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Hardware Review My weekend with my brand-new Meta Quest 3 (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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I have been spending the last week putting my Meta Quest 3 through the paces and it has surpassed my expectations in both productivity and gameplay.

I am not new to Virtual Reality. A few years ago I invested in a Playstation 4 and VR headset. I found that experience exciting, but within a year I just stopped using it out of boredom. While there were a lot of really cool games that I had the chance to purchase, I found that the immersion made me feel a little "queasy" and I wasn't particularly blown away by the low-resolution screen-door effect that the headset provided.

Jump to the present day and with Apple's announcement of its Vision Pro, there is a lot of excitement about how the work environment can be brought into a virtual world. And, this is particularly interesting for me as I spend a lot of time on my Mac computers daily. The problem is, that it becomes difficult to plop down nearly $4k on a first-generation Apple product like this --- especially when the company has already announced that they are already in pre-production on a second-generation headset that could cost significantly less.

In the meantime, I came to learn that Meta's Quest 3 could also sync with Mac (or Windows) computers and bring the work environment into the virtual world. After doing a little research on this and getting real-world feedback on Meta discussion groups, I was convinced that this could work for me until the Vision Pro became more affordable.





(Click on play to see video)

I am just learning how to take screenshots and video within the headset so please excuse the rudimentary one above. However, I think it will give you a general idea of what it looks like to bring your productive world into a virtual one.

This is coming off of a Macbook Pro, but you can use just about any Mac or Windows PC/Laptop. You start with one main screen and you can expand it up to five which can be placed in any kind of configuration that you need. Above, you can see Home Theater Forum in the middle, my email client on the right, and a live feed of my Nest Driveway camera on the left (which is where the audio you are hearing is coming from).

The monitors can be easily resized and displayed flat or curved (mine is shown curved). While the Meta Quest 3 lacks eye tracking (the single best feature of the Vision Pro), it does support hand tracking. This means that you can use your fingers to point and your hands to resize the monitors bringing them closer to you for increased clarity.

While the above video does no justice in showing the sharpness of the text, I can tell you that while it won't match the clarity of a 4k-6k monitor, I had no problem reading small text -- and this is without wearing my reading glasses which I need to do while using my Macbook Pro or Studio Monitor.

As far as the keyboard is concerned, once in the virtual world, you create a "portal" or small opening around your actual keyboard at the bottom of your viewing area so you can easily reference and type. IMMERSED has recently introduced the ability for you to enter the type of keyboard you are using and have a virtual overlay of it. This seems to still be in beta and I haven't had much success using it.

There are many gorgeous public and private rooms available for you to enjoy while working at home or on the road. You can sit in a beautifully decorated cafe or perhaps you might prefer sitting in a space station with the Earth revolving in front of your massive display window. You can chat with other users while you work, or turn off the microphone for complete privacy.


Gaming so realistic I bought a headset for my girlfriend



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I didn't want anything complicated to test the Meta Quest gaming capabilities so the first two games I purchased were Eleven Table Tennis and Premier Bowling. With its pancake lenses that provide 2064 x 2208 pixels per eye and a refresh rate of 120 Hz, I was in awe of what I was seeing before me. I found myself in a room that eclipsed my actual playing area. As I looked around, my 360-degree view sported graphics that were so beautifully crisp and detailed that I felt I had been transported somewhere else -- and I am not over-emphasizing the realism of it all as I had a rather nasty fall because I forgot I was in a virtual world (more on that in a moment).

Eleven Table Tennis placed a huge ping-pong table before me where I had the opportunity to square off with an AI partner. With vibrations coming from the hand controllers and realistic sounds of a ping pong ball in action coming from the headset speakers, I felt as if I were playing the game. The realism was astounding and I have since read that quite a few people got rid of their ping pong tables in their homes in favor of virtual ones as it takes up less space.

Even more immersive was Premier Bowling which placed me within my choice of a handful of different lane environments that included retro, disco, luxury, and party. Let me tell you, I felt as if I had been transported back in time and I was standing in the bowling lanes I used to frequent as a teen. The realism was off-the-charts right down to having people watching and cheering you on as you play. You can even join others around the world connected to their headsets for team play...

...that's when it dawned on me that I needed to share this experience with my girlfriend. I was so completely impressed with the realistic gameplay the Meta Quest 3 provided that I went and bought my girlfriend a headset this past weekend. We then set up space in her living room and played these games together. That is accomplished by creating your customer avatars which are projected into the game and mimic your movements.

To keep you safe, the Quest 3 performs a scan of your room before any gameplay, noting all furniture and obstacles that may stand in your way. So, as you play a game, you'll find grid lines suddenly appearing, warning you that you are moving out of your boundary, perhaps too close to a wall or couch.

It's hard to describe the level of realism as I describe my experiences in this review. So, let me tell you about my accident. I was playing Ping Pong with my girlfriend who had served me a ball that had lost its bounce and was slowly rolling toward me. I reached out for the ball thinking the table was real and would hold me up. Instead, I fell hard onto the floor. That's how convincing the virtual world can be perceived.

