Meta Quest 3 review – stunning and immersive VR experience but controllers need some work

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  • VERDICT

The Meta Quest 3 is an excellent VR headset that offers a stunning experience. Improvement is needed with the controller – or getting rid of it altogether – but the device shows there is definitely an exciting VR future awaiting all of us.

The Meta Quest 3 is an impressive improvement over the previous model and offers an excellent entry into the world of VR with lots of content to enjoy on this high quality hardware.

If you’re a fan of the Meta Quest 2 – then you should absolutely get yourself the Meta Quest 3 – it’s a lot better but also more expensive.

In our eyes the Meta Quest 3 is still a product that will have a core group of fans – but it could be more approachable for your average consumer.

While it’s pretty easy to set up and get started, you still need to be fairly savvy to handle the controllers and find your way around.

For us it’s the controllers that are likely to be the deal breaker for newcomers.

For myself, I didn’t mind them, but it still took me a while to get the hang of it and getting to know which button does what.

But when you change the game or experience – you need to relearn what the buttons can do.

The quality of the experience is undoubtedly high – much clearer than the Meta Quest 3 and more responsive.

For us we could get the hang of the controllers and what you need to do with them but for adults who aren’t so savvy this could be a one-hit winder.

I showed the Meta Quest 3 to my wife and while she was completely immersed in the Nature VR app where you explore various landscapes – she found the controllers confusing and hard to use and at one point she handed them back to me so she could just turn around on the spot and enjoy the stunning virtual environment.

Meta Quest 2 v Meta Quest 3

There are some simple hand tracking controls (where you don’t need the controllers) but they are still quite rudimentary and a long way from being effectively usable to the point where you can put down the physical controllers and enjoy the same experience.

Getting your head around the trigger and the side grab button along with a joystick and three surface buttons on each controller stopped us in our tracks a few times.

Mark Zuckerberg, when the Meta Quest 3 was unveiled a few weeks after Apple’s Vision Pro, described the product as the best value headset you can buy.

This was an obvious dig at Apple’s pricey Vision Pro which will go on sale in Australia for around $6,000 later this year compared to Meta Quest 3’s $799.99 price tag.

Zuckerberg made the comparison, not us, so I will continue with it.

Comparing the Meta Quest 3 to the Apple Vision Pro is like comparing a Toyota Camry with a Lamborghini.

But I do agree with what he said about value – for what you pay and what you get, there is a lot to enjoy with the Meta Quest 3.

I’ve used the Apple Vision Pro and it’s in a class of its own.

And the main reason for that, apart from its slick design stunning video and audio quality, eye tracking and incredible performance, is the fact there are no controllers.

All you need are your hands and a few simple intuitive gestures to create an even more memorable and immersive experience.

That’s why Apple is going to make VR/AR/Mixed Reality/Spatial Computing more mainstream.

And it’s because I could put the Apple Vision Pro on my mother’s head and she would be able to use it.

But ironically, it’s huge price will probably play against this appeal to mainstream customers.

I know what you’re thinking.

This bloke is making a big deal about the Meta Quest 3’s controllers but it’s like driving a car with a crappy steering wheel and hard to find controls. It impacts on the overall driving experience.

The upside of the release of the Apple Vision Pro is that is it validating the whole world of VR and Meta and other companies like HTC which has been in VR for years and making slow headway.

And Meta and HTC will also benefit because Apple getting involved makes customers think it’s even more worthwhile.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

When Apple Vision Pro is released, more people will be interested in VR and only a handful will be able to afford it which makes Meta Quest 3 even more attractive for most customers.

You just have to put up with those cumbersome controllers.

But let’s get on with the review.

The unit is a little bulky and front heavy, but the weight can be balanced out with an additional rear battery strap (that’s an extra $219.99).

Nature Trek VR

There is a head strap that can help take the weight and an eyepiece hood that blacks out the room and forces you to focus on the screens.

You can easily adjust, tighten and loosen the Meta Quest 3 strap to comfortably suit the size of your head.

These small displays each have a 2064 x 2208 pixel resolution with up to 120Hz adaptive refresh rate – that’s a 30 per cent improvement over the previous model.

In the games we played, the resolution provided a life-like quality and plenty of detail but there was still an animated, cartoon like quality in a lot of the games and apps.

That’s not a fault of the Meta Quest 3 – there’s plenty headroom with the resolution – we just have to wait for the developers to come up with the content that takes advantage of that quality.

The Room – Dark Matter

What’s also impressive is the directional audio quality which come from strap mounted mini speakers that directs sounds into your ears.

Users can also easily set boundaries so they don’t bump into the furniture, or they can choose to stay seated.

When you come close to the boundary, the pass through cameras come on so you can see your surroundings through the internal displays.

The other attraction is the huge amount of content available whether you want to play a game, go exploring, do some exercise with a fun workout, watch your content or improve your skills.

We played Vader Immortal, Star Wars Tales from Galaxy’s Edge, The Room puzzle game and explored Nature Treks VR and each was excellent.

It captivated my family who were all eagerly awaiting their turn.

Vader Immortal

That’s the other thing about VR – it’s a solo experience, you’re off in your own little world.

As far as we know there are no multiplayer games where you can see your friends in the games.

Imagine completing a campaign or a mission like that?

But there is no denying the complete immersion of the experience. Once you slip on the Meta Quest 3 you are transported to another world.
We lost track of time and our orientation in the room we were playing. We recommend finding a room with plenty of space to move around if you’re not going to play seated.

The total weight is 515g – that’s more than half a kilo – and after a little while it does get heavy, and you’ll need to take a break.

 

Another thing that will make you take a break is the average battery life which just got to two hours of use during our review. Then it takes another two hours to charge to 100 per cent again.

That’s the Meta Quest 3 headset on its own – but with the Elite Strap with battery (for an additional $219.99) you can stretch that out by another couple of hours.

PRICING

The Meta Quest 3 is priced at $799.99 with 128GB storage. The only other storage option is quite a jump to 512GB which is priced at $1,049.99.

Users can also purchase an Elite strap ($119.99) which offers a little more support for the weight of the device.

But we’d recommend going for the Elite strap with battery ($219.99) to double the battery life.

And if you want to take the Meta Quest 3 anywhere there’s also a carrying case for $119.99.

VERDICT
The Meta Quest 3 is an excellent VR headset that offers a stunning experience. Improvement is needed with the controller – or getting rid of it altogether – but the device shows there is definitely an exciting VR future awaiting all of us.

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