Standalone headsets, like the Oculus Quest 2 or Pico 4, are great options for anyone interested in exploring VR. These types of gadgets give you the freedom to play VR games and enjoy immersive experiences wherever you are, without requiring connections to bulky PCs or external consoles.
For the past couple of years, the Oculus Quest 2 has been the undisputed champion within the VR space. This affordable, yet capable, standalone VR headset has sold around 15 million units – just five million shy of PS5 sales over the same period – and is today considered the most popular VR headset used by Steam players for PC VR. But the new Pico 4 VR headset is gunning for Quest 2’s crown.
If you’re weighing the Pico 4 against the Oculus Quest 2, we’re here to help. We’re going to compare the important aspects of each of these devices and declare an overall victor in our conclusion. TL;DR, you might want the Pico 4 – unless you care about playing some of the best Oculus Quest 2 games available.
Pico 4 vs the Oculus Quest 2: price and availability
The Oculus Quest 2 is currently on sale in the US, UK, and Australia for $400 / £400 / AU$630 for its 128GB model, and $500 / £500 / AU$790 for its 256GB model. It used to be cheaper, but Meta increased the price of its headset in July 2022, citing rising production costs.
Unfortunately, the cheaper Pico 4 – costing just £379 for its 128GB version and £449 for the 256GB version – is currently only available for preorder in the UK (as well as parts of Europe and Asia).
Rumors swirled that the Pico headset would also come to the US, but that has yet to happen. So for now, unless you can import a Pico 4, you can only choose Meta’s VR headset if you’re in the US or Australia. But for those of you in the UK, if we just looked at the price, the Pico 4 is the better option.
Pico 4 vs the Oculus Quest 2: design
All VR headsets have a fairly similar design; a display covers your eyes and is attached to your head via straps. But within those parameters, two headsets can still look fairly different.
The Oculus Quest 2 offers a more traditional design. All of the components – the display, batteries, and processing power – are housed in a single box that is what your eyes look into. The box itself is very bulky, and relies on a fresnel lens optical setup for users to be able to see the worlds they’re being immersed in.
By contrast, the Pico 4 has a next-gen design. It swaps out the fresnel lens setup for a newer pancake lens optics system that allows the display and lenses to be much closer together, making the front box much slimmer. In addition, the battery is situated at the back of the strap, further slimming down the part of the headset on your face and helping to better distribute the headset’s weight around your head.
Because of this, despite being heavier – coming in at 586g compared to the Quest 2’s 503g – the Pico 4 generally looks less bulky.
At the time of writing, we haven’t had enough time to try out the Pico 4, so while we believe its design will likely have many advantages, we can’t say if its design is indeed effective. As such, we’ll have to call this round a draw; but we’ll update this page as soon as we’ve had a chance to review the VR headset properly.
Pico 4 vs the Oculus Quest 2: specs
Specs-wise, the Pico 4 is the clear frontrunner.
In terms of CPU and storage options, both headsets are identical – using the same Qualcomm Snapdragon XR2 chip and coming in either 128GB or 256GB options.
But the Pico 4 pulls ahead in pretty much every other regard. It offers 8GB RAM, a display that’s 2,160 x 2,160 pixels per eye, and uses a 5300mAh battery; by comparison, the Oculus Quest 2 only has 6GB RAM, 1832 × 1920 pixels per eye, and a 3,640 mAh battery.
The only letdown is that the Pico 4’s display offers a max variable refresh rate of 90Hz, while the Oculus Quest 2 can get up to 120Hz. It should be noted that very few Quest 2 experiences currently support 120Hz gameplay, so most of the time you aren’t getting a framerate that smooth.
Pico 4 vs the Oculus Quest 2: features
In terms of features, both headsets are fairly similar. Both the Pico 4 and Oculus Quest 2 allow users to play VR games using a pair of controllers that incorporate intuitive button layouts and haptic feedback. But once again, the Pico 4 has some advantages. Both headsets use inside-out tracking – meaning you don’t need to set up any physical towers in the room before you play with other headsets – and both headsets have the hardware to facilitate 6DoF VR (or full-VR) experiences. This means the worlds are immersive and explorable rather than just static images that you can look at.
