although there had been a small selection of decent mixed reality apps prior to the Quest 3, the hardware and software now exists for developers to leverage XR to its fullest capabilities yet.

Overall, I’ve been extremely impressed with the Quest 3's performance over the past month. The slimmer form factor paired with the elite head strap make it a well-balanced and comfortable experience, and I find my battery lasting 30-60 minutes longer than the Quest 2. My only criticisms are minor: the fabric on the facial interface is not as soft or pleasant to wear as the silicone covers, which Meta sells at a surprisingly high price of $40. I’m sure cheaper alternatives will become available soon, though. Also, I miss being able to grab both controllers by their rings, which the Quest 3's controllers lack. The large cameras on the front of the headset can smudge easily and interfere with your pass-through if you’re not careful, so be sure to keep a microfiber cloth nearby. I look forward to learning more about this headset’s capabilities in the months and years to come!

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