For a $500 device, this is a game-changer. Reading reviews comparing the Meta Quest 3 and the competing PlayStation 5 VR, it's wild to see how close they are to being comparable, both with their strengths and weaknesses. The quality of the VR looks so realistic that it sells itself to anyone who tries it. Hand this headset to a friend, have them play a few games, and chances are they are going to want one for themselves.

There is a big downside, however. If you plan to play with friends, sharing the headset is not a great experience. Taking the headset on and off between turns and handing it to someone else who will get their sweat all over it and possibly drop your $500 investment is not something you want to deal with. That's why I ended up buying a second headset so my partner and I could play together. On the other hand, as a single user, the Internet connection allows you to challenge other Quest users from all over the world to gameplay.

There seems to be a pretty decent selection of games to play, both free and paid. The prices of the games range from about $10 up to $30 for the mega ones. What I discovered is that you can obtain discount codes readily given out by other users via a Google search. That will potentially save you an additional 25% off the price of just about every available title.

The bottom line is that I am more than impressed with the Meta Quest 3. And, I didn't want to be given this is from Facebook and they have a bad reputation for abandoning their products. However, the company nailed this product by packing it with advanced display technology and high-resolution visuals, a super-fast Snapdragon XR2 Gen 2 chip, while making it affordable to the consumer. From what I have been reading, Meta is barely making a profit on the hardware, rather depending on a cut of all software sales.

This headset will certainly fill the void of not yet owning the Apple Vision Pro.
 

JohnRice

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These things are amazing... and absolutely the last thing I should ever own.

I have enough trouble trying not to get hopelessly distracted as it is.

:D
 

Morgan Jolley

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You can also use the Quest to do some PC VR stuff, even if it's just looking around a space in VR (versus room-scale moving around).
 

Jeff Cooper

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Two words: Walkabout Minigolf. Get it for both you and your girlfriend. You'll never need another game again. There's 8 base courses included in the game, and they have dlc courses that come out all the time. They're up to like 22 courses in total now and all of them are fantastic.

Regarding your accident, I really want to know how it looked and sounded in-game from your girlfriends perspective! :laugh:

Sounds like you made a great choice with the Occulus 3. I prefer the PSVR2 which is more powerful with games with much more realistic graphics, but it's purely for gaming and nothing else. None of your productivity needs would be covered there.
 

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It sounds about the same as PSVR2 as far as room mapping goes. I stay seated when using VR helmets. Too disorienting to be standing up and moving around.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Two words: Walkabout Minigolf. Get it for both you and your girlfriend. You'll never need another game again. There's 8 base courses included in the game, and they have dlc courses that come out all the time. They're up to like 22 courses in total now and all of them are fantastic.

Hi, Jeff! Sorry, it took me so long to respond. I tried Walkabout Golf and got a refund for it. I had a hard time getting the "swing" of it. It starts you on a practice course where you have to hit a ball over a lake, across flying rings, and at targets. I was not doing well and couldn't proceed anywhere else. I gave up and asked for my money back.

However, it is one of the highest-rated VR games and I think I may download and try it again in a few weeks as I think a second attempt might lead to a better experience.

I never asked my GF how I looked in-game when I fell on the floor thinking I was leaning on a pool table. I took a pretty bad fall (fortunately upon an area rug) and she was very concerned I had hurt myself.


@Ronald Epstein Curious to hear any updates you might have on this now you've had it for a while.


This is going to require a lengthy explanation...

I have bought multiple gaming systems over the years and in all cases, I'm really into them at the start and then months later I don't play them anymore. I suppose it's because I'm not a big video gamer. And you would be hard-pressed to think that if you saw my collection of games. I buy 'em, play them for a little bit, and then I become bored.

I was afraid this would happen with the Meta Quest 3 and in some respects, it has, but I use it daily.

I spend an hour every morning in the IMMERSED app, working on my Macbook Pro within a virtual world. I have three computer screens in front of me (I can have up to 5) as I watch some YouTube videos of the previous evening's Late Night monologues while doing some early morning postings on HTF. The atmosphere within the virtual world is very relaxing (see the video in the top post) and I'm often accompanied by a small handful of Meta users from the other side of the globe, logged in 6 hours ahead of my time zone. We acknowledge each other with a wave and a nod as we enter the virtual world, with our avatars sitting inches from one another.

Once in a while, I'll play table tennis or pool with a computer-generated avatar set at a certain skill level. I'm too nervous to play real people (which you can do), as I don't think I am that good. I loved playing CALL OF DUTY on my Playstation so I bought PAVLOCK SHACK for Quest. I had a bit of a hard time with it as you need to play it standing, and as a result, I became dizzy and felt nauseous rather quickly due to the fast movement required within the virtual world.

On the plus side, I think the Meta Quest 3 is a remarkable VR device. Coming off of the PS4 VR, which had a lackluster resolution, I am floored by how crisp, detailed, and realistic the gaming experience on this headset is.