The most significant feature difference is that – thanks to its 16MP RGB camera – the Pico 4 offers full-color passthrough. That means that the headset can show you a video feed of the real world around you that’s in full color, whereas the Quest 2 can only show it to you in grayscale. This allows developers to use the Pico 4 headset to deliver much more realistic and immersive AR experiences than what you can get on the Quest 2.
In addition, Pico 4 users can purchase an optional dongle that lets you play PC VR games wirelessly. You can connect your Oculus Quest 2 to a PC using a wireless connection, but it must piggyback on your Wi-Fi (a method called Air Link). If your network is busy and you don’t have an optimized setup, the Quest 2’s Air Link can be slow and nauseating. The Pico 4’s dongle gets over this hurdle by directly connecting you to your PC.
The Pico 4 also comes with support for optional fitness bands that you can purchase. These bands allow developers to track various parts of your body, to help improve immersive workouts and experiences. For example, the bands could be placed on each ankle for foot tracking, to monitor your leg movements for step tracking, or for facilitating full-body workouts.
Obviously, a downside of these last two features is that you must purchase additional add-ons, but the relatively cheap first-party peripherals – each one costs €49 (around $47 / £44 / AU$73) – aren’t too high a barrier to entry.
Pico 4 vs the Oculus Quest 2: VR experiences
Here’s where the Oculus Quest 2 might take the lead for some players over the Pico 4. Even though Pico headsets have been in the market for several years, the company’s back catalog and upcoming lineup of VR titles don’t boast the kind of heavy hitters within Meta’s library of media.
We’re talking Quest 2 exclusive games like Resident Evil 4, which is currently available, in addition to hotly anticipated games like Ghostbusters VR, the classic hit GTA San Andreas VR, and Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed VR. These last few are scheduled to launch sometime in the near future, but only on Meta’s hardware.
If this exclusivity continues – with these and follow-up games only playable on Meta’s platform – then players desperate to jump into these games might be forced to stick with the Oculus Quest 2 (and future Meta hardware, like Project Cambria and the Oculus Quest 3).
That’s not to say that the Pico 4 doesn’t also boast some impressive games, but much of its existing library – and its most prominent upcoming titles like The Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners Chapter 2 and The Peaky Blinders: The King’s Ransom – are available on the Quest 2. Though dance game fans among you will be excited to play the Pico 4 exclusive Just Dance when it launches in 2023, and it has been teased that other exclusive games are headed to the Pico 4 in the future.
We’ll just have to see how they compare to the Quest 2’s stellar lineup.
Comparing the Pico 4 – or any other next-gen VR headset – with the Oculus Quest 2 was always going to be an unfair fight.
Even though two years isn’t long in the gaming world at large – the Xbox One and PS4 era lasted around seven years, and the Xbox 360 and PS3 era before it lasted just as long – VR gaming has moved on considerably from where it was when the Quest 2 launched.
This is in large part because the Quest 2 helped to invigorate the space, bringing more players than ever into VR and encouraging investment into ideas (like pancake lenses and eye-tracking) that have made headsets smaller and more powerful with little to no downside.
As such, Meta’s now two-year-old hardware was always going to be outclassed. But Meta also hiked the price of its VR headset – making it more expensive than this new more powerful rival – while not giving it a performance upgrade.
If the Oculus Quest 2 was its old $299 / £299 / AU$479 price, this would be much more of a fair fight with the Pico 4. But at its current ‘next-gen price tag,’ the Quest 2 feels like a solid second-place finisher next to ByteDance’s actual next-gen VR headset.
The only advantage Meta’s hardware has is its library of exclusive titles, many of which are the best VR games ever made. If that doesn’t matter much to you, then the Pico 4 looks like the clear winner here – and it might even be the best VR headset you can buy (at least in the UK, Europe, and the parts of Asia where it’s available).
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.