Meta Quest 3
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The Meta Quest 3 is My Favourite Gadget of 2023

2023 has seen some great new gadgets come out of the industry. ASUS entered the portable gaming scene with the ROG Ally and Sony released its PlayStation VR2 headset earlier in the year. We also got a new Steam Deck OLED model which includes the same performance as the original but with an OLED panel. But while these gadgets have ranged from fun to disappointing, the Meta Quest 3 has stolen countless hours of my life away and managed to pack more innovation than anything else I played with over the past twelve months.

The Meta Quest 3 is Meta’s latest VR headset but it does so much more than just VR. As it stands, the Meta Quest 3 is its own platform with the possibility of being so much more if you allow it.

The VR headset takes a substantial step forward in terms of its specs thanks to the new pancake lenses which deliver the clearest and most refreshing VR experience I have had to date.

I picked up a Meta Quest 3 unit in the United States on a trip to The Game Awards and Los Angeles Comic Con. Much of my tests with the unit were conducted using an MSI Stealth 16 notebook I was given by the brand for my travels. The notebook made it possible to play some PC VR-exclusive titles remotely which is something I didn’t think possible.

The notebook packs an RTX 4060 which runs most of the PC VR games. It was great to use the notebook with the friends I was staying with giving them a taste of not only the MSI Stealth 16 but also the Meta Quest 3. It became a nightly ritual at one stage. Thanks to MSI for the opportunity here. We wouldn’t have been able to play most of the games if I didn’t have the notebook available. You can find out more about the exact MSI Stealth model here.

Forget About The PlayStation VR2

Sure, one can argue that the PlayStation VR2 is a tough competitor here but the Quest 3 leaves Sony’s headset in the dust in many ways. First off, its portability means you can play without wires and being untethered away from a power source makes a huge difference. Not to mention the pancake lenses are remarkable. The PS VR2 still uses fresnel lenses and the general image quality isn’t up to scratch. These fresnel lenses are blurry, have god rays, and have a “sweet spot” you need to stick to in order to get the best image quality.

PS VR2 PlayStation Sony GDC 2022

The PS VR2 does have vibrant OLED panels instead of the Quest 3’s LCD panels but the lack of clarity due to these dated lenses means you can’t really enjoy the punchy HDR it delivers at all times. By now, I would throw all the cool exclusive PS VR2 games at you and tell you how Sony’s VR2 headset has a killer lineup. However, besides Horizon Call of The Mountain, Sony’s platform lacks a lot of games and most importantly, the exclusives. As it stands, the Meta Quest 3 has more exclusive VR games (like the killer Asgard’s Wrath 2 and Assassin’s Creed Nexus VR) than the PS VR2.

The headset is also quite expensive now. It has hit an all-time high of R15,499. I can’t recommend the PlayStation VR2 at all given its current price. If Sony had supported it more this year maybe, but the Meta Quest 3 is cheaper (if you import) and packs more value.

But I digress, a big selling point of the Meta Quest 3 is its PC VR capabilities and its Wi-Fi 6e band means this is now possible without any wires. So I have enjoyed spending long evenings playing the original Asgard’s Wrath and Half-Life: Alyx from my PC.

Up to now, I didn’t have a PC VR headset. I was hoping that PS VR2 emulation would speed up but once modders get the headset working on PC, it will likely be buggy and not worth the hassle. So I ended up picking up a Meta Quest 3 in the US while on a trip to dive into not only PC VR gaming but also the whole Metaverse which the company has been harping on about for some time now.

The Metaverse is Actually Fun

I have to say that I now fully understand Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta vision. To have a digital world where you can work, play games and meet people – and do that all together at the same time. The Meta Quest 3 brings this vision closer together thanks to its mixed reality features and built-in apps. Meta Horizon Worlds, for example, is a fully-imagined digital world where your avatar can walk about, play games and socialize with other people.

Meta Horizon Workrooms also has the option for businesses to turn this world into digital workplaces so users can venture into different locations during lunch breaks and meet colleagues for a game of Super Rumble. All is possible without leaving your home. The ecosystem works and if anything, is being slept on.

The Meta Quest 3 is My Favourite Gadget of 2023

The headset integrates into some apps I use way too often too including WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram so I can browse meme reels on IG, catch up with family on Facebook, and make voice calls and respond to texts on WhatsApp. This feels great too. I often received texts and calls while gaming on the headset and with the app right there, I could easily respond without having to remove the whole device.

