Meta’s Quest Pro is a $1,500 headset that promises to bring productivity to virtual reality, which has proven difficult due to limitations in display technology.
This new high-end solution from the world’s most popular VR headset maker features two major tweaks to improve visual clarity, pancake lenses and mini-LED backlighting, but will that really be enough to replace your physical monitors? Here’s what we know so far.
The Meta Quest Pro hasn’t started shipping to consumers, but some have gotten early previews of the headset. A few lucky developers have been using early dev units for some time to prep apps, and a limited group of tech journalists also had a brief moment to check out Meta’s most expensive headset. In some Best Buy stores, there have even been demo units on display with restricted use, mostly limited to mixed reality apps.
These glimpses of what to expect won’t be as revealing as getting into the Quest Pro which ships next week and certainly not as in-depth as the long-term reviews will be. That said, you should know what to expect before shelling out $1,500, which might be a lot for some high-quality monitors.
Joshua Kurikeshu, Chief Content Officer at Immersed, tweeted about his experience with the Quest Pro, describing the text clarity as amazing and sharing the view from the headset via smartphone. Kurikeshu went on to say that he often reaches for the Meta headset when he needs to use multiple monitors.
My #mixed reality 4-screen setup using @ImmersedVR. 🔥 The #Meta #QuestPro has amazing text clarity. Mind you, it’s through a phone camera lens (that doesn’t do it justice). #MetaQuestPro #vr #ar #m pic.twitter.com/VvgaEsJN9r
— joshkuri.eth (@jkurikeshu) October 17, 2022
Andre Elijah is a creative director who works for various large companies, including Meta. He uses the Quest Pro on the road as a virtual monitor and Express on Twitter that reading text with this headset is a joy.
Reading text on the Quest Pro is a pleasure whether you’re using the Immersed or Guy app. I used mine as a virtual monitor on the go while my team was developing for it.
— ANDRE ΞLIJAH (@AndreElijah) October 16, 2022
Developer Noah Rayburn feels pretty good with the Quest Pro he tweeted that he was taking it on a trip as a replacement for a laptop.
Took Quest Pro as a laptop replacement on my trip to LA. Turns out Quest Pro fits in a Quest 2 carrying case (a little tight, but looks good)
— Noah Rayburn (@FileCorruptedGM) October 20, 2022
Some journalists who have worked with the Quest Pro agree. CNN said it was “possible to easily read even the fine print”. The Verge wasn’t as enthusiastic, describing the screens as admirably clear; however, a small text in a Google search came up “a little fuzzy”.
Consumers who have walked into a Meta Store or Best Buy are impressed with what they have seen. Reddit user Mountain_Bar_4823 said the screen had the best colors and contrast they’ve ever seen in VR. That’s important because they own a Quest 2, HP G2, Valve Index, and Pico 4. They also described the sharpness of the Quest Pro, saying it was as sharp, if not sharper, than their HP G2 , which has a resolution of 2160. ×2160 pixels per eye, which is higher than the Quest Pro.
Reddit user Logical007 praised the incredibly sharp display that doesn’t require head movement to see clearly, even around the edges of the screen.
It’s surprisingly difficult to understand how good readability can be when the Quest Pro’s per-eye resolution is 1800×1920. It’s well known that a 4K monitor is better than a 2K monitor, so the Quest Pro wouldn’t it be half as neat? We’re so used to looking at screens from a distance that it’s easy to forget we’re talking about a screen that’s just over an inch from your eyes in an enclosure that’s largely shielded from light. It makes a difference.
The Quest Pro Display has been described as clear and easy to read by tech experts. The density of the screen could partly explain why this is possible. The screen resolution of an iPhone 14 Pro is only 2556×1179 pixels, which is equivalent to 460 pixels per inch, but it is so dense that the pixels cannot be distinguished with the naked eye.
The chart above from Meta’s Display Week 2022 presentation shows where the VR industry stood earlier this year when it comes to visual resolution. Most VR headsets average around 600 pixels per inch (PPI). At 773 PPI (given during Display Week 2022), the two-year-old Meta Quest 2 should appear sharper than the 460 PPI of an iPhone 14 Pro, however, the display is enlarged and much closer of the eye.
If you could focus on the iPhone when it was less than 8cm, or about 2.5 inches, from your eye, it would have similar visual sharpness, assuming everything else was the same, which doesn’t is not the case. You’d need a magnifying glass to widen the view to allow you to focus up close, but it would give you a good idea of how sharp the Quest 2’s display is even.
The Quest 2’s screen doesn’t look as sharp as it could because it uses Fresnel lenses, which distort and blur the edges like a magnifying glass does. The Quest Pro is much better, according to Meta, with a 37% higher pixel density, 25% improvement in clarity in the center, and 50% improved edge sharpness thanks to the use of pancake lenses. That should add up to some very impressive screen density and clarity. The question is whether this actually holds; early reports suggest so.
With multiple large virtual screens expanding the available space, you can increase text size without the loss you would experience on a laptop. It seems like an ideal multi-monitor arrangement on a desk, but portable enough to take from room to room or even on the road. We’ll reserve final judgment until we’ve had enough time with a Quest Pro to give a full review.
The Quest Pro’s color pass-through camera, which is by all accounts much better than the Quest 2’s, is still not as crisp and clear as the graphics generated in the headset. Having color is nice, but the consensus is that it’s quite obvious you’re looking through a camera, even with great alignment and tracking. It doesn’t matter when you display text on the screen or connect your laptop to extend the view to virtual screens.
When using virtual monitors, you do not need to watch your laptop or computer screen using the pass-through feature. Instead, up to three virtual screens are displayed.
These appear to be positioned a few feet away, but the images are close enough to your eye and sharply focused by the pancake lenses without any smudges, window glare, backlight issues or off-center dimming that you might experience with a actual monitor.
As good as the Quest Pro display is, it seems the main benefit is having more screens when and where you want them without having to install two or three large monitors. If you do most of your work in one place, it might not be worth the extra expense over buying an extra physical display or two. The Quest Pro is locked at 90Hz and may not meet your needs for fast gaming against a high refresh rate gaming screen.
However, if you like the idea of traveling with a multi-screen device that packs into a small space and is good for productivity while providing compelling VR gaming opportunities, the Meta Quest Pro might be nearly ideal.
It’s got good potential as a standalone device, and paired with a laptop it could be a way to get the best of both worlds – a triple-monitor setup that’s also remarkably portable.
We’ll know for sure once we’ve reviewed the headset ourselves, but for now these Quest Pro virtual displays certainly seem closer to replicating real monitors than we thought possible.