While I realize Mark Zuckerberg was laughed at by saying the Quest 3 was better than the Apple Vision Pro, I understand where he's coming from. The Quest 3 can do just about everything the APV can do PLUS gaming for 7x less cost to the consumer. It's a better value for most people and succeeds quite well at what it does...

And I'm happy I only spent $500 because I learned some things about these VR headsets, as they exist today, which gives me a huge sigh of relief I didn't spend $3,500 on Apple's version.

For one, these are very isolating devices. You are completely alone inside unless you have friends who also own a VR headset and can join you in a game. That's more likely to happen with a $500 headset than a $3,500 one.

These headsets are heavy on the face, with the Apple VR outweighing the Quest 3. After a long period, they aren't comfortable. When playing an intense game, you sweat inside of them. Even when I am sitting, using my computer inside a virtual world, I'm constantly adjusting the headset from leaning on the bridge of my nose.

I was so impressed with the Quest 3 when I bought it, I bought one for my girlfriend. We haven't played with them for weeks. It's not that we got tired of it, but we find ourselves much more comfortable snuggling in front of a TV and interacting in person as a couple. There will be future evenings, I am certain, we will get the urge to don our headsets again to play bowling, table tennis (or hopefully) walkabout golf.

My opinion of VR is that it has come a long way over the years. The Quest 3 is impressive and every time I see Apple VR demos, I think, "I can already do that on the Quest." Sure, the resolution, eye tracking and complete Mac OS integration aren't there, but that's what you are paying $3,000 more for.

I go back to isolation. I feel so alone inside these headsets, unable to share my experience with others. And I think that's the biggest problem facing VR as of today.

Jeff, sorry I rambled on perhaps more than I should have. The short answer to your question is that I am happy that I purchased the Quest 3, which I am immensely enjoying, even with the limitations I previously mentioned.
 

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I go back to isolation. I feel so alone inside these headsets, unable to share my experience with others. And I think that's the biggest problem facing VR as of today.

Ron, I wanted to thank you for an eloquently documenting your VR experiences, as it’s something I’m both very curious about but also very unsure if it’s the right thing for me. Like you, I’m not much of a gamer, and whenever I do dip my toe in that water, I tend to get very excited at the beginning but lose interest quickly.

For all of VR’s potential, right now, just knowing myself, I think the isolation factor would be the final dealbreaker. I hadn’t really thought about that on a practical level and your writing did a great job conveying the downsides of that.

Thank you for explaining all of this in a way that made sense and that made me realize that VR isn’t right for me at this moment in my life. I’d definitely love to try it at a party or arcade or something, but it seems more like something I’d enjoy borrowing and playing with once or twice than committing to own.
 

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Jeff, sorry I rambled on perhaps more than I should have.

No, no, thank you very much. Your answer here is exactly what I was interested in hearing. As far as walkabout, the part you describe is just a practice driving range bit and isn't representative of the game itself. The game itself is playing on actual putt putt courses. It's weird that you couldn't get to anything other than the driving range. When you start, you should be in front of a shack like structure, with a selection of different colored golf balls and golf clubs in front of you. On the back wall of the shack is the course selection part where you pick which course you would like to play. To the left of this shack is where the practice range is, and behind you as you look at the course selection board is a very large open practice area with lots of holes to play around on.
 

Ronald Epstein

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Ron, I wanted to thank you for an eloquently documenting your VR experiences, as it’s something I’m both very curious about but also very unsure if it’s the right thing for me. Like you, I’m not much of a gamer, and whenever I do dip my toe in that water, I tend to get very excited at the beginning but lose interest quickly.

For all of VR’s potential, right now, just knowing myself, I think the isolation factor would be the final dealbreaker. I hadn’t really thought about that on a practical level and your writing did a great job conveying the downsides of that.

Thank you for explaining all of this in a way that made sense and that made me realize that VR isn’t right for me at this moment in my life. I’d definitely love to try it at a party or arcade or something, but it seems more like something I’d enjoy borrowing and playing with once or twice than committing to own.

...and I thought I was rambling on like an idiot.

I wanted to give a realistic viewpoint of the VR experience.

And you hit the nail on the head. You are better off finding a friend who owns a Quest and trying it, though I promise once you do, the temptation will be there to purchase one for yourself. I just feel that the thrill of VR doesn't last very long given the negative points.

Keep us updated.
 

Ronald Epstein

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No, no, thank you very much. Your answer here is exactly what I was interested in hearing. As far as walkabout, the part you describe is just a practice driving range bit and isn't representative of the game itself. The game itself is playing on actual putt putt courses. It's weird that you couldn't get to anything other than the driving range. When you start, you should be in front of a shack like structure, with a selection of different colored golf balls and golf clubs in front of you. On the back wall of the shack is the course selection part where you pick which course you would like to play. To the left of this shack is where the practice range is, and behind you as you look at the course selection board is a very large open practice area with lots of holes to play around on.

Jeff,

Yeah, I didn't give it enough time.

I will repurchase it once it goes back on sale, which happens often.

Thanks for the re-recommending it.
 

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