Microsoft has also just launched Meta Quest 3 apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint which further expands the productivity aspect of the headset. You can have your business meeting in the Meta Horizon Workroom and continue working on these apps.

Mixed Reality Delivered Beautifully

The Meta Quest 3 is also a fantastic take on mixed reality. If anything, it is the best mixed reality experience you can likely have until Apple Vision Pro arrives. But even then, the steep price tag of the Apple Vision Pro means it won’t be accessible to most people.

Meta Quest 3 features a fully-coloured passthrough as well as a time-of-flight sensor to produce its mixed reality modes.

Mixed reality works by enabling a camera passthrough and merging your world with the digital world. Various apps boast support for this feature and it has already been improved over the past few weeks on the device. I can now scan various rooms in my home and save them so each time I turn on the headset in that room, the device automatically detects the walls without me having to rescan everything from scratch.

Meta has also just added custom furniture to the headset too. This means I can place down chairs and objects giving me the freedom to decorate my own with digital assets. It not only looks great but is super helpful for designing a new room layout. The feature uses accurate measurements too.

The Meta Quest 3 is My Favourite Gadget of 2023

Granted, some mixed reality apps are a hit or miss at this time. However, some are also pretty fun. The First Encounters built-in game saw little alien fluff balls invade my home by smashing through my living room walls. I had to “gather” these by shooting them with a gun. The mixed reality also detected couches and tables so these little vermin could even hide behind them. I had to walk around the room to find them hiding behind objects. It is pretty impressive.

Wallace and Gromit in The Grand Getaway is not only a cute VR game but its mixed reality mode saw me shooting jam at toast which sprung up from various toasters in my lounge. After a few rounds, the walls were all covered in jam and cream. Again, a simple game but it shows the possibility of things to come.

The Meta Quest 3 uses a Snapdragon XR2 to render all visual content and it is a pretty capable chip. Games and mixed reality content look wonderful. The built-in speakers are mind-blowingly good too. They deliver punchy sound with full 3D immersion which adds to everything you do. Even the simplest thing like listening to music sounds great.

The Clarity is The Big Deal

None of these experiences would hit as hard if the headset wasn’t comfortable and didn’t deliver clear and sharp images. Sure, the mixed-reality camera quality leaves a lot to be desired but the headset itself is a solid piece of tech. I made an effort to do a full workday with the headset. I installed the Meta Quest Remote Desktop app on my Mac Mini and instead of using my usual monitor, I used the headset to browse emails, type articles and even make calls.

With mixed reality, the desktop screen was in front of me in my office and I could arrange other tabs around to increase productivity. There was zero lag while navigating the desktop and typing felt just as natural. I could also use my Apple Music playlist and watch YouTube videos in the browser. It was like having my monitor strapped to my face.

A Feature-Packed Package

After a few weeks with the Meta Quest 3, I have used the device more than anything else around me. Its PC VR feature means I can finally play those PC-only VR games. The built-in store is loaded with cool experiences and games too such as the recently-launched Asgard’s Wrath 2 which is a system seller and likely the best VR game since Half-Life: Alyx.

The Meta Quest 3 is My Favourite Gadget of 2023

Its mixed reality modes are wonderful to use too and truly merge the digital world with your surroundings. This is a headset that acts as much more than a VR device and I didn’t expect so much value here. As a platform, it makes a statement and the future looks quite exciting.

Not Everything Will Stick But That’s Okay

In all honesty, I don’t see myself using Meta Horizons much in the future. My work life also won’t benefit from the Meta Horizons Workroom either. So the whole Metaverse angle on the Quest 3 shouldn’t be seen as a selling point unless you find it appealing.

Apart from that, everything else the headset offers is quite useful. Its fitness tracking helps, its web browser works flawlessly, the Netflix app is great to use and there are so many cool free apps and experiences here that whisk you away to another dimension. There’s especially a great lineup of free videos to enjoy all filmed and developed for VR. Watching a VR movie is unlike anything you’ll ever see.

It is Expensive in South Africa

The only issue with the Meta Quest 3 in South Africa is the price tag. The 128GB model will set you back R15,499 which is just crazy. Even with R19 to the dollar, 10% tax and 18% import duties, this headset is at least R2500 overpriced. I would suggest looking at an Amazon import from Amazon UK. With delivery and import fees, you can grab the 128GB model for R14,800 and save some money.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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