The Meta Quest Pro's eye-popping price might actually make some sense
At $1,500, Meta's premium mixed reality headset isn’t cheap. But if it really is the productivity powerhouse it's supposed to be, it might be worth it.
Meta’s new Quest Pro is a glimpse into the short-term future of both augmented and virtual reality. It’s a slimmer headset, with a faster Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 1 chip, more accurate controllers, and viable mixed reality features. The only real problem is it costs $1,500.
At Meta Connect, the Quest Pro was specifically framed as a productivity device, one that Meta thinks could be sold to enterprise customers who could certainly afford it, if partnerships with Microsoft and Accenture are any indication. But when you consider how the Quest Pro could actually fit into your life and work, Meta’s thinking starts to seem less ridiculous.
An office replacement
Through the basic functionality of the Quest Pro and the apps Microsoft is bringing to both Quest headsets sometime next year, Meta could theoretically replace multiple monitors, your laptop (well, maybe a Chromebook), drawing tablets, and possibly even a game console. Consider the price breakdown:
- Three affordable monitors: $1,065
- A nice Chromebook: $430
- A popular drawing tablet: $200
- An affordable video game console like an Xbox Series S: $300
That’s a total of $1,995. And that’s still not even including creative apps and experiences that are only possible in VR.
There are far too many unknowns for anyone to recommend dropping over $1,000 on a new headset (that’s what reviews are for). There’s also the question of whether the Quest Pro is actually up to the task of replacing all of that hardware in a way that’s satisfying and useful.
Early hands-on previews with the Quest Pro have confirmed it’s absolutely a better VR headset that’s nicer to wear and use than the Quest 2, but they also revealed some possibly troubling performance issues. For example, TechCrunch reports the battery life of Meta’s new headset is only about 1-2 hours. That’s not exactly a full workday in my book, as much as I wish it was.
Cheaper than the competition
The main focus of the Quest Pro’s new features is mixed reality, where VR elements can be overlaid on a full-color view of the world around you (thanks to a new passthrough camera) to replicate AR experiences without having to figure out any fancy new display tech.
With the utility that Meta imagines — like drawing in 3D and examining models placed in the real world — the Quest Pro is lined up pretty favorably with AR headsets from Microsoft or Magic Leap. Technically, both those company’s devices use far more advanced display technology to project holograms into the world around you, but they’re similarly focused on enterprise and development uses.
The big catch? Microsoft’s current HoloLens 2 costs $3,500 and the new Magic Leap 2 costs $3,299. Not to mention both those headsets are meant for developers; the Quest Pro will be sold to consumers (enterprise or not). Considering the Quest platform is already far larger than the developer scenes for both those niche headsets, the Quest Pro already has a big head start.
Probably still sold at a loss
The Quest 2 was a deal when it sold for $299. It’s a polished VR headset with access to a great selection of games and a pretty continuous stream of new software features. That became a bit less true when Meta recently raised the price to $399, but it’s still approachable for the average person.
Mark Zuckerberg is pretty clear that he’s comfortable with selling hardware at a loss if it gets people using VR more, and it seems like the strategy is still true with the Quest Pro. Here’s what he said in an interview with The Verge after the Quest Pro introduction:
I think the strategy overall is not to make money on the hardware but to make it so that it can help develop the ecosystem... Our whole approach as a company is to get as many people as possible to be able to access these tools, and then, over time, you build a better ecosystem that way.
Now should any normal person care that Meta is burning through R&D money to ship a cutting-edge VR headset? No, but it’s worth keeping in mind the version of this hardware that makes financial sense as a product is still many years off. This is a sneak peek at the future. One with a lot of big questions that still need to be answered, but an exciting one despite the dry, productivity focus.
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