‎I tried the $1,500 Quest Pro and saw the best of Metaverse‎

‎I tried the $1,500 Quest Pro and saw the best of Metaverse‎

‎This is not what Mark Zuckerberg promises.‎

‎Brian X. Chen, who has covered consumer technology for The Times for more than a decade, has worn eight virtual reality headsets.‎

‎Berlingame, California: After using almost every virtual reality headset created over the past seven years, including mark Zuckerberg’s latest $1,500 specs, I’ve seen what MetaVerse can offer.‎

‎Yes, the best is already here, and has been around for quite some time.‎

‎These are video games.‎

‎Mark Zuckerberg and other tech executives want us to buy these gadgets to fulfill their vision that Metors will be a fantastic virtual world where we will shop, socialize and work. But consumers must not necessarily follow the whims of business leaders.‎

‎Gaming has been the most compelling use of these headsets since the advent of Oculus Rift in 2016. The introduction of this contraption plugged into a personal computer marked the beginning of mainstream virtual reality, and the initial wave of applications focused on this type of entertainment. The widespread testing of this device, the myriad competitors that followed it, and the new MetaQuest Pro releasing next week, seems safe to conclude that the technology has found its sweet spot.‎

‎Headsets are wearable, stunning video game consoles. People should buy them for the same reasons they get the PlayStation and Nintendos: to get entertainment and to find short escapes from the real world. Not fulfilling the strange dreams of tech leaders.‎

‎Meta believes high-resolution headsets, new business-focused software and superfast internet connections will change the way we work, collaborate, and create art. In the company’s own terminology, Quest Pro can open up “pure new use cases.” Yet when the product leaders were asked, they could not name the ‘Killer App’ for the fancy new headgear.‎

‎”We will learn from developers once the device hits the market,” Anand Das, director of MetaVerse Content at Meta, said at a product briefing this month.‎

‎In other words, Meta’s sales pitch for Quest Pro has the potential to change lives by enabling tasks that couldn’t be done before. It’s a great narrative, but it’s a vision that is yet to materialize.‎

‎There’s a valuable lesson amidst all the publicity around virtual (whatever you want): We shouldn’t spend our dollars on a company’s hopes and commitments about what technology can become. We should buy these headsets for what they currently do. And from what I saw, for the foreseeable future, the MetaQuest Pro will essentially be a gaming device. (I predict similar results for the Apple headset that are expected to be revealed next year.)‎

‎Credit…‎‎ ‎‎Meta‎

‎At Meta’s Berlingame office, I tied up on Quest Pro to see what’s new. Meta highlighted three features: the high definition image of the headset, which is receiving four times the number of pixels of its predecessor, the $400 Quest 2. An array of cameras installed in the headset, which can now create real-time renderings of your facial expressions and eye movements. and new motion controllers with improved pressure sensitivity so you can gently squeeze a virtual object or hold it aggressively.‎

‎Meta employees and app developers gave me an hour-long tour through software developed for the headset. I created a digital avatar of my face that mimicked my smiles as I raised a curious mouth. I made 3D drawings and threw virtual darts.‎

‎I found the improved graphics and controllers impressive (and my animated avatar was a bit scary) but when I removed the headset and returned to reality, I could only imagine using these new features to play games.‎

‎My favorite virtual reality game, Blaston, which was released in 2020 and in which players shoot each other in a virtual arena, will likely benefit from improved motion controllers to make trigger squeezes more realistic for different guns. Poker Stars VR, where gamers gather around a virtual card table to catch Texas, will be more fun if we can get information through each player’s facial expressions.‎

‎By the end of the demo, I also doubted that I would do any work with this headset. In a promotional video for the product, Meta suggested that QuestPro could be a multitasking tool for workers who connect meetings while scrolling through emails and other tasks. But according to Meta, the device’s battery lasts only one to two hours. (Headsets can still be used when plugged in, but computer use is less complicated.)‎

‎One or two hours of battery life is fine for one thing. You guessed it: gaming.‎

‎This is the reality on which we should make our purchasing decisions. Even Meta isn’t sure many people will buy the Quest Pro. The target audience of the device will be initially adopters, designers, and businesses, it said. If you come to any of these camps, I recommend a wait-and-watch approach to assess whether there are useful virtual reality applications available for your profession.‎

‎The company has left a more obvious place from its target list: hardcore gamers are willing to spend a lot of money on every piece of new gaming hardware. They’re for treatment. In addition to providing access to high-resolution virtual reality games created for Quest Pro, the headset will work with hundreds of games already created for Quest 2.‎

‎Many of these old Quest 2 titles are good enough. Games like BatSaver and FitXR that pump your heart and make you sweat, both of which involve swinging your arms to hit things, are a blessing in an era when people need to wear a smartwatch to remind them to stand up.‎

‎Any of these — the first impression that Quest Pro games would be great for playing and used primarily for fun — is a bad thing. The fact that we can get visually stunning, spectacular gaming in lightweight, wireless headsets means that virtual reality has come a long way in less than a decade. Currently, this is the only reason to buy one of them.‎

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